At this point, much of 2013 is a blur. And, coming on the heels of a spectacular 2012 and being the year I officially turned old that wasn’t entirely unexpected. Looking back, which I do a lot now in my old age, one of the most positive things to come out of 2013 for me was regaining my motivation to win.
Following the Paralympic Games, I was the first to admit that I was simply going through the motions. This wasn’t entirely without merrit – I had much family and friend time to make up for missing over the past few years. Although great for the psyche, it meant my work and training ethic were woefully inadequate. This was painfully clear in every international race we contested last year and none more than the Road World Championships in Canada. In short, finishing all our World Cup and World Championship races with double digit placings was the swift kick in the pants I needed to recommit myself to training with the purpose of winning. This process, which is already baring fruit and by no means complete, began shortly after Worlds in the fall by getting back to the basics.
While in Colorado Springs for a wedding last September, I hung out with the participants of an U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Learning to Race Development Camp. This was the same camp where I was introduced to tandem racing in 2006. The enthusiasm of the new riders was infectious. They helped remind me how far I’ve come and why I want to do this: to challenge myself and be the best (in tandem cycling specifically and in everything, ever, more generally).
In November, Dave and I attended an intermediate level training camp at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. This camp mixed athletes from the National Team with new athletes who are showing potential. More structured than my time at the USABA camp in September, this camp gave Dave and me valuable time together on the tandem and let us train with (and against) other men’s tandems who would like nothing more than to knock us off as the top men’s tandem in the U.S.
Along with suffering through another NFL season for the Washington Professional Football Club in my basement training dungeon for hours at a time, I made my way to Tucson in December to stretch my legs on the open road, and again, get valuable tandem time with Dave. The past few months have gone a long way to building a firm foundation for the high intensity training and racing ahead of us in 2014.
And as previously stated, recommiting myself to my goals is already baring fruit. This past week, Dave and I competed at the L.A. Para-Cycling Open, the U.S. Para-Cycling qualifying event for the Track World Championships scheduled for April in Mexico. Winning gold in both the men’s tandem 4km Pursuit and 1km Sprint, Dave and I surprised even ourselves with our February form and fitness.