As the 2013 year comes to an end, it's time to grab a bevvie (or three), kick the feet up and reflect. I like to call it my own version of The good, The bad and The ugly. Ok, hopefully not ugly to the level of Friday nights back in college, but if you can't be honest with yourself, the walk of shame won't cease.

You wanna know what went great or so-so...or didn't go at all, but should have.

A lot, hopefully, or perhaps that's the #1 new goal: Make more sh*t happen.

*hmmm...thinking... drinking... more thinking*

For starters, my foray into racing has been a slow burn. I came in with little to zero competitiveness, which hampered my drive. But, the hook has finally been set, and not only do I listen to the bike chatter, I actually know a thing or two myself.

The time I put in the saddle this year was incredibly fun. Out of the gate, I had fitness, and it felt glorious!!! I came in with legs from a decent CX season and amp'd up my power with structured workouts, a la coaching. I hung with some groups that I clung to before. I crushed the trainer with no mercy. I went into races, more ready for the battle with a better understanding of the chess game and a squadron of steely, strong ladies team mates. I pushed myself and it was magnificent.

And glory was mine, but only off the record. No podiums, not even close, nor upgrade points. And this eventually took a toll. By June, my race mojo was a faint memory. I decided to get my groove back with just riding...gravel, hills, long distance...these were my new "victories".

What I realized in early summer and continue to learn (with the speed of a slug) is that physical strength is only part of the battle. The mental component is huge. Neither, alone, makes for winning. Being race smart, that's something real valuable, not to mention a stellar team giving inspiration and smiles along the way.

My love /need for the bike is unwavering. I'm not me without it. I am suspicious of those who aren't soulful about their steed and simply look at it as a device, like a pair of running shoes.

This racing biz is fascinating and keeps me enchanted with the game. What lessons have hit me over the head thus far:

  • Small wins will eventually lead to bigger wins, if you establish what both of those things are.
  • Relish the gains, even if they don't show in the race results.
  • Set goals that'll kick your a*s, because there's a ton of satisfaction in that.
  • Challenge yourself to push on.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others, but definitely learn from them.
  • And, unless you have the resilience of a 23 year old, nutrition and sleep can't be ignored.

In close, hear, hear to the "new" year. Starting over is the gift we all receive in January...go make it count!