2020 Lessons and 2021 Plans

2020 was a challenge, but we have high hopes for 2021!

Previously, @SteveHerman started a great thread on 2021 intentions. This was perfect timing as FastTalk Episode 147 was in part on this topic. That episode just went live today. We discussed some of what we accomplished in 2020, what we learned, and dove into 2021 plans. You will hear from @trevor, @chris, @jana, @ThermalDoc, @stephen.seiler, @colbypearce, and more.

So to keep the discussion going, we would love to hear from everyone else on your experience(s) and upcoming plans!

  1. What did you learn in 2020

  2. What are your plans in 2021

Let’s hear about those lessons, accomplishments, and upcoming plans/adventures for the new year!

Coach Ryan

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Thanks team for the great episode. I’ll follow up:

  1. 2020 learnings:
    I had intended to do CX in the fall, and with CX nationals being semi local to me (Chicago) I planned to go do the baby-master’s race, but of course that didn’t happen. 2020 was always going to be weird for me with the birth of my son, so I knew going in that there would be sacrifices in training volume and so I had to train smarter.

To wit, I had a super productive winter in the gym and really found out how much I love gym work. With the pandemic continuing for the foreseeable future, I have been investing in more home gym equipment so that I can get in some reasonable strength training without going out.

Before the local CX series was cancelled, I did a pretty nice summer base build. That culminated in a one week, 20 hour local training camp. That was my biggest week to date. Something I learned from that was that it is probably more effective to build and train consistently than to do a big week like that.

  1. 2021 goals:
    That’s a tough one. I still hold out hope for the fall CX season. I’m undecided on whether I’ll focus on the master’s 35+ or the Cat 1/2 series, but regardless I want to repeat my series podium from 2019. That will require consistent performances Sept-Dec and managing the much hated mid-season aerobic fade (@chris you know what I’m talking about)!

I’m going to do a bunch of Mtb/gravel day trips. I really enjoy routes that combine singletrack with gravel. Just getting out to enjoy nature more, get back to my roots. Nothing specific but I feel the need to check out parts of my state that I haven’t yet visited. I have the skill and the fitness to ride singletrack all day, and I want to use it!

As previously discussed, my kid hasn’t taken to the bike trailer yet, so I fully intend to get him to love it…and getting some loc cadence training in the process!

On the process side, I want to learn to jump barriers! And once I get my vaccine (Feb? :crossed_fingers:) I’ll start hitting the weight room again!

Are these SMART goals? Not totally, but with the uncertainty continuing this year I am ok with it.


@SteveHerman Great insight. Thanks for sharing. It seems you did well at turning lemons into lemonade, and even discovered a new love with the gym work.

I really hope that by the fall there can be a true 'cross season everywhere. Best of luck getting back to the series podium if it does happen. (Get that mid-season trip to Mallorca to feed the aerobic system and you’ll be all set… or, if not Mallorca, maybe Texas? I know, not the same.)

Big gear work with the bike trailer is perfect! I did a good bit of that, of course.

Great ideas @SteveHerman and I really like the flexibility and adaptability you’re espousing. Especially this year where nothing is certain, I think it’s critical to set performance and race goals, but not tie all our energy to them and be ready to change and adapt as situations arise. I also like your setting process challenges like jumping barriers and having family-based targets too. Hopping barriers is something I’ll add to my goals for 2021!

While I love the bike, the past year since my 20-y old son and I discovered rock climbing, I’ve made the mental switch where I will give up any cycling plans in favour of an opportunity for us to go climbing together. It’s so important to have that family balance.

It really is a fine mix, setting goals while not allowing them to define you or staking all our happiness to them!


@chris I always disavow instagram when the Euros are at their pre-Kurstperiod camps while I am stuck inside! Texas might be nice in December but it’s not Mallorca; no mid ride tapas!

@ThermalDoc A bunch of my friends have gotten into the ultra-distance stuff during 2020-2021 so they have much more interesting plans than I do. I don’t think that I have the time to train for or even to get away for long enough to do the cool super long rides. I think for now I need to focus on goals that fit within the time I have available. Exploring cool trails and building for ‘cross seems achievable.

To summarize, quoting Dr. Seiler, this year will be about putting hay in the barn!


@SteveHerman is CX Nationals going to be in the Chicago Area (Wheaton) in 2021? I thought I saw that. I am originally from the area western burbs near Wheaton (not too far now, Madison WI). I was hoping to get down and do a masters race on my gravel bike fitted with 32s…If you are not too far from that area, I am always looking for someone to ride (road, gravel, single-track -where my gravel 650bx2.5" will allow) when I visit about 1x a month when the weather is decent…

Congrats on the kid in 2020…My kids never loved the trailer. For your sake, i hope your’s take to it. When mine were small and not able to leave alone for too long, there was a lot workout time sharing with my wife. I had to make some sacrifices, but it did help because my time was limited so it forced me to be disciplined.

I too like the gym work (I’ll get into more if I ever get my thoughts together for my 2020 Learnings/2021 goals). This has been challenging since I have always like getting into the gym but I have been able to find some good work to do at home without weights that help strength during the season without having to worry, too much, about affecting performance on the bike. It will be good to add into my annual plan going forward.

@bgkeen I believe that CX Nationals is still supposed to be in Wheaton. As I mentioned, I was planning to make attending that race my capstone in 2020 and it’s definitely still on the radar in 2021! I live in SW Ohio, so I am about a 4 hour drive to Chicagoland. I heard there’s a big 'cross race in Waterloo WI, replete with Euros! If I can steal away for that one, I’ll be in touch!

In the Training in alignment thread, @CEBorduas mentioned the groundhog day effect of 2020. Anyone who has young kids will know that feeling well; it seems like every day is measured in 2-3 hour increments between naps and mealtimes, with mom and dad racing from one agenda item to the next! It’s a total disconnect between the weekly, monthly, and annual milestones that we strive for in training. Without the clarity offered by a defined objective/apogee, to continue with @colbypearce’s celestial orbit analogy, it becomes so easy to (1) fail to see any bigger picture and (2) succumb to the thrash of the 2-3 hour periodic schedule that a toddler gives you, and thus fail to establish a proper training rhythm. To use a different analogy: you focus on the alligator closest to the boat, i.e. just getting through the day with some sort of physical activity, rather than a workout that serves the broader objective.

Publicly declaring our plans for 2021 is therapeutic in that it does establish some sort of psuedo-accountability. The challenge in this climate, at least for me, is weaponizing the plans for good rather than becoming overwhelmed. @colbypearce’s most recent pod, athletic development is a fractal. I suppose a good coach can help the athlete navigate the fractal and set a course for the orbital apogee and establish the correct path through perigee. Self-coached as I am, this is proving to be quite challenging, but in a good way.

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Yeah, “we” Madison-Area (Actually Trek) usually hosts a September CX race weekend that has been a World Cup event the past few years with “all the world bigs”. There are usually cool “legend races” races where in the past I have done “races” (I put in quotes because, for me if it fun and not a race) with Gary Fisher, Jens Voigt, and Sven Nys…It is a fun event. Reach out if you plan on getting to either.