That picture up there. I remember everything about that picture. The way the warm cement felt on my body. The dry, thin air. The comfortable squeeze of my recovery tights on my tired legs. A feeling of relief and excitement - and the feeling that I didn't want to move for a very long time.
That picture, taken shortly after stage one of the Tour of the Gila, feels like it was taken in a different life, but it was only a year ago. Today I am feeling nostalgia as my social media feeds fill with news of the 2017 edition of the Tour of the Gila bike race happening this week.
This time last year I had every intention of being there today. It's the hardest race i've ever done, twice. I've shed more tears the two years I did that race than at any other bike race. It's brutal and unforgiving. I strove for improvement and dedicated my time to making that happen. It was a bit masochistic. Bike racing is like that.
Today I am living an extremely different life, but noticing similarities. Both bike racing and travel have shaped me as a person and pushed me to grow stronger. Both have required me to sacrifice some of the comforts and routine that most are used to. And through both I have forged some of the strongest friendships in my life. Suffering for and with your teammates in a bike race compares to setting out in unforgettable and unusual surroundings with a group of travel mates. In both you are having completely unique experiences that will bind you together for years to come.
So today I think back fondly on my history racing bikes, think of my present life of travel, and look with excitement to the future.