Mountain Bike Racing - 5th place frustration
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08-22-06, 06:42 PM
I am in my second year of racing now and am having pretty good results. I have only been riding for just over two years and before that my favourite sport was beer drinking and watching TV.
Most of the races I enter have between 30 and 100 people in my class and my results have improved from 13th-17th last year to consistently finishing in 5th or 6th place. A good result no doubt but dammit there are no prizes for 5th place and over here there are no points unless you race semi-pro or pro.
I just gotta make up that 1 minute which is usually the difference between top three and 5th place.
How can you dig deeper when it already hurts and you're riding so hard that you feel like vomiting? I need some kind of secret trick or mental boost to make up that 1 minute.
What helps me the most is knowing that everyone else is hurting just as bad as I am. The guys in front of me are just willing to hurt a little more that day. The guys behind me aren't willing to hurt as bad as me. A lot of times I just do my best to shift up one more gear and keep the same cadence going. Once I get on top of the gear it doesn't hurt any extra, I'm just going a little bit faster.
One other thing I'm working on is trying to maintain my speed a more than I am comfortable with. I work to hard for that speed to let my brakes steel all of it from me.
Take this all with a grain of salt, I keep getting bridesmaid honor's, haven't been the bride yet in sport. It is coming soon though.
08-22-06, 09:47 PM
What kind of competition are you racing against where you are?
ie. How many people in your class?
How big are the gaps between 1st and 10th?
What is the time difference between 1st place in Sport and 1st in Semi-pro?
Over here we only have three categories.
In the last race I was only five minutes off the overall winner and the winner in my category (Sport/Senior) was third overall. Out of 189 riders in the race I was 20th. It was a 20km mixed ashphalt/fire road race. The fire roads are often pretty hairy with lots of big bumps, streams, loose rock and mud. Unfortunately that is the most common type of course over here. I finished in 46:05. The first 5 miles were up a long mountain with the rest pretty flat or downhill and the last 3 miles up a moderate grade.
I'm just trying to get some basis for comparison between here and there regarding the quality of the competition and the format of the courses as I only started racing over here.
What LowCel says about learning to carrying speed is a very good point. If you can, try to pick up an occasional training partner who is also a downhiller (provided they are decent at XC too :)). In trying to keep up, you will learn the little things about how to carry more speed through corners, rollers, rough sections, etc. It might give you a totally different way of looking at how to attack technical sections.
I know this because, when I go on XC trail rides on my hardtail, there are many places where I find I'm coasting more and maintaining the same speed as the other riders in the group who are pedalling much more than I am.
Good luck. It really sounds like you're doing very well; be patient with your progress and proud of how far you've come.
08-23-06, 10:48 PM
Ya, you can be in great shape but if you don't know flow then you'll go slow.
Improve the bike handling skillz.
08-24-06, 04:15 PM
The advice I would give you is pedal hard all the time, through every bump, over every hill. People tend to climb hard up a hill and then go easy over the top, no...you need to be going all out right back down that hill. Every opportunity you have to pedal hard when other people are trying to recover even a little bit will get you that five minutes at the end of a race. The only time when no pedaling is aloud is when you need to slow down to maintain control on a descent.
08-24-06, 06:45 PM
The unfortunate thing I was mentioning was that most of the race courses are on fire roads over here. The bumpy technical stuff is not too bad. I actually go with a bunch of lazy downhill types and practise on Saturdays once in a while. There are not many actual MTB courses for racing. The real problem for me is all of these 140 pound little Korean guys on 20 pound bikes who can almost fly up the hills. On the downhill stuff my weight advantage serves me well and I'm only 165 pounds.
I have to agree with the pedal, pedal, pedal thing. It is a bad habit that I take it easy over the top of the hill because the climbs are killer. Like 12% over 5 miles sometimes. That is where I definitely lose some of my time.
I really appreciate all the advice and encouragement.
08-28-06, 09:03 PM
so a class with 100 racers only pays only the top 3...wtf is up with that? Either those three guys are living like rock stars, or the greedy race organizers are.
Seriously though, just keep at it by going to every race you can. Chances are that the same small group of guys shows up for every race and ends up winning every time. If the gap is only a minute at the end, you should be able to go all out to hang with the leaders at the beginning. This will build your physical strength and pain tolerance. you might blow up early on, but if there's no difference between 5th and last, then just write it off as a learning experience. Try to stay tight with the leaders as long as you can and learn their strengths and weaknesses, then you can know to drop the sprinters on a climb, bomb past pure climbers on a technical descent, etc. Plus if you hang tight with these guys, you can follow their lines and really make your move if they make a mistake or have a mechanical. Also, nobody is perfect all the time. some of the top riders are bound to have bad days, so if you're there on that day, the podium spot will be yours. To summarize: Ride harder, ride smarter, and ride often!
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