Monday, January 4, 2010

2009: the year in review

Is it 2010 already? Yikes. And I meant to do this a week ago...

The year 2010 was not a good record-keeping year for me. I'm something of an obsessive cycling statistics record-keeper, but my spreadsheet for 2010 ended up too complicated. Opening the thing took minutes, and with every change Excel took about 20 seconds to run through all the calculations and whatnot. It made the spreadsheet unusable, and instead of simply simplifying it, I became disheartened and just gave it up.

(For those interested, I think--but am not sure--that it's the conditionals, especially conditional formatting, that Excel stumbles on. My spreadsheet had lots of conditionals, both computational and formatting. The nature of the data I was trying to keep track of called for a database program, but I'm too lazy/distracted to teach myself Access or some other such program. So for 2010 I've simplified.)

Anyway, a record must be made, even if incomplete. I've no hour/mileage/ride-type/workout-type totals (the kind of stuff I would have if I'd kept my running record), but I remember the races. So here goes:


03/28 -- Philly Phlyer (7th of ~55; report)
04/18 -- SOYOCO (3rd of ?; report)
05/02 -- Turkey Hill (crashed out with 200m to go; note)
05/30 -- Fulton RR (12th of 50+; musing)
06/06 -- Race Ave Crit (38th of 50+; not-a-report)
06/27 -- Poolesville RR (12th of 75; report)
07/11 -- Tour of Mt. Nebo (really bad of a lot of fast riders; report)

The Philly Phlyer may have been my favorite race of the bunch, but the Tour of Mt. Nebo was clearly my least favorite. I liked Poolesville and Fulton a lot too, but Fulton had those nasty turns at the bottom of the hills atop slick fallen leaves which still give me nightmares and Poolesville, well, MABRA races are always run on too narrow of roads and kept to a single lane of traffic, which drives me crazy. At Poolesville, the dirt section offered enough selection, and no one pushed the pace just after, so it allowed things to shake out to the strongest riders by the last lap, who had enough room to pass, but those narrow roads and policed passing still drive me a little crazy.


09/19 -- Masters State Championship TT (1 of ?; no report...I'm the reigning men's 30-39 individual time trial state champion and I didn't even bother to blog about it)

(Ironmasters TTs: No dates, just a post.)

Given that I generally do well time trialing you'd think I'd do more of it. But it's painful, emotionally, so I keep it to a minimum. But I do need to do more stage racing (multiple race races that include a time trial).


04/04 -- Marysville Relay (I had one decent lap of four; photo one, two)

It's hard to believe I only did one mountain bike race in 2009. This needs to be corrected.


09/26 -- Whirlybird 'Cross (9th of 73; report, more, pics)
10/03 -- BCA (Hagerstown) Cross Masters 3/4 (6th of 56; report)
10/03 -- BCA (Hagerstown) Cross Masters 1/2/3 (20th of 34)
10/10 -- Iron Cross Lite (3rd of 17; musings)
10/11 -- Iron Cross VII (16th of 275)
10/24 -- Murrysville Cyclocross (3rd of 35; musings, aftermath)
11/07-- Wyane Scott Memorial @ Fair Hill (4th of 44; report)
11/14 -- Mercer Cup (out w/ mechanical; report & pics, more pics)
11/21 -- Howard County Double Cross - Schooley Mill (2nd of 67; report)
11/28 -- PA State Cyclocross Championship (9th of 32; report)

Only seven road races and one mtb race. And I call myself a bike racer...

But one finish in the money and a state championship medal in the ITT. That's better than last year.

A more successful cyclocross campaign. It was nice to end the year like that, even if the very end (a disappointing 9th in the PA State Championships and being too sick to ride the next week, the last race of the year, in Marysville). Also, second place in the PA 3/4 series, three visits to the podium, and a category two upgrade. Next year will be harder.


My early season fitness was really pretty phenomenal this year. I remember in early April telling a friend that I was probably in the best cycling shape I'd ever been in my life. There were two reasons for this. First, my collarbone break in early October 2008 left me antsy to get on the bike in November...and I rode right through to the new year. And, second, getting my boys in shape at the Tuesday Night Races in January, February, and March (the collegiate season runs from the last weekend of February through the first weekend of May) had its impact on me as well.

But come July I was fried. And in August I took quite a bit of time off, not racing at all (except the SU Cycling Starlight Criterium Series, which was tons of fun). And I guess the time off paid off, because in September, October, and November I felt good again.

Goals for 2010

Now that stupid cancer is behind us--at least I sure as hell hope it is--maybe I'll be able to pull off a bit more bike racing during the bike racing season. Last year I only got eight road race and mtb race days in through August. This year I hope to double that.

goal #1: Fifteen race days through August.

This year a major goal is do significantly more mountain bike racing. This also means I need to improve my mountain biking skill level a good deal too. That means more mountain bike riding, and more mountain bike riding with dudes a lot better than me. Which may mean showing up to the Michaux group rides more often. And then more experimentation with tires and air pressure. With handlebar width and height. And, hopefully, with a shiny new 29er come spring.

goal #2: Of those 15 race days through August, five on the mountain bike.

I'm only planning 10 race days on the road (excluding time trials) in 2010, but I still want to do well. Or at least race aggressively. I don't mind losing a road race, badly, if I raced to give myself a chance to win. In '07 and '08 I usually raced too passively/defensively, but that's a super bad strategy for winning bike races. And it turns out that the races of which I have the fondest memories I raced aggressively, attacking, counter-attacking, and generally trying to mix things up. I've learned my lesson, and in 2009, I generally raced aggressively, occasionally to reward. In 2010, more aggressive racing. If I finish with a pack it had better be with tongue dragging on the asphalt for having attacked and counterattacked and attacked again and again throughout the race. Win or lose, I want to be buggered by the end of each race. But I also want to do well.

In 2009, I finished in single digits in two of seven races. In two more I finished hard 12ths. I'd like to improve upon that.

goal #3: Single-digit finishes in at least half of my starts.

Last year I didn't race a single stage race. In the prior three years I raced several, and at least one four-day stage race each year. I want to do more stage racing. It plays to my strengths. So...Fitchburg again. Or, if I'm in good shape at the end of the season, Green Mountain. Washington County. And/or perhaps some other race of which I'm unaware (Memorial Day weekend?).

goal #4: Start at least two stages/ominium races, one a marquee four-day race.

(I'll count stage races as just one race in the previous goal regarding 15 race days.)

Related to the above goal, I pledge to do more time trial specific training...which includes simply riding the time trial bike more, tweaking position, etc.

goal #5: At least one training ride on the time trial bike every other week.

That's probably enough.

Ok, one more:

goal #6: At least ten cyclocross race days.

Ship Cycling 2009 Overview

In 2009, we had three major successes:

(1) Eight students raced at least once on the road or mtb. I didn't keep track of total student race days, but I'm sure it was well over 20. Plus several students raced over the summer. Given where we've been, that's a huge accomplishment, and I'm proud of it.

(2) Ship Cycling organized not one, but two bike rodeos. Great successes, both of them, on a variety of levels. I feel super good about that.

(3) The Tuesday Night Races (and other non-sanctioned not-really-a-race "races"). I'm committed to the principle that you can't get race-fast without doing a lot of racing...and if you can't always be racing, ya gotta simulate it. Fast weekday training races are an essential componet to an amateur cyclist's race development. Low cost environment for experimentation with tactics. The chance to see and experience a lot of stuff, tactically and physiologically. Practicing group riding skills. All of that. Consistently (at least through August) there was at least a small group out to ride fast, and occasionally a rather larger group. Varied participation from folks all up and down the valley. I hope we can do even better this coming year, but 2009 was still a success.

As for 2010 goals, there are so many things, but I've only time, energy, and sanity for some. So I've got to give it a good think and prioritize before I commit.

For a later post...

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