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  1. #1
    Big Damn Hero
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    Another noob first race story...

    So I entered the GHORBA Big Ring Challenge in Coldspring, TX today. I used to ride a lot back when I was 16-19 or so but hadn't ridden a (pedal) bike for almost 12 years when I decided to get back into riding back in November. I didn't really start training for this race until early February, but I put in a fair amount of hard work to get 'ready' in a short amount of time.

    Well, race day came and I got off to a terrible start. There was about a 150yrd or so sprint on pavement before the trailhead and I entered nearly last out of 59 riders in my group (Cat 3 30-39). I believe there were only about 5 guys behind me. I had a massive issue clipping in (only 3rd ride with clips) and I just couldn't get the drive going that I needed while not clipped in.

    Anyways, I got stuck behind some slower (than me) guys in the initial few miles of single track and wound up losing a bit of time in the opening 3 miles or so. I also got knocked over by someone who didn't call out a pass, that really burned me up. At least he came down with me.

    After that I just tried to set a decent pace and ride my ride. The last 2(ish) miles I passed about 8-10 guys so I feel like I finished strong but my results weren't very good, I finished 43rd out of 59. I finished in a time of 1:12:xx which is about 4 minutes slower than my last two practice rides on the course so I was also a bit disappointed with that. I found myself hitting a bit of a wall at around mile 4-6 and then catching a great second wind for the last 4 miles (~13 mile loop).

    As for the event though, I had an absolute blast despite not finishing where I'd hoped (top 50%). I learned a ton about the importance of good starts and race etiquette. I think the most important thing I learned though was that despite being in quite good shape compared to the general population, I am far lacking in regards to competitive mountain biking. I'l be working hard over the coming months to really try to push myself to be better conditioned and as I get more saddle time in the bike I hope to bring my skills in better line with that of a solid Cat 3 racer.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    Congrats on the first race! You werent last, and you learned a few things. You'll be doing much better in the future!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBRsteve
    I think the most important thing I learned though was that despite being in quite good shape compared to the general population, I am far lacking in regards to competitive mountain biking. .
    This point was clearly obvious to me when I entered my first race last weekend.......

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnan3
    This point was clearly obvious to me when I entered my first race last weekend.......
    Humbling isn't it? The only thing that can really make you faster on a bike is riding a bike. I have friends who run marathons, swim, do various other sports, and are definitely in overall better shape than me, but on trail rides they're sucking air and struggling if they aren't regular riders, and getting into racing just takes it to another level.

  5. #5
    XC racer
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    Congrats on your first race! Double Lake was great yesterday, some huge classes out there. I watched the finishes of the Cat 3's and there were lots of sprint finishes through the sandpit. Your attitude is good too. If you attended the clinic on Saturday, you would have heard there's a big difference between beginning mountainbiking, and beginning mountainbike racing, and the skills required aren't necessarily the same.
    Hope you can make it some more of the spring races. All four that remain are on different types of terrain, and none much like DL, so come try them all.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudforlunch
    Humbling isn't it? The only thing that can really make you faster on a bike is riding a bike. I have friends who run marathons, swim, do various other sports, and are definitely in overall better shape than me, but on trail rides they're sucking air and struggling if they aren't regular riders, and getting into racing just takes it to another level.

    What i was most taken back by was the fact that ALL of the base class riders were fast!

    There were no "beginner cyclists."

    I dont expect to be able to keep up with these guys at all this season.

  7. #7
    newbie 29er
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBRsteve
    So I entered the GHORBA Big Ring Challenge in Coldspring, TX today. I used to ride a lot back when I was 16-19 or so but hadn't ridden a (pedal) bike for almost 12 years when I decided to get back into riding back in November. I didn't really start training for this race until early February, but I put in a fair amount of hard work to get 'ready' in a short amount of time.

    Well, race day came and I got off to a terrible start. There was about a 150yrd or so sprint on pavement before the trailhead and I entered nearly last out of 59 riders in my group (Cat 3 30-39). I believe there were only about 5 guys behind me. I had a massive issue clipping in (only 3rd ride with clips) and I just couldn't get the drive going that I needed while not clipped in.

    Anyways, I got stuck behind some slower (than me) guys in the initial few miles of single track and wound up losing a bit of time in the opening 3 miles or so. I also got knocked over by someone who didn't call out a pass, that really burned me up. At least he came down with me.

    After that I just tried to set a decent pace and ride my ride. The last 2(ish) miles I passed about 8-10 guys so I feel like I finished strong but my results weren't very good, I finished 43rd out of 59. I finished in a time of 1:12:xx which is about 4 minutes slower than my last two practice rides on the course so I was also a bit disappointed with that. I found myself hitting a bit of a wall at around mile 4-6 and then catching a great second wind for the last 4 miles (~13 mile loop).

    As for the event though, I had an absolute blast despite not finishing where I'd hoped (top 50%). I learned a ton about the importance of good starts and race etiquette. I think the most important thing I learned though was that despite being in quite good shape compared to the general population, I am far lacking in regards to competitive mountain biking. I'l be working hard over the coming months to really try to push myself to be better conditioned and as I get more saddle time in the bike I hope to bring my skills in better line with that of a solid Cat 3 racer.
    The big ring challenge was my first race also, and I think that having trouble clipping in during the sprint was the theme of the day for us new racers! I have no good excuse however (riding clipless for 1+ years) I think it was 1st race jitters. Glad you had fun...I think I'm addicted!!

  8. #8
    Big Damn Hero
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    I have to say that I was also surprised by the speed of the Cat 3 guys. There were loads of really fast riders out there. I will say that it feels like there were quite a few folks sandbagging a bit and probably should have been in Cat 2... but no big deal, they were out there to win.

    I was also surprised at how many people were in our class. I asked the guy at registration and he said there were 25ish... it was actually more than double that.

    I think if I could have clipped in faster I would have been able to finish better but oh well. Lessons learned and I think I'll be better prepped for the next time.

    I also registered for the GHORBA Short Track Series which starts on Saturday, which is a much different format but should be a blast!

    mtbscott, there definitely were some good sprints at the finish and that sand pit was gnarly!

  9. #9
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    I've had pretty much the same experience in cat 3. Plenty of sandbaggers and really fast starts.... Very humbling experience for the first season.

  10. #10
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnan3
    What i was most taken back by was the fact that ALL of the base class riders were fast!

    There were no "beginner cyclists."

    I dont expect to be able to keep up with these guys at all this season.

    Yes, the term "beginner" is a bit misleading. Some of those guys are regular riders and pretty darn fast.

    I think Cat 3 is more appropriate sounding

    Also, you will find sandbaggers in nearly all levels/fields imo..

  11. #11
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    I was in the same group, Cat 3 30-39. I ended up in 20th place, but there were about 10 of us that were less than a minute from each other. My wife said that when the winner came over the line, 6 minutes ahead of me, that there were several people yelling at him to Cat up. I'm sure he will after the Spring season, but there will be more fast guys to take his place. Cat 3 is tough because the people who ride there never know how fast they are until they start racing .

    The Big Ring challenge is a great race for your first time because there are very few technical challenges, but it's also terrible because it's super fast and the field stays very close together for most of the race. Try to make it to some of the other races where pure speed and endurance aren't as important.

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