Progression Plans: The Singletracks Staff Shares 2022 MTB Goals

File photo

Last year our team tried a few things differently out on the trail, like high-pivot bikes, more e-bikes, narrower bars, different cleat placement, and a wide variety of new components. We all have other new experiences to look forward to in 2022 and we wanted to share them here with the hope they might inspire you to try something new!

Chris’s family trail resolution

Oh goals; how I love to hate them. When I first got into mountain biking my goal was to stop running and start doing something fun outside instead. The logical progression would’ve been to purchase an XC bike, learn skills, and progress at a steady pace. Instead I chose to dive into XC racing with a “have fun attitude” and full suspension bike, which as it turns out, was not wise. While I didn’t do half-bad in the XC world, I craved a type of racing that brought me continual joy and was less of a sufferfest.

Honestly, the stiff attitudes of the XC world just didn’t fill my soul. I’m not serious enough, nor do I have enough free time, to achieve XC greatness. I transitioned to enduro racing as soon as I became aware of the “scene,” which by all accounts is a social group ride with friends and occasionally bombing downhill for a few minutes at a time. After a few seasons of racing, it became apparent that even enduro is a time suck away from family. Training, race weekends, all of it is time away from the most important thing in my life, which is why my husband and I decided to make racing a family affair.

Last year my sons received their first full suspension mountain bikes and we entered our entire family, ages 9-44, in the Arkansas Enduro series. This was the kids’ first race ever and also their longest ride to date. It was the highlight of 2021. The road trip to Arkansas, pre-race mullet haircuts, pre-ride, race day, all of it was a family experience and one that we will remember forever.

I raced pro for the first time and despite losing my chain for an entire stage, placed 4th. My nine-year-old placed fifth as the youngest rider in his category (9-13) with my 10-year-old close behind in 6th. My husband came in 3rd, which I believe was mostly attributed to his aerodynamic facial hair, but I digress…

This year my goal is to enter a few enduro races as a family. Team name: Mom & The Funky Bunch. The Arkansas Enduro Series was a great start for family racing, but I would like to enter larger competitions (provided they have an under 13 category) to give the kids a taste of what high level competition is really like. My husband and I previously competed in the BME, Revolution, and Scott Enduro series with “off the couch” fitness and we faired “aight” given our lack of training and cavalier attitudes. However, my younger son has specifically stated his intentions to “be a professional mountain biker” when he grows up, so obviously this will require extreme focus and training. Since NICA is a largely a high school sport geared towards XC style riding, it is up to my husband and myself to prepare our children for enduro at their ages. Miles, smiles, downhill days, skills and drills, will all be a part of our training regimen and all will be accomplished as a family in 2022.

Gerow’s next attempt

I started out riding trails with toe clips and transitioned to clipless pedals once I decided to try racing XC back in the day. I’ve recently watched a bunch of fast friends shift toward flat-pedals, and I’m curious what the advantages and challenges are with that platform. I’m going to try riding flats for the whole of 2022 to see what I can learn. This will also allow me to test and learn about the related pedal and shoe technology, and how body weight can sit differently and shocks can be adjusted for free-floating feet. I hear flats also force riders to improve their jumping and bunny hop skills, which I can always use help with.

After a handful of years laser-focused on enduro fun I would like to try some downhill races this season. It’s been 26 years since my only DH race, and I have a hunch that things work differently now. I look forward to the challenges of learning and testing every line, then trying to hit them perfectly in the race run. With enduro, you only get one look at the track, if you get to see it at all prior to the race, and I really love that challenge. On to something new!

Jeff’s distance divergence

Hoping to avoid a similar Florida fate in 2022. File photo by Jeff Barber.

As the editor in chief for a major mountain bike publication, I have to know a lot about our sport. However, if I’m honest, some areas of my knowledge tend to be more theoretical than practical.

So this year one of my early goals is to take what I think I know about bikepacking and put it to the test in the Hurrican 300, a 360-mile, self-supported bike race through central Florida. Sure, I’ve read and edited countless reviews, how-tos, and bikepacking trip reports, but this will be my first chance to get my shins dirty and progress beyond just the theory. Oh, and I’ll need to progress my fitness ASAP to make those 120-mile days.

On the skills front I’d love to get better at cornering. At the moment I would rate my cornering abilities inconsistent at best. When I really focus and concentrate, I’m somewhat decent at it, but most of the time I’m either too tired or unfocused to shralp every bend in the trail. Whatever the cause, I want to explore this not just from the skills side but also by looking at tire choice and even trail design to crack this tricky nut. My ultimate goal: To fly through corners with little more than a tap of the brakes or a thought in my brain.

Matt’s main methods for 2022

This summer will mark three years since I rode/raced in BC Bike Race. I don’t plan on doing it again for quite some time, but I do miss the level of physical fitness I had for the summer of 2019. Being able to hop on a ride of nearly any length without fretting about keeping up with others or blowing my legs up after 15 miles gave me a sense of pride that season.

This summer, I plan on focusing on my bike fitness more than the past two years of quarantine, planning a wedding, and generally being lackadaisical about my riding goals and nutrition have allowed me. This means skipping a trail ride once every week or two in place of an endurance road or gravel ride, spending time on sprints and/or hill intervals, and hopping in more group rides with folks faster than I am. And it likely means not downing so much pizza and beer the night before those rides.

As far as technical skills, I’d like to increase my descending speed, improve cornering speed, up my technical climbing skills, and maybe even pick up some snazzy knacks like wheelies and jumps. Basically, it all means I need to ride my bike more which is like a reward superseding a reward.

Leah’s 2022 Goals

North Cooper Lake Bike Park in Smyrna, GA

I have never been the type to make New Year’s resolutions, especially the “getting-in-shape” kind. But considering I haven’t been to a gym or hot yoga studio since before Covid showed up, this year really has to be the year. I plan to resurrect the weekly push up challenge that I tried to get my knucklehead co-workers to join in past years. Why the push up? For starters, I still don’t plan on going to a gym anytime soon and as mountain bikers, it’s easy to have strength in your legs and lower body. The push up is a super simple bodyweight movement but it involves so many muscles. And we all know core and shoulder strength only helps us ride better.

My second goal, or plan for the year is to ride more new-to-me trails! Finding new places to ride has always been foundational to Singletracks since we started the site 20+ years ago. Not only is MTB Atlanta crushing it with new trail builds in and around the city of Atlanta, there are still dozens of excellent bike parks and trail systems (and barbecue restaurants) for me to explore around the southeast.

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