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Fear Factor, as in "How to overcome..."(5 posts)

Fear Factor, as in "How to overcome..."Trinlif
Oct 11, 2003 9:09 PM
Hey all,
I've participated in a couple of clinics and hope to race my first event this season. BUT! Other than practice, practice and more practice, does anyone have any insightful tips to share on gaining confidence enough to race? I have the usual worries--dismount, mount, or heaven forbid, ghastly crash. I would just hate to ruin someone else's day with my inadequacy out there. TIA for any suggestions, I have lurked here for over a year and appreciate the collective wisdom, knowledge and enthusiasm.
a few things to remember...matt friedman
Oct 12, 2003 6:00 AM
few crashes are actually going to be "ghastly." speeds are too low and the ground is too soft for that to happen. you might get knocked up a bit and you might tear some lycra on a branch, but the likelihood of drawing blood on a well designed and marked course is minimal.

let stronger riders pass. problems and pileups tend to happen when weaker riders refuse to let the faster ones pass. the strong man or woman behind you is going to pass anyway, you may as well let him or her do it without too much obstruction.

have fun. cyclo-cross is a great sport. it's fun. most of the people at the start line are there for that. you'll find that 'cross start lines are far, far more casual and easy-going than road or mountain. maybe it's because this is the second season for most, and they've already wound down from the intensity of the road season. laugh... tell a few jokes... relax...

a few things to remember... you will faceplant; you will trip overa barrier. you probably won't be hurt... so laugh at yourself and have a great race.

[does anyone have that famous picture of todd wells' faceplant in -- was it? -- 2000?]
one more thing...matt friedman
Oct 12, 2003 7:23 AM
ride the course a couple of times before the race.
Relax and have funTWD
Oct 13, 2003 9:26 AM
The best advice I can give is to relax and don't take things or yourself too seriously.

Get to your race early so that you can take a few laps on the course to warm up and get the layout down with enough time so that you are not rushed. There is nothing more stressful than having to scramble to make the start of your race.

A lot of people tend to stress out too much about how they will do in a race. They are afraid they won't measure up. Even if you finish dead last, you still beat all those people who sat home on the couch too scared to race. Most of the racers I know don't look down on the slower riders. I think it's cool to see new racers out there having fun doing something that I love to do.

If you get out there and do it, and have a good time, what more can you ask for?

Also, you'll find most of the other racers out there are really freindly and helpful. Sure there are a a few jerks, but they are the exception, not the rule. I always make it a point to be friendly, smile, and talk to people during warmups. A freindly "how's it going?" will usaully spark up a conversation.

My wife did her first cross races last year and the ladies she raced with were super friendly. One of the A racers who was sponsored by Kelly came up and introduced herself to my wife after the race and gave her encouragement and a few pointers. I watched my wife at the start line of her first race, in a field of about 35 women of all abilities, and they were all chatting away like they were among friends.

After a couple of races, you will get to know a few people, and that makes the races even more fun.

Don't worry about crashing. We all do it sooner or later. It's no big deal. Falling in the dirt doesn't hurt much compared to falling on the pavement. Heck, I crashed 3 times on the same barrier in my first cross race. It's hard to take yourself seriously when your hopping one legged and tumbling over a barrier with your bike dragging behind you in the dirt when your left pedal wouldn't release on a dismount. You just have to laugh it off.

If you are worried about getting in other peoples way, try to start near the back of the pack for your first race. Then make it your goal to pass as many people as you can. You probably won't finish well starting from the back, but you'll know how you compare to the other racers for next time, and you can position yourself accordingly at the start.

Most of all, make it your No. 1 goal to have fun.

Good Luck.
Don't worry, be happy!MShaw
Oct 13, 2003 10:24 AM
Like the Nike ads say: "just do it."

'cross isn't as "competetive" (I can't really think of an adjective, but sufficed to say, everyone's more laid back) vs. your average crit.

The fast girls are going to fly off and probably leave you in a bit, so you'll probably find yourself either riding alone, or with a few others in your ability range. My first 'cross race I got lapped twice, and would've gotten lapped again if the race hadn't ended right before the leaders were on me! (but that's what happens when you enter a Men's B race as your first 'cross race! Dumb move on my part...)

I can still remember my friend yelling "ride faster! He's right in front of you! Go get him!" at me whenever I passed. All I was thinking was "don't you think if I COULD go faster, I would??!"

You're probably not going to set the world on fire your first few races, right? Then go out, give it a lash, and have a good time. Stress about things you have control over, not what MAY happen...

Let us know how you do!