My name is Stephen Hyde. I am an American professional bicycle racer living in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. I’m the latest product of the infamous JAM Fund Development program. Finding myself on the top steps of podiums at both road and ‘cross races, I have become an ever present and versatile racer in any race I find myself in. Being a person willing to take chances in life and work hard to reach goals has proven to be a great combination and always offers me new adventures.
It’s been a year now since a knee injury stopped me in my tracks. My first UCI cross win this year came pretty early on, and it helped calm all the nerves I had built up inside my mind. The mind of an athlete can be a weird and terrifying place, especially when things start going in the direction you actually planned on. Maybe thats actually the scary part: the part where, when all the hard work and planning you’ve done actually come together, and you start to see what the out come could possibly be.
I think thats when the terror sets in. It’s so easy to set yourself up to fail. In fact, its probably the most common thing for an athlete to do. I mean, sure, every one shows up, and most do the training. They buy the bikes and the equipment. They invest in the travel. I know more then one racer who would not own a car if it wasn’t to get to the races. I mean, if you show up, you’re committed; That’s fair to say.
But what about when you put a plan together that involves multiple people, organizations and companies investing in you to produce good results? What happens when the pressures of succeeding and fulfilling your end of the deal become very real. What happens when you realize that there is no going back?
People often walk away from this sport. I think it’s safe to say that some of the best walked away without ever realizing their full potential. It’s understandable. Being a professional athlete is hard – more so then I ever thought it could be.
I feel like it hit me the hardest when I couldn’t race. I had to step back and see the whole picture. I had to see every detail that went into the life I was living. Maybe one has to do that in order to make a real commitment. Maybe it takes having the life you want dangled in front of you, just out of reach, before you know how bad you really need it. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have that pointed out to me. If it had to happen, it couldn’t have gone better, I guess.
There are a lot of people I pay tribute to everyday; people both in my daily life and people that I haven’t spoken to in some time. If you are reading this you’re probably one of those people. It doesn’t take much to become a part of someone’s life. Reading this blog or by saying “hello” at a race is all it takes to make an impact on a life. The idea that people care enough to read these words is enough for me.
Still, there are lots of people I am indebted to for large contributions to my life. From Jim and Karen at Mercy in Springfield, Mo who took the time to help me regain the use of my badly beaten body, to Brad Huff who got me there. To Jeremy Powers, who is constantly surprising me with how much he cares about my success. To Al Donahue, My coach that I see every single day and I literally wouldn’t be here doing this without. To the entire Pioneer Valley that I moved to be around. To my parents who have supported me, literally, from day one. To all the people In Pensacola, Florida, that got me into the sport and continue to support me. To all the bike shops I’ve worked for in the past that still support me. These people and the moments we shared will never be lost on me.
This weekend, I boarded a plane for Iowa to race Jingle Cross. I raced for JAM FUND still but this time I was in the company of Jeremy Powers and his Rapha-Focus crew. This is a huge deal for me. This is an opportunity for me to work one on one with the best cross racer in the country. Living down the road and riding with Powers is great but this is next level for a guy like me. This was also the first time I’ve gone to race a single day of an event. This is part of my preparation for the next chapter of my season. Learning how to go HARDER for one day then I have in the past for two days.
The second chapter to this season is building on my success in the U.S. by racing in Europe. This part might be the most terrifying thing I have ever done. On the Tuesday I will board a plane for Brussels. I’ll be staying in Izegem, Belgium, for a month, racing at a level I’ve never encountered in a place I’ve never been. An apartment and mechanic have been arranged and my plane tickets are booked. This should be interesting. If you find yourself in Belgium between November 18 and December 15, let’s hang out! Im sure I’ll be in need of some company. This move has been coming for a while and I’m excited to have finally made it happen.
After Belgium, I will fly into Houston and visit with my family there. I’m excited about this part. My Aunt and Uncle have been huge supporters of me throughout the years and I really enjoy getting to spend time with them. Powers will fly into Houston a week later and we will go do a training camp in Austin. There we will do a training camp to get ready for Nationals and solidify my bid for the Worlds team. I am aiming high this year and I want that to be known. I don’t want any one to be unclear of my intentions. I have nothing to lose and will continue to push for what I want this season. I’ll put up the links for the races I will be doing on the site soon. Wish me luck!