I thought I should jot down a few thoughts to compare this year's XC race season to last year so I have an account for the future. I reminded myself daily this year that I do this for fun and as a way to focus on some sort of an organized fitness routine to keep me from turning into a middle aged man being out of shape and walking around with too many pounds on his midsection. All those years of playing golf just wasn't cutting it as a fitness routine and was an even more time consuming "hobby". And who doesn't enjoy the "freedom" of being out on a bike. I've felt that since I was a kid in the 60's and it is still there today.
And part of the fun is to challenge myself. Bike handling, speed, conditioning and then lining up with other similar minded riders on race day to challenge ourselves individually as well as each other all remained in the realm of fun for me this year.
In preparation for this past season, I followed the Dave Morris off-season training regimen (November - March) of doing the phases from weights to base building to intervals (SMSP and MSP). The macro view of that program is a 5 month off season plan which I followed for my second year with more diligence to the weight training phases this year (last year I was not so diligent with the weights). My bike handling has improved as well this year over last, so what about the results?
Well, I ended up in about the same spot for the Nebraska and the IMBCS in terms of placing for the season.
IMBCS 2007: Sport Open 2nd Place
IMBCS 2008: Sport Open 3rd Place
Psycowpath 2007: Sport Open 8th Place
Psycowpath 2008: Sport Open 6th Place
I upped the number of events I participated in from 11 XC events in 2007 to 14 XC events this year. I don't have the luxury of comparing very many race times from last year to this year to guage my improvement. Why? Simply because there were no exact duplications of race courses I participated on outside of the Maskenthine XC Classic in Nebraska and Sylvan Island (where I tore a sidewall and had to DNF).
So, I'll take a look at the Maskenthine XC Classic.
Maskenthine XC Classic 2007: 1:45:24
Maskenthine XC Classic 2008: 1:37:10
That's an improvement of 12:14 which isn't bad.
The only other close comparison would be Sugar Bottom in terms of the same race course, but not the exact same route was run this year, so the times are hard to compare. The way I figure it when comparing times of multiple people in various classes at Sugar Bottom year over year is that the course was running 5-8 minutes faster this year over last for everyone.
Sugar Bottom Scramble 2007: 2:21:36
Sugar Bottom Scramble 2008: 2:04:10
That's an improvement of 17:26 minus the 5-8 minutes faster the course was running this year (if that is the correct guesstimate???).
I think all the other courses that were repeats this year were too different to be able to compare (Camp Ingawanis, Seven Oaks, Des Moines TT, Tranquility). Most of those were different tracks, or run in opposite directions and or had new trail to be able to draw any conclusions.
I did make the podium 3 times this year. Once at the Black Hills Tire Festival. Once at a Psycowpath race. And once at an IMBCS race. I did make some progress moving out of the bottom of the pack and go midpack or higher in many events during my 2nd year of racing the Sport Open category. Trimming off 10-12 minutes in a race pretty much mirrors my climb up in how I placed in some races. In others, it still left me too far away from the leaders.
There is still plenty of room to cut off another 10 - 12 minutes per race next year to move up and out of midpackitis. So I know I have my work cut out for me and will need to devise a structured plan to get there. Key thoughts for myself include - better weight management, better nutrition, more intensity training and striving to climb the ladder of pain, or at least push the envelope to see how close I can get to my genetic limitations in terms of the threshold I can maintain and not crack.... ;-)
I was happy with my equipment this year and only suffered the one torn sidewall at Sylvan Island that took me out of the race for my only DNF of the season. I took a bad tumble at the WORS race which just about trashed my front wheel and gave me a mild concussion, sore wrist and banged up leg - but I was able to finish that race on the wobbly wheel and have since had the wheel fixed. I had no other flats or mechanical difficulties which pleased me. I'm pretty sure I will run the same equipment next year, but will get the hubs and forks serviced and get tire and tubeless supplies stocked for next season in the next 6 months. Buying a new bike is not going to help me, but training my engine to improve is the key to improving.
That should be enough thoughts for now. I'm heading out for a casual ride in the woods to enjoy the fall colors and leaves on the trail. It's a beautiful time of year with the colors, the smells and the temperatures.
Over and out...