Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015: A year in review

I'm pretty tired.

Which is good. Or at least ok this time of year. 2015 has been pretty busy and successful from a fitness and racing standpoint.  Especially considering the shit show that was 2014.  Who would have thought a gluten-free experiment would be my savior from a slew of weird joint issues?  Still don't really have a solid diagnosis and I can still tell there is something off with my joints and how inflammation is working in my body but staying away from gluten seems to keep things at bay and allows me to do what I like to do just about as hard as I want to do it.

So what did I pull off this year?  I took a much more laid back approach to my MTB season.  I did a few XC races, really more for training than anything else with my focus being more on a few endurance events that I like.  I was pleased with what I was able to accomplish in those events.  Got a 5th at Millstone on a real tough weather day.  I got back up to the BC Challenge this year and was able to break the 6hr 100K time threshold which was a milestone I had been working my way towards since my 100K times started getting faster during my NH100 run of 5 races.  That was a pretty good indication that my endurance fitness is just about the best its been which is nice.  After last year I was forced to accept that I might not be getting any faster from there on out so it was nice to see I still had some results in me.

I really liked my approach to my MTB season this year because it left me a decent amount of time to do other stuff that I used to miss out on a bit when I was racing more frequently.  Got to hit the beach more with Gina, do some hiking with Mike as well as a lot more riding for fun. Finished up the MTB season doing the Cat 2 Marathon at Landmine which I was able to win.  Another pretty good indication that my longer range fitness is good and definitely the thing I should focus on for MTB.  That focus also ends up working perfectly because it racks up all kinds of great aerobic capacity to build on for Cross in the Fall.

Cross was my pre-savior of sorts for 2014.  It allowed me to partially salvage a crap season last year.  My shitty joints could handle the slightly more tame riding (as opposed to trail riding) and I was in some pretty intense PT just prior that had gotten me to a slightly better spot joint wise.  I did well enough last year to realize I really liked the format and the 'scene' and that I wanted to make a more targeted run in 2015 with an actual Summer season of racing under my belt.

Turns out a few months of riding and racing hard does wonders for your results in the Fall.  I hit the ground running in Sept with a somewhat surprising top 10 in the 4/5 race at White Park.  It became pretty obvious in the first few races of the season that I was going to be towards the sharp end of the 4/5 field and my points came tumbling down.  I also built up a SS race bike this year and dabbled in the SSCX scene.  Very likely that becomes my 'thing' for 2016.  Not sure my body can handle SS MTB anymore but SSCX isn't quite as brutal on the body and there is a reason I was a single speed MTB'er for so long.  I just really like SS riding.  Plus I really like the mentality of the SSCX scene.

Guys take CX pretty seriously and the vibe is different than MTB. The category races can be pretty "physical" and I would imagine that will only get worse if/when I progress to Cat 3.  SS just has a better slant to it for me, you can still race hard and compete but fun is prioritized much more.  And the bikes are so simple and light!  Plus I'm pretty sure I'm faster on a SS anyway.

Speaking of my progression to Cat 3...that was a goal of mine once I realized I was about at that level.  I never quite scored that many USAC upgrade points because of how I was often doubling up etc.  I think if I had made that my main priority I could have gotten more but I had thought my SS results would have held more weight.  I was beating Cat 3's in those races and I was always just outside the points in the races I missed them and everyone beating me had already upgraded by the end of the year. It seemed apparent to me I was tangling with Cat 3's all year and I thought I had a case for an upgrade.  I applied with less than required upgrade points and stated my case with the results I had.  Didn't work.  Got denied.

I was a bit surprised but ultimately I didn't have the upgrade points.  Maybe I'll prioritize chasing points next year but that doesn't sound as fun as just racing SS.  Maybe I'll set a goal of having the lowest crossresults points of any Cat 4 ever...or maybe the most Cat 3 upgrade denials of all time.  Yeah that sounds more fun.

Racing bikes in New England (both MTB and CX) seems to be gaining steam and getting pretty rad.  Kenda Cup East seems to be taking off...we've got an HC event in the greater Boston area next year.  CX events seem to get bigger and better every year.  2016 should be pretty damn sweet, can't wait.

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