Looking toward the coming year

Man, it's barely June and I'm already thinking about 2007. Wow. I guess I'm trying to occupy my thoughts with something else besides stars and stripes. So far this season is coming along well. I'm getting to the point that it's almost on auto-pilot through the end of the summer. All I have to do is keep at it.

So to next year. I've got a few things I want to do, I just haven't figured out if I'll be able to do all of them. Some might be contradictory. In the vain of perhaps even unrealistic, here they are.

  • Win the 25 - 29 Expert XC national series title
  • Finish top ten at every national I compete at
  • Podium (top 5) at the national championship in XC
  • Have enough strong finishes at the national level to upgrade to semi-pro
  • Win the AZ state series title - a toughy because I'll be racing in a 19 - 39 age group
  • Successfully defend (assuming the season continues as planned) the NM series title
  • Finish a 24 hour solo race (I'm thinking Old Pueblo)

The major one of these that's in question is Old Pueblo. Seems like the training for it would be good base work leading up to the rest of the season, but it also seems like I'd kill the first two months of the year working solely on endurance instead of intensity. I guess the major factor is how I finish up this season. If I finish it up and think I have a real shot at all of my other goals for next year and that's the only one that doesn't fit... well, I guess it will end up being one of the things to move into the '08 column.

I can't decide if I want to persue number 4 on that list - upgrade to semi-pro. The reasoning is simple, but requires a bit of background.

When I started racing a few years back, I started by jumping straight into sport and finished my first race in 14th out of 15 or 16. I was riding with mid-packer sports at the time and felt I would have too much pressure if I started at beginner because I would have expected to win everything. I'm super competitive, and decided I would race a category ahead of myself to keep the pressure off and make it more fun. That worked the first half of the season, but by the end of the season I was one of those sport racers that all the other ones complain about being a sandbagger. I wasn't winning races, but I was always in the chase. Most of them didn't know that was my first year racing.

The fall after that season I upgraded to expert to keep my racing "in over my head" and then all but quit racing. Two years later - this year - I decided to keep my expert card and see what I could pull off instead of taking the safe option and downgrading back to sport. I knew if I downgraded I would put a lot of pressure on myself to win every race I showed up at - afterall I had raced at least a few times as an expert.

If I reach my goals for next year - especially the national ones - and stay at expert, I'll go into '08 expecting to dominate. I know the pressure I'll put on myself. But if I upgrade, the only reason I can see to do that is as a stepping stone to a pro card. I'm not a person of half messures; if I get my pro card, I think I'd owe it to myself to really dedicate myself to a season so I can say I did it... even if it was just for one unsuccessful year.

But those decisions are a few years off... or at least a year and a half before I have to decide if I want to go down that path. Is it ambitious? Yeah, maybe too much so. But I've never been accused of setting my goals too low.