Pre-Race Jitters

So I’m racing on Saturday. It has been a long time since I’ve raced. And a really really long time since I’ve done a mountain bike race. In fact I think the last mountain bike race I did was in 2006… So to say that I’m stressing and obsessing would put it mildly.

My last mountain bike race at Mt. Tremblant.

My last mountain bike race at Mt. Tremblant.

As I was driving home to Ottawa this morning after a great weekend in Lakefield visiting my parents, exploring the roads and hanging out with the fine folks at Wild Rock Outfitters in Peterborough (especially the Flirtees girls) – my brain started to work its magic. First, I realized that I left my fancy schmancy spatula/spoon that I bought specifically for my super duper Vitamix – in the drying rack on Coyle Crescent… Shoot. Oh well, a good reason for my parents to pack up their kayaks and my dad to bring his power tools for a weekend of Ottawa kayaking and deck building (and spatula schlepping).

Right, seem to have got off track there – this happens sometimes…

Saturday I’m racing my brand spanking new Opus Fhast 2 29er. I’m nervous. I realized I have no idea what tire pressure to use or even how to determine what tire pressure to use. Should I use my Camelbak or a bottle/cage. I could get a flat tire, then what will I do. I don’t even know the protocol for pre-riding and warming up. Is it too much to expect to ride a lap of the course before the race. How do you warm-up for a mountain bike race? I don’t even know how to pace myself – go from the gun, play catch and pass, or what?

Yes, I feel like a first time racer. I want to have a good race but I have no idea what to expect. What is a good race in this situation? I don’t even know how to pace myself because I have no idea how long the race will be. Yes, stressing and obsessing are the appropriate terms.

Luckily I have a secret weapon. Her name is Lois. I emailed Lois and asked her all my questions. She gave me some very sensible answers and has calmed my nerves a little bit. But I know on Friday night and on Saturday I’ll be going a bit crazy brainish again. This is a good thing though – right? I guess all I can do is clip in, look down the trail (not at my front tire), pedal hard, remember to drink some water, smile and enjoy the moment. (But I really really would like some more pointers – so if you have some – I’m ready for them!) One more question – how do I attach my number to my bike – do I need to bring my one straps…

4 thoughts on “Pre-Race Jitters

  1. Will it be the Spring Chicken, Vicki?

    Whatever it is, number one, relax. The fact that you have all these questions means you are new at this format, and should allow yourself the room to get things wrong the Iraq time. It’s ok, we’ve all been there. Think of it as an organized ride, try to have a good time no matter what happens, since, after all, you are outside on a bike.

    For the detail stuff, if the race will take more than an hour, budget a bottle an hour, same as road. Thats pretty conservative, as ou don’t really need to drink much during the firs hour. I you will need more than two bottles, so longer than two hours, Camelbak. Done.

    Bring Allen keys, Chain tool, tire levers, a tube, and a pump. Even if you struggle with repairs, others can help you of you have the stuff.

    For tires, don’t sweat it too much. It’s similar to cx; you want to be able to come close to bottoming them on the biggest impacts. 30lbs is too much, don’t go that high.

    Zip ties will be provided for your plate. Check out how others set them up.

    Pacing will matter more once you get through the first race. If short, like cx, you pace like cx: super fast start, then hang on. For longer races, the pace scales to the distance, but starts are almost always fast to gain position in sections that don’t allow passing.

    Feel it out, run what you brung, and have fun!

    • I’m doing the East Cup race in Cornwall. I didn’t know about the Spring Chicken – maybe next year. Thanks for the great advice Matt – I really appreciate it. The tire pressure information is greatly appreciated – I’m used to running 21 psi in my Dugasts… I’m looking forward to the race. As my coach says “it’s a good excuse to pin on a number and have some fun”. I plan to do the Sunset Series this year so this will be a good first run at a race. Best of luck to you this weekend at the Spring Chicken – looking forward to the race report.

  2. I do a 20-25 minute warm up. Cruise around on the road, blow out the lactic acid by powering up a couple hills before the start. Try to get near front at start, so you don’t have to pass after you take off. My first race is June 2nd. Can’t wait! Have fun this weekend!

    • Hi Kim
      Thanks for this warm-up advice – this does help a lot. Sounds a bit similar to a cyclo-cross warm-up.
      Which race are you doing in June?

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