It's been a hell of a ride. I’ll be 'retiring' from elite racing at the end of the 2017 season, likely capping things off at Iceman Cometh in November. This is a decision that I’ve come to over many months, and while I am still having a lot of fun racing my bike, I know that the time is right to step down and move on to the next chapter. My motivations have changed, and I’m more interested in exploring new, unique places on two wheels than I am in chasing another National Championship or World Cup result. Simply put, the competitive fire doesn't burn like it once did. To be honest, I’m having more fun than ever riding my bike, but I attribute that to spending more time pursuing new challenges with friends than doing hill-repeats in search of my physical and mental limits. I've been racing competitively for 18 years, which at just 28 years old seems completely insane. I’ve achieved many of the dreams I had as a kid, I've traveled the world widely, and met incredible people and some of my best friends through this sport. I am blessed to have had so many incredible opportunities. 

This certainly isn't to say that I am leaving the sport. My role will change, but I hope to forever be a part of this community; y’all mean too much for me to ever want to leave it. I’m going to continue coaching, and working with our numerous development teams, to ensure that the next generation of riders can have the the same opportunities that I’ve had. I’m sure you’ll see me out at local CX races, a few enduros and who knows, I might even find myself jumping into a marathon or stage race here or there. But I’ll have a different set of goals, maximum fun instead of the top step. I'm hoping to put a few fun bike-related projects together next summer as well.

The next big goal for me is Medical School, and eventually Business School as well. This is something I have been thinking about in some fashion for many years, but my vision has solidified over the past year. As some of you know, I grew up in a medical household, and that was my first introduction to what medicine can accomplish in a community. But its been my own experiences over the past decade that have truly clarified this path. I believe that medicine is the best way for me to meet my goals of creating a fulfilling career, contributing in a meaningful way to my community, and pursuing the science and art of care that I am so passionate about. With the added education that comes from Business School, I will have a skillset that should allow me to guide healthcare organizations in ways that positively impact the healthcare of my community and region. This is what I aspire to accomplish in this next chapter.

I’ve applied to many schools across the US at this point, and while I have not yet been accepted (interview season takes place between September and March), I have a good feeling about my chances. And if I’m not accepted for a 2018 matriculation, I’ll need to bust my ass in the coming months to ensure I am a better candidate for 2019. I'm committed to this. I don’t want to try to carry the added pressure of trying to compete at a high level while I pursue these goals. It's just one more reason I feel like it’s time for me to step down from racing. 

There’s no way I can thank all of you for what you’ve done to make this journey possible… There are too many of you to name. But I would like to extend a special thank you to Jason Jablonski, my coach for the past 14 years, and to Daimo for being the best friend and mechanic one could ask for. They've always been there when I needed them. Thank you Julia Violich, Jim Miller, and Marc Gullickson for believing in me when many did not, and Adam Pulford for always having my back. Corrine, thank you for all your love, support, and putting up with my travel. And finally, my parents, Tom and Jill, who instilled a work ethic that's helped me achieve so much, and the belief that anything is possible. You all rock, I couldn't have done any of this without you guys. Much love. 

Stephen

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