The 2011 Lombardia has brought a close to my second year as a professional cyclist. It's hard for me to believe I have completed two years already. I haven't had much time yet to reflect on my first two seasons, but I know I have grown tremendously as a cyclist, person, and husband.
It was whirlwind for my wife and me when I signed my first contract for the 2010 season. We were getting married in January, and I was set to take on my first European adventure in February. We navigated 2010 as a team, learning as we went. This year, we were able to spend more of the season together in Spain, and we felt much more at home as we found our routine. I owe a great deal of my success to the support I receive from my wife, family, and friends.
Now that 2011 is finished, I am ready for a rest and some relaxation. I know it will all go too fast, but I am hoping for a few good backpacking trips, maybe a hunting trip, and some good BBQs. Perhaps a bit weird to some, but I am really excited to put on my down jacket and feel some cool Midwest air. There is something about it that refreshes me mentally and physically.
Maybe it is that my roots are the Midwest, but I find the changing of the seasons revitalizing (at first at least!). I know I have been craving some off-season, autumn weather because I have lain in bed many nights recently just dreaming of the woods, falling leaves, hunting, hiking, campfires, and sleeping under the stars. I hope it will be only a matter of days until I start one of these adventures!
Reflecting on 2011, I am generally happy with how it went. The competitor in every professional cyclist strives for more than we achieve, so there is always something that can be improved or that we wish had gone differently. I have plenty of things I would like to improve upon, so as I look forward into 2012, I will certainly be hoping to continue to build and grow for the betterment of my cycling career.
As far as successes in 2011, the first and foremost is my general health and happiness by avoiding major crashes and carrying on a happy life outside of cycling. Then the obvious is my US Pro Road Race Championship where I narrowly defeated the legendary George Hincapie. It is a moment and day I will never forget.
My performance(s) in California are also highlights for me in 2011. The confidence that Chris Horner had in me to perform my job was inspiring and motivating. He has been incredibly influential on my short career. And a last major accomplishment was finishing my first Grand Tour. I hope it is the first of many more, and the experience and strength I have taken from that race will boost my riding to the next level.
For now, I am happy to put a close on 2011, take a few weeks off the bike, and enjoy some of the other good things in life. See you all back here soon.