couls-ice-bath

Coul’s Reward?

Here it is, Thursday, as I sit in the bath tub of ice thinking about the great weekend of racing ahead of me and I realize once again how blessed I am to be able to do this.

Last weekend, as I was leaving town with my daughter for Seattle, I texted my wife and tried to encourage her to jump in and come with us at the last moment. All she could say was that she couldn’t. To this I was sad, but drove on anyway. About an hour before the race started, Collene gave me the best surprise I could’ve ever asked for by showing up with our new nephew in tow. She couldn’t come with me because she was already there… What a great surprise!

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The first race last weekend was up in Sequim Washington, the first of the annual Tour de Dung series, a 72 miler against pros, 1s, and other 2s. I must say, this jump to CAT 2 is incredible, the absolute intensity of the race is beyond invigorating. I found myself in a constant battle for every inch, every wheel, every draft. Numerous times I bumped wheels, skidded out, or was like a cyclist ping-pong ball within the peloton. Not to mention the speed: after the race Strava told me that our average speed was over 26 mph. When I was a CAT 3, I often would pray during the race that God would help me focus because I frequently found myself thinking about work, family issues, or my never ending to do list. Now though, racing against these pros, there’s never a second not to be focused.

Coul-HammeringUp

Coul ‘Hammers’ before, during and after a race

The excitement, danger, speed, and all out war on bikes is exhilarating. For the entire duration of the race, I most certainly knew that I was very much alive. Another aspect I definitely appreciated, or learned to appreciate, is the team element and its importance for success in such a deep field. There were several teams out there, Team Audi for one, they truly have a fascinating and classy way of controlling the race entirely. It’s definitely something I admire. So there I was fighting and grinding 72 miles in the beautiful northwest. I finished with the pack 27th out of 76, definitely a success in my book.

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Coul-breakAway

Coul breaks away from the pack

The next day it was back to Mason Lake; except when I was here a year ago I was a CAT 4. This race was even more intense, more bumping, more skidding, and even more speed. The road around mason lake is fairly narrow and it becomes very difficult to advance in the final sprint because there is literally almost nowhere to go. So, I definitely know what I need to work on! However, once again I hung with the pack until the very end and finished in the top half at 37th out of 78.

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Just thinking of where I was a year ago in bodyweight, power, speed, and climbing capability, I am very grateful for the growth I am now experiencing; I must acknowledge that none of this is possible without the Lord’s blessing, all praise and glory be to him!

Coul-and-Colleene

Coul and Collene

Now it’s the night before I leave to return to the Seattle area to compete in the same two races one week later and I couldn’t be more excited. My beautiful wife is already there with our brand-new nephew, his parents, and her parents; not only do I get to see all of them, but I get to take another crack at some awesome races with incredible competition. I’m stoked. Honestly, my life is far from perfect and I struggle with a lot of things, but this I know: God has his hands on me and this life I get to live now is what I only used to dream of. Thank you Jesus.

Thank you to The Spoke Shop, Chiropractic Health Associates, Paul and Amy Berger, Hammer Nutrition, Schwalbe Tires, and CycleOps for believing in me and supporting me with your generous sponsorship. A great season is well underway.

Thank you Christian Cycling and IC3 MT, I love y’all.

Thank you wife for your support and photo mastery, I love and miss you.

 

EDITORS NOTE: This is from the first weekend in Washington State for Coul. We hope he writes more after this weekend.