This last weekend I embarked upon my very first 50 mile MTB race in training for the BIG one (Leadville 100 MTB). I don’t think I am a super novice when it comes to racing… I have ventured out into 175 miles through insane peaks in Park City and a 206 mile rides through 3 states in one day (LOTOJA) – but all on my road bike.
SO… when I signed up for 50 miles on a MTB I assumed it wouldn’t be any big deal. I went to pick up my packet the day before the race and that’s precisely when my mind started playing tricks on me!
I like to talk. If you know me, you know that’s true. I was talking to some of the other competitor’s in the bike shop during packet picket and was told that this 50 MTB race is comparable to a 125 mile road race. I don’t know why that struck me so hard, but it did!
I had planned to fuel on Carbo Rocket the entire ride (for my first time) but all of the sudden I felt compelled to purchase nut rolls, candy bars –> anything solid that I thought I could stomach on the ride.
The big day came and I was sooooo uptight! The terrain wasn’t familiar, I am still learning how to ride my mountain bike… and I just could NOT relax. The ride was two loops long. I came in to the feed station where my wife was waiting for me after the first loop and was not thrilled about the idea of going out for another.
I had fallen 5x already and was a little bloody and beat up. It was hot… and I hurt! However, I didn’t consider quitting for long enough to talk myself into it. I mounted my bike and headed out for another painful lap.
Then something great happened. I relaxed! I told myself I was strictly there for training for Leadville. I felt much more familiar with the terrain, knowing what was coming and what I was up against. I didn’t push to the point where I fell anymore – well, one more time. I started paying more attention to the guys who were more familiar with their mountain bikes and tried to follow the paths they took.
At that point I just enjoyed myself!
It was interesting for me to see what a huge difference my mindset made not just in how I “enjoyed” the ride, but in my overall performance as well. A good lesson for me to learn and keep in mind in the up and coming races throughout the rest of the summer… and of course for the BIG one: Leadville, Colorado – August 2013.