Advice for first race
Hello ladies! Our new women's MTB "club" has exploded in just a few short weeks. We have had 7-10 awesome females show up to every ride. It is just incredible.
We have decided to enter a local race! I think one or two members may have raced before, but mostly we are newbies. We're going to do a 12 hour race in 2 teams of four. We would love to hear any advice from our more experienced sistahs. Please share your hard-earned knowledge with us!
Thanks in advance.
Have fun and begin a cooler of beer and grillable food for after the race!
Food and beer, definitely top o'the packing list!
I'm hoping for some course etiquette tips...or maybe there is no such thing...
The race organizers probably have specific rules for the transition zone and how to do your team hand-offs. Get there early enough to scope out on spot right near the end of the course/transition area. Most teams will set up a pop-up tent with chairs and a pit area. When I do these races self supported I'll bring a cooler with a bunch of water bottles and food I'll need. I also bring my bike stand so in between laps I can easily throw my bike up on the stand to wipe the chain and re-lube it. This is probably less of an issue for a team, but if you guys have a work stand I'd bring that along with a toolbox.
new but eager :-)
Besides the food and refreshments; bring a bike mechanic ;-) Learn how and practice fixing a flat fast and getting a jumped chain back on the cogs. Remember to have fun, don't take yourselves too seriously for a first race, support each other, oh and did I mention - have FUN!
As for etiquette, anticipate a pass zone for faster cyclists and move over for them. Or listen for them to call out what side they are passing on. Don't feel bad for walking a knarly section you aren't comfortable with - I've seen pros do it.
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I'd bring a different outfit for every time you ride. Not only is it more fashionable, but it reduces the chances of butt sores. Chocolate milk for after you've finished your lap is great.
Be aware of other riders around you. If someone comes up behind you fast, knowing they are coming and thinking about how you will let them pass makes life easier. For example, if there is single-track ahead and someone is coming up on you fast, I'll slow a bit on the double-track so they can pass me before we hit the single-track. If someone comes up on you slowly, ask if they want to pass you. Sometimes they'll just want to hang behind you a while and rest, then pass you later. If you come up on someone and want to pass them, let them know you want to pass them if they don't anticipate and move over. If you are in hot pursuit of your competitor, don't be shy about telling them you want to pass.
If you are walking a section, anyone on their bike has the right of way, so let them pass.
I had not even thought about mechanical issues. I'm pretty sure we can borrow a bike stand. A couple of us took a maintenance skills clinic and learned how to change a flat.
Great advice- if you think of anything else, keep it coming!
yay! congrats, thats great you can put together two teams of just girls! It will be a blast!
Posts above give solid advice on passing - don't sweat it - just ride hard, and listen for bikes and verbal signals from behind. Don't feel pressured and swerve into a tree, stump, branch, root system, poison ivy/oak thicket, briar patch, prickley pear, barrel cactus, yucca, joshusa tree, manzanita, stream, deep mud ( shallow is fun!!) rock, ledgy trail, or other unsafe places just because someone is suddenly behind you. They are faster, and can afford to wait a few seconds for a good place. I like to say "up here" or "around this bend" to acknowledge them if i'm not pulling over immeadiately. Also...this can be big, especially if you have limited trail visibility in really twisty single track, if you think there may be more than one person beind, you could ask "how many?" and count as they pass.
Bring your camera, remember to pre-register (if you can), and you might need to buy a USA cycling license. You can usually buy a one day or opt for the year.
Have you ridden the course before? Pre-riding is always a great idea. You might want to discuss the lap length and how many laps you want to ride consecutivley or not. I have found that its harder for me to ride hard and cycle between riding for 45 and then resting for 45 while my partner rode. I find it easier (and faster) to just keep riding. Just something to think about : ) It all depends on the lap length, terrain, weather, etc.
and...stick around for the awards and any swag that is being handed out : ) Bring enough food to bribe someone if something happens to a bike beyone your fixing abilities.
If its not a bumpy ride, I'm not interested.
Newbie racer here too...only three races under my belt but a few observations:
Ride your own race and don't worry excessively about faster racers behind you. It's easy for some women to feel overly guilty about being in the way, to the point where it can affect your own performance, making you nervous, more crash prone, etc. Just keep your eyes up the trail, hold your line, and if someone is behind you, I'd put the onus on them to ask for a pass, in which case, do so at your earliest convenience and not a second sooner.
And if you come up on slow people from other classes...make them feel REALLY guilty for being in the way! Kidding...I once came up on a guy who was doing okay up the hills, but then parking it on the downhills, I was on the verge of punting him the entire singletrack. Once we got to an open section of fire road, he pinned it and decided to RACE ME! It was ridiculous. Don't be that guy...but, on the other hand, I probably could have asked for a pass. Didn't know the etiquette...
HAVE FUN! Where are you girls located?
Don't forget beer for after the race.
I don't bring a bike stand, but I do bring an extra bike.
If the race is far from home, I don't pre-ride the whole course because I'm afraid it will make me less likely to want to do that extra lap in the race, so I take my first lap slow and steady and treat it like a pre-ride. If you want to be competitive and are in a competitive field, pre-riding is definitely a better strategy (but I race for fun). In my last race, I rode the first lap with some guys who knew the course, so I knew to expect a slippery bridge and that the worst climbs were 2 grassy uphills. I found that people (including me) were much chattier earlier in the race when they were fresh.
Another thing that is helpful is to put individual outfits (everything except shoes, helmet, and gloves) in individual bags. This makes it easy to just grab a bag and change - no rooting around for socks. I had different bags for different temperatures (heat of the day vs. colder night-riding). Get a system where it's easy to find stuff. When you're finished a lap and have low blood sugar, sometimes it's difficult to think and sometimes you put things down and can't find them. Organization helps.
We're in central Maine. The race is at Bradbury Mountain.
Originally Posted by Christieland
You guys are great-thanks so much for giving us some tips. I'm going to share this thread with my teammates. We are the Dirt Divas and the Dirt Divas Too.
all great posts...most importantly is to have fun. Often we get so stressed out over a race, we forget why we are doing it.
be sure to stay hydrated the day before...this will help on race day. try to take in some fluids with electrolytes/salts - too much water can flush everything out.
eat something that your body can digest easily but provide energy. my coach told me that if you eat something too dense/complex, your body will be working on that, rather than your legs during a race.
know how to change a flat/carry some simple tools with you.
bring a beach towel to wrap around you after while you change - not all places have nice changing areas/bathrooms.