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)

5 comments:

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