A week ago today I turned the big 4-0. It’s kind of hard for me to believe with the way I feel and my state of mind. I never thought to much about my age but turning 40 is kind of a big deal I guess. I for sure don’t look at it any kind of negative way. It’s quite the opposite. I’m stoked with where I am in my life and where I’m at physically. I can honestly say that I have never been happier in life than I am right now… and it just keeps getting better. I have a smoking hot, awesome wife, we have an incredible daughter, two awesome pups, and great jobs. We have great families, we’re healthy and fit, and we live in Colorado. I honestly don’t know what could make life any better.
Turning 40 is of course a big deal when it comes to racing. I am now a “masters” athlete and can race the 40+ division. For the last few years I’ve been oldest guy in my age group but not any more… but don’t get me wrong. I still want to race the younger dudes. I feel I am on my way to be as fit as I’ve ever been and I am for sure stronger then I’ve ever been. I’m also training smarter (thanks Cody). I’m as motivated as ever to race this year and probably more so than I’ve been the last few years. I’m not sure what it is but I think it’s discovering gravel racing and just how much fun I’m having training.
Gravel racing combines all my strengths and kind of neutralizes my weaknesses. I’ve always excelled in ultra distance events but when it came to ultra running the training always led to getting hurt. My right shin just would inevitably get lit up and I’d have to take 2-8 weeks off of running to calm it down. Last year, just focusing on racing my bike, I didn’t have a single injury or niggle. I love that I can smash on the bike with no worries of an overuse injury. When it comes to mountain biking my weakness was/is descending… and not that I’m not a good descender, but when it comes to racing I was never really willing to take the big risks… or at least what I thought was risky… more so now than ever. I’ve won races with my fitness and not necessarily my skill. I think I’m a good mountain biker but I’ve always lost time to guys descending faster than me… and that’s why I lost the first and second place guys at Bailey Hundo and the group I was riding with at Leadville. At the Bailey Hundo I got dropped once we hit the Colorado trail descent about 7 miles in. I had never ridden the trail and the top two guys ripped it while I fell back. At Leadville I got dropped from the group I was with descending power lines and I was left in no mans a land for far too long. Both of those situations were deciding factors in the race and where I ended up finishing.
In Ironman i just never “loved” swimming so I didn’t work that hard at it and just accepted being mediocre at it. I did love hammering the bike and the run and the length of the event. In cyclocross I was always a terrible starter but was good technically and could pin it for 60 minutes. I would be a bit back after the start and spend the races moving through the field. I’d often just run of time and would be gaining time every lap. With gravel racing it kinds of combines all of the racing i’ve done into one with out any running of course. it’s more about fitness and being comfortable riding fast on the dirt. There’s nothing super technical. My years of racing mountain bikes and cross on the bike make me above average and super comfortable on gravel. As I’ve gotten older I’ve excelled at longer bike races both on the road and dirt. I also love the fact that there are “road” tactics and group dynamics involved. Mountain bike races typically get strung out pretty quickly and a lot of the races are spent riding solo…. either off the front or chasing. In gravel racing there is typically a front group that slowly dwindles over the course of the race. The longer it goes the more people crack. Its a race of attrition and I love that.
I also think now with my body type I’m well suited for some ultra endurance offroad cycling. Back in my late 20s and through my mid 30s I was pretty skinny… aka scrawny. I think i weighed between 132-138. Back then there was no way I could even come close to squatting my bodyweight… i couldn’t even have deadlifted it. I was racing shorter stuff back then and was having success. Mostly Xterra triathlon, XC mountain bike races and cyclocross. Back then I was a really good climber, and I’m still pretty good now, but I’ve packed on some muscle in the past few years and typically weigh between 145-150 year round. These days I think I’m more suited for longer sustained power over rolling terrain. The distance I want to race has gotten longer, as I feel that plays into my strengths and willingness to suffer, and I have huge desire to be strong. I want to be strong not just for racing but for every day life and all the good stuff that comes with it. The last thing I want to do is train hard and have not energy for my family… that’s not gonna happen. At 40 years old my energy levels are way higher than they have ever been.
So with all of that being said I am choosing focus solely on gravel/mixed terrain racing this year and couldn’t be more stoked.
My race plans are below and I’m still holding out on getting a Dirty Kanza transfer slot. I’m on the the official transfer forum, I’ve posted craigslist ads, and also on Facebook looking for a slot. I have until April 1st to get a slot that somebody is giving up… I know it’s huge long shot but I’m not giving up. If any body reading this knows anybody that got in and for some reason or another can’t race I’d love to take their slot and get them their money back. So if you could put me in touch I’d be stoked.
I’ve kind of split my season into two halves. I have a string of races in spring leading into summer and then another string in august and september. Here’s the plan:
2/11 – Oskar Blues Old Man Winter Bike Rally – 100k gravel race – this is one more for fun and good training day. too early in the season to put any focus on it.
4/15 – Belgian Waffle Ride – 145 mile mixed terrain race – fun, hard day and a chance to ride with friends back in SoCal.
4/28 – Encierro Velo (race 1 of 2 in Colorado gravel grinder championships) – 100k gravel race – Goal Race
5/19 – Pony Xpress (race 2 of 2 in Colorado gravel grinder championships) – 100 mile gravel race – Goal Race
6/4 – Dirty Kanza – fingers crossed. this be my major goal for the year if I get in.
8/19 – Gravel Wolrds – 150 mile gravel race – Late season Goal Race
9/2 – Rebecca’s Private Idaho – 100 mile gravel race – Fun race with friends in Idaho
- 9/23 – Crippler Gravel Race – 65 mile gravel race – local one to end the season on
So that’s it for now. There are also some other, hopefully, exciting things in the works. We’ll see….
On another note Maggie is totally mixing it up and I couldn’t be more proud of her and her attitude. Her foot surgery was MAJOR and the recovery process is dragging on a bit more than we thought it would. So… she’s making lemonade out of lemons. Maggie is an incredible swimmer and probably even better in the water than she is running. It’s close. She’s competed and done well in a lot of open water swim races and also swim/run races (before we met). Over the years we’ve ridden a lot together and even when training for ultras and marathons she spends a lot of time on the trainer… and she’s always wanted to do an Ironman… and Ultraman. So she has decided now is the time. We pulled the trigger and got her a sick TT bike and she’s back swimming masters. I think the balance will be great for her and a year or so off the trails will ensure her foot totally heals. Her foot never bothered on the road before the surgery it just all the off camber and weird angles of the trail that lit up the extra bone in her foot. I can’t wait to see what she does later this year and I can wait to get out on some long rides with her.
It’s going to be super exciting year for us and totally new races for both us. So stoked.