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.
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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
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    Newbie but not 100%.. questions about short track XC.

    So, I rode MTB for years and growing up. At 18 I switched over to racing motocross. In Feb 2012 I fractured 5 vertebrae and being 28, decided to give it up. I'm now 29 going on thirty and I'm getting back into MTB. I wont even talk about the used bike I got because it doesn't matter, it's mine and for now I am happy. My questions are..

    I found a regional short track XC series that offers first time riders classes and entry level classes after that. I'm curious what kind of times and distances I should expect. I'm currently riding as much as possible in the local single tracks to build endurance and speed. Also, I never raced in the past just rode through the Appalachian Mountains and old ATV trails so I'm curious if I'll be ok with just my standard outdoor trail sneakers or should i be more prepared?

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Short track is short. (Go figure.)

    I was starting to say that races run somewhere in the 20-60 minute range, but Wikipedia contradicts me. Mountain bike racing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Can you post a race flyer?

    People often make way too much of racing. The deal is that the first time, probably the first couple of times, you go out, you're going to do things to shoot yourself in the foot. You're also likely to find that some aspects of your gear are causing you to leave time on course, or are messing with your flow.

    In my local series, people almost always use clipless pedal systems, although I've usually seen at least a couple guys showing up to beginners' with flats. If your handling is where it needs to be to be competitive racing off-road, you'll probably benefit some from clipless pedals. Those stupid moments where one's foot slips off the pedal are a lot easier to power through, and the systems are also a little more forgiving of stuff like airing off of moguls with imperfect foot position. Outside of competition, I think there's a lot to be said for learning clean technique on flats. I think it translates to being smoother and more efficient all the time, races included. But I think clipless systems are more forgiving for a rider who's already pretty stable and rides with a sense of attack. It wouldn't hurt to try them now. Don't race on them until you're used to them. And, you can go racing without them - I don't think it'll make a lot of difference your first time.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    2013 Louisville MTB Short Track Series

    i was just curious about the length of a race in the Novice-First Timer class, and how fast of a pace it might be

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    The length is the time in parentheses. So, 20 minutes, give-or-take, for you. My experience is that actual times vary - the organizers take their best guess about how long each class will take on course, and then choose a number of laps. Sometimes, they won't announce the number of laps until mid-race, giving them a chance to clock each class for a lap or two. Whether or not that's practical depends on the length of the course.

    Pace is as fast as you can go for that amount of time. It's highly conditions-dependent. If it's a mostly-grass course like in the pictures, probably on the order of 14 mph. But, don't let that discourage you - I'm just guessing based on a few pictures, if it's a more technical course, it'll be slower, and if you're used to riding more technical trails, you'll find you average faster than what you can do when conditions are more challenging.

    Go try it. Really.

    I've never done a race of this type that's only 20 minutes long. I've done some 'cross, which is 30-40 minutes. My experience is that it's basically the fastest pace I can do without feeling like I'm going to blow up immediately. When I'm racing like I mean it, I may still be wondering if I can sustain that pace for long enough, and I don't always have a sprint left at the end. I'd expect that this would be similar, but even more so. Just hammer right from the gun, and if you bonk or get sick, take it a little slower next time.

    May 29th is a pretty long way out. The other two series linked to from that site both have races at the end of this month. Go give it a shot. It's pretty cool that you have a few formats available to you. Some people find short track clicks better, and some find XC clicks better. There's also various endurance formats, for people who find that they can sustain an effort for a really long time but don't shine as much in formats rewarding more top end.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    i'm really excited maybe i can even purchase a nice bike before the may event!

  6. #6
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    I would hold off on buying a bike or anything you don't need until after you see what racing is like. I've only raced around 6 times but I have to echo that if they have a first time class, go show up. The only way to know what it's like is to get in there and do it! No matter what you have for gear you won't be wrong to ride with it.

    Of course, if you are desperate to spend money, I would suggest that you make sure you have a decent pair of pedals on your bike. I don't recommend any beginner rider goes and gets clipless pedals and this is no different; until you get some good experience under your belt and you can ride any of your trails comfortably without putting a foot down then you don't need to bother with clipless pedals, they're only a hindrance to beginner riders (and most riders above beginner level). However, you do need to make sure you have a good pair of flat pedals; one with removable pins for traction and (usually) a metal body. I always recommend pedals before shoes for flat riders. Lots of people will tell you to get 5.10 shoes, but I've found that any flat soled shoe will grip very well with a good quality pinned pedal but even a good shoe won't grip a crap pedal.

    Other than that, try to pre-ride the area that the course is at, get a feel for the terrain, and just ride as much as you can until the race. Don't be too hard on yourself and have fun!
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  7. #7
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    thanks for the positive feedback

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the thread... I'm in nearly the exact same position.
    Turning 30 this year, MX racer, first time back really on a MTB in a decade and looking at racing on my non-moto weekends (only I'm more interested in the longer races).

    I feel like us moto guys might have a really good skill set for attacking technical stuff, especially down hill sections, and when it gets "tight" on the trail, you're used to battling a guy on a 250lb machine, especially in those short track races.

    I don't know how hard it was for you to give up MX, I consider it just on costs but I couldn't give it up. Besides, I'm really close to riding the +30 classes so maybe I'll finally get around to winning here and there lol.

  9. #9
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    I would love to go back to it and may go back to doing some of the Moto XC races. It was the accident when I fractured 5 vertebrae that really made my decision. My biggest obstacle is my endurance isn't up to par and i can never carry enough speed to satisfy myself.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by garybbentley View Post
    I would love to go back to it and may go back to doing some of the Moto XC races. It was the accident when I fractured 5 vertebrae that really made my decision. My biggest obstacle is my endurance isn't up to par and i can never carry enough speed to satisfy myself.
    Which ones did you break? I also race motocross. I was really big into the sport from the ages of 11 - 18. Broke my neck when I was 18, went off to college and gave it up. I just started racing again last year at 30 years old. Man did I miss it! I hope I don't have to give it up again anytime soon, but now that I've decided to get into mountain biking I'm hoping that will cure my itch a little while being a little bit safer. I'm hoping it will also help get me in better shape for moto. It's tough for me to ride motocross more than once a week with the time it requires to load up and go to a track. Also, I get pretty sore.

  11. #11
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    t1-t5

    yea, i recently moved to Owensboro Ky there are no real local tracks but tons of mtb singletrack

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