A Milestone: Six Years Ago I Quit Drinking Alcohol – What I’ve Learned and How It Can Help You


A Milestone: Six Years Ago I Quit Drinking Alcohol – What I’ve Learned and How It Can Help You

Five years ago, I penned a post about abstaining from alcohol for six months. Then, eighteen months later, I followed up with a two-year anniversary piece that outlined my perspective on putting down the bottle… for good.

It’s now been six years since I had any alcohol. In that time, I’ve witnessed more discussions about cycling’s alcohol problem, so I wanted to write again about this subject where I’ll offer guidance on transitioning out of alcohol dependency, non-alcoholic drinks I’ve found to be helpful, and resources you can use to help on this journey…


So why did I decide to put down the booze? A few things happened simultaneously. First, I was blowing off my partner to hang out at a bike shop and drink with people. She would invite me to a dinner party or a gallery opening, and I’d rather sit outside a shop and drink all night. Ultimately, I blew her off one night and woke up with a horrible hangover. I called her that morning and said I didn’t want to do this anymore. She was cautiously supportive, having heard those words from people with a bad hangover before, but she also knew the desire to quit booze had to come from within. I knew I wasn’t capable of moderation, so I quit that day. It was September 07, 2017.

A few days later, I went into the doctor’s office for a checkup–the first in years–and my blood work came back off the charts. My kidneys and liver were on the brink of collapse. The doctor told me without drastic life changes, I would be lucky if they lasted for another year. When I told him I had taken some time off from booze, he recommended I quit altogether if I wanted to live a long life.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine living without drinking. I loved bourbon and rye whiskey. Each night, I’d make cocktails while I worked, and I’d stay up until 1 AM in a boozy haze, writing reviews and scheduling posts for the website. Going back and reading my work from this time makes me cringe. I was not a happy person then; argumentative, negative, and cynical.

Enjoying the view with a ginger ale

It took a long time for those traits to become a background fog.

My social circle became smaller once I announced I’d quit cold turkey. I quickly realized many people I considered friends were using me to promote themselves, their brand, or their bike shop and weren’t concerned with my health and well-being. This was a dark time. When someone would offer me a drink, I’d get mocked and be told, “I wasn’t fun anymore,” while they’d brag that they could “drink all night and feel great the next day. ”

I receded into my mind and pushed away from this social scene. It was a real struggle. One that, in hindsight, I wished I had gotten professional help to help guide me through.

Triggers and Trauma

This sort of behavior continued for my entire stay in Los Angeles. In 2019, when we were looking to move to Santa Fe, one of the things I appreciated about this Northern New Mexico town was that most of the people I knew lived here because of its access to the outdoors: the fishing, the trails, the backpacking/hiking, and 4×4 touring. People didn’t waste the day getting drunk, at least not the people I wanted to be around, and that felt like a bastion of sanity. We bought our house in 2019 and planned on moving to Santa Fe in April 2020.

In March of 2020, the rumblings of Covid started shortly after we closed on our house, so we fast-tracked our move a few weeks early to skedaddle out of LA, not knowing what the future held. Then Covid hit full-on, along with the pandemic, came the stay-at-home orders and drove us all indoors. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking then. It was hard enough moving to a new place, knowing only a few people and not knowing the trails. I was lonely and struggling to hold it together. As I’m sure many of you were!

Drinking would have been kerosene on this fire.

What it did do, however, was give me space to work on myself. I contacted a therapist, and we had bi-weekly Zoom calls. Therapy made me feel whole again, and I wished I had gone to AA or gotten help during the transition period out of my alcoholism.  Alcohol had altered my mind chemically, and it was not easy to do on my own. I have a hard time asking for help, as many people do, but this was on another level.

I should note that Cari also stepped away from booze in solidarity in 2019 – she was a here-and-there social drinker at that time and wanted to quit not only for her health but to make it easier for me. I can’t overstate how much having a supportive partner in this journey has helped me get through this, especially having solidarity in social environments where alcohol is present.

Eventually, I feel like we attracted other people who didn’t drink in excess, and that made socializing all the easier.


I highly recommend the Huberman Lab podcast for more insight into how your brain and body are altered by alcohol…

Around this time, I started leaning on the use of psychedelics more. Mushrooms, LSD, and even a DMT trip helped knock my world back on its axis. After my DMT experience–that could be a novella on its own–my therapist concluded that whatever happened, my wires seemed to have uncrossed themselves and that we were “done for now,” stating she had patients who needed her help. For six months after DMT, I worked hard on responding to situations rather than reacting and addressing intention versus impact. For the first time, I felt like I knew myself.

It is important to point out that you should never use drugs to fix your problem. The endorphins spike, and spiritual high from drugs like LSD and DMT are just bondo over rusty metal. You must cut out that rust before adding on spiritual journeys, at least in my non-professional opinion. As always, you should consult a doctor or professional before trying psychedelics.

In 2019 and into 2020, it was tough to be around alcohol. The smell of bourbon or whiskey made me drool and my stomach growl. To be fair, this is still the case, yet I’ve identified this and given myself a refuge from temptation via a series of non-alcoholic drinks.

Booze Free and Loving It

In 2017, when I quit drinking, very few NA beverages were out there. First, I never really craved beer back then. I was a bourbon hound, so I wanted something close to bourbon, not a beer. My fix was Topo Chico with a few drops of non-alcoholic bitters or some other NA shrub for flavor, and eventually, just a standard Topo Chico did the trick. Then I’d put sparking water in a coozie to feel like I was socializing with everyone else drinking. Yet, the key to surviving as an alcoholic at social events is to know when to just go home.

Later, around 2020, I found HopTea, a tea brewed with hops in a sparkling water can. I drink this as the bourbon cravings have subsided, and I crave hoppy IPAs for some reason. I really like the Citra Bomb HopTea for this reason, and when I’ve had a long day, I’ll use my PAX vaporizer with a Sativa strain to get a buzz and drink a HopTea to unwind.

I still feel fresh, sharp, and ready to take on the day when I wake up.

Weed has been very helpful, but I’ve found I only really need to smoke a few times a week and mostly at night to wind down. If I smoke too much, I get groggy and feel misaligned.

The key here is moderation! This is something that I struggle with in all aspects of life, but I have identified this and tried to work through it.

In Closing

I struggle with writing about this aspect of my life because I’m not sure I’m adding anything relevant to the conversation while acknowledging that the conversation in itself is important. If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug dependency, sometimes it helps to realize that you’re not alone. Oftentimes, people are trapped by cyclical behaviors, particularly in cycling: go on a ride, go to a bar and get a few drinks, rinse/repeat.

Cycling, in general, has a booze problem. As do most outdoor sports. But you do not have to be part of that problem. You can quit drinking; you can quit putting yourself in those situations. If your relationships, your job, and your finances are struggling due to your drinking, I hate to be the guy who says this, but it’s most likely because you’re an alcoholic. Addressing that is the first step to recovery.

The only true fix for this stuff is therapy. Alcoholics Anonymous or a licensed therapist can help you walk through the healing process. Lean on people who support you and note that the social fallout might feel severe, but in time, you can make a new social circle. It took me a few years, but I rarely hang out with people who want to sit at a bar and drink all day.

I guess the most important thing is to know that the human body is a wonderful machine, and since I’ve quit, my liver and kidneys have bounced back, and I feel healthier than ever. This is an apt metaphor for life’s journey. No matter how rough it feels, it will get better. Will it be hard? You bet your ass. But no harder than that monstrous climb you hate.

This conversation is meant to bring these things to light. If you need a change, lean on a professional to walk you through it. AA is free, and my therapy lessons cost me around $250 a session, which was easier to fork out knowing I wasn’t spending my money on booze.

If you have questions or concerns or can relate here, drop a line in the comments.