So, You Want To Race Your Mountain Bike For The First Time?

So, You Want To Race Your Mountain Bike For The First Time?

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By: Zach Fout, USAC Level 2 Cycling Coach, Cycology Coaching Solutions, LLC

So, you have a mountain bike and you’re thinking about racing it?

Let’s start with the basics: What kind of bike do you have? You don’t need to buy the most expensive bike on the market, but you want to make sure you have a safe and functional bike. If you’re not informed when it comes to the mechanics of a bike, take it to your local bike shop and any mechanic should be able to tell you the quality of your bike and if it needs attention before you race it.

The next thing to think about is if the race is USA Cycling sanctioned, and if so, you’re going to need a race license. Good news, if you’re not looking to make the full annual commitment yet, you can buy a one day license. The cost of a one day is $10. Some promoters, for example, in Florida, put on a lot of races without being USAC sanctioned. This would be a great place to do your first race.

Like most mountain bike communities, they’re very friendly and welcoming to new racers. Unless you’re a very solid mountain biker, I would suggest entering the novice class. It’s generally one lap, and the competition will be manageable. I remember when I completed my first race; it was a real eye opener on how fast people are in Florida. Depending on where you decide to enter your first race, I would go out and pre-ride the trails.

You will want get familiar with the terrain and how the trails flow. Give yourself a little test and see how you feel after a 30 min effort without stopping. Generally, this is the length of time of one lap. Practice your hole shots, and yes, it’s just how it sounds. You start from a dead stop and take off with 10-40 other people. If you can do this smoothly, this will put you at a nice advantage going into the woods. Once you get into the woods, ride smoothly and don’t take too many chances. When you get an opportunity to safely pass, let the person ahead of you know that you are behind them, and then make a clean pass. There’s nothing fast about you both laying in the dirt arguing about who caused the crash.

These are just a few things to help get you started in racing your mountain bike. I could write a lot more just on the basics of racing your mountain bike, but if you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to email me or check out my website or I wish you good luck, and please feel free to reply to this blog and let me know about your first experience.

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