Welcome to my 2015 cycling journal. This post is an introduction to what I’ll be doing throughout the semester, as well as a summary of what I’ve been up to over the offseason.
I’m choosing to do a blog about my cycling for school as a way to stay enrolled and hold onto some scholarship money, as well as keeping my writing skills in shape. Last year, I tried to chase the National Racing Calendar (NRC) professional cycling circuit while also remaining a full time student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. While I experienced some successes in cycling (I won the Best Young Rider jersey at the Joe Martin Stage Race) and school (I held a 3.75 GPA for the semester), the stress level of pursuing both cycling and school full time was often more than I could handle.
This year, however, I am stepping up my commitment to racing and backing off on schoolwork in order to see how far I can develop as a rider. Success in professional cycling is a much more time-limited goal than school and has been my dream since I started racing. Therefore, I feel I cannot pass on the opportunities provided to me by the Hagens-Berman Under 23 Development Program. This will be my sophomore year with the team and I’m looking forward to the comfort of knowing the staff and many of my teammates already. We will be doing a team building camp February 5-8 where everyone gets a chance to know each other really well through some challenging activities. Last year’s agenda included bowling and rock climbing, so I am sure our directors, Todd Herriot and David Richter, already have some big plans in store for us riders.
I was originally planning to take an online class to allow me travel and training flexibility, but I spoke with my school guidance counselor and realized most of the online classes still require tests to be taken during a specific hour, which could interfere with race days and other team obligations. Luckily, my dad works in the Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies department at UT and was able to connect me with Dr. Robin Hardin, a professor of sport journalism. Dr. Hardin has generously agreed to let me write this blog as an independent study, which gives me the maximum potential to pursue cycling full-time while helping me develop writing and multimedia skills.
I would also like to fill readers in on what’s been going on with my riding over the offseason. I took a break of about one month after the last team event, the Bucks County Classic in Pennsylvania. I enjoyed the rest and came back to riding motivated to improve for 2015, but I was plagued by repeated sinus infections that kept me from riding consistently. After a few months of struggling through, I was eventually diagnosed with tonsillitis. This meant that bacteria was harboring in my tonsils that antibiotics could not reach, so on December 23 I underwent surgery to remove the tonsils. Although it was a painful experience, this was the best Christmas present I could ask for really. For two weeks, I was not allowed any exercise because there was a risk of bleeding that could set me back even further. On top of this, I crashed hard riding a gravel road the week before surgery, tearing up my knee and adding a week to my forced rest. Not training is always a testing period for me, because it removes my favorite part of the day and can make me feel useless. However, I know the tonsillectomy was a necessary step that will allow me to develop as an athlete and be a much more consistent racer.
I’ve been able to train for the past two weeks, and have been carefully building up towards a normal training load.
I’m excited and a little bit nervous embarking on this cycling odyssey, and I hope you will follow along on with me on this blog.