As the days of 2013 draw to a close, and you realise the year that lay ahead is now a memory of used number plates, broken bike parts, tan lines, scars and cherished memories of victory personal and sporting – it becomes time to steel yourself for the agony and the ecstasy of planning the next year.
I can look back at 2013 and have some great personal highlights, surrounded by lows as well. Having the whole Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team together at the start of the year for the Odyssey, staying at Apollo Bay, was a great way to make sure everyone knew each other, staying in a great location at one of the premier races we have in Australia.
My season took a dip after that, with arrival at the ABSA Cape Epic soon being greeted with a mate breaking his collarbone, and then ending up with some sort of virus that involved drips, antibiotics, and a lot of time curled in a ball, on a toilet or in a shower. Sorry for the visual.
The array of marathon racing back home lifted spirits, with the Wombat 100 closely followed by the National Marathon Championships, and the Convict 100. As the Australian calendar becomes so crowded, it’s not uncommon for races to run from weekend to weekend, which becomes highly demanding on time and resources for all amateur racers.
And so to Europe. To the Dolomites for the Sella Ronda Hero, then to Austria for Kitz Alp Bike, back to the Dolomites for the Super Bike – and then of course to MIttenwald for the start of the Craft Bike Transalp – perhaps one of the most pivotal races for me of the year. Or ever?
Transalp was an amazing experience. Beyond the fact that I had raced it three times previously, I was now racing it with an old house mate, an old team mate, and someone who I thought would be a great stage race team mate since 2009. Unfortunately in the week leading up to the race, I wasn’t sure if I’d asked too much of Imogen Smith. As we trained in the mountains of the Alta Valtellina, it sometimes just seemed a bit too much. That, and we seemed to antagonise each other at every opportunity.
But deep down, I wanted us to have a great race. I knew we could.
Far and away these eight days with some great mates, racing across a mountain range I love, and being competitive, were the highlight of my year, and more. The vacuum that was created by leaving to go home, and get back to the real world was immense. This was the most epic post stage race depression I have ever experienced. But in the end I came away with the greatest reward.
Marathons with head colds followed, and getting my head around a new role, and then it was time to go to Mongolia for the Mongolia Bike Challenge. To say that I really didn’t have the time to spend two weeks away at this point is an understatement. I tried to race well but my head was rarely in it. Except for most of one day.
My season tailed off soon after, needing to focus on changes at home and in the workplace. So I’ve been thinking about what happened this year. What did I enjoy, what did I hate, what did I miss? There are countless great races on for 2014, but of course so many other riding experiences. Having added just some of the races to our Calendar I am more than aware of what’s on for the coming year. The coming weeks will provide the time to reflect on 2013, and finish planning for 2014.
What’s on your calendar?