Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I have a habit of refusing to appreciate the moment that I am currently residing in, instead choosing to romanticize the past and its perceived perfection or looking to the future as some sort of promise for satisfaction. It is a personal habit that I am currently working on, but any type of personality shift takes time to settle in. Regardless of my need to live in the moment, I have decided to put up a short post looking back at my 2009 (in cycling terms at least) and establishing what I want to get out of 2010, a year which may be my last shot at focused competition.

2009 was a good year for me as far as cycling was concerned. Not great necessarily, but solid enough for me to feel that I have made some progress and as long as I develop a touch more focus, should continue to progress in the coming season. I only started racing seriously in 2006, took 2007 casually and then decided I wanted to get fast in 2008, so I have to keep some perspective when lining up next to those who have been at the front of Expert and A races for years. 2008 was about getting my feet wet in the Expert class and 2009 was about progress and closing the gap to the front of the race. Both goals were accomplished, but it is difficult to remain objective when there is still nearly ten minutes to first at the end of the race. I aim to halve that in 2010 and hope that the schedule and program I established this week will help to make that a reality.

I started 2009 with two and a half months of decent base before beginning my season at Lost Valley, a race that I promote, with no intensity to speak of. The drag race down the Hamburg and up the initial climb was a shock to the system, but I hung in and finished ninth. Not spectacular, but good enough to provide some confidence for the season. I then had an extended break from MTB racing due to weather issues and sort of lost focus until May. I was riding plenty, but not really doing anything to improve. I finally rediscovered my motivation after a less than stellar performance at the Rolla Hellbender road race and set about trying to put some energy into the rest of the summer season. I notched up a place every race I did and despite wilting in the heat at St. Joe, knew the legs were on the upswing. A week in Wisconsin at season's mid point provided a solid opportunity to put in some quality saddle time and I came back to town ready to close out the MTB season strong. Rockbridge, Castlewood and Spanish Lake all went well. I felt like I was able to battle with certain members of the Expert class and got the gap under ten minutes by season's end. A couple of fifth place finishes gave me the feeling that I was headed in the right direction. I stopped racing MTB after the first week of August so that I could do some more base in preparation for cross.

During this "base" (basically doing whatever I wanted on a bike), I re-injured my hand and had a hard time riding off road for about month. This kept me from getting accustomed to my cross bike and by the time I hit the Hermann night race, I was flat from a month of non intensity and sloppy with my skills due to limited cross riding. I felt a bit demoralized but resolved to put my head down and get ready for my only goal of the season, a strong ride at state. The next weekend in Carbondale, I placed fifth in the A class which provided me with some retribution despite knowing that factoring in all the people who weren't present would generally leave me just outside the top ten. And so it would prove that week in, week out at the Bubba A series, I was anywhere from 11th to 15th and despite a few good races, was struggling mentally. The first month and a half of the Bubba series was also one of the most stressful periods of my life, but I continued to try and fit the training in around all the chaos. I finally got to put together a few solid, uninterrupted weeks of hard riding toward the end of the season and things clicked for me at the State race with a 2nd place in the threes races. As this race was my only goal of the year, I went out on a high and felt ready to step it up a bit in 2010.

Moving into next year, I have had more time off than previous years, but I don't intend to start racing as early, either. Unfortunately, the MTB calender is a bit more sparse than I'd like, despite the hype of a new and improved series. The return of Saturday races is a blow to us shop employees so I will once again be traveling a bit more in order to race. There is also the likelihood of a few road races and some short tracks, so I am hoping to have enough to stay focused through the year. I plan on shutting the summer season down on August 1 and have an idea about how to better prepare for cross. My sincere hope is that this coming fall will be a bit more serene than last year so I can give cross a proper go. For now, I plan to appreciate the long base miles that make up the next two months, hope to hit trail as much as possible and generally appreciate every moment over the next year. Thanks for reading, those that do, and I hope to see some of you out at the races and on the trail this year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010