It seems like every year I have to relearn that bike racing is a brutally hard sport. Over the winter I just seem to think about the good parts - the one or two races a year when I feel like I'm floating over roots and rocks, flying up climbs, crushing it. Then I show up at the first race of the year and get smoked. I thought I'd done my homework this winter by losing some weight and logging some trainer hours. But here we are in July, and, well, it didn't quite work out that way.
The first big test of the year came at Mt. Tremblant, and I was far from where I needed to be. Then came the Windham PRO XCT in June, and again things were off.
I tried a little R&R time at the beach with Nina, threw in some more intervals, and rested up for Nationals. In the meantime I threw in my first endurance race of the year, the Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge. And though I had a bad asthma flare up initially, I came around and put in a really solid effort - riding back into forth against some quality riders and holding the time gaps pretty much steady to the leaders for the second half of the race. Okay, I thought, there's some fitness there somewhere, nail the warm up at Nationals and see what happens.
Well, I nailed the warm up, but I didn't have the legs to back it up. Turns out the pro field at Nationals is fast, really fast. Even though I warmed up well and didn't have asthma issues, even though I had a good start, I just don't have that speed for the first two laps. It's funny, because I've done more intervals this season than ever before. Maybe it's a lack of early season base, maybe it's motivation, but whatever it is I just haven't had the necessary snap this year. Which is too bad, but it's also the reality. Nationals were so much fun. An awesome course, rowdy fans, a call up next to Carl Decker, racing in the main event. I'm so glad I did it. But is it fun to get pulled, not really.
So, what to do. Well, move to Asheville, NC for one! I'm incredibly excited to coach full time at Warren Wilson College. That also means no bike racing for a few weeks while we get things dialed in down there. Then hopefully doing some of the events that get me motivated these days: knarly backcounty endurance races (what up Swank 65k!) and enduros. And maybe a cross race or two for kicks. Hopefully next year I can get some XC mojo back and do it up right in PA. Until then, I'm hoping fun=fast.