Monday, December 29, 2008

"The Plan"

Here it is! A quick look at my 2009 training plan. I keep writing about how much I have learned about training this year, and it is exciting to actually put something down in writing with the expectations of achieving some goals by using a "plan". I am using the knowledge I gained from the "Mountain Biker's Training Bible" to set up a plan based on periodization. So unlike last year, where I was winging it in the first 4 months and brought myself to the point of over training by July. I will be following a weekly program that will gradually build my endurance and fitness to a peak, that will focus around a few key races that I have selected throughout the year. Again in 09' I will be training for the Tailwind USAC XC Mountain Bike series in Cat 1, but my main focus will to build up to a few peaks for the Cyclocross Series in the B-class. I have most, if not all my races listed and ranked by priority. And Have established several goals and objectives to help maintain my focus throughout the year.

Last year I got really wrapped up in total miles, but have since learned that focusing on hours with all aspects of working out is more effective and more important in building and maintaining fitness. I terms of my actual workouts in the plan, the biggest difference I am making (at least in the early base and build phases) is the addition of strength training. I did no weight lifting last year in the early months and found myself suffering in the middle of the summer on short steep climbs. I focused on strength a little for the cyclocross series, and found it to be very effective at improving my force and power as the series progressed. Understanding this need for strength will not only make me physically stronger, but will help with my endurance also.

Finally, the only thing I have left to do is schedule weekly workouts. Which I will do on a week by week basis. The beauty of the plan is that although I have it all written down, It is and will remain flexible. Sometimes life gets in the way. So the need to skip, change or eliminate training days or races is bound to happen. And as I am moving up into Cat 1 (expert) in mountain biking, this will be a very challenging and learning year for me. So I will soon know if my plan is right on, or if I am way off. But that is the beauty of it, as I continue to learn more about training and how my body reacts to the stresses, I will become more effective at making the correct changes and will become a stronger racer in the long run.

3000 Miles!

With the final days of 2008 approaching, I finally hit the 3000 mile mark for the year! This was not an original goal for me at the start of 08', but as the months ticked away, I realized that it would be an achievable goal. I have never tracked mileage in the past because I never owned a cycling computer. But after the 2007 season, I put a computer on all of my bikes except for the cyclocross bike and away we went. I figured it would be a good tool for training and for MTB racing. And it has worked out very well. However, as I am learning more about training, my focus will me more toward annual hours and not miles.

All of my miles for 2008 came from several different types of riding -- road, mountain bike, single speed, road bike on the trainer, and cyclocross. As the winter training plan for 2009 begins in the next few days, it is time again to watch the miles tick away....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Been a Great Ride in 08'

Well just like I started with one of my first few blogs ever last year, and keeping with the theme "Podium Quest", here is what my hard earned blood, sweat, and pain has earned me. As mentioned in a few other post, I accomplished several of my goals, improved almost every race time, and learned a lot along the way. So here it is - my bling, bling for 2008!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Michigan Cyclocross U-34 C-Men State Champion!

I remember 3 years ago at the MI CX State Championship at Waterford Hills Rack Track freezing to death just trying to hang on and not get lapped. I finished 26th. And after the race, as I watch Matt Ashley stand on top of the podium and receive his USAC Michigan State Champion medal for C-men U-34, I thought how cool that would be. To someday stand on that top step at a CX state championship! And to be crowned the Series Champion. How cool would that be? But I was 233 lbs and was finishing 4th from last place in every race. There is no way at fat CX'er would even sniff the podium. But that all changed. I got hungry, but it was not for food. I loved CX racing and I wanted to be good at it dammit! So scertly, as I claim to a mountain biker by trade. It is this CX stuff that has been so damn hard for me to concur. And it is that challenge that has been driving me for the past 3 years. It is more than just riding your bike. You have to learn new non-bike skills, force your self to race mother nature, and race with a whole new game plan for training. You have to learn Cyclocross. it is not a given.... Well 3 years later, I have something to talk about.

It was cold. Cold enough that you really can not explain it. But it was cold for everyone. The course was snowy. About 6 inches worth. So it was going to be anyone's ball game. I knew what I had to do. Win the State Championship for my age. So going into the race, I wanted to win the race, but I did not have to, to become the State Champ. It was all depending on who showed up. But the first goal of the day was taking the hole shot to stay out of any wrecks and then stay in front. The head wind off the sprint was insulting. But I knew the pain is temporary. I lead going into the first 1/2 mile or so and then a Greyhound on a mountain bike blew past me like he was racing motocross! Just railing the corners and mashing. Wow! This may be a tougher day for me then I thought. I let him go, then Mike Koetsier from Hup United attacked! This is the one I was worried about. Mike took off like he was shot out of a cannon! I tired to hang on but be started to stay away. I finally recovered going into the 2nd lap and was still within reach of Mike. By this time, The Greyhound rider blew up and I quickly passed him on one of the only small climbs, and then realized that Mike was fading on the climbs as well. As I made my way through all of the snowy twist and turns, I took as many risk as I could without falling off the bike and then mashed through all the straight aways to catch him. By the middle of the 3rd lap I was back on his wheel. I was feeling really good and could tell that he was losing steam. But this is a state championship event, so everyone tries to dig deep and Mike did. On the final straight before the last off camber twisty section through the ditch, he stood up to accelerate to keep me from going around him. Smart move. With the course conditions the way they were with all the snow, it was near impossible to pass on a final attack. However, I was still on his wheel. We started going through the final twist and turns, and Mike was able to force about a 10 ft gap. This was enough to be the first one of the ice covered pavement to start the sprint. I tired to hang on but could not. Maybe if there was another 250 meters of road, I could of had him. He won the race by 1 second! But not all was lost, Mike is 37 so I still did exactly what I need to do.

I was crowned the Under 34 C-Men USAC Cyclocross State Champion! My Goal for the last 3 years!!!!

In addition, I also captured 1st overall in points for the Tailwind CX Series Championship for Under 39 C-men

But my day was not over. I still had a single speed race left to do. At first, I only wanted to finish this race. I was cold, tired, and miserable. When we took off I was sitting in 4th. Then I could hear the announcer Dave, saying "Here comes John Osgood, hot on Brian Mitchell's heals for 3rd place!" I looked up and thought. "Oh my God! There he is! I actually have a chance of catching him". This now became my focus. Brian is no slacker. He is a Masters 35 racer, so he knows how to ride a bike in a CX race. So for me to say I beat him in a race was a personal feather in my cap! So by the 2nd lap, going into the starting area, I was on his wheel. We started up the climb in the beginning, and I attacked. Brain Said "Hi John" and I just said "Hey Brian" and buried my head and went. I never gave up and just tried to put more and more time into my lead. I was surprised to find out later that my lap times were actually getting faster toward the end of the race. Some of this was due to the improving course conditions. But the rest was from determination to take one more shot at the podium in my last race of the year. I stayed away and grabbed 3rd in the race. This was also good enough to be crowned 2nd place for the State Championship. And the 3rd place result improved my overall points to move me into 2nd overall for the Tailwind CX Series Championship.

Not too bad in a days work! I know I have said it several times in my blog throughout the CX season, but Thanks again JB Hancock for helping me with training and making my CX goals a reallity!

But there is more....

In only his 3rd CX race ever Mr. Lee Tremp turns it on and takes home a 2nd Place in C-men 40+! That is awesome. Lee has been flirting with the podium for the past few months and to bring in home in the last race of the year at a State Championship-- what else is there to say! You da-man Lee. I can't wait to see what the 09 Mountain Bike season brings for you.

And A few more folks I like to recognize for some outstanding seasons and personal improvements.

Matt Bjurman
Randy Arellano

You guys have been on the same ride as me for the last 3 years and your hard work has shown this year and has paid off. I want to thank both of you for you encouragement and support. And good luck next year.

Jason Melecosky
Adam Naish

What more can I say. You guys had great seasons and were a big part of helping me achieve my goals for the year.

Well this has been a great year for me overall. I learned a lot about racing, training, about the limits of my body, and my mind. In the end, I have achieved many personal goals. I scored a few wins in mountain bike races, and now cyclocross. I've Improved my overall race times at almost every course. I've won 2 series titles. Finished 4th at Iceman. Made several new friends and have strengthened many other friendships. Best of all, I did all this with having to balance a full time job, a wonderful family with my wife and 2 kids. And in the end, I did it all while just trying to have fun.

Thanks to everyone...