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Old 10-15-09, 07:47 AM   #1
ridethatbike
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Question 1st race swing thoughts

Some of you probably play golf and know what I mean by swing thoughts. I have my first race this weekend and apart from not knowing what the hell I'm getting myself into, what should I focus on whilst racing.

What do you guys think about while racing? A myriad of things or do you pare it down and keep it simple?

Just curious as I've always been into Sport Psych. I'm sure my mind will be a flutter of things.
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Old 10-15-09, 07:57 AM   #2
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Make sure you get to the race in plenty of time to inspect the course. If you can't pre-ride the course then walk around and get a look at it. Look at the lines the other riders are taking and where the barriers or any other obstacles. Then, for me, I try to remember these obstacles, while I'm racing and also, spots in the course where I can move up. But, for the most part, I'm focusing on my effort and the course; I hardly hear the bells and yelling.
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Old 10-15-09, 08:02 AM   #3
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If it's your first race, just be open to the experience. If you really want something to focus on, focus on not *****ing out on any of your remounts; no stutter-step, no cowboy-style.

Also, don't freak out the first time something goes wrong. For example, difficulty getting clipped back in. There will be moments of frustration, just get through them.
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Old 10-15-09, 08:09 AM   #4
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I would focus on just not giving up and moving forward
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Old 10-15-09, 08:19 AM   #5
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This is good question, because it all seems like a blur afterwards. I guess I think about energy meaning how I feel and what I have left in the tank.
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Old 10-15-09, 08:52 AM   #6
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Usually I'm just thinking to myself "alright, just bridge the gap to that guy. You can catch that guy he's only 15 seconds up." Then I start thinking "alright, you caught him, can you make it to the next guy?"

Last Sunday I had a fight with my girlfriend about 6 minutes before heading out to the door to the race (she didn't come cheer me on that race, believe it or not). I spent the race thinking about the fight and feeling sorry for myself and did piss poor in the end.
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Old 10-15-09, 08:59 AM   #7
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i did my 1st cx race last weekend. Like you I didn't know what to expect, only practiced dismounting/remounting a few times. I decided to not jump off the front at the start only because I didn't know what to expect, that was a mistake. Spent a good part of the first lap trying to pass people riding slowly, while losing time to the leaders. In the end still managed a top 10 in a field of over 35 racers.
I felt more comfortable the next day for part 2 of the race and shot off the front, much more comfortable to not be stuck in that clutter, finished outside the top 10, but the pace was 10x harder than the previous day.

Here is what i can remember from my weekend as a newbie:
- "In my tires I trust". Too often i would find myself being a chicken at the turns, i sometimes needed to remind myself that my tires are meant to grip and to not back off so much
- "i'm hurting, so is he". In the parts where we were "climbing" I could feel the pain, but I'm sure the other guys felt it too. Here is a good point to try and suffer a little more than the rest of the lap
-"tis better to walk the bike than fall". You will lose more time falling and getting back up, than dismounting and pushing your bike if something is questionable.
-"don't brake so hard". On hairpin drops I would see some guys hitting the brakes too hard and making them lose control. The bike wants to go forward, let it go, move your body back in the saddle a little and descend.

I also pre-road the course at a descent speed to get a feel for what to look out for, what kind of speed i need to hit certain turns at, etc...

Anyway, i'm sure everyone has different opinions/techniques on what works for them. Being it was my first cx race I was pleased with my results and the learning experience.

G'luck
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Old 10-15-09, 09:48 AM   #8
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During your warm-up make sure that you hit Z4 for a couple minutes. It's balls to the wall out the gate and if you are not properly warmed up there will be a lag in power that will cost you 10 minutes into the race.

While racing look ahead to the next trun, obstacle etc... It is a long race and not just what is going on in front of your wheel.

During the race make mental notes of where you are faster than other guys. Use those areas to your advantage to recover or attack.

Before any barrier tell yourself to "relax", "get off the bike before the barrier" and "take the extra step" when you clear the last of the barrier before mounting. Rushing through barriers is not good.

Spending a little energy to bridge up to a rider ahead is good. If you are spent, then follow his wheel for a bit to recover. If you can pass the guy do so before a place where he can't pass you right back. Later in the race many riders are done (in B and C) and will not attempt to race with you once you pass them.

Try to ride as smooth as possible during the race. It's hard to concentrate on riding smooth but that will save energy and allow for better handling, dismounts and mounts. If you feel yourself going too deep into the red zone, back off just a little to recover, just remember it may take a minute or so for the body to come back.

On bumpy ground put the bike in a larger gear and keep a light grip on the bar to keep from jostling.
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Old 10-15-09, 11:01 AM   #9
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Focus on being smooth and powering out of technical sections to get up to speed quickly. If you can be smooth in the technical sections and fast on the fast sections, then race placement should come naturally.
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Old 10-15-09, 11:09 AM   #10
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During your warm-up make sure that you hit Z4 for a couple minutes. It's balls to the wall out the gate and if you are not properly warmed up there will be a lag in power that will cost you 10 minutes into the race.

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that is good advice
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Old 10-15-09, 11:13 AM   #11
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I have no idea what "swing thoughts" are.

Most of my mental energy seems to be spent looking at the section of the course immediately in front of me and figuring out what I'm going to do with it, whether that's deciding how hard I can cut a turn on loose gravel or finding the best place to plant my foot on a run-up.

Other than that, here are some actual things I remember thinking during last night's race:

"Wow, third lap and the women haven't caught me yet" (The B women are fast and shouldn't be allowed to race with the C men.)
"Don't throw up" (Frequently repeated toward the end of the race.)
"Am I really about to lap someone?" (I did--a first for me--and notice that this comes after the first occurrence of "Don't throw up")
"I need more cowbell" (Cowbell is what gets you up run-ups when muscle and adrenaline have failed.)
"I'm going too fast to make this turn" (thought just before I flipped myself over the handlebars)
"Last lap, I'm going all out now" (It turns out it actually wasn't the last lap.)
"How can I possibly do another lap?" (Somehow I did and still managed to sprint at the finish.)

Anyway, check out the "Tips for Newbies" sticky thread, and be sure to update it with some tips of your own after you race.
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Old 10-15-09, 11:40 AM   #12
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You guys are all great. Thanks so much.

I'll be sure to let you know how I do. I'm just out to not DFL and learn as much as I can. I'm just really getting back into racing and riding in general after being out of it for a few years, so I have tempered my expectations a bit. I'm sure my heart rate will hit 103% at some point, and it's ALL GOOD.
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Old 10-15-09, 12:09 PM   #13
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Don't let your mind wander (mine does all the time). I go faster when I'm paying attention to the guy ahead of me - trying to get a yard closer in whatever section is at hand.
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Old 10-15-09, 12:22 PM   #14
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So would it be nutty to enter a race as a C4 on an old beater unsuspended mountain bike? There's a race in a couple of weeks that looks like it would be a blast but I don't have a bike for it other than the 15 year old aformentioned ride. Not looking to place for sure, but I'd love to go out and race in the mud.
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Old 10-15-09, 12:25 PM   #15
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So would it be nutty to enter a race as a C4 on an old beater unsuspended mountain bike? There's a race in a couple of weeks that looks like it would be a blast but I don't have a bike for it other than the 15 year old aformentioned ride. Not looking to place for sure, but I'd love to go out and race in the mud.
Not nutty at all. What would be nutty is not racing just because you don't have the perfect bike for it.
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Old 10-15-09, 12:53 PM   #16
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If guys can ride flat bar single speeds (okay not great on hilly courses), then you'll be fine.

If you're looking for changes, maybe you want to look at your tires and decide if they're appropriate - my old hardtail beater has giant knobbies on it. For a race you might want something a bit narrower, but it all depends.
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Old 10-15-09, 01:07 PM   #17
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If guys can ride flat bar single speeds (okay not great on hilly courses), then you'll be fine.

If you're looking for changes, maybe you want to look at your tires and decide if they're appropriate - my old hardtail beater has giant knobbies on it. For a race you might want something a bit narrower, but it all depends.
I've got slicks on it now. It was my college "bomb around town and frighten tourists" bike. Time to dust if off and see if the cranks still spin!
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Old 10-15-09, 01:33 PM   #18
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Racing with slicks might be a little nutty -- still better than not racing, IMO.
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Old 10-15-09, 07:46 PM   #19
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throughout a race my inner monologue goes somthing like this:

"go faster!!! what the $%&@ are you waiting for?!?"

"turn over those pedals faster, mother$#@*er!!!"

"$#%& that was close!"

"trust your bike."

"oh $#&%!!! i can't clip in!! #$&%!!!!"

"gogogogogogogogogogogogo!!! GOOOOOOO!!!!"

"don'tuseyourbrakesdon'tuseyourbrakesdon'tuseyourbrakes! what the $&#@ are you doing!?!?! don'tuseyour#$&@ingbrakes!!!"
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Old 10-16-09, 09:41 AM   #20
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Try to not be DFL - again
Don't get lapped by everyone in the field
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Old 10-16-09, 10:14 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by dlbcx View Post
Make sure you get to the race in plenty of time to inspect the course. If you can't pre-ride the course then walk around and get a look at it. Look at the lines the other riders are taking and where the barriers or any other obstacles. Then, for me, I try to remember these obstacles, while I'm racing and also, spots in the course where I can move up. But, for the most part, I'm focusing on my effort and the course; I hardly hear the bells and yelling.
Perfect!

The only thing I would add is focus on efficiency. Focus on using both legs, focus on pedaling round circles, that sort of thing.
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Old 10-16-09, 11:25 AM   #22
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Try to not be DFL - again
Don't get lapped by everyone in the field
I got lapped by everyone in the field in my first race. The last guy passed me with about 100 yards to go. I later found out he was riding with a flat tire when he passed me.

Anyway, DFL isn't as bad as it sounds. It's way better than not racing at all. Plus, there are usually a handful of DNFs to boost you up the standings.
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Old 10-18-09, 07:00 AM   #23
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Not nutty at all. What would be nutty is not racing just because you don't have the perfect bike for it.
this is the advice i keep getting and i at least have a 2004 mtb gone rigid with drop bar ends...a true monstrosity, but it's running well with the smaller quasi-knobbies i have. if some other bike doesn't fall into my lap by november, i'll be riding that.

and FATROADIE...what IS your cx bike going to be? i do think i will have to try and not focus on the fact i am a mtb rider and everyone there watching will know it...
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Old 10-18-09, 06:45 PM   #24
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I have a Salsa Chili Con Crosso, it's my only steed right now. I think there is a pic of it in the bike pic thread. I raced today, I'll write up what happened tomorrow. I'm nearly too tired to type and I'm enjoying the feeling of biofreeze over my thighs and lower back.
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Old 10-20-09, 08:55 AM   #25
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i do think i will have to try and not focus on the fact i am a mtb rider and everyone there watching will know it...
don't worry about being a mtb rider and 'everyone knowing it'. the cool thing about cross is that mountain bikers, roadies, and cross goonies all get together to mix it up and no one really seems to care what the outcome is as long you're having fun.

being a mountain biker is definitely an advantage. in the 4's, c's, beginners, etc. i notice lots of racers being super timid in the turns or technical sections, which i suspect is from no dirt riding experience. find your line and pass them!
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