Funny last season at this time I had a big goal – the Masters World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Mol, Belgium. Last year’s season and its goal, sparked this season and my new goal – the Elite World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Hoogerheide, NL.

I set that goal in January when I returned from Belgium in 2008. I discussed it with my coach. I discussed it with Marc. Everyone was on board. This goal kept me going. Through long trainer rides in the winter. Through four weeks of intensity and intervals. Kept me going through the hard parts of the Tour of PEI and Canadian Road Nationals. It kept me on track. The goal forced me to go to yoga regularly. To loose weight. To think more on the bike.

Essentially, this goal changed me. In a good way. I’m stronger. I’m smarter. I’m more focused. I’m even more driven than I was before.

So, as you know, I didn’t qualify for the Worlds. First thing I did was reset and pushed the goal out one year to 2010 in Tabor, Cze. Perfect a new goal. It worked last time, so it should work this time as well. Haha – not so easy. I didn’t realize the fall-out of not achieving something that I’d been thinking about for ten months. I struggled. I lost a bit of motivation. I couldn’t really see the point (even though I had a new goal…).

I suppose this is normal. But it was still difficult. Even more so because I needed to recognize what was happening – it wouldn’t work when someone else would point out why I was feeling a bit frustrated or down with riding and racing. So I set some interim goals. This sort of worked. I started racing like I know I can and found a deeper devotion to my sport.

And now I’m here. In Belgium. The land of cyclo-cross. I have my interim goals. But they’ve really taken a back seat. I’m renewed and thinking ahead again. Thinking about Tabor. What do I need to do to get better? Improved technical skills. More snap and explosion. A smarter head. More watts. Maybe loose more weight.

So now every race I do here – even the little local races with the junior boys – have a purpose. What can I learn from this race experience? What did I do correctly? What did I struggle with? Even the training rides are taking on greater meaning. Squeeze in a few sprints. Play around with bike position. Pay attention to the other riders to learn from them.

All little pieces in the puzzle. Slowly but surely coming together. No one is an over night success. And really if I had made the team this year for 2008, it would have been pretty much an over night success. I have to remember where I came from. Keep the perspective.

So what am I saying in this long rambling post? Well, this year is coming to a close. Soon enough you’ll be tipping back a glass of champagne and hanging up a new wall calendar. So think about your goals. Now is the time. I’m not talking resolutions. (I don’t bother with those.) Set a goal – a big one. Work out a plan. Figure out how you’re going to achieve the goal. Remember life is short. So now is the time. Don’t be afraid to set a big goal. Perhaps setting the goal is the hardest part. But it is difficult to go through life without goals. I don’t care if it is a goal related to cycling or not – just set one. Write it down. Tell a few people. And then go for it. You never know where you’ll end up.

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