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1st MTB race report & BIG CONGRATS to J2!(5 posts)

1st MTB race report & BIG CONGRATS to J2!JS Haiku Shop
Jul 7, 2003 6:31 AM
J2, riding sport, cracked the field and finished second place to a sandbagging Cat 1 road racer in yesterday's mtb race. he completed four 5-mile laps in sport. he was one of only a few in the pack to ride with platform pedals & soft-soled shoes. he is an A-N-I-M-A-L!

as for J:

couple weeks back i asked you folks for some mtb advice--racing, mostly. yesterday was the race. it was held on a 5-mile course, according to the flyer, "60% in the woods, 90% singletrack". the rest were gravel access roads.

the farthest i'd ridden mtb before was 16.4 miles, at oak mountain state park in birmingham, alabama. last year i probably rode less than 30 miles on the mtb, and this year i might have ridden 10 before last week. last week in preparation, rode about 27 miles, over two rides, previewing the course (which was changed quite a bit for race day).

dragged my tail out of bed, sore & tired from a few long, hot days on the road bike. briefly considered bagging it. hurriedly packed the element and hauled butt to the race. committed early last week to ride beginner (2 laps), then sport (4 laps). arrived without enough time to ride the course/view the changes. decided to use beginner to pre-ride for sport.

lined up for beginner with some folks (me, included) who should have been riding sport+. they started the old guys first (age 25-49 or something), which included J. started in the back and worked my way up a little. pace was much faster than i anticipated for a "beginner" ride. J2 watched from the sidelines and said we were running ~23 minute laps, making our average speed ~13 mph over a fairly technical course with a few small hills. finished mostly spent but with little reserves at the end of 2 five-mile laps, behind one of our club road riders who'd won 2 mtb (beginner) races last year. decided not to ride sport.

went to the car, listened to a little henry rollins, changed into fresh jersey, dumped ice water over head, realized lowest IQ in months, lined up at the back of sport. started off moderate, large pack. hit singletrack, came to a stop. within 3 minutes we were back at it and i was redlined, DFL, head down, working. stayed on the gas for 2 laps just to stay in contact. decided after 2 laps to can it. passed by all senior men, who started after us. passed by 2 of women's field, who started after them. i remembered then how low i've felt since the failed 600k. then i was *lapped* by the men's expert field, who'd started 5 minutes before sport.

another lap down (3 in sport), through the finish line with one to go, the organizer told me "you're done". naturally i figured i was either DFL or he was having pity on me. of course i paid for four sport laps, and was damn well going to finish 4 sport laps. in the fourth sport circuit, i was lapped by the sport women's winner. she was a blur of gary fisher colors and blonde curls.

so i'm not sure where i finished in relation to anyone else, but that was not really the point. i was able to finish 30 miles (6 laps including beginner & sport) without breaking my face on any trees or large rocks, stayed upright the whole time, learned lots, and built a little more character. i went fairly hard the whole time, tried to throw-up, but never was able to breach sub-vomit effort.

in the last 2 laps, both my grips came loose, i couldn't shift to my triple ring (LOL), and i ran out of water and gel. oh, and the rain stopped and the sun came out and heated up the longest climbs, which were out of the woods. it was a good ride and i look forward to future mtb races.

thanks everyone for your invaluable advice.

-J
You raced the beginner class as a pre-ride for sport class???biknben
Jul 7, 2003 7:16 AM
Couldn't you just ride the course after the Beginners took off? Did they have the course closed to non-racers?

I typically pre-ride courses that are new to me. I'm not going to show up at the crack of dawn to pre-ride. I just wait until all the beginners start and then go. I end up catching the tail end of the race and just chill at the back.

Pre-riding a course a week early doesn't help much if you don't know the route. You may be riding trails not even used for the race. In many cases, the organizer will mark the course the day before the event. If you go late that day, you can then ride the actual route.

Sandbagging is common. The catagorization is not as strigent as on the road. On the road, there are some advantages to catting up (experienced racers, more team organization). On the dirt, moving up just means more pain. Well, not really but that's what most Sports think.

In the races I do, there will be +/- 15 guy in my Expert age group. The corresponding Sport class has well over 40 racers. Obviously, some of them should move up but aren't willing to do the extra distance.
yepJS Haiku Shop
Jul 7, 2003 7:35 AM
the course was supposedly closed, but there were runners on the trail at times. you can't really marshal 5 miles of trail, and signs aren't always read.

as i'd never done a mtb race before, i wanted to find out if i should have been in beginner. i have a good base of fitness and cardio, but no technical mtb skills, and very low-level mtb gear (i know, it's not about the bike).

spoke with the race organizer the week before, and confirmed the day of, that it was cool if i wanted to ride beginner & sport. i decided to do so, but stay in the back of beginner, and not contest anything (including not posting a result). this was done as a warm-up and intro more than anything, but i did go a bit harder than expected, and burned too many matches before the sport race started.

this was all done as a training exercise--and for experience--anyways. i can go hard in training, but not "race pace" without proper incentive. it was worth the time & entry fees.

expert was only 1 lap more than sport--25 miles instead of 20. i suspect those who belong in expert in this case are riding sport because ego bruising isn't for everyone. why race at your own level of ability when you know you have a shot at the podium? problem in memphis is that we have such few events, it's difficult to know where you stand. there is no true means to gauge your fitness against others between seldom-held events. then, as in this one, you have semi-pro road racers showing up to ride sport. what's with that, anyhow?
all part of the fun...peter1
Jul 7, 2003 3:30 PM
...of mtb racing. When I started, I only raced beginner for two races then moved up to sport, realizing that I'd get more racing for my money. Sure enough, I finished where I was in the beginner class.

For me the camraderie of the races is almost better than finishing in a certain position. The expert class just looks like no fun, however, with small fields and very little "racing" going on. Best part about sport is that you can always joust with someone for a few miles. Then hang out, drink a few beers and watch the expert/pro class suffer in the heat.

It would be nice if mtb racing had a cat system like road racing, but the implosion of NORBA and the reluctance to force people to move up (except in certain regional series) has pretty much made it a free for all. Sure, there's an amazing amount of sandbagging, but absent any enforcement, that's to be expected.

You're right about the equipment. You see a pretty wide variety of bikes but fitness and bike handling make up for a lot. I will ay that you've gotta pre-ride, so you know what to expect. The times I've not pre-rode have been just nonstop suffer-fests...
re: 1st MTB race report & BIG CONGRATS to J2!J2
Jul 7, 2003 9:57 AM
whew, nothing like riding sick! J was a man out there, he went and rode the highest mt. climbs in arkanas the day before, and the day before that we rode over 70 miles for our hightailers red,white & blue ride. then showed up, rode beginer and posted good lap times, finished right around middle pack or better (and they had a big field). didn't look too good after race and said he was done, next thing is he's changing and getting ready for the sport race! talk about getting your money's worth! J has no quit in him at all!
as for me, well, the moral to this story is not to wait til a week before a mtb race to pull your bike out (i have only ridden my mtb bike 3 times this year before this). as for me being in sport, well, i have no norba lic so all i could do was beginner or sport. we just don't have enough races here and with a wife and 3 kiddies, tavel is limited. but it was a good race, a real fun coarse, much, much improved from the old coarse, to the point where i would recomend this race next year to anyone that can come.
see ya..