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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided that I would like to try a race or two this coming spring/summer. I read some of the other beginner racing posts and got some useful info. I was just wondering if there was any racing etiquette I should know about, beside letting others know when you are passing. Also I am curious how the catagories work. I know I will start as a beginner, but later do you place yourself where you feel comfortable? Could there be someone holding themselves back just to win?
 

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It's a good idea to start in beginner if you haven't done it before. If you take a podium spot, maybe think about moving up to sport. Otherwise, spend the season in beginner. You'll get a feel for racing and it'll still be rather relaxed and fun. You'll always find people who stay in a lower class to win, aka sandbagging. That's just life. You don't want to be the one who's doing it though. From all the races I've done, it's all up to you what class you race. Nobody forces you up or down. Ride what's challenging. Have fun.
 

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First thing I would say is congratulations on your decision to start racing. It will add a new dimension to your mountain biking experience. Depending on your level of commitment/seriousness, who knows where you will go from here? I raced beginner twice before moving to Sport. No need to hold yourself back if you are doing well. I was intimidated by the techniques of those racers who raced Expert and were sponsored and used heartrate monitors, rollers before the race, etc, so I got into the mindset that I would never upgrade from sport. (my first beginner race even had a sponsored rider in it!). After racing a bit through the years (8 races total MTB) I’ve changed my attitude. I know my next race will be Expert (license issues aside) because I now would rather get killed in Expert than ever win another sport race. I don’t want to sandbag and I believe that those categories (especially beginner) should be left for the real beginners out there. We want to create a racing environment that is as non-intimidating for beginners as possible. This coming from someone who doesn’t really “train” (see my thread on training) but rather rides hard. Stick with it and you may surprise yourself and be in Sport before you know it. Good Luck!!
 

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kruegs35 said:
I decided that I would like to try a race or two this coming spring/summer. I read some of the other beginner racing posts and got some useful info. I was just wondering if there was any racing etiquette I should know about, beside letting others know when you are passing. Also I am curious how the catagories work. I know I will start as a beginner, but later do you place yourself where you feel comfortable? Could there be someone holding themselves back just to win?
Well dont know how much Info I can give you considering my first race was last Sunday in a NOVICE class 19+.
You got to look at your skill level, equipment, and drive to win. I for one raced in the novice class just to see what my lap times were compared to the begginers in my age bracket: I was (if I am reading the spreadsheet correctly) in the top 7 places for the begginers times.
Not sure if i will stay novice or move up and challenge my self more, I dont want to be a "SANDBAgGER" (I just learned that, lol). I finished in 3rd only b/c after wining the whole shot I got squierly in the mud and lost all 8 places, so not bad for making up as much time as i did, I was 3:47 behind 1st place.
I wish you the best & out of cuiriosity what cup would you be racing in??
migs
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I agree that I do not want to be a sandbagger, I just curious about how you moved through the catagories. I would want to challenge myself to get better so I would definitely move up after things were getting easy. As of now I have only biked with so friends, none of which are competitive, so I do not really know how I will size up to the rest of the competition. I also haven't been riding as much as I used to these last couple years, but I plan on going hard as soon as the temperature and snow let me. As far as the races, I don't really know yet. I am from Maryland and I haven't seen any 2006 calenders yet, I have just been looking at the 2005 and assuming that they might be annual. Thanks for the help!
 

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When a faster rider comes up to pass or lap you, hold your line and let them pick the line they want to pass on. If you move over you may move into the line they wanted and cause a crash or a cursing or both.

Prep your gear and bike the night before the race. Hydrate well, eat good, sleep enough.

Remember, rest is as important to becoming fast as is hard riding.

Ride beginner your first year, then move up, because you are no longer a beginner. Or you can move up if you win a few races and want more competition. You can check the NORBA rule book for info on moving up a class. But an easier way is to talk to local racers about racing and moving up, they are often found at your LBS.
 

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Some things to keep in mind....

It will take a few races to determine how your body responds to food/energy sources. In my first race, I started out eating way too much, to close to the start, and ended up (almost) hurling. Typically, you don't want to eat anything substantial closer than two hours before the start. Eat a good breakfast. This is what sets the tone for the day. I eat Belgian waffles smothered in honey with a banana cut up on top. Later, I'll eat a light snack about two hours before the race. Up until race time I usually sip on Cytomax and then I hit a Clif Shot right before the beginning of the race. I then hit a Clif Shot as needed throughout the race. Ultimately everybody is a little different so this may take some experimentation.

Hydrating is equally, if not more, important. Start taking in extra fluids a couple of days before the race. Pack plenty of fluids. Either by hydration pack or bottles. I prefer to use a minimalist race pack to store my water so I don't have to mess with bottles, I've seen too many ejected bottles lying on the course.

Have fun. Unless you're some kind of phenom, don't worry about your finish in the first couple of races, just finish. Just learn how to negotiate traffic properly and how to pace yourself. After you've got that figured out, go for it. Some people are naturals at this stuff. If you kill em' in your first race, by all means, move up a class. If not, don't feel bad about taking a few races (or even a season) in Beginner to learn the ropes.

Bear in mind that I'm no superstar by any stretch of the imagination, I'm merely a Sport Class bottom-feeder. I'm not one of the aforementioned "naturals", just a guy who has to work like hell just to flirt with the top-ten. I simply just love the race experience and comradery. Good luck!
 

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kruegs35 said:
I agree that I do not want to be a sandbagger, I just curious about how you moved through the catagories. I would want to challenge myself to get better so I would definitely move up after things were getting easy.
I think you have the right attitude. I guess we all have our own individual experiences in racing. I moved through the categories (only from beginner to sport so far) just by looking at my results on the races I did. I do not race often, but have done OK when I did race (mountain bikes at least). My results are by no means impressive relative to others on this forum, but I think I am at a level close to what you will be facing soon in beginner, so perhaps my experiences will be an aid to you. I got 12th in my first beginner race and 3rd in my second (Iron Horse Bicycle Classic). Maybe a year or two later, I was convinced to go to the College MTB nationals by someone at my school- I didn't have the confidence on my own, but went because I was asked. I actually won my race (I was in the easiest category) and was thrilled. Trust me when I say I had no idea at all that I could win (was my first ever win!) and there was some luck involved in getting off the front at the start. It was categorized separately from Norba (it was the NCAA) .I had never even raced Sport up to that point, and I was probably one of the slowest, least experienced guys on our team. The majority of us rode in higher categories so I judged myself as being pretty low-level relative to the guys in my school. I won My first Sport Norba race after that. Then I got middle pack at the next one after food poisoning (no more Subway the night before a race). At that point, I gained some perspective- that is to say that everything is relative. We are all "good" compared to some and "slow" compared to others.
The important thing is that you are trying to compete against yourself and working to better yourself. IMO if you are racing to beat other people, that is the wrong reason. Having said that, I prefer to race against guys who challenge me and I feel some camaraderie with. I won another sport-level MTB race almost 10 years later (one race in between at Fruita) at the Xterra, but knew that there was a huge roadbike hillclimb going on the same day that caused the field to be missing several really good racers. During this time, I started doing a little road racing and always got killed in those races. It's necessary to get killed every so often :D
My first race since the Xterra was this spring (3 years later) and I am almost embarrassed to say I won that one as well. I have the feeling I should have upgraded, but truth be known, I have no Norba upgrade points at all (don't hold a Norba license). This race was part of a local ski area series that doesn't require a Norba license, so I guess I could have chosen Expert. I will chose Expert next time if/when I decide to race again, and not have any problems with coming in dead last. Even though I am so inconsitent with my race "schedule" I don't think it's right for me to race against other Sport guys anymore so I'll try Expert instead. I guess if you come to a point like that when you realize it's time to move on, you will know.....
Sorry that this is so rambling. Anyway, good luck with your racing and I hope it goes well for you.
 
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