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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering entering my first ever mountain bike race in three weeks, the Pine Nut Cracker. The only problem is I'm having doubts about commiting to it. While I ride regularly I really don't know if I will be able to survive a twenty mile race. Add to that the fact that I am confident I will do poorly and my yearly college reunion is the day before so I will be hanging out with my friends in Tahoe, mostly likely drinking a few beers.

The only real reason I'm considering it is how fun a few people around here make it sound. That and the fact I'm hoping it will motivate me over the winter to keep improving my riding skills.

In any case if I do go through with this should I push myself to improve over the next few weeks or just mantain my current fitness? Other then pre-riding the course and making sure I pack everything I need is there anything I should do to prepare for my first race?

Actually I think the idea is crazy and I blame this forum for every thinking about it ;) But since I'm getting all excitied about it I guess I'll be at the starting line.
 

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I'm in about the same boat. I try to ride a couple of times per week, but that hasn't happened for most of the summer. I found out there is a race on the 22nd at one of our local parks, and damned if they aren't talking me in to doing it.

I know the trail pretty well, it's 6.5 miles for one lap. The beginner catagory is riding two, which is more than I normally do. I was thinking about finding places to pass, where would be good areas to attack, where I might have to defend, etc, then I rode two laps last night.

Now, I just want to finish ;)

Realistically, from what I have read on this board, I'm going to ride the way I normally do, and if it brings me in dead last, well, I guess I'll have to adjust my style if I want to keep on racing.

Anyway, as one noobie to another, good luck!
 

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A little advice from a first timer.....

I rode in my first race back in June. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was much more than I ever could have dreamed of. Here's my advice for preparing for your first ride.

Do you have any recurring problems with your bike or equipment? If you do, then I would make sure that you address those problems before the race, or you will learn the hard way. During my race I had two completely avoidable mechanical breakdowns. First, my stem loosened. That was one of those boneheaded things that I should have paid attention to, since I bought a new stem and it had loosened on me a couple of weeks prior. Second, one of my cleats loosened. This was another one of those things that happened to me beforehand and I didn't think to retighten before the race. I would carefully go through different parts of the bike and make sure everything is tight, greased, or lubed. You don't want this to be the thing that kills your momentum during a race.

Arrive early so that you can get registered, pick up your number, and check out the race course. If you get to pre-ride the course that's great, but if not, then you want to check out the beginning, especially where it transitions into singletrack. That's important to know. It also gives you a chance to use the bathroom and relax. I saw a girl literally pull up about 2 minutes before her race started and when she pulled her bike down from her rack, her rear der. was locked and her chain was stuck. Luckily someone else was able to fix that for her, and then she hopped on the bike and chased down her group.

It's very cliche, but just race your race. It's your first one and it's a huge learning experience. I learned alot. I wouldn't worry so much about beating other people, use the first lap to "learn" the course and then the 2nd one to really attack it.

After all my mishaps I finished 2nd out of 2 in the first-timer 20-29 division. I felt bad about my time, I finished a full 19 minutes after the other guy. But then I looked on the board and saw that I still beat out 2 other people in the beginner division and they started a couple of minutes before I did, and there were several DNF's. So that made me kinda happy. I hope to do two more races: one in Sept, the other in Oct. We'll see.

Good luck,

Duane
 

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Hmmm, here's my take...

First off, racing is a blast. But part of the fun is the preparation and training that you put into it, and then testing your hard work during the race. With little or no race training, a 20-mile race would be nasty, and three weeks isn't going to be enough time to help yourself much. You may have a great aerobic base from your recreational riding, but you've got to prepare your body for the intensity that will be encountered during race conditions. Partying the night before isn't working in you favor either.

To put it in perspective, I'm just now coming off of a six-week layoff from racing (have done 5 races thus far this season), I resumed my training about 11/2 weeks ago. There's a twenty-mile race about thirty minutes from my house on the 15th of this month and I'm seriously thinking about skipping it. I don't know how hot it is where you are but it the deep south it's oppressively hot and humid.

I'm not trying to talk you out of racing, in fact, I encourage it. But if you go out there and kill yourself the first time out, you're just going to end up hating it. My suggestion: Find a race later in the fall, like maybe late October, start training for it now. It'll be much cooler and you'll have soooo much more time to get ready. If you need training tips on how to get started, look no further than here, there are a lot of very knowledgable people posting here that can get you started in the right direction.

Finally, I did about six weeks of training (albiet, worthless) before I did my first race and I still almost puked my guts out twenty minutes in. I finished, close to the back, but I finished. The sense of accomplishment after crossing the finish line of your first race is awesome....and addictive. Good luck in whatever you decide!
 

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If it's your first race, don't worry about attacking, or where to pass, or any of that crap. You most likely are going to do well to finish unless you're some sort of prodigy, or like some of my friends who never race but are really fast. Don't preride the course the day of the race, you'll use up all your gas. Be polite to people who want to pass. Drink a lot of water during the race, and eat some gel packs every hour to keep your energy up. Take a spare tube and some way to inflate it. Ride your ride, ride hard, but don't kill yourself. If it takes you longer than anyone to finish, who cares? 20 miles is a long ride for your first race, try not to drink too much beer the night before. But definitely go race, without a doubt, it is one of the most fun things you can do on a bicycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
DoctorJD said:
First off, racing is a blast. But part of the fun is the preparation and training that you put into it, and then testing your hard work during the race. With little or no race training, a 20-mile race would be nasty, and three weeks isn't going to be enough time to help yourself much. You may have a great aerobic base from your recreational riding, but you've got to prepare your body for the intensity that will be encountered during race conditions. Partying the night before isn't working in you favor either.

To put it in perspective, I'm just now coming off of a six-week layoff from racing (have done 5 races thus far this season), I resumed my training about 11/2 weeks ago. There's a twenty-mile race about thirty minutes from my house on the 15th of this month and I'm seriously thinking about skipping it. I don't know how hot it is where you are but it the deep south it's oppressively hot and humid.

I'm not trying to talk you out of racing, in fact, I encourage it. But if you go out there and kill yourself the first time out, you're just going to end up hating it. My suggestion: Find a race later in the fall, like maybe late October, start training for it now. It'll be much cooler and you'll have soooo much more time to get ready. If you need training tips on how to get started, look no further than here, there are a lot of very knowledgable people posting here that can get you started in the right direction.

Finally, I did about six weeks of training (albiet, worthless) before I did my first race and I still almost puked my guts out twenty minutes in. I finished, close to the back, but I finished. The sense of accomplishment after crossing the finish line of your first race is awesome....and addictive. Good luck in whatever you decide!
Well it's actually been a cool year here, but the weather is normally in the high 90s around the end of August, today it's only 87F. The race is in Gardnerville NV which apparently has good trails, but I just have trouble driving down there when I have trails just as good in Tahoe and Truckee which are both closer. Well not all the good Tahoe trails are closer but enough are. The only thing I'm worried about is the fact it's 20 miles. Despite it being 20 miles I want to do it because it's the last race within a two hour drive until early next year. I suppose I can wait until next year to try my first race, but I just want to see if I've improved much this season. I easily notice the better riding ability and fitness but I still have an urge to compete, it's my nature.

Anyway thanks for the advice. I'm still up in the air and I have until this weekend to get my registration in, I might go ride the course to check it out before I decide.
 

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First Time Last Week..

I say, go for it!

Ok, with a few cautionary notes. I did my first race last weekend, the Laramie Enduro 111K. Now, I had done a lot of training - many 40+ training rides with lots of climbing, had already done several road centuries and used the road cycle to train for this first event as well. I was unsure as well about jumping into racing too, so I followed much of the same advice already given. I made sure that my bike was ready for it. Also made sure I knew what to do and had the tools, in case a small list of things went wrong mechanically. I had "zero" race mechanical issues. Also, like others have said, I raced like I was out on my own on a training ride. In fact, I was the last person across the start line just to be sure I wasn't caught up in the all the start hoop-la. Do NOT attack out of the gate. Train on some similar rides before hand, get out and make sure you warm up in advance, and then just enjoy it as if it were a ride. The whole point of my first race was just to go through the "process" of training, registering, traveling too, setting up for and then "riding" the race. Not racing.

I accomplished everything I set out for. And do you know what? I didn't finish dead last. Even if I would have DNF'ed it would not have mattered. I got one race under my belt - now I won't be so nervous about the next one - and that one is right around the corner. I found fellow racers to be great folks and they all understand "that first time". I think eventually, you hone your training, set further goals and really start "racing".

For now though, just go enjoy! What's the worst that can happen?
 

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There is a lot of great information in this thread. I also am heading for my first race next month [Sept]. I look forward to just participating and enjoying the experience. I am sure I will have a better idea of what it is all about after this one...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I raced!

mtncrawler said:
I say, go for it!

Ok, with a few cautionary notes. I did my first race last weekend, the Laramie Enduro 111K. Now, I had done a lot of training - many 40+ training rides with lots of climbing, had already done several road centuries and used the road cycle to train for this first event as well. I was unsure as well about jumping into racing too, so I followed much of the same advice already given. I made sure that my bike was ready for it. Also made sure I knew what to do and had the tools, in case a small list of things went wrong mechanically. I had "zero" race mechanical issues. Also, like others have said, I raced like I was out on my own on a training ride. In fact, I was the last person across the start line just to be sure I wasn't caught up in the all the start hoop-la. Do NOT attack out of the gate. Train on some similar rides before hand, get out and make sure you warm up in advance, and then just enjoy it as if it were a ride. The whole point of my first race was just to go through the "process" of training, registering, traveling too, setting up for and then "riding" the race. Not racing.

I accomplished everything I set out for. And do you know what? I didn't finish dead last. Even if I would have DNF'ed it would not have mattered. I got one race under my belt - now I won't be so nervous about the next one - and that one is right around the corner. I found fellow racers to be great folks and they all understand "that first time". I think eventually, you hone your training, set further goals and really start "racing".

For now though, just go enjoy! What's the worst that can happen?
Well the worst that can happen, a broken chain and a DNF ;P Of course I went through all my gear but I forgot my chain tool.

I guess I can give a brief report. The weather was cool and overcast, but no rain. I didn't even try to keep up with the pack at the start. I rode the hardest I've ever done. I felt sick most of the ride, I felt like my legs where going to give up any minute and I felt good about even trying it. About 7 miles in my chain gave out and I used it as an excuse to call it quits :( I probably could have borrowed someone elses chain tool but I really was not ready for the race. What I really learned is how much more I need to prepare for a race. I think in March when the local series starts I'll be ready to give racing another chance.

So thanks for all the advice and encouragement it really did help. Too bad I didn't put it all to good use. Hopefully by this time next year I will have used the help I've gotten on this board to have finished and maybe even won a race :)
 

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No matter how fit you are, it's always going to hurt like that. It never hurts less, you just go faster. Don't make excuses saying you have to get into better shape before you race. Every person I know who has ever said that never does. Get in better shape WHILE racing. Just commit to racing (if you want) and do it. Busted chain is a fair excuse for not finishing though, you can't borrow tools on the race course according to norba rules.
 

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Oh well - can't do much about a busted chain. Doesn't matter though, now you know where you stand a little better and you'll be prepared for entering your next race just that much better. Don't worry about the feeling like **** - it happens to everyone - sometimes you can ride through it and end up better off than you'd think. I know on longer rides for me (30-50ish), I can start off feeling like crap and then I just get stronger :confused:

Good job and hang in there for the next event!
 
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