Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The end of the season

My 2009 racing season concluded on Monday morning, as I boarded my flight home from Brussels, Belgium. My last two races of the season were Interclubs (UCI one-day events) taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Both races saw me and teammate Ryan Eastman make the final split but were unable to give the group the slip. Saturday's race featured an all-star start list of Belgian talent, including Junior Paris-Roubaix champ Guillame, the Belgian National Champion, and no less than the newly crowned World Champion himself, all decked out in rainbow stripes from head to toe. The next day's race featured an 800 meter section of very rough cobblestones that we crossed six times, jettisoning both my bottles on the first time. Both races featured start lists of nearly 200 riders. I think I finished 25th one day and 47th the other. After the races had ended and we were back at the house, we celebrated the end of the season by going to the town square where the town festival was taking place. There we spent what Euros we had left on the bumper carts and frites.

The next morning we were up bright and early for 24 hours of travel time that would take me back to Vermont. I guess I couldn't really help but do a little reflecting during that long flight. I have been racing pretty much non-stop since February, and in a year that was supposed to be more about recovery than results due to my leg, I have to say that I am happy how it turned out. But for right now, it feels good not to have a race that I'm training for. Looking back, the low point of this year would definitely be in Germany when I had re injured my leg, and the high point would be either the team stage victory at Kentucky or the Best Young Rider's Jersey in Abitibi. I think I have improved myself from just another rider, to someone who is a danger for the win in most races. I am looking forward to next year when I am hoping to secure some good results in Europe, go to the World Championships in Italy, and enjoy my last year as a junior bike racer. Until then, I have a lot of catch-up work to do in school, and recharging of the figurative batteries. Not to mention the consumption of a whole heap of Belgian Chocolates!

The other big upcoming event is surgery on October 1st that will remove all of the various metal pieces from my leg and hip. Although this surgery isn't mandatory, I feel that removing the hardware will make racing easier and safer, and the date should give me plenty of recovery time.

Now that the season is over, I realize that I have a lot of people who I need to thank. I don't have room to name them all so I'm going to have to be sort of general. Thank you to everyone who helped me through the tough times and congratulated me on the good times. A year ago I wasn't sure I would be racing a bike again, and your support was just as big a reason for that happening as anything else. Thank you to the doctors who were extra careful to put me back together again so well that I could keep racing. Thank you to my team for having both patience and faith in me for this season. Thank you to all the people who have given me advice and mentoring, and all the other countless people who have helped me out through the years. Thankyou to Kevin Bessett who beat me up cross-country skiing, but don't ever believe his story about beating me up Beech Mountain! And an especially big thank you to my parents who have supported me every step of the way, and my brother Eric, who still puts up with me.

One year ago...

....Racing with the team in Belgium this year.

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