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Going to enter an event (Sept 12), but not sure what class I should be in. I have not raced any XC before (TT Road Races in the past) there is a beginner class, and also a Cat 3 (40-49) class, and Cat 2 (40-49) … I’m 45 btw … in excellent physical condition.

Advice? 1 lap for beginners - 4 miles long, 2 laps - 4 miles long Cat 3, and 2 laps - 5 miles long for Cat 2.

Feel free to ask me questions, and thanks in advance for the advice.
 

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I am doing my first XC race tomorrow actually. Its a 10 mile loop course, and the only category for men is 18+ in beginner, sport, or expert. 1, 2 or 3 laps respectively. Same age groups for women, and they have a kids 13-17 and a kids 12 and under. My 7 year old is doing that one (5.5 mile course)

I am riding the beginner race. I hang about 2/3rds back in the group on the weekly MTB rides. If the race goes decently tomorrow then next month for the next race in the series I will jump up to the sport category.

I also ride a Giant hardtail 26er circa 2007 (i think) with a mix of parts ranging from 5-20 years old on it. I think a modern FS bike would gain me some speed lol
 

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OP -- If I were in your situation, I'd to the "2 laps - 4 miles long Cat 3". 1 lap at 4 miles with beginners is too short to get any real experience racing shoulder-to-shoulder. Your Time Trial racing experience will give you the legs, but not the shoulder-to-shoulder racing experience needed to jump straight into Cat 2.

There is a certain skill for negotiating the politics, etiquette, and the situational awareness needed for racing shoulder-to-shoulder in groups, especially if there are sections of the course that are true single-track. It is better to learn that in Cat 3, and not just make everyone angry in Cat 2 because you've got that first-time deer in the headlights thing going on.
 

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I'm kind of in the same boat.. this is my first yr of mtn biking but I have 3 yrs of structure training on my road bike. FTP of 4.4w/kg.
Not sure what category to join next yr... lol
 

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I’ve never raced in the beginner class when I started racing over 35 years ago, because I did race road and was reasonably fit. I say if you have the fitness that you say you have, go race the intermediate class(cat 2)
 

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You have no business in cat 3. Cat 2 is where you belong.
A few things:

Be respectful of people who need to pass.

MTB races are the opposite of a TT or road race. It starts with a sprint to the singletrack, settles into threshold, then it’s a race of attrition. As soon as people get out of sight, they are rarely brought back.


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Regarding passing: when you let somebody by who has caught you and needs a pass, sometimes it will be on a corner. Always wave them to the inside and slow a little as you move to the outside, it just doesn't work very well to wave somebody by on the outside of a corner.
More tips: go over your bike 2 days before, check every fastener, on the pedals too. Check for loose spokes. And don't forget to check your cleat bolts (assuming you're using clipless). 2 days before will give you time to fix it the day before if needed, it's bad to find something you need to repair as you're loading the bike on to your vehicle heading to the race. It's also bad to realize your shifter is a little loose on the bars mid race.
Make a checklist for everything you need to bring, every pilot in the world can't be wrong.
 

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As others have said most races are determined by who gets into the singletrack first. So makes sure to get a good warm up in as it is full gas from the gun. Line up at the front to not give yourself an immediate disadvantage.


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I'm jealous of the age group the OP has, and have a version of the same question. I'm 44, and the races near me just group it 18-99 in each category. I did a race 23 years ago and the age groups were chopped up into smaller 4 or 5 year sections. I feel that levels the playing field where the 18-99 group would only favor the young, but maybe I'm wrong, since I know plenty of dudes my age or older that absolutely fly through a trail.

If I were to enter, I can keep my race pace for 10 miles, so the race near me would put me into cat 2 where it's two 4 mile laps, but I feel like my race pace and that of a 20 something year old would be way different, so it makes me not want to bother with it.

I can show up to unofficial hot laps and see where I fall for free, and then there's always Strava. I know a race comes down to who shows up, the conditions, and each rider's performance on that particular day, but 50 something bucks to be thrown in with people half my age just doesn't seem right.

Am I over thinking it?
 

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I'm jealous of the age group the OP has, and have a version of the same question. I'm 44, and the races near me just group it 18-99 in each category. I did a race 23 years ago and the age groups were chopped up into smaller 4 or 5 year sections. I feel that levels the playing field where the 18-99 group would only favor the young, but maybe I'm wrong, since I know plenty of dudes my age or older that absolutely fly through a trail.

If I were to enter, I can keep my race pace for 10 miles, so the race near me would put me into cat 2 where it's two 4 mile laps, but I feel like my race pace and that of a 20 something year old would be way different, so it makes me not want to bother with it.

I can show up to unofficial hot laps and see where I fall for free, and then there's always Strava. I know a race comes down to who shows up, the conditions, and each rider's performance on that particular day, but 50 something bucks to be thrown in with people half my age just doesn't seem right.

Am I over thinking it?
@44 y/o you're practically in your prime imo. I'm 15 years older than you and still don't fear teenagers.
 

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@44 y/o you're practically in your prime imo.
I feel that way sometimes, since I've been putting so much focused effort into it over the last few years, but I've undoubtedly seen a decline recently, and I know my stamina is nowhere near where it was 20 years ago.
 
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