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  1. #1
    Nikon Nemisis Hawkphoto's Avatar
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    XC Racing, Where do I start?

    Hey everyone,

    I just shaved my legs and I'm ready to enter my first race! Where can I get information on mountain bike races in California, and how to enter them? What type of training should I be doing? What should I know before I take the leap?...

    Any and All help will be greatly appreciated! This forum is amazing!

    Peace and Love,

    Mike
    "I WIll Shoot You On Site!" ;)

  2. #2
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    HI Hawk,

    Welcome to the forums. I personally think that your first race should be about getting out there and having a laugh. Enjoy it, and you'll certainly be coming back for more.

    When I first started out, my training was just going out with my mates on a weekend ride. I entered the Junior class event and finished in 30th place. It was a great laugh, and I relived the event with my friends sharing stories of brave attacks and nasty wipeouts.

    If racing is for you, then after the first few, you'll find if you like it, and can get into more serious training from there on.

    Good luck, and have a blast!

    Rich.

    p.s. You'll probably find that there's a few Cyclo-cross races coming up in your area, they're usually easy to enter (on the line so to speak), and it only lasts an hour You're local bike shop should be able to give you information on local races.
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  3. #3
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Mike,

    as far as races in Northen Cali, i can't help there, but i am sure there are some different groups that put on races. i'd suggest a search on the web or try NORBA.

    the MTB XC race season is winding to an end - about 2 weeks left here and my race this weekend may be cancelled b/c of snow (highest point 1900m and snow yesterday down to 700m) -- but the season may run alittle longer where you live.

    if there aren't any XC races left, you either have to wait until April for next season or try Cyclecross. I personally think Cyclcross is fun, but it's wet and cold and includes more "pain and suffering" than XC so for a first-timer it might be better to start XC if you can. (it's just nicer to ride in warm weather than sunshine rather than cold and rain, but then you live in a different place)

    as for training, there is almost always a beginner class where they race a reduced course w/ no major technical stuff, huge downhills or monster climbs. these are usally something between 4 and 15 miles in length and if you ride 3+ hours more than a few times a month, you should have no problem completing this OK.

    for racing, there is all kind of advice... don't necessarily try and stay with the front group but ride your own race and don't let all the hype and stuff get you nervous or worked up... drink water for 1-2 hours before the race to be hydrated... after a few races you can think about better training and more race strategy
    why drive when you can ride?
    now a fully certified German MTB Guide! (DAV)

  4. #4
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Mike,

    Sometimes the biggest obstacle to racing is finding races. You're at a disadvantage now, since the XC season is nearly over. If you're lucky you may be able to find a race or two.

    Where to look:

    1) USA Cycling's web page has an events search page where all registered XC, road, cyclocross, etc. events are listed by location. You can find it .here.

    2) VeloNews, the magazine for cycling sports, has a large calendar section in the back by region. If racing interests you, VN is a must-have.

    3) Your LBS (local bike shop) may have info on upcoming local races.

    4) Cycling clubs will have racers as members and you can find info through them.

    5) The internet. Poke around. Search and surf. You'll find stuff.

    6) Ski areas are frequent sponsors of NORBA races here on the east coast. They're probably spooling up for the ski season now, but next spring keep checking with them, especially if they've hosted races in the past

    Good luck!

    Woody

  5. #5
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    Bike groups will have races listed on their websites, but probably not a complete list. Do an internet search for bike groups in your area and go through their event list and the list on any local site they link to. Try looking through the affiliate groups page on http://www.imba.com to start.

    You might find that a few races will be local and others will be a few hours' drive away. Start on the local ones and see what you think before making a long trek. Read the course descriptions carefully before committing. You might find that a particular race doesn't have a course that really excites you or fits your experience, so it wouldn't be worth the long drive.

    As for training, get in a good amount of road miles as well as trail miles and terrain expereince. The road miles will improve your endurance as they work your leg muscles a lot faster than twisty singletrack. I've ridden with some really strong XC riders who do little if any road time, but they ride trails almost daily. The ones who ride 30, 50 and more miles on the road (a lot easier to do on the road than on the trail) put in fast times in team relays.

    Remember to get on the bike regularly, especially in the weeks before a race. You'll soon find that a beginner-class race feels like nothing.

    In the days before a race, take your diet seriously. It won't make or break you, but you shouldn't be chomping on chips and greasy foods when you plan to ask a lot of your body. Eat lots of carbs (pasta, fruits, nuts, bread), with some fat and protein. Eat a good-sized meal the night before and a few hours before the race. The closer you are to racetime, the smaller the meal your allowed because of digestion time. Before a race, you should only have a snack. Maybe a banana to stave off cramping.

    Drink plenty of fluids before and during the race, but not a lot at one time. Some people say that causes a stomach ache for them. Personally, I like to sip frequently. And drink a good amount after the race.

    20-60 minutes after a race, get in another good meal. Lots of pasta and protein. You have a window when your body wants to get to work fixing internal damage from the exertion. You should refuel your body to start the work before the window closes. Again, it's not a make-or-break thing, but you supposedly bounce back from the race faster if you do.

    I did a story about this on my local bike groups's website, www.cambr.org. Go to Fit to Ride and look up nutrition and hydration.

  6. #6
    Lagomorph Demonicus stumpjumper's Avatar
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    XC Racing, Where do I start?
    Look for all the other cyclists with number plates, typically behind a yellow tape at the trailhead. Hope this helps!
    Lord Bowler: Uh oh. You hit the sheriff
    Brisco County Jr.: Yeah, but I did not hit the deputy.

  7. #7
    Nikon Nemisis Hawkphoto's Avatar
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    Thanks you guys...

    I was able to track down a couple different events. I'll be entering the Team Big Bear Fall Classic on October 12 & 13! Beginner XC course, I can't wait. I think its gonna' be so much fun! I am nervous though... I think I'll bring a tent and bag and stuff and camp out there the night before, hopefully preride the course on Saturday! The race is at 11am on Sunday.

    Wish Me Luck! And, keep the advice coming!

    Mike
    "I WIll Shoot You On Site!" ;)

  8. #8
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Good Luck, let us know how it turns out.

    I agree, you should definately get there on Sat. and pre-ride the course. Then camping out! It'll make the whole experience one to remember! Plus, you'll meet a lot of people that way!

    L8R
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
    "Your Bike Sucks" - Sky Yaeger

  9. #9
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    Don't forget to bring a good selection of tools, you don't want to find a problem on the bike before the race and have no way to correct it. You'll want to pack a small multitool, minipump, extra tube and/or a patch kit for the race; maybe a Powerlink in case the chain breaks. You don't want to be stranded on the course either!

    Check the cables, chain (for lube), tire pressure, shifting and brakes about an hour before the race to be sure everything is as you want it. Don't wait until just before the race, you'll have enough pressure on you leading up to the start. If something needs adjusting, do it when you aren't rushed and might make a hasty decision you'll regret on the course.

    And do maybe a mile-long warmup ride. I've done 5-mile relay events over 12 hours. My team started by doing double laps (10 miles). You'd think starting that way would just beat you down, but the second lap was easier than the first. My lesson from that was that when you start fresh, you're a long way from your peak. So doing a serious warmup gets your muscles and body primed for the real deal. Yeah, doing one long race is different than a relay, but you still want to get the muscles primed. Pick the warmup distance you feel comfortable with.

  10. #10
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    Take pictures! Long shots, close-ups, muddy bikes, broken parts, ....

  11. #11
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Have Fun!! Racing is a blast. A chance to ride some great singletrack with other riders - the ultimate group ride.

    Since we're all full of advice. . .

    Keep your expectations in check, especially the first time out. If you expect to win, but finish 25th, you'll be disappointed. If you expect to finish 25th, but end up 10th you'll be elated.

    Don't blow up on the first lap. If the group starts out harder than you're comfortable with, let them go. If you try to ride beyond yourself, especially when the adrenaline is going right off the line, you risk blowing up early. Though I've raced many times, my last race I blew up on lap 2 after hammering the first lap. It was no fun, and I went home very discouraged.

    Racing is about pushing yourself, so don't leave anything on the table. The biggest regrets I have are when I cross the line with gas still in the tank. I like to finish with nothing left, knowing I gave it everything I had. It takes some experience to know how to pace yourself, but if you're on the last 1/2 lap and feeling too good, hammer away.

    Accept your fate. Broken chains, bent derailleurs, flat tires, tacoed wheels and crashes are part of the game. They are, mostly, not controllable, so when things go wrong accept them as gracefully as you can.

    Finish. Make it your goal to finish. Are you suffering? Okay, turn down the intensity and make crossing the line the objective. Is the course too technical? Walk the tough stuff and get to the finish. You'll learn more about racing, your bike and yourself if you struggle through the difficulties and make it to the end.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  12. #12
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    Make sure all the screws are tight - especially your pedal cleats (assuming you don't use platforms that is)!

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