I went into 2018 thinking it might be my last year of racing.
I came out of 2018 full of stoke and feeling a huge fire for racing and being a better mountain biker.
BUT (and this is a rather large but) that fire isn’t really burning for enduro racing.
If 2018 taught me anything, it is that I have options, and what felt like black and white landscape in January of 2018 — to race or not to race — now feels painted in shades of gray.
That is just a flowery way of saying that I will be taking a step back from enduro racing in 2019. And I’m really psyched about it.
I’m still going to be doing a few enduro races, but they’ll be cherry-picked for fun and experience — i.e. Andes Pacifico in Chile — and the big focus of my year will be racing BC Bike Race as a co-ed duo team with Macky in July. So yeah, an endurance cross country race, and not just any endurance cross country race, but an eight day one. Am I insane? Maybe. Am I stoked? Definitely.
The reasons for this shift are many and somewhat difficult to quantify. I’ve been feeling the urge to try endurance racing for awhile. I’ve always loved big days on the bike and the long wait times at enduro races tend to make me antsy. Waiting is my least favorite part of enduro. And I love the feeling of being absolutely and completely wrecked after a long day on the bike. I have also been somewhat dissatisfied with my overall physical fitness over the past few years (read: I cannot hang with XC riders!), and I have a theory that improving my base level of fitness will help out my knee issues (this theory remains to be truly tested but I’m cautiously optimistic). The reality is that I have felt this way for awhile, but I have also felt *stuck* in enduro racing, because it seemed like turning away from it would be selling myself short, chickening out, what have you. This is another example of that kind of black and white thinking — now I am embracing the philosophy that exploring endurance racing will make me a better overall athlete, abetter mountain biker, and maybe even a better enduro racer, too, but that’s no longer the one-and-only-holy-grail goal. It would just be, like, a fun bonus if it happened to work out that way.
Earlier this year, one of the coaches for the Taos NICA team told me that he doesn’t let the kids say anything like “I’m an enduro racer” or “I’m an XC racer.” He makes them say “I’m a mountain biker.” And that really stuck with me.
And here’s the truth? Being a great enduro racer has never been that inspiring to me. I can’t explain why. Being a well-rounded, fit, strong AND technically proficient mountain biker? That’s a way bigger drive. That’s the big picture.
I can’t explain why I feel like an eight day endurance race will be more fun (or at least more fulfilling), but I do feel that way, and maybe I’m not obligated to provide an explanation. I’m just going to follow my gut.
I’m just going to keep trying to be a better mountain biker.