Friday, January 27, 2017

Why not Tri it?

This new triathlon endeavor I’m undertaking may seem a little out of the blue to some. So, I decided to write a few thoughts down to give people an idea of where I’m coming from and perhaps in later posts, where I hope to go with all this.

I’ve spent the past 13 years devoting a good chunk of my life to cycling and gaining some unbelievable memories, life experiences, and friends in the process. But I was absolutely certain that 2016 should be my last year as a professional cyclist despite showing some good fitness and form at a few races throughout the season.

Why quit cycling? Well, travel for one. I didn’t like being on the road more than I was home from Jan. – Sept. I would come back from a 2 or 3 week trip and my kiddo would be noticeably bigger and have new ‘tricks’ to show me. That sucked. I want to be there as life happens, not as a transient who is there in spurts. But as much of a reason as the travel, was the waning fire for the sport. Road cycling is entirely too hard to be just 85% committed. I found myself feeling less than elated after wins or good performances. And I found myself less inclined to be there when it counted in riskier situations. My teammates definitely deserve better than that. My cycling ‘home’ for the past 5 years – formerly Optum, now Rally Cycling Team – prides itself on our one-for-all mentality and our ability to sacrifice individual ambitions for the success of one. I still say ‘our’ because I still feel like I’m a part of that family. It’s a great feeling when you work together with your teammates for a goal and then achieve it. Conversely, it’s an awful feeling when you let your teammates down when it matters. I found myself in that position far too often for my liking.

However, I still enjoy endurance sports and I love new challenges so I didn’t want to completely toss in the towel. Sometime in early 2016, I decided that I’d give triathlon a try after my cycling career concluded. I’ve always joked that I’m a triathlete posing as a cyclist, due to my inability to accelerate but knack for going hard for hours. Now, I guess we’ll see how accurate that joke is! I ran competitively from age 10 to age 23. Then, I devoted the next 14 years to cycling. Now, I just have to swim hard for 10 years or so and I should be ripping at this sport! Nah, I’m all good. I’m the same height, weight, and shoe size as Phelps so that should count for something, right? I love the challenge that swimming has posed these past 4 months. It’s been a lot of fun for me to work on the nuances and track progress. And I’ve had a lot of guidance along the way (thanks Dave, Jeff, Doug & Tate!). I’m excited and nervous for my first mass start swim coming up in just over a month. Besides a couple hundred meters splashing around in the Gulf of Mexico last fall, it will be my first open water swim, too – yikes!

So, if you want to see some potentially interesting splits in a result sheet, my debut triathlon is slated for Mar. 5 at the Desert Triathlon in La Quinta, CA. I hope to do well overall, but there are far too many unknowns for me to call myself “confident” of a good result at this point.

And again, I’d like to thank my sponsors are supporting me on a leap of faith and who have virtually eliminated my startup costs. Diamondback, Hed., Castelli, ISM, and Zoot – I hope to do you proud! (or at least not embarrass us)


Anonymous said...

Go for it, Tom! The "Sister Group" will be Cheering and Praying for your success. We did so love watching you in MN. Love U

Austin Wood said...

Austin from Clear Lake. I can definitely empathize with you feeling like a transient with the little one when I am harvesting the crops two months out of the year. Not a 3/4 year stretch but rarely do I see him unless he's in the combine whining because he can't control the dials. Best of luck to you in swimming, the rest no luck needed. I am impressed by your choice of direction in life and am anxious to see the results from Cali.

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Michael Nash said...

Hi Tom, would you be willing to share some information about your hour record in Mexico. I watched your video on YouTube and loved the low-key affair. I recently set a Canadian master's record (50-54 years - 46.4km) and want to try to better it at altitude. One of your newer Rally team-mates (Mateo Dal-Cin) can vouch for me; we've raced together as I was leaving the elite ranks and racing as a master. If you drop me a line, I just have a few questions. Your time is appreciated. Thanks! Mike Nash

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