August 4, 2009

Thirteen months

Thirteen months...when I write it down, it doesn't seem like much time. In fact, its a blink. I can't tell you, though, how good it is to have a cycling goal again. Truth is, I'd kinda announced this goal a few months back, but I don't think I was serious about it until today. September 2010, the Tejas 500. My old nemesis... well, sorta. There are worse enemies to have, but I have dreamt of a finish at this event. The stomach-wrenching pain of handing my rider number over to the volunteers....twice. Two times attempted... Never made it farther than halfway. 2007 was still a huge success, but I have unfinished business south of Dallas.

Ort announced his intent today, also, and his return to the bike, which I have to say is extremely exciting. I can't lie: while our friendship is stronger than the bike, it was always weird not 'talking shop' this last year. Further, while he has always extended the offer to crew, it would have been up to me to get started on training and planning. Hard to be objective now, as I write this, but before this morning Tejas was the last thing on my mind. Now that the spark of friendly competition is back in play, I'm super motivated to give this monster race another run.

Things are coming into place. After two years of damage control, things are beginning to turn in the home camp that will, if budgeted and planned appropriately, come together nicely. The Warbird (aka the Trek 450) had been built up, and then stripped down again due to financial circumstances - and now it almost seems possible to have a proper road-race gruppo installed on her again in time for this event. Even if that doesn't pan out, the Kogs will do nicely in race trim again. Race wheels, perhaps, would be nice. Honestly, though, equipment concerns are not the limitation here. It's been me. Since January, however, I'm finding my stride again. The weight is almost all off, and the climbing is getting better each day. The 400km ride into Iowa back in May, upon further reviews, was a stronger personal ride than I'd originally thought: not a speed record for the distance, but specifically the best I'd performed *after* 200kms into a headwind, solo: the hammerfest from Leon back to Bethany to catch the next group on the road proves to me that there is a foundation in place for speed-at-distance again. I'm beginning to see smaller benchmarks bested, certain personal climbing times are getting closer and closer to falling. The old "gosh I wish it was 2003 again" dialogue is gone. There are some more tests to take: Metcalf, from 159th to 199th. The Tour De Shawnee doesn't have a 47 mile loop this year, sadly, so I may never know if I'd have Fancher's number this time out, but the opportunity of a closed course hilly time trial is appealing. Johnson drive time trials loom in my memory...from Pflumm to the ballfields....dude, the old tests are running in my head. This time, however, carefully balanced with good, steady state rides. The commute streak will continue, to eliminate excuses and reasons to hang up the bike because things have gotten 'tough'. Mental toughness. Late night permanents to build after-dark speed, focus, and to learn how to keep the sleep deprivation boogie-man at bay. Then, use the tough Bob Burns series of brevets to ramp up, with personal-best attempts at the 300, 400 and 600km level, straight through in spring 2010. Finally, keep that edge all next summer: heat training, hard short rides, and late night permanents - keep family impact at an absolute minimum with late night rides, commutes with a plan behind them, and self-inflicted distances up to 400k if possible on loops: to build the mental game even further and become immune to seeing the same terrain over and over. I've got my recon, my man on the inside: Get course recon from Ort, and build a 26 mile course that mimics it. I know the Tejas course first-hand, but its all new starting this year. The old loop I know by memory from 2006 and 2007 is gone, which is good and bad. The good: no demons, no worries about counting how many times I've passed the lime plant. This time, a clean slate. The bad: the unknown. The increase in climbing per lap. I can only use these as opportunities. No stressing about what I can't possibly know. Just hone the edge, and bring it. More upper body work, for strength to support better performance and endurance. Better nutrition, something that is already giving benefits. Using the goal to improve my quality of life. I love this part, literally giddy at the keyboard, talking it out, envisioning the successes unfurling.... I was super excited today, sending off at least four emails talking about this. I've got that spring in my step again... A goal.... Ahhhh.... A goal..... life, all around, is good.

It's only 13-months away... It's perfect.

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