I just finished my first XC race. I feel like I learned alot. I got caught up in the adrenaline rush and made the classic new guy mistake of starting off at too high a pace. This translated into a 9 min difference between lap one and two on a 5.5 mile ( 11 mile total) course.
I ran in the beginners senior men I (2 laps for 11 miles age 19-29). This group unfortunately starts first, because they think you are fast, and everyone else was. I have heard other people make it sound like beginners class is a joke, and maybe it is at other places, but here i think alot of the riders should be riding in a different class, but go to beginners to grab the points (aka 1st in beginners is worth same points as 20 in sport so if you are on the cusp, or a short distance guy you grab the beginners points). I was shooting for 90 minutes and I finished in 87 stopping for one pee break and some running up hills (alot the 2nd lap) as I said a 9 min difference between laps that I need to work on. fastest guy finished in 70 minutes so 17 min off the leader didn't strike me as horrible.
I decided to go with the hydration pack (good move unless you have a team passing you bottles), and was glad I did. I wrecked once due to my front tire digging into the soft dirt/sand (racing in the pine barrens of jersey) someone ran over my rear tire, but nothing was messed up. Alot of people had mech trouble (the only ones i passed ). the course was pretty fast with tight single track, stream crossing (very rocky), Some very tight corners, alot of bridges, a tone of soft dirt/sand, and a TON of roots. The hills were short and steep (pain in the rear with roots), but pretty flat for the most part. It was a great start for me and I would defiantly tell anyone who likes XC biking to go give it a shot.
(sorry no pics [no one came with me] but there may be some on line at some point)
sorry if this is long winded and doesn't make any sense, I am pretty tired and am going to take a nap now.