So I’ve got a couple of events under my belt now (don’t prefer to call them races yet!) and both have examples of “rookie mistakes” that I feel should share!
I was nervous this year about doing any events. I think because it was still early in the season when I started thinking about it. Also maybe because the first couple I was interested in were mainly xc with a significant amount of climbing and I wondered if I could get in shape in time. With 2 kids and a full time job (which has also required a business trip every month for the last few months), “training” is not easy.
When the first event came around though, I felt ready to just do it even though I still didn’t feel ‘prepared’. Like anything though, I’m guessing nobody ever really feels fully prepared. So I just sucked it up! My first event was the Suburban Rush which is a 32K mountain bike & trail run. I quickly discovered I made a few mistakes! There are just some things you should think about when doing an adventure race like this.
First, what is the course like? Well, this one starts with an uphill trail run for a good distance. Then you grab your bike & helmet and start climbing. You are rewarded with some all mountain riding before getting off your bike for another trail run. The last leg ends with more all mountain pedalling to the finish. Since you bounce back and forth between running and biking, you can leave your riding gear with your bike and change when you pick it up. I made the mistake of choosing to do the whole course in my regular riding shoes and just grab my helmet and jump on my bike when I got to it. Let me tell you… high top 5 10’s are NOT good trail runners!!! They were heavy, too stiff, and slowed me down a lot. Little did I know how much my shins & calves would hurt the next few days! Lesson learned. My second mistake, as I found later, was my choice of bike.
Normally I ride a Norco Six for all my riding. It weighs 40lbs, but I climb with it, xc with it, dh with it, shuttle & lift with it… doesn’t matter. I use it. BUT since I was feeling not totally in shape, I decided THE NIGHT BEFORE, to use my old Giant Reign. It was always a good climber, but is not overall the right bike for me. I thought it would still be worth making the climbs a bit easier and take it. I generally know the riding in the area is not advanced so I knew it wouldn’t hinder my xc/dh portion of the ride. Problem with deciding the night before? I forgot how much the fork on this bike SUCKED and that I haven’t checked to see how well the bike is set up for me now. I knew it was still mechanically solid though, so I took it and I jumped on it when I got to it. Turns out that the combination between crappy fork and reaching too far for my brake levers, my hands were cramping up and my arms were burning!! Lesson #2 learned! Don’t make last minute bike decisions!! AND check your bike out fully before the race and with plenty of time to make adjustments.
The winner of this race took about 2 1/2 hrs. I took 4 hrs 20 minutes! No wonder I was hurting after pushing through with somewhat inadequate gear! I survived though and felt fantastic when it was done.
Once you get a single event under your belt, you suddenly don’t feel so nervous about dong them in general. So get out there and do one!
My next race was a nice laid back dh on the island. Hammerfest. That’ll be blog #2 coming shortly…
Have fun out there ladies!!