It’s with great sadness that I share these words with you today, but the time has come to announce my retirement from the gravel race scene.
Those that know me well understand how difficult it is for me to utter these words, but in my heart, I know it is the right time for this decision.
My four-legs and delicately-carved sweeping back are tired and broken, my slightly cushioned velvet is sweat-stained, and I just can’t hold up those sweaty Lycra-clad bodies the way I once could.
Traveling to events has become difficult, as the Salsa van is not very spacious, and the long journeys let the arthritis set in and my limbs stiffen.
But, oh what a journey it has been!
From my rookie event at the 2018 Land Run where Mike and Scott foolishly placed me directly on the road, despite me telling them not to. Oh, how I laughed as the background of so many images had people drinking water, stretching their backs, blowing snot rockets, or remounting their bikes. We all learned something that day.
And that was just the beginning of this incredible journey.
I’ve witnessed great wheelies and not-so-great bunny hop attempts. I’ve been party to contortions that would better serve the Cirque du Solei. I’ve helped bring on, but also helped alleviate, incredibly painful sustained cramping.
World champions and the farthest-thing-from-world champions have all graced my seat cushions. And I have enjoyed each and every one of them…except perhaps the two naked men that scarred my soul forever and got Mike a talking to in HR.
I’ve heard shouts of joy and seen fist pumps from approaching riders, and I’ve witnessed the dreaded 10,000-yard stares of the beatdown riders unsure that they can survive another 20 miles to the finish.
But as we have shouted from the gravel roads on hills, prairies, and mountain tops, “If you can make it to The Chaise, you can make it to the finish!”.
That is a metaphor for life, you know.
So, don’t let this be the end of such thinking. You are all more powerful that you can even begin to imagine. Know and understand that. Believe in yourselves, for I did not get you to the finish line…YOU DID!
Cheers to The Chaise! Hip, hip, hurray...hip hip hurray...hip hip hurray!
I need to thank a great many individuals, and I apologize in advance for those that I miss.
To Mike, Kelly, Collin, and Mark, thank you for bringing me to life.
To Justin and Lindsay, thank you for believing in me.
To Patrick and Harrison, thanks for helping me express myself when I stumbled to find the words.
To Ethan, Laura, Jade, and Troy, thanks for always getting me where I needed to be at the right time.
To the promoters who welcomed me at their events, my sincerest thanks for letting me be a part of something great.
To the multitude of cyclists I met and shared a brief encounter with, I love each and every one of you.
And last, but certainly not least, I need to thank Scott, my photographer. Scott, you were tireless in your efforts, always gracious, and hardworking. And not just for me, but for the thousands of riders we celebrated. I congratulate and celebrate you.
I have traveled across this country from the Northwoods of Minnesota to the mountains of the west, and the hills of the northeast. I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets throughout our amazing heartland. We live in a beautiful and amazing country and I look forward to seeing more of it in my retirement.
Keep your eyes open for me. I hope to visit some of my cycling friends in the days to come. If you see me, please come sit with me for a moment, and fill me in on the days since we last met.
It has been an honor.
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.