Thanks, Coach. Thanks, Friend.

Over the last several years I’ve had the privilege to be coached by Jim Cunningham. As I look back at any success I have had, I can attribute a lot of that to Jim. Where I haven’t done so well, I can attribute that to me not listening to Jim! Now in 2012, I’m moving in a different direction. As I do so, one of the things I’ll miss is having Jim covering my back.

I couldn’t believe that in all the photos I have of me cycling, I don’t have one with Jim! Here is the closest I have to it — this is a photo of Chris Hartzler wearing a Low Cadence kit standing next to Jim. Chris had just attended a hill climbing clinic that Jim was holding on Paris Mountain.

The coach

Jim Cunningham and Chris Hartzler

This is the one thing that brings a little pang of regret. Not having Jim pushing me along means that the official coach/athlete relationship comes to an end. I’ll have to admit, I’m not so much going to miss the coach structured training as I will Jim the coach.

The same thing goes with the decision not to race on a team this year. I definitely know it is for the best, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss that feeling of “belonging” that comes with having mates in the peloton. Sure, it isn’t like I’ve been disowned, but it just isn’t the same.

It is going to be interesting finding my spot in the cycling world. The bicycle was the primary connection that I had with most folks in the community. My “other life” moves in a different sphere than most other two-wheeled junkies.

Now I’m going at it a little bit alone. I’m hoping that Jim will still be willing to give me some pointers and kick me in the seat on occasion. He definitely has the knowledge and desire to see those he helps succeed. Take a look at his recent article over at CarolinaCyclingNews.com.

I highly recommend his services. If you want to improve as a cyclist, one of the best ways is to get yourself a coach. The knowledge and accountability it brings will definitely move you to a different level. If you can’t get Jim, then let him point you to someone he knows can help improve you.

Thanks, Coach! Thank you, my friend!