Should I race? How to prepare for a first Mountain Bike race!

heather3Race season is upon us and I can’t help but reflect on the past year.  A couple of years ago I decided I was going to learn how to ride a mountain bike.  Little did I know how much I would enjoy it and what a passion it would become.  I never imagined I would feel confident enough in my riding to enter a mountain bike race, let alone join a race team.  But last year I did and it proved to be one of the most physically challenging and rewarding years in my life.  If you’re considering racing this year I encourage you to sign up for Pick Your Poison XC at Booker T.  It was my first bike race and a perfect event for beginners.  I promise you will enjoy every second of it, especially crossing the finish line.  Don’t let inexperience deter you.  You have to start somewhere and it’s not about winning; it’s about riding and having fun.  And you will have fun!
by Heather Hamilton

How to get ready for a first race?

1. Choose a distance you are comfortable with.

Never ridden 20 miles before? Then go for a shorter distance. Pick Your Poison XC is 7.6 miles which seems to be a perfect length for the Beginner Category (Cat 3).

2. Pre-ride the course.

Stay local for your first race and be very familiar with the course. If the course is too far away to pre-ride then ask fellow racers what the terrain compares to. Is it more like Raccoon Mountain or Enterprise South?

3. Make sure your bike runs smoothly.

If any repairs or maintenance is needed, do it a week before the race and make sure to get in another ride between then and the race. Check if you have enough tread on your tires and no cuts in the sidewall. That way on race day all you need to do is relube and check the air pressure.

4. Don’t go crazy on nutrition.

Do what you usually do. During your pre-ride use the same food and drinks as you want to do for the race. Some Velo Vixens add electrolytes to their water, like NUUN. And for longer races bring gels or chews. Drink a lot of water the week prior the race. Then have a solid breakfast 2.5-3 hours before the race, like oats, dried fruits and nuts, but don’t overeat.

5. Stay focused on yourself.

Don’t worry about what other riders are doing before and during the race. Just do what feels good and right for you and you’ll have fun.

6. Get some buddies to ride/race with you!

Hint, hint ask some Velo Vixens to come along. Then pre-ride the course together. Training together is fun and takes the pressure off each other.

by Rina Handwerker

Photo credit: Matt Richardson

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