I did my first mountain bike yesterday, and thought I would post a report to encourage anyone else who was thinking of trying it.
This was a toys for tot charity race at a nearby trail, so it wasn't as serious as it will be when the local series starts up next month but there was a good turnout. I went with 3 friends, one who is really good and the other two are beginners. And me I am 34, I started road riding 1 1/2 years ago and this fall some friends convinced me to get a mountain bike. I scored a used Cannondale F6 off ebay for cheap and have commensed beating myself up in woods.
The course started with a 100 yard run along the edge of a field the into the woods for about a 6 mile loop. The beginner classes did this twice, sport went 3 times and experts 4. Since I have been mountain biking for all of 2 months I signed up for the beginner class which had a nice variety of new guys and some sand baggers.
They staggered the start so the expert guys went out first, then sport, then we lined up. I have been riding with a guy who crushes people in the sport + class (he used to ride expert till he was 40) and he had recommended that I just find a comfortable pace and settle in and ride my own race. So I resisted the urge to sprint for the hole shot at the start and ended up going into the woods about mid pack (maybe 10 or 12 out of 20 or so).
Here is E North Cackilaki there are no mountains to bike on, but the club that built this trail has done a nice job of using what they have. The trail starts with a big bowl you make a few laps through, then mostly single track through the woods. Near the end there is a series of short but mean hills where they basically laid switchbacks up and down the hill instead of across it.
I started to worry a bit when after the first 1/2 mile the guy in front started to pull away. I got passed by another guy and was thinking that this was going to be embarrassing. But a quick glance behind showed no one in sight so I knew everyone was spreading out. I remembered my buddies advice and just settled into a good pace.
About 2 miles in is where the hills started and that is where I started catching people. My technique needs work through the trees, but my road riding fitness helps alot grinding up the hills. I saw a lot of people trying to grind too much gear and I was able to get passed them spinning away.
Compared to the road, it is strange to race in the woods because I really didn't know what place I was in. I passed a lot of people but some of them were from the sport class. There were a couple of really nice bikes in my class that I never saw again so I knew they were in front, but other than that I really didn't know if I was 3rd or tenth.
I started to tire a bit on the second lap, my pace was about the same but I was working harder for it. I started standing going up the hills and I ended up paying for it about 2 miles from the end. About half way up a hill both quads just locked up solid. I have been through this on century rides on the road so I knew it would hurt but I could ride through it. So I sat and started spinning and tried to relax my legs on the downhills instead of standing like I had been.
I made it through and was glad to see the woods open up into that field again! I was hoping there would be someone right with me so we could sprint to the finish but I was all alone. Turns out the guy in front of me was 2 minutes ahead and the next guy was 8 minutes behind me. I ended up either 4th or 5th (a bit of confusion at the scoring table) but more importantly I had a great time and learned a lot.
Incidentally, my buddy crushed the sport + field, he even passed all but one of the experts who started a minute ahead. I am sure he will catch some crap for sandbagging this year as well. I intend to keep trying to follow him through the woods, not that I expect to keep up but it is fun trying.
(wow, that rambled on a lot longer than I intended. I hope it helps someone else just starting out)
Good read. I don't intend to start racing or anything, but I enjoyed the read.. So your buddy was faster than everyone there but one guy, and he raced in the sport+ (which i assume means 'older sport'), or everyone but one in the expert +?? Intense, either way...
So your buddy was faster than everyone there but one guy, and he raced in the sport+ (which i assume means 'older sport'), or everyone but one in the expert +?? Intense, either way...
Yeah he raced in the sport 40+ class which started 1 min after the experts and he caught and passed all but one of them. He is pretty intense. Although to be fair, they raced an extra lap. (if he had he probably would have caught the last guy).
Riding with him is definitely making me push myself. Speaking of which, time to ride the rollers....