Tuesday night hosted the 2nd race in the Laramie mountain bike race series. Looking at the course map Monday night, I began to prepare myself for yet another fun sufferfest. While racing up the torturous technical, steep mile of Aspen trail, I began to think about how racing my mountain bike is very different from running races.
1. I have a chance to place well in mountain bike races. In running races I just try to beat my previous time or come in at a certain time range. (Except for that one time at the 10k trail race in Breckinridge that I won my class-it was a fluke). Because I actually stand a chance in mountain bike races, I have to procure a strategy ahead of time. The strategy has more to do with terrain, starts, heart rate, ect. In running, I try to keep it a certain pace. Strategy is far more generalized, at least for me, in a running race.
In Tuesday’s race, JWail did a warm up lap of the course with me. He rode behind me, giving me tips as we went.The race starts with steep uphill. Usually I try to get at the front of the pack here, but I am slow at climbing. He told me to keep the cadence high and then when to kick it into gear and go harder. “Recover at the top,” he told me. We stopped at a few techy sections and worked out a line for me to take so that I wouldn’t have to break.
2. Mountain bike races, unless they are the endurance mileage, leave hardly any room for recovery. You are redlining with a max heart rate the whole time. Even when going downhill, you are still either peddaling or maneuvering in such a way that you keep your heart rate up. When JWail told me to recover the above scenario, he followed it with “to about 90-95% max effort.” My hear rate never went below 175 bpm for 1h 40 minutes.
3. In mountain biking racing you have to stay alert, you can’t zone out like you do in running and let the miles tick by. You must be thinking and looking ahead. This is hard to do when you are at max effort the whole time. You are going over roots, rocks, and dropping down some bike rock faces. Taking in gu or sugar can be a challenge when you are constantly going fast and needing two hands on the handlebars. However, not taking gu or sugar is a bad idea too. The guy who won the race the other night told me that he was seeing stars as he rode up the first long climb. I was shaking at the end of the race and wanted to vomit during parts of it as well. Precious I know.
4. Mountain bike races are “fun” for me. Running races are not “fun”. They are enjoyable, and make me feel good, but I wouldn’t say that they are “fun”. Going through mud puddles, whizzing by someone on a technical descent as they get off the walk, getting caught in rainstorm, rushing through aspen groves, that’s “fun”. Running at a steady pace on the pavement, is enjoyable, but I wouldn’t say “fun.” I have a hard time relating to people who said that their run was “fun” today, unless they got caught in a lightening storm, chased by a pitbull, and threw up on their neighbors lawn. Mountain biking is fun.
I finished Tuesday’s race a bit destroyed, but in the top 10 in my field. For someone who is not training right now, I was satisfied. It was 13 miles and took me an 1h 40 minutes to do. I won’t be racing for another couple of weeks and I am hoping to do some hill repeats to get in better shape. Hill climbing is getting me right now. Frustrating, but fun.
Is running “fun” for you? Why?
What is your most fun activity?