In the fall I have a normal college experience—challenging classes, hanging out with friends, going to parties. In the spring, I’m pretty much absent from college life. Sometimes I think I’m missing out, but I also know that I’m really lucky to have this experience. I get to ride on George Hincapie’s team; I grew up watching him on TV. It’s really surreal.
I started on the team midway through my sophomore year at Furman University. That first year was rough, though. Right before joining the team, I had a bad crash, broke my collarbone and hurt my knee. I signed my contract in a wheelchair.
I struggled through that first team camp, but I pushed myself because I felt like I had something to prove—I was the youngest on the team, I was still in college, and I was recovering from an injury. Last year, I took spring semester off, and it allowed me to go to a few more races. I got to know the guys a lot better. We won Redlands, and that was really big for us, so it was a lot of fun.
This year, I’m hoping to take another big step in the time trial; I want to work on the mental aspect of it. The time trial is really a big battle against the mind. You’re capable of going really hard, but that last 5 percent is locked in your head and keeps you from totally crushing it. I’m hoping to work with Bobby Julich to learn how to really tap into that last 5 percent and reach that perfect state of zen. The mental aspect is really key in pushing yourself to the limit.
I’ve been really lucky that Rich, Thomas, and George have allowed me to race while being in school. In December, I’ll graduate from college. And then? I don’t know. I’ll have so much free time! I know I want to stay in bike racing, but I’ll also have to get a hobby. I like a healthy dose of pressure on me at all times. It gives me structure and forces me to get things done.