Will Routley has plenty of highlights to look back on now that his 2014 cycling season is over, even if he ended the campaign on the shelf.
The Whistler-trained pro crashed in his last race of the year with his Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies teammates and was forced to pull out of the Thompson Bucks County Classic held in Pennsylvania last weekend.
"I did a Superman at about 45 K an hour and got a little bit smashed up, so I didn't finish and didn't do the crit the next day, either," Routley said Tuesday, Sept. 16 from his home in Abbotsford. "So I had five days of travelling for an hour-and-a-half of racing. It was kind of a bummer."
Before heading to the Bucks County Classic, Routley had been part of the Optum crew racing the Tour of Alberta earlier this month, where he helped Ryan Anderson to podium finishes on two stages, plus a fifth-place result in general classification.
"That was a big one for Ryan, and I was happy to do whatever I could to help him," said Routley. "It sure would have been nice to see him get a first place, and he was darn close, and he was only a couple seconds from the podium in the overall."
Although nursing some aches and pains wasn't exactly the way the 31-year-old had planned on ending his season, Routley said he doesn't have many complaints when looking back on his first year with Optum.
"All in all, it's been a good season," he said. "I really chose to put all of my peak form and energy into the first half of the season, and I was able to hold it for a long time.
"It's kind of the nature of the beast that you're only as good as your last race and you're always wanting more, but I'm happy with the year, for sure."
The biggest highlights of the year came at the Amgen Tour of California back in May, when Routley was able to win a stage and the King of the Mountains jersey. The significance of those results, among the most impressive of his 10-year road racing career, have only become more apparent over the past few months.
"Apparently, I'm being used as the poster boy for CLIF Bar right now in their promotional materials," he said. "They have a big poster when you can put your head where my face would be and (look like you're) winning at the Tour of California. Something like that's kinda neat, and they made a big mural of it for their booth for Interbike.
"So you start to think, 'OK, that was kind of a big deal.' That was a pretty great week."
Routley, who also raced at his second Commonwealth Games this summer, said he had the chance to ride in the Pro Tour races in Quebec as part of the Team Canada entry, but chose to end the year with his Optum mates instead. Optum is the third team Routley has raced with in three years, but he's found a good fit with the UCI Continental squad and plans to be racing in the team's orange and black kit for 2015.
"I haven't signed a contract yet, but we're virtually there and I'd like to stay," he said. "It's a good team and I'm confident that they'll be invited to all the major events in North America, so that's where I'd like to focus my energy next year.
"I'm definitely at the stage where environment and culture is everything... I just want to be in a good spot and be happy there, and that's what this team is."