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I'm not surprised when I hear this kind of news anymore . . . "Professional Road Racer Retiring to Gravel."
One of the coolest dudes in professional road cycling is following Ted King & Pete Stetina onto the gravel scene. TJ is one of my favorites. A fellow Utahn, I once yelled "Good Luck TJ" from the side of the road while he was warming up for the Salt Lake City circuit of the Tour of Utah. He looked over, huge smile, and said "Thanks man, much love, and enjoy that sandwich." I can get behind a dude like that.
So, TJ is creating his own Gravel endeavor called Imaginary Collective with fellow road racer Andrew Dahlheim. The two "dudes" will race various big "mass participant" gravel races (think Dirty Kanza, SBT GRVL, & Crusher in the Tushar, etc.) as well as some endurance MTB races (think Epic Series). Interestingly, TJ says he isn't too interested in actually "winning" these races. Rather, following his Mormon-Buddhist soul, he just wants to be there, taking in the vibe, enjoying the moment, and communing with all of that gravel. Like Ted King, TJ will promote certain brands through Instagram, YouTube, and his own painting. And like his friend Taylor Phinney has stated, this gets him out from under the crushing dictatorship of road sponsors, and into the free-thinking realm of sponsoring whatever he feels passionate about.
It's a new model, but he's not the first to do it. TJ is a supremely interesting dude, and Gravelution.com wishes him well.