2008/05/18

First race thoughts and notes



I was really a novice yesterday at my first mountain bike race ever, a few facts make it that obvious and hopefully wont be repeated next time:

I wasn't on the start line when my category's start was shot but in the parking lot next to it, with a fence and a few people standing in-between. But it was a bit messy and there were many in my situation, a lot of people didn't know what was going on and who started where and when. I didn't have the time to warm-up either. But I'm to blame for that, I'm not an early bird.



In the mess that was the start, I never hit the start button on my cycling computer to keep track of things. It was on but didn't log anything. I still had my HR showing so at one point, I noticed I had the highest HR I had ever seen, I eased my effort for a little while. I didn't suffer though, I was definitely not as fast as I want but I didn't make the common newbie error of going all out too early and hardly finishing like some people I noticed, in fact, I think I was going way too easy and conservatively most of the time. I can't say for sure but I actually felt like each lap was faster than the last, probably due to less traffic. My legs felt fine, maybe getting a bit heavy on my bonus lap...



A bonus lap? Well, you have to count the number of laps you are doing. I know, I know, it's laughable but I had 5 laps to do and I lost track at some point, probably on a lap where, trying to pass one of the numerous people that couldn't ride anything technical, I slid on an off-camber root and got my chain stuck between the spokes and my cassette. Took a while to get going again. Anyway, I ended up doing 6 laps instead of 5... but that 6th lap was fun, there wasn't as much traffic, and I was quickly passing/lapping everyone I saw so I wasn't stuck to walk some parts where it bottlenecked on the other laps. I still have no clue how I finished (my support crew had to be back in town early) and with my additional lap, I hope they stopped my time at my 5th, not at the 6th. But my 1st goal was to finish and I did, that's why I decided to do the sixth lap, I wanted to be absolutely 100% sure I didn't get a DNF. A friend suggested I should always do an additional lap and become known on the race circuit as the guy who always ride one lap more than everyone else. Although it would be a good reputation to earn, I'm not sure it's such a good idea.



A few notes:

Too much people at the start. The first lap wasn't fun, it was blocking on every climb or technical difficulty. Then it got a bit better on each lap but I still had never seen trails that much crowded before. In all, I must have been at a complete standstill for more than a few minutes, while waiting for bottlenecks to clear up, fixing my chain, and I crashed a few times.

The loop was quite fun, I didn't expect such a technical trail, lots of roots and rocks, a few steep rooty drops that seemed to scare more than a handful... I'm wondering how the beginner class riders liked the course, must have been hard for them since it looked like many Sport riders were struggling with the steepness and technical sections. I was doing okay, even pretty good considering it was the first time I was riding on actual trails this year.

I probably had the heaviest bike on the starting grid, probably the most laid-back position too. I saw many Scalpels under fast riders and I could have sure used one myself, not that it will make me win or will offset my not 100% shape but it wouldn't hurt to have a more appropriate bike. With that said, the Prophet still behaved well, considering it's weight, geometry and amount of travel. It just proved how much of a one-bike-does-it-all it really is.

The front Hutchinson Bulldog wasn't the best choice. It washed out quite a few times, always on off-camber sections. Tires with side knobs going lower down the sidewalls would have been better.

Saw many people walking with dead bikes suffering from flats all the way to snapped frames.

Edit: I finished 44th, dead last, but if I take off the additional lap time, I would have ended up in the 30's... That's if they didn't figured it out already, I have no clue how long I was riding. With all that, I was only about 30 seconds off the 43rd, I wonder what happened to him. Oh well, I'll do better next time, let's hope so but it should be possible, I could have adopted a higher pace, stopped less and count my damn laps.

1 comment:

Daniel Sessford said...

Just reading through your blog, Bromont was a super short course this year and you weren't the only one confused! They moved the start time for the elites but wouldn't tell us when it was!
I like the Bromont course though and its lot of funt o ride! Were you able to make it out to watch the mud fest when the world cup was there this spring?