2011 will hopefully go more smoothly than 2010 has. I know, it could always be worse, and yes, I've had worse years in my life than 2010. I have. But 2010 hasn't been smooth, in racing or in life.
Some Good Races Happened:
I've been daydreaming about Dirty Kanza 200 lately. I went back and read my race report, then reread a few other people's race reports, then the article I wrote for XXC Magazine on Dirty Kanza, then the rest of that issue, and revisited the official Kanza website for a while too. Maybe the cold snap we're having here is making me nostalgic for the insane upper-90s weather and relentless sun of that day. Maybe. All I know is that Kanza was the high point of my year on the bike, not just because it was a decisive win but because getting to that win was the result of some really intense personal growth.
It was 200 miles of gravel. It wasn't boring. It wasn't flat. The bigness of the landscape was stunning. The people were great. I really, honestly loved the terrain and the ride. Like so many really interesting experiences, you just can't understand what it feels like to be a part of it until you go do it yourself. It's not singletrack, it's not mountains, but yes, it is a race on some definitely challenging geography.
Kanza may have been the highest high point, but there were a lot of races that didn't go nearly as well for me but were still fantastic.
Looking back on it, I don't even want to call the Colorado Trail Race a disappointment. I am really proud of the fact that I found a way to have a personally satisfying performance there, even though I didn't finish. It would have been great to finish, of course, but I'm just happy I was smart enough to make it back home with nothing worse than a raging case of pneumonia.
Likewise, I was so satisfied with my mental game at Cohutta 100 that the fact I finished in 9th place (and destroyed a race wheel in the process) doesn't even matter. That damn honey badger will stay with me for the rest of my racing life, I know it.
And P36AR, while officially a DNF, was also one of the best bike experiences of my life. Seriously. Just read the race report.
What does it mean that three events that other people might consider disappointments were also three of the best races of my year? The only real disappointments, for me, were the races planned but didn't get to do, especially Shenandoah 100 and the Gravel Grovel. And now that the year is closing out, and the pain is dimming some, I look back fondly on the entire year of racing, with all its ups and downs and pneumonia and bike failures.
What's coming for 2011? Oh man.
Some predictable inclusions, like Eric's races and a return to Kanza, but some new craziness as well. Like Trans-Iowa. And for some reason I think 2011 may be the year for my first-ever forays into sanctioned road racing.
I've never been a believer in that old saw, "do one thing every day that scares you." If it's something you can easily incorporate into your everyday life, it shouldn't be scaring you in the first place. And if it's an everyday thing, how much of a risk is it, really?
Instead, let me propose this alternate prescription: Every once in a while, do something that absolutely terrifies you. Get all the way out of your comfort zone. There is a lot that is still up in the air for 2011, but I guarantee I will be rolling up to some terrifying start lines next year.