Tag Archives: mountain bike racing
Natalia not only raced her first full season, she did it on the road and the mountain bikes! Read about how she dove in head first, what she learned, and what she is taking on to next year!
It’s hard to believe that road racing season is over. To get ready for the season I spent countless hours in the saddle and endured every possible weather condition on the planet. I have ridden my bike in temperatures ranging from freezing to triple digits, rain, snow, hail, gusty winds, sand and thunder storms, but I loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not at the time, but the thought of getting stronger always kept me going. I really believe cyclists must be the toughest athletes out there. We love riding our bikes so much that the elements never stop us and many times when we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere discovering new roads with no cell phone coverage, so quitting is not an option and we have no choice but keep on pedaling.
For me this was my first full year of racing so I didn’t know what to expect. Racing and leisurely riding are two completely different things. I tried all disciplines from road racing, time trialing, crits, hill climbs, and even mountain bike racing. I have been cycling most of my life and I love climbing mountain passes so I thought this would be my strength. I did some mountain biking in the past and bought a new bike not thinking much of it. I didn’t even consider racing it when I bought it. The last mountain bike I owned was about two decades ago and the technology has advanced quite a bit since then. My new toy has huge 29-inch wheels and when I ride it I feel like a little kid again. It has full suspension, disk brakes, and it’s just so much fun to ride so I thought I would try racing it because why not. As the season begun, I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy hill climbs, not only because I would get dropped but it was so painful that I wasn’t able to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me like I did in the past. My goal this season was to overcome my fear of crit racing but unfortunately my first crit ended early due to a crash. Luckily my injuries weren’t serious, my bike was ok, and I was able to race the next weekend. I didn’t want to end my racing season early so I didn’t take another chance. I’m hoping to forget about this unpleasant experience so I will try it again next season. Time trailing wasn’t my favorite but I will definitely do more of it again next year. Road races can be intimidating as they typically are longer, but I discovered that this was my type of a race. I am not a sprinter or climber; however I have good endurance and can push myself after riding long distances. I also learned the importance of working with teammates and even your opponents and how to strategize in order to win. I just wish we had more road races here in Colorado. After taking my new mountain bike for a few short rides I signed up for 18 Hours of Fruita. I never raced a mountain bike, I never rode at night, and my bike was barely broken in. I recruited three other teammates to join me and we ended up winning the race. I was hooked! The race was a lot of fun and not as intimidating as I expected so immediately I started thinking about my next mountain bike race. I ended up doing three more races and I not only loved it but placed well which gave me a huge confidence boost. Now I can’t wait to do more races on dirt.
After reflecting on the entire season and analyzing each race and its outcome I really surprised myself. The races I thought I would enjoy the most and do well at, turned out to be my least favorite ones, but I always try to find a positive in each situation and I treated them as training rides for the races that mattered to me. The races that intimidated me the most turned out to be my best ones and most enjoyable. I also participated in several organized rides throughout Colorado. Even though they weren’t timed, whenever I wear my Naked kit my brain tells me it’s racing time. Therefore I have to remind myself that it is ok to slowdown, breath slowly, take in the scenery, chat, and make new friends.
If you are new to racing or intimidated by it, don’t dismiss it as you won’t really know until you try. It’s better to fail at something than to miss out on something that can potentially be your strength only because you were afraid you would finish last or embarrass yourself. I remember how nervous I was just pinning my first number to my jersey. I stubbed my fingers several times and now I get less and less nervous each time I do it. Soon I will be able to do it with my eyes closed. But don’t get me wrong, I still get anxious at the start line but I just focus on the finish.
I came into this race hoping to beat my time from last year by 30 minutes. With the change of course everyone was running a bit slower, but I was still very happy with my result, surprisingly hearing my name for the podium as my intent was a personal best, rather than placing as 100 mile endurance races are more a test of will and metal fortitude. I rode very well in the the first 40 miles, had some knee issues (had to walk for a few steep sections as I couldn’t turn the pedals – ouch) and then regained my composure on mile 60, took a Tylenol, drank some Naked Mighty Mango and carried on. Found Kristen Lazlo (3rd place pro) and rode with her nearly to the finish. I really enjoyed chatting with and commiserating with another woman on the final stretch. We were both in it together and gave up the competition for camaraderie. A good race and a great result, I am happy to have taken myself to the point where it feels like quitting would be the best thing to do, grit my teeth and continue on.
Janet scores a Cat 1 podium spot for the Naked Women’s Racing Team at the Burn MTB XC TT race. Any race that combines TTing, MTBing, and Uphill simply sounds painful!
On a race day morning there’s a moment in waking when your feet touch the ground and you do a body inventory: are my hamstrings the tight knots they’d been for three days? Did I sleep enough? Did I do anything stupid last night? I woke on Saturday with relief that the hike up Mount Shavano had finally healed, my hamstrings were mobile, and I’d avoided drinking a martini or three the night before so had slept fitfully. I looked out at the soft twilight over Denver as the dog ran in circles around my legs and thought I’m going to win.
The route, drive, and morning routine and breakfast are all inconsequential. These are dreary details that you might find fascinating, but even your coach would yawn to hear. Since I don’t have a coach I will yawn at them myself. One detail is of consequence, I’d lost my inhaler and it was hot out. I have asthma, its mild at best, but that day this was a notable detail.
If you’re not familiar- The Burn is a mountain bike time trial- so it started with a quick chat at the time clock with the USCF official, and then I was off in my big ring. My legs felt good at the start and I eased the downhill since I’m not a hotshot downhiller. It turned up to the first climb and initially was hot to go until my asthma kicked in. I’m going to win, I thought, audible wheeze, and guessed my oxygen sats were around 70 at that point. Wheeze, I’m going to win, wheeze. Yes, it was a bit of a buzz kill, but I kept it up as eventually the adrenaline would kick in and I’d get relief. Sure I couldn’t breathe, but my legs were still working. You have to stay optimistic, right? I slammed a rock or two in hypoxia, I’m going to win, I thought. Gasp.
Then I passed two women, then a couple more. The wheeze stopped. I was in the middle ring going up that sandy climb in the burn and feeling alright. Maybe I would win? I still kept it in my pocket. I was almost to the top and a woman caught me and passed me. Shit, I’m not going win, I thought. But at least I had someone to chase and a reason to keep it red-lined. I followed her until she disappeared up the last big climb. Thunder rumbled overhead and dark round clouds billowed low. A wind picked up but I didn’t notice as my legs cranked the hill. I passed a few more women. I’d wanted to keep it in the middle ring but caved halfway up and slipped to my small ring and spun it for my quads. On the apex of the hill I clicked up to the big ring and give it all I had. We crested into trees kneeled forward and a raging headwind that knocked a lot of steam from my engine. Shit, I thought, go legs, go and I cranked until they screamed and somehow made it around the lake. Alright, so I didn’t win, but I gave it all I had and I podiumed. I’ll win next time.
Race report from Susan Adamkovics on the first mountain bike race of her season.
Ridgeline Rampage...First mountain bike race of the season…check box. I knew it was going to be a hot day, so I made sure to fuel up with some Naked coconut water on the way to the race. I was pretty sure I was going to die, joking of course, but I am not in nearly the kind of shape I’ve been in the last few years at this early in the season. None the less, I signed up for the 30 miler. My teammate Joan and I were suffering from pre-race jitters at the start… 3-2-1 go and we’re off. We both got a great start with Joan winning the holeshot. Joan led for most of the first lap; she is a little mountain goat and quite honestly an amazing mountain bike racer. The course was dry and slick with technical turns. It was tricky, because you had to lean the body not the bike. I did it wrong one too many times, but fortunately I was able to save myself from complete disaster. There were a lot of riders on the course at the same time, so I often found myself getting stuck behind them. I was making risky moves to pass so I didn’t lose too much time, but that is a part of racing. “Head-up” was the mantra playing over and over in my head, this was important because I was not familiar with the course and it was fast with a lot of turns.
During the first lap, I felt as if my rear tire was a bit low and I started to worry about what to do; should I stop and put some air in, or keep riding. I chose to keep riding, and thought about the advice my husband Peter always says to me, “just focus on riding the bike, don’t worry about the other stuff.” Which if you know me, can be a laundry list of items. I posted a solid time on the first lap, 51 minutes. I started to fade midway through the second lap, and from that point on it was a back and forth with my effort. During the final lap I could see a female rider coming up behind me. This gave me the extra motivation to keep pushing during the final couple of miles. I ended up 3rd in my age group and 4th overall, while Joan took the win in her age group and got 2nd overall.
Pictures coming soon from Mountain Moon Photography!