Wednesday, December 17, 2008

(Re)Wrapping Up 2008

[This article originally appeared in Cyclo-CLUB. Reprinted with permission.]

After dabbling in some badass cyclocross races over the winter, Josh is emerging refreshed, strong, and excited. NOW is the time to lay to foundation for his 2009 campaign.
He's kicking it off with a 7-Day Fatloss Bootcamp followed by lots of dedicated training...

What a long, strange season it's been! Illness stalled my plans for the season's first stage race in mid-February, but I started racing with the big kids not long after that. 2008 was my first season as a Cat 1, which meant bumping elbows with the pros at most events.

As I documented all season-long in Watch Me Race, it was a wonderful experience. Nothing motivates me to continue to push my own personal boundaries than lining up against competition that's better than me and constantly trying to drop me! I turned myself inside out for some results beyond my expectations -- and I also discovered shortcomings and limiters that I'm working to overcome.

Chasing Pros at Tour of the Gila, New Mexico

Chasing Pros at Tour of the Gila, New Mexico

Several times I found myself tired out, both mentally and physically. Training, traveling, racing, all mixed in with working for Graeme and building the trailblazing, successful online community known as Cyclo-CLUB. Combine that with the fact that I was pushing my body faster and further to hang with the competition and it's no wonder that I needed to add in some downtime.

I wrapped my season up for the first time in mid-August, very early for me. I was in peak form for the US Elite National Championships, but I was already starting to unravel and fray from a long tough season. Those races in LA went well, and I was psyched for some R&R. I wasn't completely off the bike, but used the time to just enjoy my rides again.

A recent move to Portland, Oregon forced me to heed the call of the cowbell -- you can't be a cyclist here and avoid the draw of the killer cyclocross scene. I did a smattering of races, had an amazing time, and got some great full-blown intensity training in without the "chore" of intervals. Unlike most winters, where I come in gassed from a road season and just keep racing and losing fitness as the 'cross season progresses, I came in undertrained and used the local races as part of my build phase.

It worked out great. I trained through all of the races -- since cyclocross wasn't a priority for me, there was no reason to taper for the events. My form got better each week, culminating with the US Grand Prix in Portland last weekend. Unfortunately starting order was based on time of registration, which meant my last-minute butt was lined up 88th out of 90 entrants in the 35+ race. Despite an early mechanical which left me at least a minute behind second-to-last on the first lap(!), I was able to tap out an aggressive tempo and kept picking off riders. All things considered, including another minor mechanical and a sweet late-race crash, my 20th placing was pretty darned good in my book.

I find myself refreshed, feeling strong, and ready for one of my favorite parts of the year -- the winter build phase leading up to my first road races. I'm inspired to get serious, finalize the roster and sponsors of my Cat 1 team, and have the best road season yet. The crazy-cold weather spell we're in the midst of now is the perfect time for me to shed my winter weight with the 7-Day Fatloss Bootcamp (Day One today!) and I'm just getting started of an Everyday Cyclist Challenge blog of my own to document the process and keep me honest.

Tools of the Trade for Josh's Offseason:

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