Since Kona I don't know how many times I have been asked, "So, what's next?" I am 100% convinced that living your life focused on each day's journey is the best way to give one the proper gratitude for this crazy ride. Still that doesn't mean that there aren't really nice "scenic overlooks" along the way! Kona was definitely one of these. I spent so much time and effort (and $) getting to Kona that "What Happens Next" only rarely crossed my mind.
This fall post-Kona I did very little training, but I did indulge in one of my more recent passions, which is cyclocross. The biggest event that I went to was the 2-day Jingle Cross Rock in Iowa. The first day was muddy and cold and the second day added a nice layer of snow on top of the mud- in other words, perfect cross conditions. I have to admit that I had as much fun in this crazy laid-back atmosphere as I did at the World Championships! There are quite a few great Jingle Cross Rock videos on YouTube:
Two weekends ago, I headed down near Springfield, IL for the Tour de Groundhog, which is a late-season cross race. I raced here last year and both years have been an absolute mud fest. My bike weighed twice as much at the finish as it did when I started, but somewhere amidst the suffering that cross is all about, I was definitely having fun!
So what's next is embracing my dirty nature (you can read that however you would like!) I started mountain biking about the same time I started tris (early '90s) and I have always liked it better. Problem is my geographic location is much better suited to road riding. Nevertheless, in 2009 I will be making a serious foray into the world of Xterra and to a lesser extent mountain bike racing. I've already done 4 off-road tris in the past and had some success, so I am not brand-new to the dirty side of triathlon. To embrace the "No day, but today" philosophy, I am going to try and take Xterra racing to the same high levels that I did with regular triathlon. That means aiming for either Xterra nationals or even the World Championships in '09. The midwest qualifier for Worlds is in Michigain in May. No that, is not a typo. An off-road triathlon in Michigan in May. As a general rule of thumb you don't even want to get in most of the Illinois lakes in May! This is part of what draws me to Xterra- they generally do everything possible to make the courses difficult. At this point in my career, given the proper training, I know I can finish any Ironman in around 10 hours. With Xterra though, finishing is never guaranteed. Crashes and mechanical problems routinely cause the best Xterra pros to have a DNF next to their names.I have a rough season schedule up on the right hand side of my blog. I sent it to my wife first with the important disclaimer that this is everything I'd like to race. I'm afraid many of these will be on the cutting block when it comes down to it. In any case this season represents a big move towards Xterra and sharpening the mountain biking skills.
In commemoration of my new-found purpose I am thinking I need to find one of these stickers for Cara: