Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 Highlights

The holiday break has certainly been nice the last two weeks. Before my 2009 work year begins, I should wrap up 2008 with a post. I could go into a quantitative analysis of how the race season went. With 2009 already underway, I doubt anybody really cares about how many races I did or how many (or few) podium finishes were achieved many months ago. Instead, I'll provide a train of thought of 2008 events that stand out in my memory.

Cycling Trips. I hit more cycling destinations in 2008 than in any prior year. Memories of places I visited are more fond than good races I participated in. In 2008, I biked in 17 states, 16 of them off-road, 5 of them first time ever. A family trip to Arizona in April provided some great riding opportunities in addition to hiking with mom and Cathy. This was essentially a solo spring training camp of sorts. Later in April, a more formal spring training camp took place in Virginia with other serious racer types. This was the only road-only cycling trip I've done so far. In July, Dave and I hit Colorado and New Mexico. The trail riding around Durango was stunning. I'm already studying the calender to see when I can go back in 2009. A business trip to Minnesota allowed riding opportunities there plus Iowa and Wisconsin. Then most recently, I went on a solo short trip down to Arkansas and Oklahoma for some epic days of riding in the Ozarks. If I never raced again, I would still maintain similar fitness so I can continue to go on trips chocked full of daily, epic rides.

Cycling Competition. There are hits and misses here. I had hoped to win a couple masters road races in 2008. I won races every prior year. Road races are hard. Fitness to win is usually necessary but not sufficient to win. I've learned some hard lessons in 2008, namely to be more patient and conserve thine kilojoules. Hillclimb races were a different story. These are easy. I set several PR's on major climbs in 2008, climbs I've been doing for eight years. Perhaps the high point of the racing season was setting a new PR on Mt Washington with a broken bike, making the top 10 overall. Whatever I did for training worked. Ironically, I carried more body weight through the season. Just goes to show that minimum weight does not necessarily produce the highest W/kg.

Skiing. Skiing is hard to report at the turn of the year, as the year change comes in the middle of the training season. It would be like if the year ended in June for the cycling season and you had to report how your season went then. I did only a few races in 2008. The 10k Cross Trainers Challenge at Waterville went well, taking a podium spot, only because the real masters were at another real race. The Mt Washington Ski to the Clouds race went well too, I believe only two people older than me beat me. I was still quite far down overall, however. I hope to improve on that in 2009. The slogfest at Rangeley Lakes was a spanker. I nearly finished DFL. This may be further evidence that I'm just a Type 2a muscle fiber guy and I will never do well at events that require relatively high, steady output for a long time. I beat Brett in the 10k, but he spanked me in the 50k. Perhaps in 2009 I should focus more on Type 2a events, like 25k or less distance. Skiing is mostly just plain fun though. It is perhaps the best way to get your endorphin fix in the winter months.

Health. 2008 was essentially an injury free year. Early in the year I experimented with running in the hopes of doing a winter triathlon. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Perhaps I went into it a little too aggressively, but in less than 10 miles of running total over a couple weeks, I developed knee bursitis. This quickly subsided when I stopped running. It did not impact cycling at all and minimally impacted skiing. I really remained illness free throughout the season. I did come down with a cold before the Turtle Pond road race and had to bail out of it, but that was pretty much it. I think that is a testament to working sufficient rest and recovery into the training routine. I don't really follow a plan. Sometimes I ride my bike really hard. Sometimes long. And once in a while I don't ride it at all.

So what's on tap for 2009? More trips, of course! Right now I'm checking to see if another family trip to Hawaii later this winter is feasible. Spring training camp in the southeast is being discused again. I would like to hit two more new states in 2009 too. These might be Tennessee and Kentucky. And of course, I have to get back to Durango one way or another. Competition? Yep. Really don't have a plan here, and I plan to keep it that way. I will do a selection of hilly road races again, the kind of races I don't suck at. I will do hillclimbs. A new series is on the calender that ought to bring more excitement to this fringe, cult-like activity. One thing that will be different in 2009 is getting back to off-road competition. I have a nice race worthy dualie now. I may travel to some events. I would like to do at least one 100 mile race, but I have some reservations about the dreaded seize-up I've experienced at Everest Challenge and more recently the Iron Cross CX race. I placed 10th overall at the VT50 the last time I did it in 2001. It will be interesting to see if I still "got it" when I come back.

Ok, you can't completely escape a bit of quantitative review before I conclude. In 2008, I logged more hours of aerobic activity than in any prior year, about 650 hours. Most of this is cycling. I got on a bike to ride 298 times, logging 548 hours in the saddle. This produced only 8329 miles distance covered, as over a third of those hours were off road. When skiing and hiking miles are added, total 2008 miles approach 10,000. I randomly log my body weight and fat in my log. Averaged over 2008, I weighed 164.8 lbs at 9.9% body fat. That's quite chunky for a hill climber actually. I also logged a total of 254,000ft of climbing, but this is only a small portion of the total climbing I did. I only note really big rides or rides where I know what the vertical is. 2008 total vertical is easily over 500,000ft.

Training volume doesn't change much over the course of the year. It holds fairly steady at 12 hours per week. In winter, a good portion of the cycling hours get traded for skiing. The volume doesn't show the whole picture here. My highest intensity workouts during the winter months are on the skis. Much of the riding becomes recovery or light aerobic work. In this regard, I do have an "off" season from riding, but I still maintain near constant VOmax and threshold work, just in a different discipline. Image to left shows trail, road and trainer (like all two hours of it) in blue. Roller and skate ski are shown in red. The green "other" is mostly hiking and a little shovelling in the winter months. Trips are a nice way to spike the volume.

So who is this handsome young lad? Summer of 1975, twelve years old, with a brand new Schwinn Continental 10 speed. I must have never landed on the top tube, as I fathered a child later in life. Bike was purchased with blueberry picking earnings. The blueberry farm was right behind the house I grew up in shown in the background. I had hoped to score an earlier photo with my Stingray, but the family photo archive does not seem to have one. So you may think I've been riding bikes all my life. Nope. Cycling was just plain uncool in redneckville West Michigan in the 70's. Still is today for that matter. Guys with Ford trucks and Remingtons don't dig guys in spandex. Once I started driving around 1980, I didn't ride for 16 years. I've been riding now again for 12 years. I can't imagine life any other way.

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