In Goals, Part I, I illustrated the metamorphosis from couch-junky into aspiring racer and how that memory plays a part in my Goals process for each successive season.
What I was really trying to get across was that was: if there ever comes a time when I a.) Don’t have an uncontrollable fire eating a hole through my belly and/or b.) Don’t care whether I become unfit enough that I get dropped, I wont bother making Goals and will leave the sport.
Racing takes up an incomprehensible part of one’s life; you have to be motivated, focused, and, frankly, selfish. For the time being, I accept and relish that. Perhaps there will come a day when a job, baby, normal life, whoknowswhat changes my priorities, but that time is not now. There are many Goals that I still want to accomplish.
Much of those Goals revolve around the Tour of the Gila. Last year was my first attempt at the stage race and it was an eye-opening experience. The shear spectacle of the suffering is amazing: precarious descents, big miles, hellish winds, and long climbs. In short, it’s everything that racing should be.
Getting on the podium in this race (in any category) says something far greater about you than a podium finish at your local crit. It shows your peers that you trained through the winter months while they were stuffing turkey down their throats; you can ride a TT in hurricane-force winds and not crap your pants; it shows that you are willing to sacrifice part of your season for the chance to race well at Gila; perhaps most importantly, it shows that you are a smart racer who can suffer better than anyone else—day after day, when it matters most.
So, specifically…what are my Goals?
- Win Tour of the Gila – I came in 24th last year not knowing what I was getting myself into. I now know; I will now do Work.
- Top Ten in The Cascade Classic – I am focusing on stage races this year. With a win at Gila, a recovery period, and another build phase, I feel that I can do well at Cascade. I respect the fact that I do not know the course, though.
- Upgrade to Cat 3 – This is not as easy as it sounds. Racing Gila and Cascade largely puts my hometown races in the ‘practice’ category. In addition, I now know that putting in a massive peak for Gila corresponds to a sizable valley when I return. Upgrading to a 3 will have to be through my efforts at Gila and Cascade; if I don’t do well in both races, I risk not making the upgrade as well.
In addition to goals, there are three bullet points I will keep with me throughout the year:
- Off the Front – If it is a training race, I will make sure that I fully layer on the suffering. To win a major stage race I know I must train to suffer more than anyone. Putting in massive efforts in training races will help me to suffer better and, hopefully, put a few wins in my bag of confidence.
- Grow Bigger Balls – In the Gila TT I chickened out of the aerobars more times than I can remember and the results were plain to see. More practice time in the aerobars along the Front Range in early season is essential to doing well in that TT.
- No Excuses – I missed a lot of breaks in a lot of races this year; the vast majority were entirely my fault. Stay in the top 10-15 positions. Using spurts of power wisely to stay in the desired third of the peloton negates the potential to get caught behind crashes or anchors.