Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flashbacks.......2014 XC was a bust

So I suppose the first place to pick this back up is a little bit of reflection on the 2014 season which I had primarily focused on CAT2 XC success.  The year started really well with some very fun and challenging races like Southern Cross and Tuff Guy which helped me gauge my early season fitness.  These were some of the longest events I had done to date and I was really intrigued by that amount of time in the saddle.  First XC race in Meridian I placed second in C2 30-39 riding a singlespeed since it was a bit muddy.  A few weeks later Wendi and I went to a skills clinic in Birmingham where I bruised some ribs pretty bad on the last day which caused me to bail out on the Ouachita Challenge and instead focus on moving from Baton Rouge to Jackson.
Shut up knee!

Got back on program within about a week, raced the Mt Zion XC race in Brookhaven placing 4th.  Also did my first road century which was a pretty good time with a nice group of guys.  Shortly after this I started developing some pretty intense knee pains.  I went to an ortho doctor and turns out it was a pretty generic (and common to cycling) patellofemoral pain issue.  Root cause was tight hamstrings and some imbalances in quad muscle groups causing some patella tracking issues.  Recommendations were to do more stretching and work on developing my VMO (teardrop shape muscle on the inside of the quad).  I built up a routine of foam rolling, stretching and strengthening that I started doing at least once a day to try and get over this hurdle.

I win!
Towards the end of May I raced Biloxi and the problem knee was in pretty pretty bad shape the entire day but I powered through it.  I took about a week off the bike focusing on stretching and strengthening.  Getting into the summer I started riding completely off plan and just focused on having fun, riding smart and stretching.  Wendi and I did a good bit of travelling and had the opportunity to ride in Marquette, MI on the NTN trails while up there for my cousin's wedding as well as travel to Utah and ride Gooseberry Mesa (proposed on a awesome overlook) and some awesome downhill trails at Brianhead Resort.

After getting back from the west I raced the School of Hard Nox 50 miler in Ackerman, MS for the second year in a row.  This year it was an absolute mud fest but I really enjoyed it.  This race really started to solidify for me that I enjoyed longer distance races rather than XC sprints.  The rest of the fall was mostly consumed with building up a new CX/gravel bike (more on that in another episode) and racing CX races.

Revolution CX
Through October and November I really started to think about what I wanted to do in 2015.  I had decided that the cross-country format wasn't really where I was the happiest on the bike.  Races were usually extremely high intensity for a short period of time.  There was also the factor of what I call race ROI.  I am going to drive 4 hours round trip to race for an 1.5 hours.....hardly seems worth it to me.  The other aspect of longer races that really appeals to me are the logistics involved.....from more intense training plans to nutrition to strategy.  This is what I really like about longer format races.  In the XC distance you really don't have to factor much in the way of logistics other than training and hydration.

One slow afternoon in November I started piecing together a schedule that would give me good exposure in a couple of different varieties of longer format racing which looked like this:

  • Southern Cross - Feb 21
  • Rouge Roubaix - March 15
  • Cohutta 100 - April 25
  • Dirty Kanza - May 30
  • Trans North Georgia - August 22

Some of these are big races so I knew I had to put a big commitment behind it.  So after talking to my wife and getting her full support I started looking for a coach to help me put a plan behind all of this.  I had used an Edsall plan through TrainingPeaks before so I was good with the software side.  What I really wanted was a coach that had a good amount of endurance racing experience.  I have been a pretty steady listener of Mountain Bike Radio for a number of years and came across a podcast of theirs called "The LW Coaching Show" which was hosted by Lynda Wallenfels.  I listened to all of her episodes including a series that dissected different types of intervals and thought she would be perfect for me.  I emailed her asking for her help and attached my race schedule.  She got back to me the next day with a stacked plan aligned to each of my races and optimized so I would peak for my 'A' races (Cohutta & Kanza).

I would later squeeze in a few other races (Skyway Epic, 12 hours of Iron Maiden & RPI) but this was the core of my schedule for 2015.

Incredible wedding night

The rest of 2014 consisted of base building and wedding planning.  Wendi and I were married on New Years Eve in Kansas City.  A couple of weeks later we went to Argentina for our honeymoon where we did a 6 day biking tour and eating contest.  I'll have to write that one up later.  Somewhere in there I also had the opportunity to travel to Bangkok.....awesome trip!

Anywho.....that is a brief recap of my 2014.  I will probably have a few more of these "flashback" blog entries to significant things that happened in 2014 and the 2015 schedule to date while I write about current things happening with learning how to bikepack.

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