When I graduated from high school in 2001, mountain bike racing in the US began to lose its luster. Races weren’t televised as often, state and national race series were being canceled, and the mountain bike boom of the nineties was starting to fade. I realized any potential to race professionally in cycling would need to be on the road.
A brief stint with Team USA’s U23 National Team, a summer racing in Italy, and three seasons racing for domestic professional road cycling teams in my early 20s was as far as I got. I never won a significant race as a professional, and I left professional cycling in 2007 feeling as though I had given the sport my best shot despite ultimately falling short of my goal: racing at the highest level in Europe. I felt defeated. I was burnt out. I just never quite got good enough. I failed.
Now, a decade later, I, along with the world, have a vastly different perspective of cycling in the 1990s-2000s. The stars of that era, those I looked up to who were winning races in Europe, weren’t what they seemed. They were the best of their time, yes, but their time was tainted. To this day, I don’t have any idea how much blood doping had an impact on the domestic racing scene in the United States. I’d like to think it was significantly less than it was in Europe. All I know is I was naïve and never directly exposed to it.
I don’t blame the doping epidemic for my inability to achieve my goals in cycling. At the end of the day I just wasn’t talented enough. I certainly put the work in, but I was never able to recover well enough to perform at the highest level. I was good, but not great, and one must be truly exceptional to succeed as a professional cyclist.
…This is a long prelude to introduce a very special project I recently had the good fortune to collaborate on with Bell Bicycle Helmets. The ‘Bell All-Stars’ series of short biographies was conceptualized by Bell’s Road Brand Manager James Hibbard. The intent is to create brand awareness by exploring Bell’s storied history in US cycling, focusing on individuals who were pioneers in the sport.