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.

  1. 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
  2. Believe in yourself, your stronger than you think
  3. Have a good breakfast – Whatever works for you just make sure you eat and also drink
  4. Have a pre-race/challenge meal ready and waiting with a friend or in the car
  5. 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!)
  6. Make sure you drink whilst you race
  7. If you have a number on your back, pin it on whilst bent over so it’s not too tight
  8. 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
  9. Plug in to good music whilst warming up
  10. Chat to people we’re a friendly bunch 🙂