mari holden alison tetrick chris carmichael

Chris Carmichael’s List of the “Best of 2018”

As 2018 draws to a close, I encourage everyone to pause and look back over the accomplishments and challenges you’ve experienced in the past 12 months. What are you grateful for? Who – or what – made you happy? What do you want to do differently in 2019? When I reflect on this year, the following were some of the most important, memorable, and fulfilling moments.

Best Day to Stay Alive

I nearly choked to death one night at dinner during the Amgen Tour of California Race Experience. I wrote about the ways the experience changed my outlook on life, and they are as true today as they were last spring. The older I get, the more I believe in karma and the benefit of healthy relationships.

I was fortunate to be sitting across the dinner table from two doctor friends. Days after Dr. Goobie performed the Heimlich Maneuver, I wrote: “Choking on a cherry tomato provided a stark reminder of the frailty of humans, not just me, but all humans. People can study and learn about science, technology, history, and countless other subjects. People can train their bodies to be strong and powerful. They can acquire money, influence, and power. And yet, none of that can save you when you get something as simple as a tomato stuck in your windpipe. Only another person can do that… or maybe cutting your tomatoes in half.”

We are here to take care of each other, and those who live only to take care of themselves will be all alone when only someone else can save them.

Most Fun Event of the Year

I’m a pretty lucky guy to spend a good portion of the year at cycling camps and events. Of all the events I attended in 2018, the Maui Miles Bucket List event was the most fun. We stayed right on the water, rode every day, and had a great chef preparing our meals with fresh seafood and vegetables.

The riding was out of this world, including the 110-mile East Maui Loop to the sea level-to-10,000 feet ride up Haleakala. The best, though, was the day we took a boat over to Molokai Island, watched countless humpback whales breaching, and then rode 70 miles on the island. There are some places where you feel like you could ride forever because you always want to see what’s around the next bend. Molokai was like that.

I can’t wait to go back next month.

Most Impactful Day on the Bike

They say you never step into the same river twice, and I think the same is true for cycling routes. In August 2018 I rode up Mont Ventoux for the first time since racing up it in Paris-Nice as a pro for 7-Eleven. Almost everything in my life – and in cycling – has changed in the intervening 35 years, but for an hour all that disappeared and once again it was just me and that barren mountain road.

At the time I wrote:

“Mont Ventoux is a special place. It stands alone, a solitary peak devoid of trees, which certainly hasn’t changed much since I raced up it 35 years ago. Riding past the memorial to Tom Simpson, then and now, leads to reflection. It is a strange thing to earn a living by pushing your body to extremes, but that’s what professional athletes do. There’s a kinship between pros that transcends generations and eras of racing, partly because we know the pressure we put on ourselves, and the suffering we all experienced on these same roads and cols.

Tom Simpson changed the European peloton. He was the first man from Great Britain to wear the yellow jersey and win a world championship on the road. He won Milan-San Remo, the Giro di Lombardia, and Paris-Nice. Before Simpson, there were very few British pros on the continent. Like the North Americans in the 80s, Simpson showed British riders could compete at the sport’s top level.

Simpson’s untimely death on Mont Ventoux in 1967 had a lasting, and ultimately positive, effect on cycling. It was a catalyst for starting mandatory drug testing in cycling, a practice the Olympics first adopted for all medalists in 1968. His memorial is a reminder that in sport and many areas of our daily lives, it often and unfortunately takes great tragedy to spur meaningful change.”

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CTS Athlete Highlights

It’s always a good sign when there are too many CTS Athlete accomplishments to list. Among the highlights for 2018 were:

  • Gage Hecht:
    Some athletes are very good in one, very specific activity. It takes a special athlete to excel across multiple disciplines and events. In 2018, Gage won the U23 National Road Race Championship, a stage of the Colorado Classic against seasoned pros, and a bronze medal in the ELITE Cyclocross National Championships (even though he was eligible to race the U23 event).
  • Dirty Kanza 200 Podium Sweep:
    Kaitie Keough, working as a CTS Coach, won the Dirty Kanza 200 in June. In the process she kept the 7-year streak of CTS wins at DK alive. And for the first time, CTS swept the Women’s podium with Kaitie in first, 2017 champion Alison Tetrick in second, and 2015-2016 champion Amanda Nauman in third. And CTS Athlete Rebecca Rusch topped the podium in Dirty Kanza’s newest event, the 350-mile DKXL.
  • Ultramarathon athletes:
    Jason Koop and our ultramarathon coaches had a ton of success with the athletes they work with in 2018. The list is too long to list completely, but highlights include: Dakota Jones rode his bicycle from Durango to Colorado Springs and then won the Pikes Peak Marathon. In the process he set a new descent record! Kelly Wolf won the Lavaredo120K in the Italian Dolomites. And Dylan Bowman won the 105-mile Ultratrail Mt. Fuji by overtaking the longtime race leader at mile 97!
  • We do Gravity, too!:
    Twenty-five year old Neko Mulally won his third Downhill National Championship in 2018. Working with Colin Izzard and training in the great terrain around Brevard, North Carolina, Neko continues to be one of the top – and most popular – American gravity racer.
  • Ty Magner wins another Criterium National Championship:
    Back in 2013 Ty Magner won the U23 National Criterium Championships, and in 2018 he captured the Pro Criterium National Championship in Knoxville, TN, racing for Rally Professional Cycling Team.

Hardest Loss of the Year

Loss is part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Just weeks ago, Paul Sherwen passed away in his sleep and cycling lost one of its most iconic voices. Paul was much more than a commentator. We raced together in the 1980s, and even in the sometimes-cruel world of the pro peloton, Paul was nice, and genuine. His role in life changed, but his character never did. He was one of the nicest and most genuine, thoughtful people you could ever meet. It is telling that over a period of decades he was universally liked and respected. That’s quite a feat in the polarizing environment of professional cycling. He was a good friend whose voice I will dearly miss.

paul sherwen

CTS Achievement of the Year

In an environment where gran fondo and gravel events fill nearly every week of the calendar, I was very proud of the CTS Team for accomplishing a 23% increase in attendance in only the second year of the Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo. We know cyclists have a lot of choices, so I was really happy to see more athletes choose the Fig Fondo.

fig fondo graphic

I was also happy to see that 27% of the athletes who signed up for the Fig Fondo were women. As we have written about in the past, representation matters and requires effort. By comparison, participation by women at endurance cycling and ultraendurance running events typically hovers between 10-15%.

We didn’t accomplish success with Fig Fondo alone. I have to give special thanks to our presenting sponsor, Lucas Oil, and all our sponsors and supporters, including Giordana, Pinarello, ProBar, Helix, Visit Santa Ynez Valley, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, and Chumash Casino.

Looking forward to 2019

With 2018 wrapped up, I’m also looking forward to 2019. Briefly, here are some of the things I’m really looking forward to:

  • Pinarello F10 disc Pinarello F10 with Shimano Di2 and disc brakes: They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but so far I’m loving the transition to disc brakes and thru axles!
  • Iceland Bucket List event: New for 2019, we’re going to the WOW Cyclothon race in Iceland. This all-inclusive 6-day trip includes the 1358-kilometer relay race that circumnavigates Iceland in a maximum of 72 hours. There are only two spots left if you want to join me!
  • Amgen Tour of California Race Experience: The elimination of the Time Trial means more long days on the bike!
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Epic: Over 6 days in September 2019, we will endeavor to ride all 469 miles (and 51,000 feet of climbing) of the Blue Ridge Parkway!
  • SBT GRVL: This new gravel event in Colorado sold out 1,000 entries in one week! If you still want to ride gravel in Steamboat Springs in August 2019, we have a few spots in our SBT GRVL Camp, which includes a guaranteed entry!

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach of CTS

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Comments 2

  1. Thanks Chris for all the positive articles and more importantly the CTS Couches, I wasn’t a believer until my son convinced me to try something new. Lucas Oil was honored to be a part of the Fig Fondo and we look forward to being a part of it in 2019. Ride Safe

    1. Mark:

      Thank you and everyone at Lucas Oil for all the support.

      We look forward to the 2019 Fig Fondo Presented by Lucas Oil…Happy holidays!

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