By Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor
US Olympian Adam Craig, who renewed his contract with Team Giant through 2010, has been busy cross training and planning how to squeeze as much fun into the 2009 season as possible. Craig finished the 2008 season ranked sixth, as the top American, in the World Cup cross country.
"I rode until about December 15 since we had a super long fall. Since then, I've been skiing and riding dirt bikes and getting away from it all," said Craig to Cyclingnews from his home in Bend, Oregon, after returning from a session of backcountry skiing in the rain.
Life has been a blur since the Olympic Games in Beijing. "I'm not sure what's been going through my head. The last three or four months have flown by even though I was not racing 'cross."
2008 was a pressure-filled year devoted to making the US team for the Olympic Games, at which Craig ended up finishing 29th. On the other hand, 2009 will offer not only plenty of racing, but also more opportunities to participate in different kinds of events.
"My goal is to have a good time," said Craig," and to skip a World Cup for the first time in six years." That doesn't mean he's forgotten the need to chase UCI points for subsequent Olympics. Per current rules and unlike the last pre-Olympic cycle, nations will score UCI ranking points during the full four pre-Olympic years to qualify their teams for the next Games in London in 2012.
As for missing that World Cup, Craig has his sights set on sitting out the round in Madrid. "I think I'll come back and race in Ashland, Oregon," he said of his alternate plans.
In addition to some World Cups, Craig will attend "whatever US Cups work out" according to his schedule. "I'm the US National Champion, so I'd like to do some racing in the US."
Craig will defend his stars and stripes jersey at US Nationals in Colorado. "I'm excited to go try and win at altitude," he said. The past three editions of the US National Championships have been held closer to sea level, at Mount Snow, Vermont.
Mountain bike nationals are just one of the national championships that Craig will attend. Although he sat out the 2008 cyclo-cross season, he'll be back for 2009. "Cyclo-cross nationals will be a mile and a half from my house," said Craig, explaining his motivation.
He is also hoping to race the Cape Epic with teammate Carl Decker, another rider who has renewed with Giant for 2009. "It's not set in stone, but Carl and I want to make it happen. We're also hoping to squeeze the BC Bike (stage race) in."
His list doesn't stop there. "I went and rode in Downieville, California, a few weeks ago before it started snowing. Then I realized I have to go race there."
There's so much riding to be done, don't look for Craig on his bike for another few weeks. "I'm still trying to not ride until the first nice day in February. I'm skiing and doing other stuff. I might do some Nordic ski racing."