The first year I really just focused on racing the races and getting as much experience as I could. There were a lot of hard lessons learned. Starts, passing and pacing. Another big lesson I learned was not to take a two week vacation to South America doing no meaningful cardio, fly home on Saturday and expect a good race on Sunday. I was tired, dehydrated and way off my game. Lesson learned.
So for 2014 season I have decided to step up my game as I have been guilted into CAT2. I did a significant amount of base riding over the winter during the cold nastiness. Most of it was outdoors but I also invested in a set of rollers to get inside rides in. I think rollers really give you a chance to work on cadence and balance on the bike. Hopefully all of this will pay off.
Here are a few other things I have done in the off season so far and have planned to get prepped for the 2014 season. I may throw together a blog post on some of these to dig in.
- Bought a used CX bike and raced a few cross races. Had a freaking blast and I love my Cannondale SuperX. The biggest skill I really learned from CX is how to pedal through sand/mud which I had a big problem with on XC courses last year.
- Got on a Drew Edsall off-season base plan. Having the accountability to myself with knowing what I was supposed to ride and when was huge. My average training volume before getting on plan was only around 5-6 hours per week. On plan my average volume was around 9 hours per week. This was the most important improvement to performance on the bike.
- Planned a few early season long rides. First one was Southern Cross in Dahlonega, GA. This was a 50 mile gravel grinder with 6,600' of climbing. Second was the Tuff Guy ride in Oxford, MS. The ride started at the Clear Creek trailhead, headed in town on the roads, a loop at the Taylor trails, roads back to Clear Creek and then a race loop. These were a couple of great rides as a check to see where I'm going to be for the season.
- Researched a lot on nutrition. Last year I did a 50 mile MTB race at the Noxubee trails outside of Starkville, MS. I didn't have great plan and managed leg cramps for the last 20 miles. I've started using a simple system of a sports drink in the bottle with plenty of sodium. No solid food. I rode SCX and Tuff Guy with this strategy and am feeling pretty confident. Over the past week I have started listening to Kelli Jenning's Apex Nutrition podcast on Mountain Bike Radio and plan on incorporating some of her nutrition and recovery strategies throughout the season.
- My girlfriend Wendi and I are attending a BetterRide skills clinic in Birmingham at the end of March. I am hoping to learn how to better carry speed and tear through corners.
- Riding the Ouachita Challenge tour this year. Like the other two early season rides my goal is to finish strong and dial in nutrition. Should be an awesome weekend with awesome friends.
So that was a little long winded. First race of the MORCS season is just 10 days away and I have a good amount of travel between now and then.