Happy 2013 to everyone! On the bike, 2012 was a good year for me — I won a few TTs, took home the NJ TT Cup overall, and helped Heart House win a few key races. I was a little tired in winter 2011 after coming home from Boulder, started 2012 prep a little later, my goal was to be improving MAR APR MAY 2012, culminating with the State TT… That was 2012 dream plan.
Last spring, I came into the season a bit heavier, 167, really working on power in the gym, was doing more MTBing, less of an aerobic base with less road bike — and I looked it, just thicker in my legs and up top… I raced the March MTBNJ Short Track series and felt stronger each week out… In April, the legs came around much, much faster than I thought they would — and I think it’s just because my body has been doing this so long, just seems to respond better each year…
In April, I hit a really good stride, taking 2nd at Sandy Hook, winning Readington, winning LBI TT (course record), winning Cape May. Of course, when you catch REALLY GOOD FORM, getting sick can be right around the corner… I was heavier, about 167 compared to 157ish for most TT pre-2012, and I felt SUPER on the TT bike at the heavier weight, just more powerful… but… I still managed to get completely sick, chest infection, blah — and I was absolutely obliterated at two of my favorite events, the High Point Uphill TT and Somerset Circuit TT… I was able to rest and regroup and really taper it up for State TT. In the weeks leading up to the big dance, I set the course record at Lake Nockamixon TT, then won the Upper Freehold TT, got myself into a really good groove.
And I had a super ride at Chatsworth — I experienced the best sensations on the bike, paced it perfect, very linear coming back… but I was beaten by Thomas Gibbons… I was disappointed initially, but… you can’t control how fast they go — you can only control how fast YOU go. If I look at it, year-by-year I was improving, from 6th to 5th to 4th to 3rd to now 2nd…
And that was really it — I was nuked mentally, needed a break from training. Boulder travel and all the education and research I was doing out there, plus the intense 2012 build, had worn me down a bit — I knew at Chatsworth that the remainder of 2012 would be spent with casual riding, just having fun, and I did just that, concentrating fully on Elite Endurance, researching and designing new workouts, new builds, superior training splits… I still rode, still raced, but just had fun out there, really no sincere training, no intent — and it showed a bit in ‘cross, where I was mauled week after week but I still had a great time throwing down. Hey, you can’t get ’em all, right?! But ‘cross was so much fun, certainly want to come back in 2013 and race better, prepare with some tenacity…
This winter, have been dealing with some family issues, and my training has been taking a bit of a backseat, and this is entirely fine — family first… and to be honest, I think many riders tend to overdo it in the winter, yearning to reach a new condition as the weather warms, and for nearly every athlete this backfires — at one sad point, the aerobic engine erodes, and you are left in a rubble — either injured, overtrained, burned out, nuked, going backwards… Ever notice the guy who is mono sick or nursing an injury in February is FLYING in June?
Well, he’s there every year, and you can learn from him.
I was MTBing LOTS this winter — until the skies crapped snow down on us… For 2013, I do want to do well in TTs, maybe take a 4th consecutive TT Cup title, but I also want to get back to my roadie roots, steepen my power curve again… I’ve drastically improved my 10m and 20m power numbers, but my 1m 2m 5m maxes are borderline pathetic — and for good reason — specialization is a potent animal… I’ve almost completely forgotten what it feels like to accelerate up a hill!!!!
Basic Goals for 2013: to have solid performances at the MTBNJ Short Track series in March (would be VERY happy with a top-5), become more competitive in big XC MTB races and select road events, have my best-ever ride up at High Point (sub-20:19), and improve on my performance at the NJ State TT Championships, aiming for my best ride of the year.
But MTBing is something I’ve fallen sincerely in love with, have many MTB buddies who are all super-talented, showing me new things — my friend Ben Williams, who won the Pro/Open H2H category this year, has been a great friend this last year, and we’ve had some killer rides in the best MTB parks NJ and NY have to offer… I’ve been racing road for so long, the MTB is now the Great Escape, where I feel that euphoria that I used to feel on the road bike during epic hard hilly rides… And I do want to start feeling more competitive in cross-country MTB events, this very much is a goal… I can race a TT on a SAT, win or set a course record, and then race a big MTB race the next day and be fighting desperately, clawing with blood in my mouth, for a top-15, the efforts required just entirely different — perhaps why I find it so enjoyable, because it’s more of a challenge…
Winter training has been simple but effective: I’ve been riding the PowerCranks almost exclusively, all 45-75-minute rides, plenty of high-end and low-end Tempo, mixing in logical overgeared work, too, virtually zero volume. I haven’t ridden the TT bike since 2012 State TT and don’t plan to ride it again ’til mid-March 2013. One of the things I have Elite Endurance athletes do is work on their weakness in the winter — this is a big secret, shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone. For me, that weakness is Muscular Power. So, these last two seasons, I’ve been doing extra work in the gym, high-rep body weight work to failure, plenty of plyometrics, an entire arsenal of core workouts — and in 2013, I am by FAR the strongest I’ve ever been in the gym. I look at my training diaries from every winter, and this year I’m a far, far, far different athlete in there, completely on a new level.
Having said that, I’m 175 pounds. My legs have gotten much thicker — I know this because now when I’m down in the drops, the top of my thigh HITS my lowest rib — I never had that issue before On the flats, I feel great, but accelerations, rollers, climbs, and I’m severely feeling the extra weight — SEVERELY… On the Rocket Ride two weeks ago, all the studs were attacking like hyenas off the front in the final portion, and the 30+ group I was in was whittled down to 10, 8, blah, and I kept gritting my teeth to get on the wheel in front.
But, hey, winter heroes make in-season zeroes. Believe that. True story. I am certainly the “slowest” I’ve ever been at this point in the year, which can feel alarming considering I want to be fast MAR APR MAY, but for some reason I am exceedingly calm — I know the legs will come around and be there when I need them there. Perhaps I’m getting older, not sweating the small stuff anymore.
And that’s that. I know if I follow the build I’ve laid out, gradually whittle the weight down, hit the MTB races I have highlighted, work hard on the TT bike when I’m required to do so, get myself into monk mode and into that coccoon, I know I’ll be fast when I need to be. This — planning, dreaming about, anticipating the future months as all riders begin to get really violent — there is zero novelty to it, it never, ever gets old.
Fight Club on wheels — cycling, it’s a favorite thing in my life… I had my head cut off repeatedly in ‘cross in 2012, I am now the slow guy at group rides… but I very much look forward to starting to feel that intense bloom of satisfaction you feel on the bike when a workout is ripped 100% — I am salivating for it, lusting for it.
We all can feel the buzz in the air, 2013 looming. Riders in the basement, sharpening those axes… And when it’s time for battle, I will be ready — after all, this is the Hurt Business.