- Skill over Power - In mountain bike racing, skill will always be more useful than fitness. I lost many positions, and the overall at Fountainhead XC because of poor bike driving. The smoother you ride, the more "even" your power, the faster you go. In 2014, I will work a lot on my handling to compliment my power work.
- Tire Weight - My coach told me to never run a sub 600g tire in a race. I didn't listen, and flatted twice at Dragon's Tale, knocking myself out of the top 10. In 2014, I will not race thin-walled tires, only ones with "control casing" from Specialized.
- Tire Pressure - I started the year running mid to upper 20's with my tire pressure. As the season went on, that number slowly crept down as I experimented with different pressures. Ultimately, I ended with pressures around 21 psi for racing. Combine that with the Epic's suspension, and it is a perfect combo. In 2014, I will keep the pressure low and rail the turns with confidence.
- Pacing - Regardless of whether its a 90 minute XC race or a 100 miler, pacing is required. Unfortunately, this can only be learned through trial and error. 2013 was helpful in discovering what proper pacing looks like for me over different mountain bike distances. In 2014, I will use that experience to pace more consistently.
- Fueling - This makes and breaks races. The week of a race, the night before, during and after are all essential. I started the season with a strategy that did not work for me. Since then, I discovered Infinit and it has transformed how I race and train. In 2014, I'll be using Infinit for everything.
- Vo2 Max - It could be argued that top end power is not needed in endurance races, that having good repeatable Vo2 Max numbers isn't necessary. This year I focused a lot on consistent power over time and neglected my top end. Ultimately, my racing suffered from that approach as I was unable to call upon bigger numbers when I needed them in those rare occasions. Mid way through the season I adjusted and was able to get some better results, but not after missing some opportunities. In 2014, I will focus on my whole spectrum of power, and not just the long stuff.
Suspension - I began my endurance campaign this year with the best hardtail in the industry, the Specialized Stumpjumper. With SRAM XX1 and carbon Roval wheels, it was a force to be reckoned with. I loved that bike and had a lot of good hours training and racing on it. But, I quickly learned that in an endurance mountain bike race you need every help you can get. Having a bike with rear suspension would save me a lot of energy over 100 miles. I switched over to a Specialized Epic and couldn't be happier with that choice. I only got two races in on the Epic, but I was very excited with how the Epic performed. In 2014, I will utilize the best dual suspension 29er on the market.