The day before Thanksgiving found me sitting in Starbucks drinking chai and thinking. I have time for that these days, having fully embraced the concept of retirement.
This is always a good time of the year to take stock. What went well, what would I do differently, what are my goals for next year, what am I thankful for.
This past season has been about learning and about change for me. I’ve become a believer in the concept of rest for my physical and my mental health. We all read about the importance of taking time away from racing.
How many of us truly take it to heart? I’ve discovered, finally, that it helps me maintain motivation. As hard as it is to rest, addicted to exercise as I am, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results. I consistently return to racing feeling better. I’m more motivated and my legs are alive.
With Nationals, the season is ending for us mortals. We’ll race, go on to enjoy the holidays and start thinking about what’s next.
I’m not quite ready to move on yet. I’ve had what would qualify as my best season in the past four. I’ve been injury free for once!
Those of you who follow my writing are keenly aware of what I’ve gone through: detached hamstrings and the resultant surgery and then a devastating hit-and-run that I was lucky to walk away from. The recovery from one would have been a challenge. Having to come back twice in the span of two seasons certainly tested my resolve.
I’d like to say that I came back quickly, but that would be “fake news.” It took longer, much longer than I would have ever expected. In fact, it took me till half-way through this current ’cross season to feel confident in my physical and technical ability to race.
Tangible Progress at States
We had our state championship race last weekend. In Colorado, I race in the Masters Men 60 – 69 category. I’m 68. Do the math.
That means that I’m lining up with men a decade younger than I am. They are stronger and faster. The older I get, the more glaring is the difference in age. It’s not something that I can fight so I’ve learned to live with it and take my “victories” if you will, by comparing my results with the over 65 men in the group.
I finished 8th, only beaten by one other rider who is over 65. That’s how I gauge myself these days as I move closer to a racing age of 70.
Looking back on the race, and the races leading up to it, one fact stood out from the rest.
For the first time since my hamstring, I wasn’t spending the entire 40 minutes looking for places to soft pedal and recover. Instead, I was searching for that elusive next gear that would get me to the rider just in front of me.
Heading into Nats, that was powerful. It might not result in a better result in Louisville, but it did leave me more confident.
I’ve been healthy this season for the first time in a number of years. Not only healthy but getting closer to riding up to what I believe is my potential.
And, to stick with the giving thanks theme, thankfully it’s been a good season. Let’s hope that I can continue to carry it into Nationals.
On to Nationals
I would love to have a good race in Louisville. A place on the podium would be amazing.
As I look at the start list though, I see so many names that I recognize as fast, probably faster than I am. And you know what, it really doesn’t matter where I finish!
My goal is further down the road, in Tacoma. Next year I’ll be the young buck in the 70+ category. Maybe that will be my year. If so, I’ll enjoy it. If not, I’ll still enjoy it because of the simple fact that I can race my bike.
I recently read a piece about Michael Woods, the Canadian rider who finished third in the Giro this past year after tragically losing his son at birth. He spoke about how it changed his life, his perspective on cycling and how he planned to honor his son through his cycling.
We all have things that we’ve lost. Maybe instead of spending the next few weeks thinking about what we can do for ourselves this coming season, maybe what we should be thinking about is who and what we can honor next year through our racing.
Wouldn’t it be a much better way to celebrate and give thanks for the gifts we’ve had bestowed upon us?
As usual, I’ve rambled enough for today. I’m going out to fine tune myself for Nats.
You should get on your bike as well. Go for a ride.