10 tips for your first Mountain Bike Race

Mount Snow Mountain Bike RacerSo you want to enter a mountain bike race but you are not sure if you are ready or what to expect. Here is some information to help you .

Let me start by saying that everyone who is serious about riding should do at least one race.

Why? It makes you a stronger rider by pushing you in a way that other rides wont.
What should you expect and what should you do to prepare for your first race?

1) Pick a race far out enough to prepare for – now is a good time The H2H series has 8 races slated for 2009.

2) Get Fit – Start with a month or two of long rides of 2 or more hours 3 times a week other rides can be recovery rides. After you get a base add intervals to build intensity. Two weeks before your race do a practice run at near race pace. The week of the race perform a taper decreasing ride lengths but still having some short intense efforts to keep legs fresh.

3) Get Skilled – Practice the skills necessary to confidently ride the race of your choice. Expect to encounter logs, rock gardens, quick transitions, switchbacks, and steep descents.
4) Make sure your bike is race ready – Ensure that your bike is in proper working order especially shifting (a finicky derailleur can ruin your day), braking, and tires.
5) Get the right Gear – Baggy shorts and a loose fitting tee may be okay for a quick trail ride and some beers with your buds but, on race day you will be better off with Lycra shorts (preferably bib shorts) and a form fitting bike shirt with three back pockets for stuff and a 3/4 front zipper. You can use a camelback but I would suggest traveling as light as possible an extra five pounds on you back can get pretty heavy after an hour and 1/2 of hard pedaling.
6) Get your race routine ready – Try out and know what you will eat on race day from breakfast to post race. Too much and you will feel sick. Too little and you may bonk. Know what you will eat and drink during the race and pick points on the course where you will eat and drink. Have a post race recovery drink and sandwich waiting as well. Make sure you get your bike ready the night before: Lube the chain and cables, pump your tires, check shock pressure. Then put your pumps, tools, and lube in your car in case you need anything on race day. Lay out your race kit the night before and pack post race clothes as well as something to cleanup with. (I find that wintergreen alcohol a towel and a gallon jug of water to do the trick)
Fill your water bottles the night before. The less you have to worry about on race day the better. Being organized and prepared will help you to feel more confident and calm your race day jitters.

7) You will need a one day license and money for the entry fee this will run you between 25-40 for both. If you know that you will be doing a series or more than a few races apply for a license at USA Cycling for $60 you can race any Domestic event (race fee not included) and you receive quite a few discounts with USA Cycling affiliate partners as well.

8) Expect race time to be between 45-2 hours in duration depending on your class. The Beginner is races are usually around 5-8 miles where sport races are about 10-15 miles.

Mountain Bike Race Registration9) Get to the race venue about an 1-1/2 to 2 hours before. Register online to save some time. You will still need to fill out a waiver at the race and you will want to be warmed up before you go off. You should be on the start line with a light sweat but feeling energized. Despite what some people may say do not ride the entire course on a race day. Ride 5-10 minutes of the beginning of the course and the end. This should be enough time to warm-up without fatiguing yourself up and enable you to review your start and finish strategy.
10) Unless you are injured or you bike is broken do not quit. If you are pushing yourself hard you will probably want to but, dig deep and finish strong. Oh and remember to have fun it’s “only a race”.
When done You should feel good about yourself you just competed in your first mountain bike race – Well done.
Warning: Racing can be addictive!

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2 Comments  to  10 tips for your first Mountain Bike Race

  1. Dena says:

    this was very helpful to me. I had my 1st race today 🙂 Thank you for posting this.

  2. Michael says:

    No Problem Glad you found the article helpful and Hope you had fun on your 1st Race Congratulations!!!

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