1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Had My First Race

    Last Sunday was my first official race in the Wisconsin Off Road Series.

    I did 2 laps of 5 miles, mostly single trac through moderate terrain.

    My finish time was 1hr 1min with me placing 29th out of 35.

    All in all I was very happy with the results. Here a few thoughts on why:

    It was my first race and I not only finished, I didnt finish last.

    The course was VERY hilly. Basically took place on a ski hill. I wasnt prepared for long climbs and I ended up walking most of them. I know now that I need to add hill training to my workout regiment. However, if I can get conditioned enough to climb long climbs, I will finish much higher next time. That gives me encouragement. My next race is on my home turf and there is practically no climbing, this alone will move me up 10 spots or more.

    My bike had issues. It wasnt properly tuned (my fault) and my gears slipped, a lot. I had to get off my bike to clear my chain several times. This cost me a lot of position in the race. I took my bike to a pro after the race and the issues are now corrected. No technical issues next race means I finish much higher.

    I was as good as anyone else around me or better in the single trac. I had almost no trouble with the terrain while a lot of the guys around me had problems with handling switchbacks, roots, rocks, trees etc.

    The race started up a hill and is followed by a nice long double trac. At the top of the hill I had a ton of energy and was not at all tired, I could have passed a lot of guys. I didnt because it was my first race and I was intimidated. That wont happen again.

    Anyways my goal for my next race is to shoot for the top 10. Again its my home turf (the course I train on every day), and I can overcome almost all the issues above.

    The thrill of being at that start line was amazing, and the first 10 minutes of the race will live in my memory forever (I was saying "hey im actually doing it! Im racing!").

    I find that mountain bikers and the people that accompany them are some of the nicest, coolest people i have ever been around and im so glad to be part of them now.

    Sorry for the book and thank you to everyone who has helped me the last few months. I will continue to come here daily for advice and guidance.

  2. #2
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    congrats... I think you just inspired me to get out there and compete... if not just to see how I hold up to other riders.

  3. #3
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    Congrats man! I remember my first senior mens race much as you do. I still have the number placard and results sheet 16 years later. The thrill of actually doing it, and realizing you are as good or better than everyone around you is monumental. I had never been so nervous ever in my life. Wish I could have raced for a longer period of time, but life happens I guess. Congrats again, and I enjoyed reading your narrative. Everything you debriefed about will certainly improve your next placement. You are doing it the right way. I was 11th out of 33, on that day, and I will never forget it. It was at a ski resort as well.

  4. #4
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    Awesome! Finishing, and finishing not DFL is a really good result.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Nice job. I did my first xterra tri a couple weeks ago and am now feeling a little obsessed with racing off-road. Feels like the first time I finished a road race.

    heck - it got me to join mtbr.

  6. #6
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    Good read and congrats on getting out there! I'll be riding in my first race in about 15 years this Saturday. I'm super excited to compete again
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

  7. #7
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    It takes some balls to get out there and compete. And, you did it. Congratulations!
    Contact information: http://about.me/marpilli

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Bye View Post
    Good read and congrats on getting out there! I'll be riding in my first race in about 15 years this Saturday. I'm super excited to compete again
    Cool beans man. Wish I had the confidence to try again. Be sure to post up your experiences on Sunday! Good luck!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Bye View Post
    Good read and congrats on getting out there! I'll be riding in my first race in about 15 years this Saturday. I'm super excited to compete again
    Good luck Blue Bye!! Remember to just enjoy the moment! Be safe and have fun!

    My next race is August 28th. I cant wait!

  10. #10
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    Hey great job out there man!! I was wondering if I would run into you out there. Glad to hear that you finished. So I take it that you're not doing Camrock? I assume that the home turf you refer to is Suamico. Don't underestimate the race though. It always seems to be equally hill-less for all of the guys that you race against as well. But I do wish the best of luck to you there. I know that my first year riding I did my best race at Suamico. Like you, I am not a great climber. Even still, I am Cat 2 now and I suck at climbing. Hopefully I will see you there. Again, I am on the Eriksen Cycles team. Name is Todd if you see me. I'll be the only clydesdale on the team. Good Luck on the rest of your season.

  11. #11
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    Right on, I am going on three races now. I agree about the first 10 mins, I won't ever forget it. Right up there with my first car race!

  12. #12
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    Hi 3fast!

    Im not doing Camrock. I heard it was very hilly and as ive stated I definetely need work on that part of my racing. Also I can only take so many days off of work since weekends is part of my job.

    I thought about what you are saying when it comes to Suamico and your right, I shouldnt be too cocky. If its easier for me, then its easier for other people too. I can see where there could be a lot of sprinting on the Suamico course and I may find im not much good at sprinting either. There are also lots of spots in Suamico to crash on the single trac, so its easy to see where I could push myself a bit too hard and end up on a tree stump.

    Cat 2? Very impressive! I did finish a double lap at Suamico this week, which is the first time I was able to do the same type of run that the Sport division runs. I know im not even close to being able to race Sport yet, but it made me confident to know I can do that length of race and finish. Before I used to do the single 10m lap of single trac and think to myself "no way in hell im ever going to be able to do that twice!". Now I know I can.

    I will hunt you down at the race! I am looking to join the Titletown Flyers race team so I may be volunteering at the race as well as racing in it.

    Good luck to you this weekend!

    Patton

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattongb View Post
    Hi 3fast!

    Im not doing Camrock. I heard it was very hilly and as ive stated I definetely need work on that part of my racing. Also I can only take so many days off of work since weekends is part of my job.

    I thought about what you are saying when it comes to Suamico and your right, I shouldnt be too cocky. If its easier for me, then its easier for other people too. I can see where there could be a lot of sprinting on the Suamico course and I may find im not much good at sprinting either. There are also lots of spots in Suamico to crash on the single trac, so its easy to see where I could push myself a bit too hard and end up on a tree stump.

    Cat 2? Very impressive! I did finish a double lap at Suamico this week, which is the first time I was able to do the same type of run that the Sport division runs. I know im not even close to being able to race Sport yet, but it made me confident to know I can do that length of race and finish. Before I used to do the single 10m lap of single trac and think to myself "no way in hell im ever going to be able to do that twice!". Now I know I can.

    I will hunt you down at the race! I am looking to join the Titletown Flyers race team so I may be volunteering at the race as well as racing in it.

    Good luck to you this weekend!

    Patton
    Well. home court advantage will take you a long way on that course. One of the key factors is that the course at Suamico is long. So, since your race is only 1 lap you have an advantage. You know how far away from the finish you are. I remember my first time racing there. I was playing cat and mouse with another guy. I'd pass him, he's pass me. Neither one of us knew where we were on the course. We finally passed a couple of spectators on lawn chairs just out on the course. Tom (the guy that I was racing with) had passed me. He yelled out to the spectators "do you know how far we are from the finish?!" They replied "I think about 2 miles" It was in that instant that I saw him slow down to pace himself, saving enough energy for the next 2 miles. I couldn't faintly hear the voice of Don Edberg(director of WORS) in the distance. I knew there was no way we were 2 miles out. So I gave it some go and got in front of Tom. We rounded a few last turns and I could see the home stretch. Tom had no chance and I beat him. You have the advantage of knowing the course better than your opponents. You should play on the fact that they may not know when to sprint or when to save energy. I know you'll have a great finish.

    Oh and for the record, Camrock is not too bad in terms of hills. At least not compared to a lot of the WORS courses. Its certainly less hilly than the last race you did. But I can understand the working weekends thing. I am supposed to work weekends too. Although this weekend is my 3rd weekend of 5 straight weekends of racing. Last week was the Wausau 24 hour race. You want a fun challenge? Do that next season.

  14. #14
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    Well in a way im glad I had to work then. A guy at Altarac told me that the next race is "has even more hills" than the race I had just finished. That scared me off it completely. Guess I was mis-informed. I'll be there next year though so its all good.

    Your right about Suamico. Not knowing the trac in Franklin definetely hurt me. In Suamico I know all the tracs like the back of my hand. I also like the idea of 1 lap. Im way too green to know when to conserve energy and when to spend it, especially on a 2 lap race. With the 1 lap I can just go all out until its over.

    Cant wait to meet you 3fast! I'll PM you my email.

    Patton

  15. #15
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    That sounds amazing, was anyone riding a hardtail? I really want to get into racing later when I'm not so green but I'm worried people will laugh if I show up with a hardtail...
    "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." - John F. Kennedy

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by nikojan View Post
    That sounds amazing, was anyone riding a hardtail? I really want to get into racing later when I'm not so green but I'm worried people will laugh if I show up with a hardtail...
    Are you being sarcastic?

    The majority of people ride HT's in the Wisconsin Off Road Series. There are plenty of FS's, but they are certainly not the norm.

  17. #17
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    how was the race? were you pretty nervous? im planning on doing the Sea Otter Classic next year, meet some pros!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattongb View Post
    Are you being sarcastic?

    The majority of people ride HT's in the Wisconsin Off Road Series. There are plenty of FS's, but they are certainly not the norm.
    I was being completely serious, every time i go up to kelso (bike/ski resort) I only see fs bikes cruising around. It's an XC hardtail, not am.
    "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." - John F. Kennedy

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  19. #19
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    Ok sorry.

    Im not sure people in WI are as far ahead of the curve as people who live in states with a lot more trails. HT's are pretty much still the norm here. Dont get me wrong a lot of the top guys out here use FS, but most of the weekend warriors still run around on HT's.

    I competed on a 2003 Giant NRS3. Sure its a FS, but its also a $1200 8 year old bike. Noone laughed at me (that I noticed) and I wasnt embarrased at all. In fact I look forward to beating a lot of those guys with the $2000+ bikes in the next few races.

    I say go for it!!

  20. #20
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    Thanks a lot mate, There is a huge comp there every year, I went a fews days beforehand to check it out but didn't end up entering. I'm getting pretty psyched just thinking about it, I'll prob enter a few more local ones to prepare. Thanks again, it's a question i've been meaning to ask for awhile now.
    "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." - John F. Kennedy

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    11' Giant XTC 2 29er

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattongb View Post
    Ok sorry.

    Im not sure people in WI are as far ahead of the curve as people who live in states with a lot more trails. HT's are pretty much still the norm here. Dont get me wrong a lot of the top guys out here use FS, but most of the weekend warriors still run around on HT's.

    I competed on a 2003 Giant NRS3. Sure its a FS, but its also a $1200 8 year old bike. Noone laughed at me (that I noticed) and I wasnt embarrased at all. In fact I look forward to beating a lot of those guys with the $2000+ bikes in the next few races.

    I say go for it!!

    Actually I would say that most of the guys on hard tails are riding them by choice. FS is just pretty unnecessary here. Most would prefer a 29er hard tail over a 26inch FS. I don't think it has anything to do with being ahead or behind the times. In fact, if anything, I would I would say that we in Wisconsin set the curve in many things. I mean we have the largest state mtn biking series, we are the home of big bike companies like Trek/Gary Fisher, Waterford, Gunnar, Saries/cycleops, the Hayes group and others. Hard tails are faster here. I had 2 Trek TopFuels in previous years. This year I'm rockin a 29er hard tail that is a million times better and faster. It's all a matter of preference

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3fast3furious View Post
    Actually I would say that most of the guys on hard tails are riding them by choice. FS is just pretty unnecessary here. Most would prefer a 29er hard tail over a 26inch FS. I don't think it has anything to do with being ahead or behind the times. In fact, if anything, I would I would say that we in Wisconsin set the curve in many things. I mean we have the largest state mtn biking series, we are the home of big bike companies like Trek/Gary Fisher, Waterford, Gunnar, Saries/cycleops, the Hayes group and others. Hard tails are faster here. I had 2 Trek TopFuels in previous years. This year I'm rockin a 29er hard tail that is a million times better and faster. It's all a matter of preference
    ^Im sure 3fast is right, im pretty new to the whole thing so he would know better than me. I assumed that people in places like CO, CA, NH etc would be on top of the food chain when it comes to the latest and greatest, if not because of trends then because of the financial descrepency between the mid point income in WI compared to other states.

    That being said, I can see why HT's are more popular here in WI. As 3fast said, its probably just a matter of preference. Still I dont see why anyone should care if your on a HT or a FS where you race. In fact wouldnt it make it that much sweeter if everyone you raced against was on FS and you were on a HT and you beat a bunch of them??

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattongb View Post
    Good luck Blue Bye!! Remember to just enjoy the moment! Be safe and have fun!

    My next race is August 28th. I cant wait!
    Thanks - it was a lot of fun. I finished 12th out of what appeared to be 25 or so riders in the beginner 40-45 group. My goal was top 10 but overall I was happy with the result. It was challenging to ride at a race speed for 9 miles! I was reminded of how difficult it is to simulate that pace during training rides.

    I'm looking forward to doing it again!

    Here's a link to my race write up:

    My race result from yesterday
    Last edited by Blue Bye; 08-07-2011 at 07:23 AM. Reason: added link to related post
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by pattongb View Post
    ^Im sure 3fast is right, im pretty new to the whole thing so he would know better than me. I assumed that people in places like CO, CA, NH etc would be on top of the food chain when it comes to the latest and greatest, if not because of trends then because of the financial descrepency between the mid point income in WI compared to other states.

    That being said, I can see why HT's are more popular here in WI. As 3fast said, its probably just a matter of preference. Still I dont see why anyone should care if your on a HT or a FS where you race. In fact wouldnt it make it that much sweeter if everyone you raced against was on FS and you were on a HT and you beat a bunch of them??
    At the race I participated in yesterday there were quite a few H/T bikes. I raced on a 2003 NRS2 with a failing rear shock! As the old saying goes "it's the rider not the bike" - but a nicer piece of equipment can sure help!
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

  25. #25
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    very cool! i haven't raced a bike since my bmx days. that's great you still didn't finish last even with your bike, climbing issues.
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