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Just curious about individual race day strategies. Do you try to keep and even sustainable pace for the entire race, start the first half super strong and try to hang on for the second half or start out conservative the first half and then go all out for the second half and try to pick off other racers that are struggling?
 

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Depends on the race.

If it looks like narrow technical terrain is going to hold back the field I'll make a dive for the front and plug away.

If it looks like there are wide open grinder hill climbs I'll hold back and gradually pick off riders while increasing speed throughout the event.

If it looks like the trails are wide open and flat enough that drafting might matter - I'll hang with the lead pack with all me might.

If the event is a longer endurance style event I'll maintain a steady just above mide level pace pretty much the whole way.

At least that's what I try to do :)
 

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I like to start at a decent pace, at about 60-70% of max. Typically I will do an all out effort with each hill and recover on the downhill. As the race reaches towards the last 1/3 to 1/4 depending on my energy level will increase to max pace, panting, sweating, and swearing I will never race again. Once the race is over I can't get over how much I love to race.
 

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Giant Anthem
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Go really hard at the start in order to get in front of the folks that hold the whole group back on the technical single track. Stick with the lead group as long as possible until lactic acid builds to much (in the red zone here) about 8-10 minutes. After this I allow the legs to slightly recover just enough not to blow up. For the rest of the race I basically ride hard as possible being on the verge of cramps the last 3-5 miles. So basically my only strategy is ride hard as possible without cramping. If I'm feeling really good I'll hang in 3rd to 4th place at the start and then put a move on about 2-3 miles in and keep the hardest pace I can until I know I've put some distance on the others, then back off to a maintainable pace.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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My under/over for applying strategy is about an hour.

Races up to around an hour, I pretty much go as hard as I can while still riding mainly in the saddle, and without my cadence completely tanking. I almost always sprint the finish, both for practice and because I sometimes have no idea if someone might be near me - I'd hate to lose a spot at the very end because I thought I was alone.

Over an hour, I put some more thought into it. I like to go harder on the climbs, because I'm fairly good at them, and I also don't want to get stuck in a bunch of traffic in a race that goes into singletrack early. But I don't want to blow myself up with half an hour left to race.
 

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I love Pisgah
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2fst4u said:
Go really hard at the start in order to get in front of the folks that hold the whole group back on the technical single track. Stick with the lead group as long as possible until lactic acid builds to much (in the red zone here) about 8-10 minutes. After this I allow the legs to slightly recover just enough not to blow up. For the rest of the race I basically ride hard as possible being on the verge of cramps the last 3-5 miles. So basically my only strategy is ride hard as possible without cramping. If I'm feeling really good I'll hang in 3rd to 4th place at the start and then put a move on about 2-3 miles in and keep the hardest pace I can until I know I've put some distance on the others, then back off to a maintainable pace.
+1.

For me when I'm race fit..

Be in the top 3-5 into the woods/singletrack if you think your top 3 that day. Otherwise, the inevitable guys that are slow in the tech(but strong on the roadbeds) will hold you back and can make the difference from getting on the box..or not.

Hang on best you can without blowing up for the first couple/few miles. The pace 'will' let up some after that. Other riders typically/hopefully will drop off the pace during this process. In the meantime, you've hopefully gap'd other riders that you otherwise finish around, because they're back there wasting time getting around slower riders.

Try and recover best you can on the descents but while not letting up on your best downhill pace possible(easy to say, but when your oxy. dep'n and at max HR when you crest the last climb, you have to make yourself focus at these times, or a hard crash may result). A lot of riders let up at this time(see next paragraph below). Don't.

If you have good downhill/tech skills, if at all possible..always always get by the next rider(assuming hes with-in striking distance) before the next descent starts. Otherwise your stuck at their pace and your tech riding advantage has been basically neutralized for that descent :(.

Go as hard as possible for the rest of the race(unless your in the lead and can tell if no one is catching you) and pass asap as you catch anyone, regardless of class(never 'settle in' to another riders pace, because as soon as you do, riders ahead are now possibly getting away..or your poss. now being over taken).

Perfect pace/effort for a given fitness level is almost cramping the last mile or two, but don't. Then fall out at the finish line. :)
 

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In sport, you don't really need to get out front right away. A lot of sport racers over-do it in the beginning and blow up. The sandbaggers are the only exception. I've started at the back of the pack in a sport race and ended up finishing 2nd. I bet I passed 15 racers on the first major climb (about 3 miles in).

In expert, it's different. I learned the hard way that if you don't get into lead group, you will not win. You need to sprint until you're on the verge of litterly having your heart blow out of your chest. Then you have to dig deep and find some more. After that, the pace slows, but is still crazy fast. Just like in Sport, the lead racers are usually on the verge of moving up a class, so they are fast.

Regardless of the class, if you know the single track get's tight, do everything possible to get there first. I don't care if it requires you to go all out. Once you get to the single track, let others pass, but if possible, make them pass on a hill. It takes MUCH more effort to pass on a hill and you may cause them to blow up.

Don't be an a-hole and purposely hold them up, but if I know a hill is coming and that the racers are coming up behind me, i'll slow so they catch up and then let them pass on the hill. Smart racers know enough to wait, others don't.
 

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As stated above it depends on the track and situation. In general the best thing you can do is review the course and maximize your strengths accordingly.
 

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I try to go fast at the start, then fast in the middle, and then I usually try to finish going as fast as I can!:thumbsup:
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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pedal dammit!

actually, i have learned to not rush things. this includes drive to venue, breakfast, registration etc...well...rush the start for sure to avoid the inevitable bottleneck!

during the race itself, i am always looking for opportunities to pass (safely). i also make it a point to not get passed by the person i just passed..

i also try to put a lot of effort into the pedal descents. too many people think that is cruise time, but it can be a great way to close gaps or pull ahead...watch the pros on the descents, they go equally hard down the mtn as up..

eat right and get race day nutrition dialed in so it works for YOU....we are all different when it comes to what works on race day..
 

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Your Best Friend
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pop_martian said:
I try to go fast at the start, then fast in the middle, and then I usually try to finish going as fast as I can!:thumbsup:
This is the truth. He really does! :eek:

rydbyk said:
eat right and get race day nutrition dialed in so it works for YOU
Absolutely, this part took me the better part of two years to figure out and I still don't have it all down.
 

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Try to sit in the pack, use as little energy as possible. When climbing hills, try to stay around the front, that way if you start getting dropped, then you can catch the tail end of the group. Don't chase down every attack that goes off the front. But if it's a group with strong contenders, that may be a group worth going with. If a teammate is in the break, then don't help the pack chase the break down. Also, be aware if there is a corner close to the finish line. You may want to be in the top 5 coming into the last corner. And try to stay out of the wind as much as possible. Be aware of which side the wind is coming from, and try to stay on the wind protected side of the group. Good luck.

Oh forget all that, this is mountain biking!!! Go hard as hell from start to end, till your head blows off your body!!!!:thumbsup:
 

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Races around my way tend to be red-line starts and if you don't keep with the pack you may have trouble picking them off later. So I try to train for those at once a week. Red-line from a standing position for several minutes and then try to gradually back off to the sweet spot, but it's hard work, the temptation is to back off and rest after the massive initial exertion, but you CAN break through that and stay close to your threshold (or over it, mysteriously!) and it pays dividends. That's where all that early endurance training pays off - an initial red-line shouldn't deplete your energy disastrously, you should be able to shake off the effects and keep the pace up. Easier said than done...
 

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Jam Econo
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Starts

I tend to go for the holeshot, and that works well for me, but really what you want to do is put out as high an effort as you can sustain for however many laps your race is.
In the following video the handsome fellow who goes into the woods first finished third (the guy in the Stars and Stripes won), but about 2/3rds back there is a guy on a Moots, you'll hear someone cheer for him ("Go Matt"), he finished 2nd. He didn't work his way to the front until the 3rd lap (of 4).


Watch more video of Root 66 Putney West Hill MTB Race on cyclingdirt.org
 

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CB2 said:
I tend to go for the holeshot, and that works well for me, but really what you want to do is put out as high an effort as you can sustain for however many laps your race is.
In the following video the handsome fellow who goes into the woods first finished third (the guy in the Stars and Stripes won), but about 2/3rds back there is a guy on a Moots, you'll hear someone cheer for him ("Go Matt"), he finished 2nd. He didn't work his way to the front until the 3rd lap (of 4).
That's fine if you are riding in a pack of course, but in the races I take part in the field tends to get strung out pretty quickly and if you lose the leaders out of sight (which is normally what happens to me, at least until they come up behind me again :D), you are basically screwed because you have no handle on the pace anymore. Even if my goal is usually just to beat one of the 'usual suspects', i.e. guys I tend to be similar to in ability, that start is pretty important for keeping tabs on them.
 

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Jam Econo
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markowe said:
That's fine if you are riding in a pack of course, but in the races I take part in the field tends to get strung out pretty quickly and if you lose the leaders out of sight (which is normally what happens to me, at least until they come up behind me again :D), you are basically screwed because you have no handle on the pace anymore. Even if my goal is usually just to beat one of the 'usual suspects', i.e. guys I tend to be similar to in ability, that start is pretty important for keeping tabs on them.
I don't know, I tend to be more successful concentrating on my own effort, than worrying about someone else's. Millstone Grind last year was a prime example of this for me.
 

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I love Pisgah
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Awesome job regarding Matt working his way up thru that field. Having said that, if he was farther toward the front on the first lap...he prolly/surely would've won.
 
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