I’ve been motivated these last months to really give MTB XC racing a try. I’ve done a handful of races over the years. 3 Gorrick rounds in 2009/2010, 2 BUCS events in 2008/2009. Dad always used to badger me a junior to do more as it would ‘be good for my MTBO’. After suffering at BUCS in 2008, I wasn’t hooked and stayed away until late 2009. I tried again, and was beaten in the Sport category (by a beginner at the time, but now World Cup racer), but I still wasn’t struck. I couldn’t see the benefit of XC racing. A year later, another two races, but still no passion.
Since July, I’ve had an interest in XC racing. And as a result have actually started to take a genuine interest in gearing, latest technology, pedalling efficiency and bike setup etc etc. So much so, that I’ve got my eye on several bike-go-faster pieces of kit for next year, and robbed HJ’s bike of XX1, and his World Cup forks. He doesn’t know yet 😉
I flew back to the UK yesterday with my 26’er. I was greeted by rain. Torrential rain. Dad drove out to Gatwick with his bike in the back, and we both rode around parts of the race course. It was wet. It was muddy. It was slippery. But I enjoyed it.
In the afternoon, Dad mentioned my orienteering club were holding a night-O on the map I made last year of my village. I said I would only do a half hour. Instead, I took all the controls, ran fairly hard and won. Great I thought, nice leg loosener, and only zone3/4 HR for most of it.
This morning, my legs felt … a little tired. No DOMS, no soreness, just not sharp. But I wanted to race and I was excited! I rode a whole practice lap to warm up, and saw the course was far drier than the day before but it would still get muddy as the race progressed. Several years ago I rode the Sport races, and was 7-15 minutes behind. Now I’m training 66% more than in 2010, and my technical skills have improved vastly along with my speed, I choose to do the Expert course which is 4 laps.
My goal was simple. Hang on to the leaders for as long as possible. I managed for the first lap, but then last night’s antics reared it’s ugly head and my legs started to seize. The second lap was 3 mins slower than the first. By the third I could hardly pedal in places (HR no where near maximum by this point), so I called it a day at the end of the 3rd lap. The 3rd lap was 3 minutes slower again so I had fatigued quickly.
But I loved every minute, and I can’t wait for the next one in two weeks time! I’ve learnt my lesson. Running is bad. Night Orienteering on a map I drew is worse! Next time I will do what I normally do before a race. I won’t get too excited and hyperactive. I will do some intervals (unlike the last two months that have been filled with map making, running, skiing, and biking (no intervals)).
I’m pleased to have hung on for the first lap. I’m pleased that my time for 3 laps was similar to the leader of the Sport race. With better preparation, I can be closer still. I’m not a million miles away from Expert level, I just need more practise and more experience.