Hey Cyclingnews! Many before me have done similar, so it is my time to write a blog about my cycling experiences. I have followed Cyclingnews for many years even though my cycling career is short. It began in earnest in January 2008 when I moved to Tucson, AZ for winter training. I had just finished my collegiate running career in November 2007 and had not yet decided on a job or graduate school pursuit, so I decided to follow what was pulling on me hardest at the time, my bicycle. I passed the 2008 season as an amateur with the Wisconsin based IS Corp Cycling Team and began the 2009 season the same. In August, I was given an opportunity as a stagiaire with Kelly Benefits. That season I completed four races with them and had the intention of continuing with them for 2010 until I received a phone call from Johan Bruyneel asking if I would be interested in joining Team RS for the 2010 season. Realizing this was a huge opportunity, I happily accepted the offer, and so my professional cycling career began.
In 2010, I raced a very good program with huge opportunities for growth and learning. Having almost no real cycling experience even in the US, moving to Europe to pursue this job full-time was a big decision and big change. With the full support of my family, friends, and team, I made it through the 2010 season learning heaps about training, racing, life, and myself.
Thus far in 2011, I have had another great race program with highlights including Vuelta Pais Vasco and Tour of California victories by Andreas Klöden and Chris Horner respectively. Then I had a dream victory at the US Pro Championships road race in May. It is a huge honor for me to race in the Stars and Stripes. I hope I have been, and can continue to do it honor. Now as the season enters its final few weeks, I am here at my first grand tour, the Vuelta a Espana.
Having the US Championship jersey and wanting to promote cycling in the US, I would have loved to race Utah and Colorado, but it was decided that racing here was the logical choice for my further development. Coming into the Vuelta, I had no expectations besides getting the grand tour experience. There were no expectations for stage wins or breakaways or this or that. My only goals were Madrid and helping my team as best I could. I have had many experiences from the sensation of extreme heat baking my body, to a breakaway to Sierra Nevada, to a water bottle cap in my face at 65km/h, to seeing all chances of team and individual GC slip away in a nightmare day for us. I have seen and felt the good and bad of both physical and mental emotion in the first two weeks.
Despite my own physical and mental fatigue, I will keep fighting all the way to Madrid. It is only one week of racing right! I do that on a regular basis, so what is the big deal? Oh right, it is one week after two others in front of it! The grand tour has definitely been a different sort of challenge from single week stage racing, but the experience is great, and I look forward to the gains I will get from this.