By all accounts this was a pretty good season. I've officially shut down the 'Cross machine, and as the New Year approaches this seems like an obvious time to reflect while looking forward.
2012 was something of a train wreck. Mrs. Skinny and I moved into a new house two days after I co-promoted Critz Cross, and despite salvaging some late season form with the help of Pointway Performance, I just never felt like I was at 100%.
For 2013 I knew I'd have the same challenges we all have with the training/life balance, but this year it would be manageable and I'd have a full year of structured training under my belt. For 2013 I had one goal. I wanted to win a race. I didn't care if that race was the kids race at the smallest grass roots race. I would put a five year old through the tape for a glimpse at a win. Thankfully, in the words of Tim O'shea, "Preparation met opportunity." I'm something of a mudder. This season didn't present a lot of mud, but 5 minutes before the Masters race at Cobb's Hill, the skies opened up. The rain was torrential. It was raining frogs, but there were no locusts, so the race went off after a slight delay. No one really wants to hear someone recount a race victory, because no one like a braggart, but suffice it to say, being 135lbs with FMB Supermuds helped to pave the way. My power file from the race wasn't particularly spectacular, but good coaching and training met opportunity. It was the first time since 2009 that I was on the top step.
The following weekend I raced in Gloucester. That was a polite reminder that keeping things in perspective wouldn't be a problem. I didn't crack the top 60 of their Masters 35+ race. Good thing I live 6 hours from New Belgium. I love racing there, and often regret that I'm not closer, but racing in central New York is certainly better for my self esteem.
As luck would have it, I pulled off another late season win. This time in snow. Something about sliding around just feels right to me. Fast and dry just never works in my favor. That probably goes a long way to explaining why I don't particularly enjoy road racing.
Which leads me to my goals. Two things I know about goals are that they should be written down, and you should tell someone. It also helps if they are realistic to the extent that goals can be (get out of your comfort zone, but also realize that dunking a basketball at 5'9" and 41 years old is unlikely to happen). The goals should also mean something. You can have a goal of saving a million dollars, but what does that mean? Numbers don't mean much. What does the million dollars do for you, and once you have it how will your life be better, or more importantly, will it be better? Also, will the sacrifices you make to get there be worth the destination? Lastly, goals should be measurable.
So my 2014 cycling goals:
Do more Crits. Every time I do one, I have a blast. Almost every time anyway, getting blown off of the back isn't a blast. I also think that Crits will create a little more snap in the legs for 'cross, because at the end of the day it's really all about 'cross.
MTB more. It's fun, and really helps with my CX handing skills. Good goals require you to get out of your comfort zone, and MTBing gets me out of my comfort zone. Way out sometimes.
Gain some weight. Maybe 7 pounds. No less than 5. Muscle of course, most of it in my upper body. That may seem counter intuitive, and I don't expect anyone to feel bad for me, but being this skinny isn't usually an asset in CX. You'd think it would make me a good climber as well, but I've always excelled at repetitive bursts of speed more than the steady state efforts required in climbing. I need to get stronger for popping out of corners, carrying my bike, and to reach my next goal . . .
Learn how to bunny hop logs and other mid-sized obstacles confidently and without sacrificing speed. I can think of 3 races this year where my inability to consistently hop logs or steps was the difference between a decent result and a poor one. If you take a look at my results on crossresults, it won't take a rocket scientist to figure out which races had me out of my comfort zone. I'll save you the work though. Uncle Sam, Ellison, and Beth Cup. I was sick at Beth Cup, but my inability to bunny hop the log was as embarrassing as it was time consuming. Their log wasn't tucked away in the woods, it was right by the pavilion. Did anyone see me running the log and think less of me? Maybe, maybe not, but it definitely made me slower.
Lastly, I want to be able to dismount and remount confidently on my right hand side. There are courses where this would be a big advantage. A huge advantage? Probably not, but a worthwhile advantage when I'm chasing down Dave Faso! (Picture me shaking my fist angrily in the air as I type his name). Just kidding Dave, but I think you and I spent more time bumping into each other this season than we did with our wives
CX is a tough sport. I love it, but if you're reading this, you already know that. I love that someone with average genetics can hold their own against people who would otherwise be faster. If the only cycling discipline was time trail, I'd be basket weaving competitively. Years ago, I just wanted to learn how to eliminate my stutter step when remounting. Then I wanted to learn how to ride a downhill U-turn. Then I wanted to learn how to dismount closer to the barriers. Every season it's something new. For most of us, our genetic potential is probably in the rear view mirror, but that doesn't mean that we can't do more with what we have. Pointway Performance is in charge of maximizing the engine. The rest is up to me.
Goals. Write them down and tell someone. Feel free to leave them in the comments section. No one reads this blog anyway!