I decided not to go for a fast start, as I have become known for in cyclocross and see how things played out. I was six riders off the front when the rider to my left collided with me and took me down, before the first corner of the race.
Shaken, angry and stuck behind a parade was not how I had envisioned my very first mountain bike race. But there it was, and I had two choices, quit or suck it up. Like, I was going to quit. I put my head down, figuratively speaking, least I ended up in a bush and got down to business.
The trail was wet, muddy and slick, with twisting down hills and punchy climbs. It was not what you might call a flowing course, but it felt good to get into a rhythm. A couple of times I pushed the downhill's a little two hard, trying to squeeze time out of the course, only to find myself sans traction and eating leaves and dirt on the trail.
I passed my new friend in the first lap, after he had crashed again. Then minutes later as I tried to pass a slower rider the gap he opened closed. Again I found myself in the bushes as "Sorry" echoed back from him. As I got back on the trail, I heard "Sorry for taking you down earlier", from behind. Me too I thought but let him know it was OK.
Now a note on padding, you will notice from the pictures that I am wearing padding. Since my major accident and as a result of one too many smaller crashes, the pads have become a must have piece of MTB kit. Today they earned there keep as I am sure I would be even more banded up had I not been wearing them. That said the elbow pads need some further thought. Either I have to get a smaller size or build bigger guns. Hmmm, just a hunch but a smaller size might be easier to achieve . Had they fitted, my left elbow would not be throbbing so much.
As I crossed the finishing line I probably did not look like I was having fun, a fact that Sarah pointed out. Truth be told I was sore, exhausted and a some what disappointed at both the start and loosing my Garmin 810. I had no idea where the computer came off but my guess was the crash at the start. I resolved to look with little hope of finding it, after all the unit is dark grey, the perfect color to blend into the trail. Well at last luck was on my side and there it was just sitting at the side of the trail.
Having cleaned up my wounds I am thankful it was not as bad as it could have been. I am going to be sore for the next few days, but a least tomorrow is a rest day.
Oh and I totally forgot my cameras, so regrettably there is no footage of the race. Here is a short clip of the trails from the recon ride, the day before with my friend and great riding buddy.
What I learned about XC Mountain Bike Racing
Like cyclocross the start is critical, even more so as once on single track passing is hard. Not only is passing hard, you get the pace dictated to you, loosing time based on the rider ahead. I also found that I spent far more time alone than in cross. That could have been because I was off the back, however Sarah confirmed it was also her observation. From a spectator perspective the viewing is limited which impacts the atmosphere. All that said, it was my first MTB race so I will reserve judgement until later. Oh and the hydration plan completely failed. I had no time to take my hands off the handle bars so all the water became an additional pound or two. You live and learn.
Final Result: Cat 1 - 35 - 49 (15th of 21) - Overall Cat 1 position 47th of 68.
Until next time keep it rubber side down and Max Life Out