My journey into this sport really begins the summer before my freshman year of high school with a movie called You, Me, and Dupree. This movie is not about cycling at all, but in the movie Dupree gets a bike and this somehow convinced my buddy and I that we needed to get road bikes. We both bought entry level bikes, mine being a Diamondback Podium 1. The riding was sparse, but I enjoyed riding on the bike paths during summer break.
A few summers later my family was preparing for our annual trip to Nebraska to visit my grandma. I brought my bike along so that my cousin Aaron and I could go for a ride. At this point I still rode in cotton tee shirts, basketball shorts, and toe clips. That Saturday morning Aaron and I ventured out for a 20 mile casual loop with my dad and brother on some of Lincoln’s bike trails. It was a pretty casual ride. After we returned to the house a couple hours later, Aaron filled his bottles up in preparation to go out for some additional miles. He invited me along, and despite being pretty tired, I agreed. He had some extra cycling shoes that were my size and an old set of Speedplay pedals that he assured me would make a huge difference. After explaining how clipless pedals worked and crashing in the grass a few times, we rolled out for round two. I crashed two more times at stoplights on the ride, and had my first experience bonking. At the end of the day I had logged a little over 50 miles and I was hooked. I bought some bike shorts and a jersey the next week and began to do “races” (charity rides) around the KC area.
That spring, I decided I was ready to upgrade from the charity ride events, to real bike races. I went to the Trek Store and picked up a badass race machine, the Trek 2.1. I was told to do the local training crits, Tuesday Night Worlds, to get a feel for how actual bike racing worked. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first TNW. After doing a neutral lap, I was so caught up in the excitement of riding in a pack and the speeds that we were going that I went full gas off the front of the group. I was going faster than I had ever gone on a bike before, but one lap later the group came flying past me and I was off the back. Despite getting lapped what felt like hundreds of times, soft pedaling my way to the finish, and nearly throwing up after the race, I was still pretty intrigued by the whole racing thing. I had no idea how people would ride to the race and then ride home, and simply call it “training”, but I wanted to get to that point. I could barely manage to walk afterwards. I ended up doing a few more TNWs, but after getting dropped and lapped for a couple weeks straight, I decided bike racing might not be for me and looked into doing triathlon.
In August of 2010, I did the Jackson County triathlon in Lee’s Summit. I didn’t really train for it, other than the usual one or two rides a week plus the morning workouts for football. The swim just about killed me, the bike was super fun to me, and the run was a means to the finish. I got a tri coach, and over the course of the next year decided I was going to make an effort to get pretty decent at the multisport gig.
After high school, I went on to K-State and became pretty involved in the cycling club there. I still considered myself a triathlete, but the more group rides I did, the more bike racing began to appeal to me. That January the K-State team was planning a California training trip, and as the excitement built for that, I decided I would give bike racing a try that spring. Zach Dubas introduced me to the Lawrence racing team, GP Velotek, and even though I was still pretty unfamiliar how being on a team worked, I decided I would join. I spent the early part of that spring season racing every weekend I could, and doing every group ride I could. It didn’t take too long to upgrade to a 4. After the early spring races were over, I switched to doing collegiate racing. Since I was a 4, I was able to race in the Cat B collegiate fields, and at the time most collegiate races in our conference were Cat A/B. There were some talented Cat 1’s and 2’s in those fields so I basically had gone from racing Cat 5 to Cat 1/2/3 races in the matter of a few months. I got my ass kicked, but it was a huge learning experience and motivated me to want to get to their level. I upgraded to a Cat 3 at the end of the collegiate season. Around that time I was offered an entry from one of my teammates for the Dirty Kanza 200. My cousin Aaron was planning on racing, and the thought of a 200 mile bike race seemed exciting, so I figured why not? I mean, it’s only 200 miles… I finished in 16 hrs 38 min on my mountain bike. The experience was great, however I spent the rest of that Summer and early Fall with hamstring tendonitis. Pro tip, train for DK correctly!
At the end of 2012 I hired Jim Whittaker to coach me, which was really when I began to take the sport seriously. I began the 2013 season learning how to race, since I had spent most of 2012 simply hanging onto the Cat A/B collegiate races. It took awhile, but by the end of the season I was comfortable testing different tactics to figure out my strengths and weaknesses before upgrading. I ended 2013 upgrading before Gateway Cup and winning Kansas Best All Around Rider in the Cat 3’s.
For 2014 I had a strong spring and got some decent results locally and was able to help my teammates at regional races. The highlight of last year was getting a really solid build for the end of the season and being able to animate the race each day at Gateway Cup, picking up some primes, and missing out on a solo win by one lap at the Giro Della Montagna stage.
2014 was a huge learning experience for the team as a whole. I’m extremely excited to build off of my personal 2014 successes, help get the team some results this season, and make this my best year on the bike yet! Thanks for the support, and I’m excited to see you all at the races!