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Friday, April 9, 2010

Let the Gongshow Begin...(and some nostalgia)

This upcoming Sunday will be my 2010 race debut. The race is a 50k 'marathon' race at the Mansfield outdoor center.

Mansfield is fast, flowy with a few short steep hills to keep you working hard. It will be two 25k laps with the following elevation profile.

It will be the PERFECT primer for my Pro/Elite MTB XC debut in three weeks. Same venue and same distance.

My plan is to treat this as an OCup. Overall pace, nutrition, and endurance will all be aspects that I will be making mental notes about. I have never gone at race pace for more than 2 hours, and Im sure this one will push 2.5 hours.

The weather is supposed to be 16 degrees and sunny. Perfect.

Trails should be dry and fast. Perfect.

Having just turned 24, I realized that I now have 10 years of racing experience, almost down to the day. My first race was the Hilton Falls All Weather Challenge back in 2001. I finished 1st or 2nd in the 'Not so serious' category. Looking back it feels weird to see how much has changed. So much of racing is living week to week, race to race and often not stepping back to see the big picture.

Remembering early goals such as not having to dismount on the grunt climb at Kelso, to now being able to fly up it in the big ring. Trying to finish top 20 in Senior Sport...to trying to finish top 10 in senior expert...to trying to finish top 20 in Pro/Elite.

Even after all these years of racing, learning, bonking, cramping, dnf'ing, flying over the bars... I still feel like a complete newbie.

While I'm far from being an expert at MTB racing, I can relay the following advice to anyone new to the racing game.

If you have 9, 8, 7...3, 2 or 1 year of experience. You dont know shit. Cause after 10 years of racing. I still get nervous at startlines, I still crash alot, I still get my ass kicked, I still bonk, I still get beaten by 15 year old junior riders. Every year I go in cup half full thinking I know what I need to know, and I still get surprised.

To quote Greg LeMond. "Training never gets easier, you just go faster."

Improving in racing is just a long series of tiny, almost subconscious improvements that cumulatively add up to a significant improvement. In other words: Experience. I cannot emphasize how important experience is. You may not realize, but when you're ripping down singletrack, you are making hundreds of calculated risks that are directly learned from past experiences. You instinctively know how much front brake to apply, how much force to apply to the pedals, how much to unweight etc. Always succumb to the fact that experience trumps anything you can learn from a book, forum or blog.

This year the cup is half empty upon realizing I have plenty to learn. The bar has been raised, and it's entirely up to my ability to pull in from past experience, incorporate new experience and see if I can achieve my goals.

Once again, no excuses. If you give me an excuse at the end of the race, I will call you out on it. If I give an excuse, then I expect you to call me out.

So here's to race season 2010. Wish me luck!


Get in touch with me


12 Street West Victoria 1234 Australia

Phone number

+(12) 3456 789