Thursday, June 24, 2010

My first mountain bike race

I did my first mountain bike race last night at the last race of the Wednesday Night Mountain Bike series.

No pics sorry.

The net: I had a blast; I wish I hadn't waited so long to try this.

Glen, of Elephant fame, has been bugging the hell out of me all season to go and do a race. He finally figured out the key to getting me there: tying my participation to the completion of my pending Elephant bike. Nice work Glen.

Here are some thoughts:
  • At the level of racing where I'm at (rookies near the back), I am plenty fast and technical enough to be competitive. I was really worried about slowing people down through the technical stuff, or worse, crashing on the technical stuff and hurting other people. The fact is, everyone shat the bed on the first technical/rocky piece so it came to a near stand still.

  • You get more rests in mountain biking than you do in CX. For about 1/3 of the race, at various times, I was stuck in a long line of cyclists winding through tight single track. You can't pass and you're only as fast as the guy up front. And last night, that speed was never approaching CX speeds.

  • Hills are great places to pass. This is funny to a clydesdale like me -- that I can pass anyone on a hill, but that's where I passed a lot of people -- and at the top of a climb. People tend to blow up near the top of a climb then use the first 50 yards of the flat to recover. I found that if you can push through that and continue to put out -- you can pass even more people on the flat as they recover, then latch on to someone and draft the flat for a bit to recover. Then pass that guy at the next hill. Crazy.

  • I only did one lap. It was a 6.5 mile lap and most people did two laps. So I could go full throttle for the single lap. If I attempted 2 laps, all those people I passed would be passing me on the second lap. So don't think I'm horn-tooting here.

  • The configuration of the Rawland is bugging me. It excels as a drop bar rough stuff long haul tourer commuter. I can't get the flat bar thing to work for me on that bike. A new hard tail (with suspension fork) is in my future. But in theory, I knew all of this. Now I've proven it.

  • As with CX, I'm totally impressed by the community around this event. Spokane cycling community is so rad. Totally inclusive and cool. Gage, at the Steam Plant Grill, provides a big honking keg of great beer after each ride. Jon, at Out There sponsors the race with ads in his magazine; North Division and Emde are also sponsors. I don't know what they do, but I know Michael, and I sort of know Marla and they're both good eggs. Geoff, of Two Wheel, was the sponsoring shop last night. He provided tons of swag. I don't think anyone came away from the event last night without some kind of prize. Geoff has really proven himself to be a great new bike shop owner who loves cycling and enjoys being apart of the cycling community.


But lame that I waited until the last race to try it.


Mike Sirott said...

Yep, MTB racing is cool and Spokane's has a great scene. There's definitely a dedicated group of riders and organizers that make it happen.

But John are you ready for the next leap of faith? Just think how much fun you'll have when you give road racing a try! You've got two more months left in the season, and when you're done with the road season, bam, you're in shape for cyclocross season. That's how the cycle goes.

Anonymous said...

I do not have an email for you, but wanted to let you know that the Rack at Northtown has 2 red Smartwool short sleeve jersys size Large for $20 on the clearance rack. Hate to see them go to waste. Glad to see you out racing last night.

John Speare said...

Mike: If you can add more dirt to the Ronde van Palouse next year, I"m in.

Anonymous: dang. That's a good deal. Smartwool is my least favorite wool Tshirt, but I wouldn't squak about that deal. If you're out there again and there are short sleeve Large's for $20, I'd take a couple and reimburse you. I never make it out there.

Not said...

That sounds like fun! How much does it cost?
- Ventura

John Speare said...