I love that scene in Better Off Dead when Lane's dad sits him down to try to talk sense into him. The way he delivers his lines is so funny, yet so accurate, that it makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. "You're really bringing me over, man," he says, with his thumb stuck surreptitiously in a "slang" book. "C'mon, Lane, it's a brand-new year."
That's kind of how 2006 feels for me, and I am super-excited because of it. It may seem strange to be talking about next year already, but that's sort of how cycling goes -- the next road season more or less starts on November 1. But for those of us who race 'cross, we have a few more weeks on the calendar …
Anyway, as I alluded to in an earlier post, I will again be racing on Team Mack next year. Although we won't be fielding a supported elite Category 1/2 team, Mack is still a collection of some of the best racers in the Midwest, and offers a great system for riders of all categories. I'm sure the 40+ team will dominate next year, and it will be fun to be a part of their success, if only as a spectator. We'll have plenty of strength in the 30+ ranks as well, and since many of the races are 35+, I'll be doing my fair share of 1/2 events!
(I'm also looking forward to feeding off the excitement of my new teammate, Andy -- here we are in November, and he's already dreaming of Joe Martin ... I've been where he is mentally, and it's a great feeling, full of opportunity!)
That said, next summer won't be near the intensity of the past two years, as I've made a decision to shift my focus as well … this may come as a surprise to some (especially my parents, who witnessed the "Calamity in Carpentersville"), but I have decided to concentrate on cyclocross next year. I'll still be out on the road all year, but my late summer plans will be undeniably altered as I prepare for the falling leaves, wet weather and barrier hopping. This current 'cross season has brought it home to me more than ever before -- I love racing 'cross! I'm more excited to race today, as the season nears its end, than I have been since April, in the week before Hillsboro-Roubaix. I can't wait to get out on my bike, even though it's freezing outside right now!
Now it will be up to me to prove that this isn't just a flash in the pan, a case of current-itis. I don't think it is -- there's so much to learn, and so much room for improvement, that I feel like a brand-new Cat. 5 right now ... I'm so excited to get out and race (and even train!) that I'm actually losing sleep in anticipation of getting on the bike again. Every night! I'm annoying the heck out of Renee with e-mails, and am planning a raid on the plumbing section of Home Depot for some PVC pipe, despite my mechanical ineptitude ...
And since I'm a goal-oriented person, you heard it here first -- I will be trying to earn UCI points at next autumn's races. It's not critical that I do, but it's something to shoot for -- for those of you who know me, and have seen me race, you know that I have a LOT of work ahead of me if I hope to score a top-10 or top-15 place in a UCI event. Hell, I can barely score a top-10 finish in Chicago races with just 11 guys! But I believe I have the necessary strength, and with a year dedicated to learning and working on my skills, I just may have a shot.
No matter what the outcome, however, if there's one thing this 'cross season has taught me, it's that I'll have fun trying!
5 hours ago