Thursday, January 23, 2014

Looking Back at 2013

Looking forward by looking back.  I’m not always great at looking in the rearview mirror.  When there’s so much on the road ahead, who cares what’s behind you?  Well, in the case of my last year, I find it important to sum it up, learn from it, embrace it, be thankful for it, and use that to move forward.   When I look back at all the amazing things I was able to do in one short year, from the people I met and relationships built, to the journeys took, to the physical feats accomplished, it puts a smile on my face. 
The year started with me just having been upgraded to Pro by USA Cycling and obtaining my pro cycling license.  I knew it would be a growing year on many fronts.   I decided to race in as many different events, from XC to Ultra-endurance, in both singlespeed and geared, as I could get my hands on.  


After months of cold weather in Boulder, I had an intense desire for some warm weather riding.  Somewhere along the way I discovered Utah’s ICUP race series, which holds early season races in St. George.  On extremely short notice, I threw my stuff in the car and made the 10-hour drive to St. George (through a nasty nighttime blizzard in the mountains).  There is no other feeling in the world like stepping out into warm, dry, sunny, 80degree weather in March.  I was in heaven instantly.  The ICUP race was a blast, and I surprised myself with my level of fitness that early in the year.  I spent the next 3 days camping and riding in the warm sunny desert, and came back to Boulder recharged.


This was the biggest and most journey-filled month of my year.  I completed a month-long road trip; something I had been dreaming about doing for years.  The goal/reason: to mountain bike in as many new and cool places as I could find in warm weather while Colorado was enduring a late winter.  Through the warm and sunny desert southwest, to southern California, up the coast to Norcal and through the Sierras; it was a trip of a lifetime.  I still look back on that one month and can’t believe how many amazing places I went, unforgettable rides I had, and people I met.  Oh ya, I also did 3 XC races along the way.
Spring 2013 | My new trip on Spring 2013


The start of my “official” season.  I had already competed in 4 races, but all were looked at as training, experience, and to see where I stood.  In the middle of May was my first singlespeed race of the season at the Firebird 40, then 2 weeks later the Gunnison Growler 64 in which everything seemed to come together.


100-milers-a-too-many.  Only 5 days after the Gunnison Growler I was in Ohio getting ready to race my first ever 100-mile race, the Mohican 100.  It was a great experience.  Being my first ultra-endurance race, I undoubtedly had a lot to learn, and mistakes were made, but I left feeling overwhelmed by what I had accomplished.  I didn’t get the result I had wanted, but it was a great growing experience.  And hey, 15th place overall on singlespeed for my first 100-miler ain’t bad.  Two weeks after that I was in Michigan for the Lumberjack 100.  This was when things fell apart.  I think my body and mind had had too much from months of travelling, working, racing, training, etc. and it wasn’t my day.  This was actually a turning point in my summer, when I decided to enjoy riding more and forget about training for a little while.  Two weeks later I was back at it at the RME Snake River race at Keystone Ski Resort.  The race was “only” 54 miles, but with a ridiculous amount of climbing (~9500).  I finally got the win that I needed to boost my morale and get back on track.  Two weeks after Keystone was the big one that I had been looking forward to all year, the Breckenridge 100.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t my day.  It was the hardest race I've ever done, breaking me down both mentally and physically.  That was the end of my string of ultra endurance races for the year.  Because of financial reasons I decided to forego the Park City Point to Point.   In these two months of racing I learned invaluable lessons that will hopefully help me in the future.


The Boulder/Front Range floods changed everything for cyclists on the Front Range.  The epic flooding left ALL of the roads in the Boulder foothills damaged badly or completely destroyed.  Trail riding options were little to none.  Basically all of my training and riding was literally washed away.  September is usually a month when I plan on getting out for all those pleasure rides, high country adventures, and daily rides without a training plan in mind, after a long season of racing.  It also turns out to be a hugely productive time when I can normally get stronger after a summer of wearing myself down.  Unfortunately this year I spent much of the autumn inside with no riding options available.  It was a hard time, but not nearly as hard as losing your home and belongings.  Like those that lost everything I was intent on rebuilding and coming out stronger.

In Retrospect

2013 was definitely a learning year.  Sometimes I learned from the pain, and other times from success.  I learned that I love the 50-60 mile distance, where I can exploit some XC-racing speed along with some endurance, and struggle with 100-milers.  I learned that too much travel, especially without any support financially or from a team, will wear you down mentally and physically.  I learned that relationships inside and outside of this sport are the key to happiness and success.  I am fortunate to have met some amazing people inside the sport in my short stint as a mountain bike racer, and will hopefully use these relationships to better myself and give back to those that have helped me get here.  I am also very lucky to have a group of friends and family that, although sometimes not understanding why I do it, give me their support regardless.  The most important thing I learned from an entire year of racing, riding, traveling, working, training, stressing, winning, losing, hurting?  I am more motivated to ride my bike and dream about it now more than ever.  My love and passion for mountain biking continues to grow so big, and I’m going to use that to make 2014 the best year yet.  Cheers.

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