The first step in planning for 2012 is to look at how my 2011 Annual Training Plan worked. Of course, I didn’t always stick to the plan, but here is a quick summary of my goals and achievements in 2011.
My first goal was to “Win a race”. While I never won a road race, I got a few small wins: a 30+ master’s training crit, the time trial stage at the Cat 2 Tour of the Gila, and a small out of town cyclocross race. I also won a large local Cyclocross race (in the top category: Men’s Open) at the Boulder Cyclocross Series, which I count as my highest single accomplishment of the season.
My second goal was to earn 15 ACA upgrade points. These points would have to be earned with high finishes in local Pro/1/2 races. I don’t have the official count (Since I upgraded to Cat 1 and stopped counting), but I did earn about 15 points in Pro/1/2 races. My unwritten goal was to upgrade to Cat 1. It seemed like too much to write down, but my motivation (and blog title) were obvious.
My third goal was to travel to at least one large “Cat 2″ race. This was a critical part of my goal to upgrade to Cat 1. At Tour of the Gila (another overall season highlight), I was able to earn a majority of my upgrade points. I also gained a lot of experience in this tough, five day stage race. I completed this goal, and also traveled as a Cat 1 to a National Racing Calendar Criterium (Boise Twilight Criterium).
2011 Season Highlights:
The Team: This was my first full season on the ‘s Elite squad. The team, with many experienced members, really took me under their wing this year. Dirk Friel and Jon Tarkington became my occasional winter training partners. Both are coaches with international racing experience, and they also rode me ragged in the early season.
The team also saw that my equipment was dialed to perfection and that I had the resources and support for four out of state trips, and four national level events.
DU City Park Criterium: Although this was a smaller collegiate race, it was my breakthrough Pro/1/2 race, and it was early in the season (late March). I got myself into a successful three man breakaway on the classic and technical circuit. My break mates were Chris Winn (Fly V Australia Pro), and Colby Pearce (Long time pro and multi time track national champion). I knew I was on track for a great season after this race.
Tour of the Gila: This was far and away the hardest, biggest, and longest race I have ever done. Five days and almost 400 miles of racing, with the final stage covering two mountain passes and over 100 miles! I still can’t believe I even completed this grueling race, yet I excelled and placed on the podium without any team mates in the race. This was one of my major goals of the season and it was great to see dedication, planning, and consistent training pay off.
North Boulder Park Criterium: This was another important race. The race is a classic and was once an with past winners including Ron Kiefel. There were about 20 riders with pro contracts on hand (including Rory Sutherland) and I was able to make the winning move and finish fifth in front of a large hometown crowd. I earned my Cat 1 upgrade at this race.
Boise Twilight Criterium: This was my first crack at the National Racing Calendar. About half of the capacity 120 rider field had ‘Pro’ contracts, and the rest were Cat 1s. It was also my first night race! The energy of the 20,000 spectators jamming the entire course was a feeling I won’t soon forget. I narrowly avoided the numerous crashes in the finale to finish 22nd. I also flew to the race alone and was in and out of Boise in under 24 hours, like a true pro.
2011 Best All-Around Rider: Although I never won a qualifying road race, my earned me the title of the top amateur road racer in the state. I’m proud of this accomplishment, but may not be able to attend as many races next year to defend my title.
Boulder Cyclocross Series #2: I won a race! There are dozens of racers on race day, but only one winner. I had won a few races prior to this one, but in my mind each of those didn’t quite count. The fields were too small, or the competition out of town, etc. This race was a no holds barred ‘cross race with a large, strong field. I crossed the finish line first and the feeling was overwhelming. I went from clinging to the group behind the leaders, to beating everyone, over the course of the season. Both my parents were also watching and this could be my best memory of 2011.
UCI Cyclocross Races (CrossVegas and New Belgium Cup): Finishing on the lead lap of these internationally ranked races is a major achievement. Unlike road racing, there is nowhere to hide in a cyclocross race. If you don’t have the legs and/or skills, you won’t be finishing the race. It was a signal that I was ready to take my ‘cross racing to the next level… Until I broke my collarbone, that is.