Ryan Harden's 2013 Year End Report
A quick review of my 2013 racing season.
2013 was an interesting and successful year. I put in a lot of roller/trainer time over the 2012/2013 winter and it definitely paid off. I had a couple not-so-stellar results, the best result of my racing career, and a few in between.
I ended up doing three road races, three criteriums, one time trial, and three cyclocross races for a total of 10 races. Double what I did in 2012.
My best result in 2013 (and career) came at the Bloomington Jaycee Criterium Masters 30+ 4/5 race (My first and only as a Cat 4). I placed 7th out of 18. The crit wasn't overly technical but it had a moderate climb each lap. Doing so well in this was a huge surprise since I generally struggle on hills.
The rest of my road/crit season went decent. I didn't crash and never finished last. Although I never finished with the pack in the road races, the timing systems showed I finished closer to the winner than in 2012. Crits have been a toss up for me. Some races I'll do great, other's I just cannot hang on. I'm planning to do more crits in 2014. I'm hoping to do a couple more road races, but living in central Illinois that means driving 3+ hours for each race. We'll see how things end up.
I competed in the Illinois State Championship Time Trials for the very large reason of it's less than 3 miles from my house. I finished 6th out of 6 in the Cat 4's but that was expected given the competition.
My cyclocross season was a bit more interesting. I don't intend to be super competitive in CX but hope it will keep me motivated throughout fall and early winter. This might change as I get better at the various CX skills. I crashed in the second corner of the first lap of my first CX race in Rantoul. I got squished in the pack, bogged down in the mud, and my bike just slid out from under me. I spent the rest of the race chasing and eventually caught a handful of people. I lost a place or two after dropping my chain but still managed to finish 23 out of 25. My second race was decidely better. No crashing, but hopping the curbs put my rear wheel so far out of true it was rubbing the brakes for 30% of each rotation. Of course I didn't notice this until the race was over. I lost tons of time for each dismount/mount but I managed to finish 30th out of 41. My last race of the season went even better. The temperature was in the teens and I feared I was under dressed. Once we got going I was fine. The course was long-ish with only a few short punchy hills. My works outs have been paying off since I was able to handle the hills with less effort than expected. The course also didn't have any obstacles that required dismounting. This allowed me not lose as much time as I would have and finished 15th out of 34. It was so cold that my sweat had frozen inside the arms of my team jacket.
Overall 2013 was a great year. I had my first top-10 finish, conquered climbs that killed me before, and upgraded to Road Cat 4. 2014 will be a challenging year as I get to ride an extra lap on road races and an extra 10-15 minutes in Crit/CX races. Time will tell if my off-season training pays off or not.