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First MTB race experience

Loraura2012-07-13 12:23:20 +0000 #1
First MTB Race Experience

My first MTB race was Feb. 12, 2012 at Bluff Creek Ranch in Warda, TX.* This was about an hour and a half drive from my house. *I had read that pre-riding was very important in MTB, and I had never ridden the course, so I made plans to pre-ride in advance.* Unfortunately rain and other races prevented me from going as early as I wanted to.* So even though it meant driving 6 hours in a single weekend, I made the choice to pre-ride the course on Saturday and return for the race on Sunday.

My husband with went me on Saturday, and the course was already marked, so were able to ride the trails in the right order and direction.* There were lots of people out pre-riding.* The atmosphere was fun, friendly, and energetic.

*When I would reach a spot I didn't clear on the first try, I would go back and try again.* If I couldn’t clear it on 3 attempts, I made a plan for running it on race day.* Having a plan to get off and run something lets me lose much less time than falling or getting bogged down.* I also did this for any parts I found were especially scary.* For example there was one tight downhill switchback that made me feel very uncomfortable.* So I made a plan and practiced running up to it, dismounting quickly, running down it and remounting.* I learned I need to practice my cyclocross-style mounts and dismounts.

*I tried to keep my pace at an easy pace on the pre-ride so not to be sore or fatigued on race day.* This day was about learning the course, learning lines, and making a solid plan, not speed.

Pre-riding the course was invaluable.* The next day, race day, I was not nervous about the course. I knew there would be no surprises.* I knew I wouldn't miss a turn.* I knew where the straight-aways and open areas were that would make passing easier. I knew how much time I had before the single track started. I knew I had a slightly uphill start. I knew the last 2 miles of the course were harder than the other 6 and that I would need to save energy for the end and not go out too fast in the beginning.

*On race day I arrived plenty early.* I registered and returned to my car.* My race was at 1:30.* At noon I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and had a diet coke.* I checked my bike, got dressed, and rode around a little to warm the legs up.* Found the restrooms.* I rethought my clothing options and decided on a base layer, long sleeve jersey, leg warmers, and winter gloves.* It was chilly, but the sun was out.

At 12:45 I began to warm up with purpose.* The starting section from the line to the single-track was not being used by other races, so I warmed up there.* I didn't want the uphill start to curse me from the very beginning.* About 10 minutes to start time, I made my way to the start where people were gathering. LOTS of people...* every cat 3 racer including men, women, and children of every age were standing around the start.

This is about when the clouds rolled in, the north wind picked up, and the temps dropped 10 or 15 degrees.* I was kicking myself for leaving my windbreaker and toe warmers in the car. I didn't think I had time to go back and get them.

As it turns out, the race started quite late.* It was 1:45 before any of the groups were called to the front, and my Cat 3 Women 40+ was near the end of the call to line up. It was very difficult to keep the blood flowing and I felt like my warm-up was a complete waste.* Everyone else was in the same boat, though, so I didn't panic.

When it was my cat's turn to line up, they called each of our numbers and verified our names.* As soon as we were all at the start, we were off with a whistle blow.

I was glad I'd warmed up on that starting slope.* I was surprised that 2 others and I had put a sizable gap between us and the rest of the field by the top of the hill.* I was 3rd going into the single-track.

Once I was in the woods, I purposely told myself to settle in, relax, and conserve energy.* I passed a few riders that started with the age group in front of mine.* I could no longer see the two ladies from my group who entered the woods ahead of me.

I felt my pre-riding was really paying off here.* Not only was I not overly nervous about any sharp turns, steep climbs, or rooty spots, but I was able to ride those spots I sessioned the previous day.

I could see one lady from my group behind me with a pink bandana tied to her camelback flying in the wind.* I couldn’t see the others. She was giving me a good chase, though, and this helped me stay focused and keep my pace high.* She would make time on me up climbs, and I would take the time back on straights and flats. In the last half mile I was really starting to fatigue.* Knowing someone was right behind me kept me from sitting up and slowing down.

In the end, I finished strong, with a smile on my face, in 3rd place.* 4th place was 15 seconds behind me, so I certainly feel that if I hadn't pre-ridden the course, she would have beaten me.* 3rd place far exceeded my expectations.* 1st and 2nd were a good 10-15 minutes ahead of me, so I certainly have some challenges ahead of me.

To my great surprise I even got to stand on the podium and got a trophy.* Overall it was a fantastic day and I had a fantastic time.* I can't wait to race again.


Loraura2012-07-13 12:25:47 +0000 #2
I have no idea where those *'s came from.... Weird...
SheFly2012-07-13 12:36:14 +0000 #3
Congrats! Sounds like your first race experience was very successful, both from a finishing and a motivational perspective.

Pre-riding a course is often very beneficial, but not always practical. I have gone into multiple MTB races not knowing the course. I don't find this necessarily to be an issue for me.

I have also been on the line waiting to start, in the pouring rain, at 40 degrees, and freezing. Whatever your inclination is, DO NOT OVERDRESS! Once you got going, I'm sure you were fine without the windbreaker and toe warmers, yes? For me, if I overdress, I end up having to work harder, and am incredibly uncomfortable the entire time. Even in the rain at 40 degrees, I don't race in a jacket - ever. That day was shorts, base layer, long sleeve jersey and leg warmers. It has taken me a REALLY long time to learn this.

Keep practicing, and great job out there!

limewave2012-07-13 12:53:05 +0000 #4
Sounds like you had an awesome race! Congratulations!!!!!

I agree with Shefly about pre-riding. I wish I could pre-ride every course, but that rarely happens. Only one time did I feel like it really cost me. The trail was much more technical than I anticipated. I ended up crashing 4-5 times because I was going too fast into a section. After that I was overly cautious.
Wahine2012-07-13 13:49:12 +0000 #5
Nice race. You did a great job of scouting out the course and figuring out a good race plan. For a new racer that is probably the most important part. Well done!!!
Anelia2012-07-13 13:35:47 +0000 #6
Congratulations! It looks like a good start for you. Keep on riding
Catrin2012-07-13 14:11:19 +0000 #7
Congratulations on your race, and thanks for sharing it! I doubt that I will ever be able to do a mtb race (I am quite slow), but I certainly do love reading about them!
bellissima2012-07-13 13:21:24 +0000 #8
Congrats! And welcome to the races



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