So you want to enter a mountain bike race? Go for it!
I have raced cross-country mountain biking for 4 years now and it is a really great way to get into mountain biking and meet awesome mountain bikers who will make you feel part of the family. As a women rocking up to a mountain bike race, which is a male dominated sport, can feel a little daunting!
I remember my first nationals; I drove myself to Kent which was about 3 hours from where I was living to this big field. I arrived mega early and hardly anyone else was there. I went out and practised the course, which was far tougher than the regional I had been used too, but I enjoyed the challenge. Returning to the field it was now full custom lycra kits, rollers and turbo trainers humming away, everyone looked so serious I felt out of my depth and a little daunted.
Before we were gridded we had to go into a holding pen, a little bit like sheep at the county show, and ‘warm up’ I was over thinking everything and feeling quite uncomfortable and not ‘ready to race’. Until a lovely girl called Fern started to chat to me and within moments I felt calmer and not so alien. The race went well and I left feeling happy and a lot more confident in my ability and looking forward to my next race.
From experience these feelings I felt are not uncommon among the women I have coached, so I wanted to share my top 10 tips.
- Don’t take yourself to seriously, everyone starts somewhere, the fact you’re out doing instead of saying you would ‘like to’ is something to be proud of
- Believe in yourself, your stronger than you think
- Have a good breakfast – Whatever works for you just make sure you eat and also drink
- Have a pre-race/challenge meal ready and waiting with a friend or in the car
- Know where the start and finish of the race is (usually the same place, but I did miss coming third once because the finish was somewhere different!)
- Make sure you drink whilst you race
- If you have a number on your back, pin it on whilst bent over so it’s not too tight
- Have a practise lap, if something seems technical do it a couple of times, allow plenty of time to arrive and feel able to do this before the start of the race
- Plug in to good music whilst warming up
- Chat to people we’re a friendly bunch 🙂