The Bike: The Year that Was and Wasn't

So much for improving on my totals from 2007. I finally got around to entering the data stored in my Garmin for the final four months of the year and I'm sad to say that I didn't even crack 200,000 feet of ascent for the whole year (198k and change).  Worse still, I rode well over a thousand fewer miles in 2008 than I did in 2007.

But if you were reading my race reports this year, then you already know that.

The year started out great. The ETS (Endurance Training Series) I led was a bigger hit than I anticipated and by the end of April, I was in great shape and so were quite a few of my riding buddies. Granted, I didn't do Coach Troy's 3-hour trainer sessions like I did in 2007, but I was racking up a lot of cold, wet, miles. Right until I came down with pneumonia the week I was going to solo the 24-hour race in Spokane. Trying to race through the sickness did more harm than good and the effects lasted throughout the Test of Metal and forced me to ultimately skip the Cascade Creampuff 100. 

I got the rubber side down sort-of-speak in time to do the GearJammer race up in Squamish, BC and that went really well. But then the workload from hell took over. Considering I had gone many years as a guidebook author without ever really doing any books for serious RPG games, 2008 caught me by surprise in that I ended up authoring or co-authoring no less than four books for RPGs. Writing the book for Tales of Vesperia, an 85-hour epic from Namco-Badai, occupied the majority of my summer and made training for the Leadville 100 quite a challenge. Well, actually it made it near-impossible. I snuck in a few 3-hour rides on the single-speed here and there, but ultimately I rolled up to the starting line woefully unprepared. It's a wonder I only missed the belt-buckle cutoff by three minutes. There probably weren't too many mountain bikers at the race whose obligations to their primary sponsor actually hindered their ability to train for the race, but that was the case for me. That said, I'm sure the folks at BradyGames cared a lot more about my ability to finish books on time than to race a hundred miles through Colorado.

Many of you read my Leadville race report (it was the most-read entry on my blog last year, and I say thank you) and know that I plan to dial it back a bit in 2009. That is true. I've been giving it quite a bit of thought these past two months and although I anxiously await the Test of Metal and GearJammer, those will be the only races I do this year. No 24-hour races, no hundies, and no stage racing. Other than a late-fall ride at Skookum Flats, I didn't hit a single one of my favorite WA rides last year. No Dungeness/Gold Creek; no Palisades, no Esmeralda Basin, and no Angel's Staircase. And I didn't get back to St. Helens either. Just typing that was very depressing.

So, in addition to not seeking sponsorship for 2009, I'm putting the emphasis back on the fun. I might still do the occasional Thrilla in Woodinvilla for the camaraderie and for to help prep for the Test, but my weekends will be in the backcountry, focusing on high-mountain scenery and less on pure mileage.

The other thing I'm looking forward to doing more of this year is riding with the people I used to ride with -- the folks who all of that "training" the past couple years has kept me away from. Campouts, alpine swimming holes, lengthy hike-a-bikes, and brew-pubs. These are the things I want to focus my 2009 on.

Come with me as I seek to put the mountain back in mountain biking.

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