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  1. #1
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    Entering my first race, advice please...

    I've decided to enter into a mt. race, first time i've ever been in one. I'll be in the beginners category, so i figure if I do something wrong, it won't be a huge fallout. Any advice would be greatly appreciated (Equipment to bring, trail etiquette) or any other suggestions. FYI its Bump n' Grind in Birmingham. http://www.bumpngrindrace.com/ Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
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    Go over your bike and pack the night before. Bring a pump, a folding chair, tools, tube, post race change of clothes and most importantly, some post race brews. Get a good nights sleep. Have a solid breakfast (I always prefer real oatmeal with bananas and honey). Hydrate. Check your tire pressure. Warm up before the race. Hydrate. Bring some snacks with you (Goo, power shots). Hydrate. Pee. Pace yourself at the start. Pick em off 1 x 1. Do your gear changes before the hill and accelerate up those suckers, Don't clog the middle of the trail if you stop. Move over for faster riders or you will be moved. Hydrate. Have Fun!!

  3. #3
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    Yeah I have my first race this sunday, I'm a bit nervous as well. It's a six mile local course with 1400 feet of climbing per lap. I'm running in beginner so it's only one lap but I'm worried about roasting all my energy early since I'll be running my single speed (only bike).

  4. #4
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    If you aint first.. your last!

    jk.. rest, eat well, and pace yourself.

  5. #5
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    no dairy pre-race. learned the hard way

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcufari
    no dairy pre-race. learned the hard way

    FRAAAAPaccino.

  7. #7
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    Have fun.

  8. #8
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    #1 rule: Have fun.
    #2 rule: Boy Scout motto "be prepared". Bike in good condition... tires to your preferred pressure... don't have any changes to the bike in the week before the race... bring your favorite hydration... bring the tool kit and a workstand... spare tube, CO2, multi-tool and a SRAM powerlink in a jersey pocket if you are the refuse to DNF type...
    #3 rule: Have fun.

    BTW - If it were me, I'd skip bringing Gu or shot blocks, etc during the race... at Cat 3, it will be over before you have time to think about putting anything other than water in your mouth. Load up about 15 minutes before they fire the gun, then pedal like you stole it... and have fun...

  9. #9
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    Odd little detail: Do some practice starts and figure out what gear (front and rear) you want to be in at the start line. When you are being staged, go ahead and get in that gear so you'll be the right gear when the start gun or whistle goes off.

    Most races stage groups by age categories (for example, Cat 3, 30-39).
    Look around and note the faces of the people in your age group category. Those are the people you are actually racing against. In our races, the racer's category is also written on the back of the calf, so you can see someone ahead and know if they are in your age group.

    Get very clear on the etiquette of passing and being passed, since it is likely that both will happen in the course of the race. It is important to handle both scenarios well.

    The race series here in Texas has a clinic for first-time racers on the day before the race; check to see if your race has one.

    Think strategically about the race course. How much time does the group have to get sorted out before the single track begins? Are there areas that open up into double track or a wider section of trail that are natural places to pass or take a moment to drink some water or take some gel on board? Know where those are and what you want to do (if anything) when you get there.

    I have huge respect for racers who deal with adversity on the trail (flat tire, chain suck, whatever) and go on to finish the race. Sometimes the problem is of a magnitude that you just can't finish (wheel failure, broken frame), but try not to DNF.

    No matter what kind of a race you have, look good crossing the finish line!

    Some general etiquette here: http://nencycling.org/wiki/mtb_racing_etiquette

  10. #10
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    drink a ton of water the night before.. eat a few hours before the race, have fun.. you will get the hang of hearing the other riders pass you.. just let them go by.. 6 miles will go by quick so you can pretty much kill it out of the start and through the climb!! have fun on the down hill!
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  11. #11
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    get good and drunk the night before!

    always works for me. lol

    6 miles ? **** sprint all the way, you can get tired when it's over and your slammin your post race beer.

    a miller light or blue ribbin pre ride (yes pre) is good to get the pre race nervs and burps out and loosens the legs. just one though, or half.
    nothing heavy!

    banana nut waffles are good "early" food. at least a couple hours before race time.
    slam a couple hammer gels some sport legs and sprint your azz off!

  12. #12
    Rod
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    Don't do any changes before the race to the bike.

    Pack the night before.

    Bring any tools and chain lube

    Eat what you normally eat before you ride with enough time so you do not get sick.

    Pace yourself

    Finish strong

    Chill and chat
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  13. #13
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    Don't sweat it. You're really just riding with a bunch of like minded individuals who are mostly out to have fun.
    If it ain't fun it ain't worth it.
    But if you get a chance, kick some butt!

  14. #14
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    Best advice I ever got was to hydrate well a week in advance to the race. Along with eating a proper diet daily leading up to the race. It's up to you if you wish to carb load for the race or not.

    During the race it's very easy to forget to hydrate, DONT forget to hydrate during a race. Drink loads of water during the race and save your energy for that last podium determining climb.

  15. #15
    turtles make me hot
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    I can't believe this was left open....

    Ride REALLY fast.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist.
    I like turtles

  16. #16
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    Do not blow yourself up on the climbs! I race cat 3 also...(only because there is no cat 4!) be aggressive as possible on the climbs but make sure you have lungs and legs left when you get to the top! There is no need for gu or gels in most cat 3 races due to the length, so don't worry about that. Realize that your hr is going to be elevated way before you start, so you will be a bit tired at first, but you will get over that quickly. Remember, this is for fun and you will learn tons about riding and yourself, so just approach it as a very fast group ride and enjoy it!
    "The good news is you're still conscious, the bad is that you're too heavy for me to carry. You gotta ride it out bro."

  17. #17
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    One very important thing that I have not seen mentioned yet, know the rules. Odds are whoever is promoting the event will have a website with a link to whatever rules they follow or fall under. I have directed two events and getting ready to put on a third. Not too many problems, but there always seems to be someone that had some issue because they had no idea about the rules or guidelines for the event. Getting an email a week after the event to dispute their results or watching a CAT2 racer asking other racers for tools to fix a mechanical in the middle of their race.

    The other thing to keep in mind, "beginner" is a relative term. I have no idea of your history, but unless you have been spending time with someone or a group of racers during their regular training rides and they have been able to give you feedback on where stand, most riders on their first event find that the majority out front in the CAT3 group are hardly beginners. Go hard and pushing slightly over your comfort level is part of the game, but keep it real. Its only 6 miles, but if you are not used to going 110% the entire 6 miles while trying to catch the guys out front, blowing junks at the 4 mile mark and feeling sick the rest of the day is not going to make your first race a pleasant memory.

  18. #18
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    do a warm up. rest those legs for a few and you should be lined up warm and ready. don't try and pull outta the "garage" pinned with your engine cold! There is no recovery period in 6miles! haha. Seriously, you can't have fun if you are not prepared. All the advice posted is all good so know your mindset and goal and have fun! As a post race evaluation, if you can, maybe pick one or two standout weaknesses you noticed and work on them specifically for your next race. the atmosphere alone should have you stoked! have a great time!

  19. #19
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    Yeah good luck dude keep us posted! Question for you. What type of training have you been doing besides riding to prepare yourself for racing? I too have been playing with the idea of entering my first race.

  20. #20
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    Good luck. Have fun. Pre-Ride the course and eat a few hours before the race. I learned the hard way in one of my 1st races by eating right before the start. I celebrated by blowing chunks all over the finish line in front of a few hundred people. Good times.

  21. #21
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    throw down two 30 mg aderols washed down with a quad shot americano about an hour before the gun goes off...you'll come out of the gates like those bulls chasing people down the narrow cobblestone streets of Spain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmctav23
    throw down two 30 mg aderols washed down with a quad shot americano about an hour before the gun goes off...you'll come out of the gates like those bulls chasing people down the narrow cobblestone streets of Spain.

    Now that is funny... But true...lol

  23. #23
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    The pros really do have espresso machines in the team trailers...

    Anyway, look at your first race as a learning experience. No matter what you're told beforehand, it's pretty much out the door when the gun goes off. Then, during the race, when your lungs are heaving and your legs are burning and you don't think you can turn the cranks one more time, you'll remember all the advice and realize that you need to calm down and settle into the pace, especially since you're only 1/2 mile from the start.

  24. #24
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    Oh, and have fun... After all, what good is it to pay to ride if you're not enjoying it?

  25. #25
    holding back the darkness
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    First race?
    Go pretty minimal. Ask 100 people and you'll get 100 variations on the theme.
    Bring 1 water bottle. It's six miles. How often do you go through more than that when you ride?
    Bring 1 SRAM quicklink.
    Something with 4,5,6mm hexes... the Park MT-1 is about as simple/light as they get.
    Maybe bring a CO2 inflator/cartridge... maybe not. If flats are typically not a problem in six miles you might forego it.
    That's it.
    That stuff (with the addition of 1 water bottle and a can of fix-a-flat) is what I bring on 100 mile races.

    Absolutely DO NOT take it too seriously. You need no other advice. Don't let anyone (or thing) in your head. Just go ride fast. The racing part will come later.
    **** censorship

  26. #26
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    Thanks for all the info and advice! Much appreciated. I've been riding with a guy who has done a few in the past so i've gotten some "hands on" tips as well. I also found out that the Cat 3 is 8 miles (not much difference). I'm contemplating the Cat 2 which is 20 miles and does the full Loop. I'm not really worried about placing as much finishing a challenge. I feel like the 8 mile course may go by so fast, i'll get done and say "that's it?". I'll certainly be in shape by June since I bike a few times a week along with running and weight training. I guess I'll decide as the time nears. thanks again.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by nealman1
    ...I'm contemplating the Cat 2 which is 20 miles and does the full Loop. I'm not really worried about placing as much finishing a challenge. I feel like the 8 mile course may go by so fast, i'll get done and say "that's it?"...
    Well in that case, I'd say go for the CAT 2 race! If you are out there to finish a challenge then the 20 mile one will do it. 8 mile will get your HR up but at then end you'll feel that the sub hour ride wasn't quite worth the fee... The 20 mile course will definitely be the better option if your fitness is up to it. Longer race and simply more fun, but definitely don't expect/try to podium in CAT 2 if its your first race. CAT 2 top 3-5 guys tends to have times equivalent to CAT 1 top 10 riders....

  28. #28
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by nealman1
    Thanks for all the info and advice! Much appreciated. I've been riding with a guy who has done a few in the past so i've gotten some "hands on" tips as well. I also found out that the Cat 3 is 8 miles (not much difference). I'm contemplating the Cat 2 which is 20 miles and does the full Loop. I'm not really worried about placing as much finishing a challenge. I feel like the 8 mile course may go by so fast, i'll get done and say "that's it?". I'll certainly be in shape by June since I bike a few times a week along with running and weight training. I guess I'll decide as the time nears. thanks again.
    I don't want to misinterpret, but are you saying completing a 20 mile loop in and of itself will be a challenge? If so I'd recommend the Cat 3. I think you'll find plenty of challenge even in the shorter race anyway. As long as there are people to pass you'll have challenge. You'll be riding at a sustained intensity that you just don't encounter during regular rides with friends. I don't know how fit you are, but in general if you have the legs you keep trying to pass people and you can end up being pretty worked in 8 miles if you're pushing it harder the whole time than you ever have before. As long as you're in the pack somewhere and you can see someone to try to catch, you'll be challenged. If you find yourself off the front in the Cat 3 and on top of the podium at the end of the race, then you should have done the Cat 2. I would worry more about being off the back of the pack, in last place in the Cat 2 just waiting for it to be over. In that case you may as well have just ridden the course on your own and saved $30. If you don't pass anyone, it won't feel all that challenging either.

    Also, now that it's Cat 3,2,1, do they let you just enter Cat 2 or do you have to earn so many finishes to move up as with road?

    Regardless, have fun. It's an impressive feeling to push yourself that hard for so long. It's just not a typical experience in our modern lives. It's a learning experience for sure too.
    Fall is here. Woo-hoo!

  29. #29
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    our "team frosty" mantra with rookies as well as veterans...just get to the cooler before the beer is warm! and that is strictly for personal benefit and enjoyment!! that is all we ask of our team riders.

  30. #30
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    They still do the Johnson's Mountain loop twice for the beginner's race at Bump n' Grind, right? Recomend preriding the night before if you can, because they often change up the route through the rock garden and you're better off without a suprise if you're used to the route.

    Most of all, have a blast!
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    This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by nealman1
    Thanks for all the info and advice! Much appreciated. I've been riding with a guy who has done a few in the past so i've gotten some "hands on" tips as well. I also found out that the Cat 3 is 8 miles (not much difference). I'm contemplating the Cat 2 which is 20 miles and does the full Loop. I'm not really worried about placing as much finishing a challenge. I feel like the 8 mile course may go by so fast, i'll get done and say "that's it?". I'll certainly be in shape by June since I bike a few times a week along with running and weight training. I guess I'll decide as the time nears. thanks again.

    Don't let your ego get ahead of your abilities. Learn what it is like to race XC.

    When you normally ride 20 miles without stopping, then try racing it.

  32. #32
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    I've only raced casually a few times. All this is good stuff.

    One mistake I made is when somebody was right behind me, I was still going at race pace but I'd pull over to let them pass...without being asked...I was being overly nice/too conscientious . This screwed up my pace. More than once, they were happy to remain behind me keeping pace.

    People will have no problem telling you when they want to pass.
    2004 GF Cake 2DLX

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by nealman1
    I've decided to enter into a mt. race, first time i've ever been in one. I'll be in the beginners category, so i figure if I do something wrong, it won't be a huge fallout. Any advice would be greatly appreciated (Equipment to bring, trail etiquette) or any other suggestions. FYI its Bump n' Grind in Birmingham. http://www.bumpngrindrace.com/ Thanks for any help.

    After a 10 year break I'll be racing the bump race. The beginner course is actually awesome. The ride up the road is much shorter than when I raced it. On the road I usually just try and keep up with the leaders. Then I ride my own race. In the woods I try and pick off the ones I can on the climb. Then on the downhill they drop like flys if you have good skills. On the flat/moderate stuff I just try and pick off riders best I can. Alot of riders will gladly let you by if you let them know you're not in their class. You want to be able to suffer yet still be having fun. There is a line you want be right on the edge of it......
    Don't let other riders intimidate you. Most of the riders that look faster than you probably aren't.LOL.
    On another note the bump race such an awesome event. These people really have it together. Some of my best riding memories are from the BNG. You have 2 goals for the weekend. Post a finish YOU are proud of, and HAVE FUN! Remember this is just you're first race and winning is great but it's not everything. Having fun,making yourself proud is.

    What age class will you be in? Where are you from?
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by stover
    Good luck. Have fun. Pre-Ride the course and eat a few hours before the race. I learned the hard way in one of my 1st races by eating right before the start. I celebrated by blowing chunks all over the finish line in front of a few hundred people. Good times.
    I've done that too, I kept going hoping when I came back they wouldn't realize it was me.... I also did it at the top of Johnsons mountain as well. Don't be a wuss and stop to puke. Just puke off to the side and keep on truckin.LOL.

  35. #35
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    I am interested in the BUMp race but I have a question. What is the size/weight limit to be in the beginner clyde class?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by High Side
    I am interested in the BUMp race but I have a question. What is the size/weight limit to be in the beginner clyde class?

    Around my neck of the woods its 200lbs and those guys race the Sport class distances........

  37. #37
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    Just to clarify, zippveedub's race is 6 miles. The BUMP race is 8.5 in the beginner class. It is an awesome course.The beginner course: About a mile or so paved road up and down and back up again to Johnson's mtn. A long rolling climb followed by a fast technical downhill, climbing back up through mr toads and foreplay turning onto the family trail leading into rattlesnake ridge which is some light short climbs through some twisting single track with several short fast sections in between and some log crossings,and back down the wider rolling lake trail.
    It has it all fairly long climbs, good downhill, fast singletrack, short climbs, rocks, sand, and very fun for all skill levels.

  38. #38
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    Here's Johnson's mtn from the top going down. This is from yesterday.

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/v...48710&comments

  39. #39
    The White Jeff W
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    Try to have a good poop before you leave the house.
    No moss...

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironlegsracer
    Just to clarify, zippveedub's race is 6 miles. The BUMP race is 8.5 in the beginner class. It is an awesome course.The beginner course: About a mile or so paved road up and down and back up again to Johnson's mtn. A long rolling climb followed by a fast technical downhill, climbing back up through mr toads and foreplay turning onto the family trail leading into rattlesnake ridge which is some light short climbs through some twisting single track with several short fast sections in between and some log crossings,and back down the wider rolling lake trail.
    It has it all fairly long climbs, good downhill, fast singletrack, short climbs, rocks, sand, and very fun for all skill levels.
    WHen you say "fast techincal downhill" are you only talking about Blood Rock, or more specifically, the one rocky switchback part? I have ridden Oak Mtn several times and that was the only place I dabbed.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by High Side
    WHen you say "fast techincal downhill" are you only talking about Blood Rock, or more specifically, the one rocky switchback part? I have ridden Oak Mtn several times and that was the only place I dabbed.
    No, if you really hit Johnson's mtn fast I call it technical because it gets pretty hairy going fast. Blood rock is the most technical part of the old stuff. The new trail up top is very technical too. I haven't seen anything about the new trail being part of the race loop. It's brand new and I'm not sure it's complete yet. Johnson's going slow is not hard but if you brung up the speed it can be pretty sketchy. I'm sure for alot of people Oak mtn is not technical at all.

  42. #42
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    my first cat3 race was all fun for me but i learned a lot in those 15 miles. that day i was overly nice when it came to passing people, i did the whole pace yourself thing and that put me in the woods about 20 deep with a bunch of noob riders and older overweight men.

    my 2nd cat3 race - i drank a beer 15-20 min before time, had a smoke and rolled to the line(my normal routine before a ride). i lined up on the front row, i hammered out of the gate to get to the woods ahead of as many people as i could. i spent a lot of energy to do that but at least i didnt have to pick off the slower riders in the woods. i the woods i got behind a guy who was pushing a good pace for me to rode his race for a few miles then i started to lean on him (i like to whistle and talk to get into a persons head) a mile or 2 from the finish i asked for a pass and took off. i finished 2nd that day. 1st finished like 7 min ahead of me.

  43. #43
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    Well I got through my first race, finished 3rd in the combined men/high school beginner. Got first in men's, the kid who finished first in all the beginners was 25min ahead of me and 2nd place was maybe a minute in front of me. I feel like the winner should have been in sport but w/e, it's just a bike race. The race was in light snow and 30 degree temps so that made it interesting, but overall I enjoyed it. Thanks for the tips, one I'll add is don't get really excited when you get a good shot out of the gate and then run off the trail in the first turn, you look like a tool and loose all the spots you had gotten haha

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    I don't know how many people will be in your class, but my first race their were only 13. I found myself by myself in the woods alot. I finished midpack but I didn't have anyone to chase down or anyone pushing me. A couple of times I caught myself slacking off. I had to keep telling myself this was a race and there might be someone just out of eyesight.
    If ya ain't bleedin'...ya ain't ridin'.

  45. #45
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    pre ride.
    "my cat's breath smells like catfood."
    -ralph wiggum

  46. #46
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    Thats gonna be my first race too! I cant decide on cat 3 or 2 though. I heard from someone that Cat 3 wasnt exactly the most challenging race. I actually heard that a "slow" guy won it a few years back. The guy i talked to said he was "slow" twice for emphasis. lol

    And if im gonna drive all the way up to Bham, i wanna get all i can out of it.

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    Yeah, I have decided on the Cat 2. I have heard as well that that Cat 3 is too short and not as entertaining. Of course, I don't plan on being close to the winner's circle, so my goal is to finish in decent time. I love close to Oak so am out there all the time and should be ready to go by the race. Can't wait to get out there and check out the environment.

  48. #48
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    181
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999
    I don't know how many people will be in your class, but my first race their were only 13. I found myself by myself in the woods alot. I finished midpack but I didn't have anyone to chase down or anyone pushing me. A couple of times I caught myself slacking off. I had to keep telling myself this was a race and there might be someone just out of eyesight.
    Some things come with the experience of racing. Use all of your senses to figure out where you and other riders are. If it's dusty I can usually see some dust in the air left by the rider in front of me. Listen for people cheering ahead or behind you to indicate if there is someone near. You might also hear a 'thump thump' every time someone crosses a log. Believe it or not I've actually smelled a rider ahead of me once. They must have had a dryer sheet stuck in their jersey.

    But the best way for me is to ride the heart rate monitor. I pick a heart rate zone and try to stay in it. If I start slacking off my heart rate drops. So I kick in up a notch to try to maintain a strong/fast pace.

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