Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's a new year...

Last year was a good year. Lots of great fun. I reflect back and try to figure out ways that I could have had more fun and then set goals based on that. If I was going faster, would that have made the races more fun? Good question. Probably not. How much fun I had at the races this season (and every year in the past) depended largely on the gang of people at the races. I guess that is why I have had more fun at cross races than mountain bike races over the past 5 or 6 years in general. I don't know many people at the mountain bike races anymore. In the early to mid 90's, there was a large group of us from Berkshire County that went to every mtb race. When I was at UMass in the late 90's, a bunch of us from the team went to all of the Pedros races together. We had a blast and it was very much like how the cross scene is today. A lot of those folks don't race anymore. Some don't even ride. Now when I go to a mtb race, I typically go, race, and leave. Hopefully I get to see Kerry, Karen and Jeff, CTodd, Colin R, Rosey, PVB, Milliman, Doug, Sean C, the Oakes family, Johny J and Donna and a few other very friendly folks. But the vibe is just different. So one goal for 2008 is to get to know more of my fellow mtb racers better.

The cross community is just unreal. And I was very privileged to get to know quite a few people much better this year. By the end of the season, our gang of hell raisers and crazy super fans grew to ridiculous proportions. I can only hope the races in WI, MN and IL are similar. Going to the races can't be just about the race itself, can it?

OK, so maybe I lied above. Yeah, it would have been cool if I was faster towards the end of the season and could have hung with Kenny, Rosey , Colin, Cort, Ronnie, Christian and Chris B. They got faster as the year went by. Surely, racing tête-à-tête against your buddies is much more fun than racing some dude you don't know. So yes, I want to get faster.

I know, I know. I'm not going to be racing in New England during the 2008 cross season. I will be racing a bunch of people I don't know, so what does it matter anyway? Well, I still want to get faster. My buddies will get faster this year and I don't want to be way off the back when I get to race them in 2009. Achieving these goals ought to help make that happen.

1. Get down from 71 kg to 65 kg (there is plenty there to lose)
2. Increase my FTP from 240 watts to 260 watts
3. Increase my 1 min power from 535 watts to 575 watts
4. Increase my 5 min power from 350 watts to 375 watts
5. Increase my 20 second power from 840 watts to 900 watts.

For cross, I think the shorter duration max power numbers are more meaningful than 60 minute FTP. It's not a 40 km time trial. There isn't much steady effort happeneing in a cross race. It's all about hard accelerations followed by 1-3 minute periods of riding over threshold, rest in a corner and repeat. So that is what I am going to focus on. During the spring and early summer, I will focus more on FTP and threshold for the longer mtb races. But I have no use or need to go out and do 4-5 hour L2 rides. Frankly, I don't have time for it and I don't really see how it will help me get faster. I won't be racing at 175 watts. Why the hell do I need to go out and do 175 watts for 5 freakin' hours then?

I don't know if the power goals are attainable, but I think an improvement of 7-9% seems reasonable. I really just started training again in July after quite a few years of just riding (and not riding). So a good step up should be within reach. I think the weight goal is attainable though. I was still pretty chunky at 156#. And looking back in my logs from college, I was down around 145# when I was riding well.

I didn't put any race results in my goals because there are too many variables that go into the outcome of a race. But I would like to win a Sport mountain bike race and earn my Expert upgrade. And I would like to win a cat 3 cross race in WI and earn my cat 2 upgrade. I would like to make it back east for Gloucester. I would also like to make it to KY for the GP and Kansas City for Natz. OK, one stretch race goal would be a top 15 finish at New Belgium Worlds.

So that's it. The main goal this year is the same as every other year. To have fun with the gang, make new friends and hopefully bump into a friend from the past. I don't get paid to ride my bike. I'm not going to act like I do. There's nothing to get stressed out about. After all, we're adults riding bicycles. Why the hell would you want to turn that into work?