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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im sure this has been a post before but here it goes--
There is a XC race in my area in a few weeks. I really would like to race it, but Im a bit skeptical. This would be my first, I would race beginner. I have been riding for 8 or so yrs and think I do pretty good at this point. I am a solid technical rider and can hammer away. The problem is I have only really ridden with my hubby and a few friends, no one else to gauge my abilities with. I know nothing about racing. I am researching that though. Also, Im how do I learn what pace to go at? For those of you that race, can you give me some advice and direction? Who knows I may end up loving it and just want more...or not :) Thanks for your time.
MAY
 

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Go for it!

If you'd really like to race in the local race, why not? Do it! I found racing to be a lot of fun.

Find out how long and how technical the course is. I'd say since you've never raced before, you should enter the beginner category... unless the distance is much shorter than your usual rides, and you think you'll be frustrated by other racers walking/dabbing, etc in front of you (because most beginners are not "solid technical riders" as you describe yourself).

Spike

flyhigh said:
Im sure this has been a post before but here it goes--
There is a XC race in my area in a few weeks. I really would like to race it, but Im a bit skeptical. This would be my first, I would race beginner. I have been riding for 8 or so yrs and think I do pretty good at this point. I am a solid technical rider and can hammer away. The problem is I have only really ridden with my hubby and a few friends, no one else to gauge my abilities with. I know nothing about racing. I am researching that though. Also, Im how do I learn what pace to go at? For those of you that race, can you give me some advice and direction? Who knows I may end up loving it and just want more...or not :) Thanks for your time.
MAY
 

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Go For It!

flyhigh said:
There is a XC race in my area in a few weeks. I really would like to race it, but Im a bit skeptical. This would be my first, I would race beginner... I know nothing about racing. ...how do I learn what pace to go at? For those of you that race, can you give me some advice and direction?
MAY
Hey May,
GO FOR IT!
If it's in your area, find a map of the course or someone who has done the race before (call the race organizer if all else fails) and pre-ride the course. Find out how long it takes you to do it and plan your fuel/hydration accordingly.
Pre-riding the course will give you an idea of how to pace yourself, where to push hard and where you can recover. Pick a spot about a half-mile or 400 yds or so from the finish where you tell yourself you'll sprint if you're feeling up to it. You don't want to do this too soon, though. 400 yds can be a long ways...

Find out if it's a Le Mans start (where you run to your bike from a different starting point perhaps 100-400 yds away) or a wave start (where different groups go at different times) or a mass start. If it's a Le Mans start, plan where you'll leave your bike, and make sure you pick up the right one! If you can, pick a landmark like a tree or large rock as a place marker.

Day before the race: Drink lots. Be well hydrated before race day.
Race day: eat a good breakfast like oatmeal or a bagel with peanut butter at least an hour before you race.
Arrive early. You'll want a good parking spot and a chance to visit the port-o-john. Twice.
Bring any tools, tubes, pumps, zipties, duct tape, food, water... you think you might need.
If it's muddy, bring a towel and a change of clothes and shoes.

Your race number usually goes on your back. The bike number goes on the handlebars and then tied down to one of the cables. Tie these down loose.
Warm up a bit in the parking lot before start time.
Look around you. Perhaps 1 in 6 of you are first time racers. They're all just as nervous and have no idea what to expect.

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me. :)

HAVE FUN! Racing is a blast. You meet great people.

My first race experience:
I had been mtn biking for 3 months when I was encouraged to do a local XC race. My goal was just to get through it. I rode the course several times over the weeks preceeding the race and felt comfortable with it.
It was 7.5 mi for beginners (me) and 11.25 mi for sport. Beginners went off first. About 1.5 miles into it, my chain broke. I was disappointed, but I knew someone amongst all the sport class riders awaiting the start of their race could fix it. I hiked back to the parking lot, asked around and found a guy with a chain tool who fixed my bike.
Another reason to race: People at mtn bike races are so cool, I probably could have asked for a bike and someone would have found one for me.

Well, I was out of the beginner race, but could re-entered in sport. I didn't like the thought of everyone finishing the race and then waiting on me because I would be so far behind everyone, but after all, I was there to race. So with a little encouragement, I did. And I was the last one across the line (not by too much, though), but was really happy that I did the race, and proud of myself for hanging in there. I told my friends that I wanted the "Tough Chick" Award.

Now here's the kicker. There were a lot of women in the beginner class, but very few in the sport class. Imagine my surprise when they called my name for 2nd place in my age category! There were three of us, and the one who came in first won the Women's division overall, next was 1st place, and then there was me. I got my Tough Chick Award afterall. Never say die.

I race all the time now, but mostly downhill and Super D. I like gravity working in my favor.

Have a great race and be sure to tell us how it went!
-sunny :cool:
 

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I say go for it as well. I did my first race a few months back after only a few months on the bike. It helped it was at a local trail that I ride all the time and I have friends who race that were there supporting me. If available, you might want to see what kind of times people have done before at this race. The series here has all the old times online so I was able to look there. My first race was on a course that wasn't used the previous year so I couldn't gauge that, but was able to look at times at another place I'd ridden before. My decision to race wasn't hinging totally on the time but I did want to make sure they weren't going to be breaking down the course while I was still out there. :p I would suggest starting beginner and if you blow everyone away, then move up to sport.

In addition to the other advice, I would suggest you practice passing -- both doing it and getting passed. It can be a bit unnerving on singletrack if you've never squeezed by someone that keeps moving (I'm guessing leisurely rides people usually pull off for you to pass and vice-versa). Be sure when you pass, to call out well in advance what you're doing so the other rider knows.

Also, very important to frequently remind yourself it's for fun and personal challenge -- though I had trouble convincing my stomach of this in the days before that first race! Good luck!
 

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flyhigh said:
Im sure this has been a post before but here it goes--
There is a XC race in my area in a few weeks. I really would like to race it, but Im a bit skeptical. This would be my first, I would race beginner. I have been riding for 8 or so yrs and think I do pretty good at this point. I am a solid technical rider and can hammer away. The problem is I have only really ridden with my hubby and a few friends, no one else to gauge my abilities with. I know nothing about racing. I am researching that though. Also, Im how do I learn what pace to go at? For those of you that race, can you give me some advice and direction? Who knows I may end up loving it and just want more...or not :) Thanks for your time.
MAY
Hey there. I did my very first race this year. I didn't know what to expect or do or anything. It had never been so nervous in my life as we stood behind the starting line! Definitely preride the course. If possible you may be able to find times from previous years races. I did this and figured out a MPH using the mileage and times. Then I just made sure I rode the race course at or above that speed! Once we prerode it, and discovered that we could actually place up there, we were all ready to go (I did this race with my good friend). It was fun, exciting (I didn't get hurt) and I placed 5th out of 17!! It was a real sense of (mountain biking) community, full familes participating, people were friendly/courteous, etc.

However, I found that racing is not my thing. It was a good experience, I may try another one, who knows. I mean you have to PAY $30+ to ride the trail and SHARE it with about 100+ other yahoos, and GET UP early on a Saturday morning. I'd rather go ride whenever I want for free, and have it to myself :D
 

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Shannon-UT said:
Hey there. I did my very first race this year. I didn't know what to expect or do or anything. It had never been so nervous in my life as we stood behind the starting line! Definitely preride the course. If possible you may be able to find times from previous years races. I did this and figured out a MPH using the mileage and times. Then I just made sure I rode the race course at or above that speed! Once we prerode it, and discovered that we could actually place up there, we were all ready to go (I did this race with my good friend). It was fun, exciting (I didn't get hurt) and I placed 5th out of 17!! It was a real sense of (mountain biking) community, full familes participating, people were friendly/courteous, etc.

However, I found that racing is not my thing. It was a good experience, I may try another one, who knows. I mean you have to PAY $30+ to ride the trail and SHARE it with about 100+ other yahoos, and GET UP early on a Saturday morning. I'd rather go ride whenever I want for free, and have it to myself :D
that could be me! I did one race, won women's beginner 40+ and that was the end of it. People ask me all the time if I, race, and I always say almost the exact same thing! But hey, if it floats your boat, good luck and have a great time.

formica
 

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The funny thing about racing is

that everyone is in such a hurry. What's that about? Only kidding. But really for an event that is that while it is so much about exclusive success the community around it is very inclusive and supportive. I've not raced a lot but am around a lot of racing. The Beginners are not always just first timers but as a class are new to the game. The starting line is a great place and people chat about their nervousness or greet people they have seen at other races. Good riders generally do well and less able riders finish in the back. So what else is new?
Set some simple goals: ride well, finish, don't crash, don't flail, figuring out the dance, just showing up, have fun, and starting, are all good ones and try to accomplish any of them. Try and be realistic. Be fair to yourself and prepare your bike, eat right, rest right, and decide clearly that you WILL race.
The feeling at the Finish line is awesome. Another funny thing is that the people who come in dead last or carrying their bikes get the biggest ovation.
Decide.
Prepare.
Show up.
Ride your ride.
Wear the T-shirt with pride!
Best wishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks

I knew I would get some great advice and encouragement from this thread! I have decided to go for it. I will be able to pre ride a few times actually since they are setting the course up a week in advance (a birdy told me), I think this will help with my confidence. I will let you all know how things go.
 

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COOL!!!! pre-ride as many times as you can, but lay off the day before. Maybe just a short ride keep you loose. Most beginner races (per NORBA) should take about an hour to race. You will know better after your pre-ride what to expect.

I second the passing and getting passed practice. The NORBA rules say you have yeild the track on the first request. That does NOT mean you have to stop and get out of the way. YOU also get to decide when and where it is safe to get passed. Don't block a faster racer but don't endanger yourself either. Just ease over to the right when you can.

I have really god luck getting passed when I pay attention and know someone is there. I watch for a place to ease over to the right ever so slightly then yell for them to go around. If there is not a safe place I try and tell them i'll move as soon as it is safe.

If you come upon a slower racer yell "rider back" way back so they have time to maybe move a little. If they edge over yell you are going left and go. If it is not so safe wait a few seconds until it is safer.

Communication is the key and women are better at it :D

Another passing situation is racers walking a technical area. Racers riding have the right of way over racers walking. If you come across this situation where racers are on foot where you can ride, yell "rider up" or "track, I can make this" and the racers on foot should move and let you pass.

Practice getting off and back on your bike at a run. Figure out the best way to carry your bike. This will speed you up if you have to dismount and run around something or someone. Sometimes even if you can ride a technical section, it could be faster to dismount and run. Depends on the conditions and if other racers are clogging it up.

Good luck and have fun!!!!
 

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I'm so NOT the person to ask.

Given that I've raced exactly once, and that was on a very casual 24 hour team, which was set up more like friends out camping and riding bikes for 24 hours in the desert.

In that one race of my life, I had problems with some of the things mentioned. They handed me a "number", like I would have some idea what to do with it. Everyone else seemed confident that this was a normal thing to have and went about affixing their numbers to their bikes like pros. Me? I had to scurry away to my team mates to figure out quite what I was supposed to do.

And then passing... Holy cow! I had no concept of passing. I ended up behind a group of very slow riders, and was having trouble keeping my bike upright, at the pace they were setting. A friend of mine happened to come up behind me, and said "Gnarlene, why don't you pass these guys?" My reply: "I don't know how!" Basically my friend then hollered "Passing on your left", right as these guys were heading down a rather steep embankment into a wash. And then he yelled at me "Gnarlene, GO! Now! GO!" I flubbed my way over a bunch of rocks, that probably were more associated with the wash itself, than the trail. And I don't think I passed anyone else on a narrow section for the rest of the race!

I admire all of you who do race regularly. Even though I had a lot of fun at that race, it is hard for me to understand the allure. Like Shannon-UT and formica, I figure I can have plenty enough fun, for free, on my own. Sometimes, when I read RT's excellent race posts, I think, "wow, she's awesome to go out and do all of that, but wow, what a lot of work and agony sometimes, especially when all the hard work doesn't pay off because of some silly thing like an upset stomach or a flat tire or bad weather...." I suppose the reward of standing on the podium, or having bettered your previous time, or just plain knowing that you have the gumption to rider better and faster than most others must make it all worthwhile.

In any case, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts when you are done. What was fun, what was scary, what was a downright slog....

Oh, and good luck!
 

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Gnarlene said:
Even though I had a lot of fun at that race, it is hard for me to understand the allure. Like Shannon-UT and formica, I figure I can have plenty enough fun, for free, on my own. Sometimes, when I read RT's excellent race posts, I think, "wow, she's awesome to go out and do all of that, but wow, what a lot of work and agony sometimes, especially when all the hard work doesn't pay off because of some silly thing like an upset stomach or a flat tire or bad weather...." I suppose the reward of standing on the podium, or having bettered your previous time, or just plain knowing that you have the gumption to rider better and faster than most others must make it all worthwhile.
QUOTE]

You summed up partly why I don't think I'm going to race next season. I mostly tried it this year at the prodding of two friends who race and have made it a personal goal to finish the season out. I have enjoyed pushing myself and have ridden things during a race I probably would have walked if I were on my own. That's been great. But, it also can be overwhelming to work your life around a race schedule because it's not just the race weekend but finding time to preride since I'd only ridden 9 of the 11 courses on the race schedule. I've also found myself riding when I didn't really want to because I thought I **needed** to so I could be ready for the race. Basically, I feel like racing has taken away some of the joy of biking. I love the race scene as they are some of the greatest people to hang out with, but definitely plan to return to the sidelines next year with the exception of maybe a 24-hour race or two with a big group of friends.

But having said all of that, I still so go for the race as it's definitely something I would recommend everyone try!
 

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dkr92886 said:
HI Sunnyracegirl,

I'm signed up for the race in August (my 1st mtn bike race).
Have you done the XC course at Snow Summit? If so, any insights?

I'm signed up for the beginner race.
Thanks,
DKR
Very cool!

I have only raced XC on the East Coast, never in CA. But I know several people who do XC regularly at Big Bear. I posted your question on the Trail Angels message board.
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/TrailAngels/

Look for a pm - we'll get you hooked up. :)
-sunny :cool:
 

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pick your course

I like to use races as a way to get a guided tour of someplace new and fun to ride. These days I wouldn't bother to pay to ride a local course, but if someone's going to go to all the trouble of marking a course someplace I'd like to try riding, I figure it's worth a few bucks. I don't generally bother to pre-ride, either. The only exception I've made to the pre-ride thing is at an endurance event, like the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm, which starts at midnight. If I'm doing my first lap in the dark, that's worth a pre-ride! I desperately want to ride 24 Hours of Seven Springs, which would also probably be worth a pre-ride, but I have toddler-duty that weekend since the spouse already "called" it. I'll agree heartily that team races are way different (and really much more fun) than standard races anyway. :)
 

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thanks Gnarlene!

Gnarlene said:
Given that I've raced exactly once, and that was on a very casual 24 hour team, which was set up more like friends out camping and riding bikes for 24 hours in the desert.

In that one race of my life, I had problems with some of the things mentioned. They handed me a "number", like I would have some idea what to do with it. Everyone else seemed confident that this was a normal thing to have and went about affixing their numbers to their bikes like pros. Me? I had to scurry away to my team mates to figure out quite what I was supposed to do.

And then passing... Holy cow! I had no concept of passing. I ended up behind a group of very slow riders, and was having trouble keeping my bike upright, at the pace they were setting. A friend of mine happened to come up behind me, and said "Gnarlene, why don't you pass these guys?" My reply: "I don't know how!" Basically my friend then hollered "Passing on your left", right as these guys were heading down a rather steep embankment into a wash. And then he yelled at me "Gnarlene, GO! Now! GO!" I flubbed my way over a bunch of rocks, that probably were more associated with the wash itself, than the trail. And I don't think I passed anyone else on a narrow section for the rest of the race!

I admire all of you who do race regularly. Even though I had a lot of fun at that race, it is hard for me to understand the allure. Like Shannon-UT and formica, I figure I can have plenty enough fun, for free, on my own. Sometimes, when I read RT's excellent race posts, I think, "wow, she's awesome to go out and do all of that, but wow, what a lot of work and agony sometimes, especially when all the hard work doesn't pay off because of some silly thing like an upset stomach or a flat tire or bad weather...." I suppose the reward of standing on the podium, or having bettered your previous time, or just plain knowing that you have the gumption to rider better and faster than most others must make it all worthwhile.

In any case, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts when you are done. What was fun, what was scary, what was a downright slog....

Oh, and good luck!
i guess i'll chime in since my name came up. hee hee ;)

i think the allure of racing for me is testing myself against everyone else and the terrain. i've always been pretty competitive so racing is an off-shoot of that. this year it has been a lot of work and sometimes a lot of agony! but the pay off is having tested myself and survived (to one degree or another) and sometimes even excelled!

on the other hand, in a million years i don't think i could even attempt to ride some of the stuff in the pics you posted in that other thread! i am sooooo impressed. i would look at most of that stuff and probably be afraid to even walk it. :D

to the original poster, if doing a race seems intriguing then go for it!! don't worry too much about preparation or anything else - though pre-riding is a good idea if you can (not that i ever pre-rode a course until this year!). just go out, race, and see if you have fun. if you have fun then do it again. if you don't, then at least you know why.

good luck!

rt
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
to Race or not to race--follow up

So I took everyone's advice and encouragement, and raced my first race yesterday. Day started out not so great as I overslept, literally made it to the start line with 45 seconds to spare, no water bottle etc..figured I was doomed. I think this "hurry up" adrenaline helped me. It was pouring with rain, trails were pretty wet, which only added to the fun...so anyways, I had a BLAST! I ended up winning overall women (as well as my category) by 7 minutes. Was only about 10-12 in the field. I think what Im more happy about is that on the loop there is a nasty steep downhill with a couple of good dropoffs that I have never been able to make it down without wiping out/walking. Of course this is the point where all the cameras hang so no way was I walking...I rode the hill twice no problems! The whole race scene is great, lots of cool people, very laid back etc..cant wait for the next one! Thanks for all help!
 
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