Lessons Learned from 50 Mile MTB ride

So….usually you get what you deserve.  This was true for my most recent race which was the Vermont 50 mountain bike race. The day was unseasonably warm for late September and I had not trained as much as I had hoped for the almost 9000 feet of elevation change on the backwoods trails of Vermont.  I rode comfortably for the first 25 miles with a friend and hoped to pick up the pace and finish strong as the miles dwindled.  However, 2 miles after taking a precautionary “Hot Shot” cramps started to creep in and derailed the plan of accelerating to the finish.  I did grind out the last 10 or so miles as the cramps worsened and enjoyed the mental battle of telling my body to do something it was not interested in doing, or prepared for! Even though my time was slower than expected I still felt that rush of excitement at the finish line and enjoyed the post race banter.  Now for the lessons learned……

  1. Enjoy your racing…..I did….this was not my “A” race and I spent a day in the woods with a friend and we both had a great time!
  2. Don’t be mad at yourself on race day for less than stellar performances when you know training was not perfect.  We all have busy lives and REAL things can get in the way of amazing training blocks….deal with it – race hard – but be realistic with yourself.
  3. Train for the specifics of your events!!!  Many athletes that were not nearly as fit as I was cruised past me on the trail. I quickly recognized these people were the powerful mountain biker types that likely ride trails 7 days a week.  They had explosive power when needed and descended with effortless fluidity, which made them incredibly efficient and fast!  I say this with the intention of triathletes thinking this way.  How can we train for the specific dynamics of our “A” race (hilly, flat, hot, cold etc) and be physically and mentally prepared for those dynamics. Also racing efficiently, which equates to free speed!
  4. Celebrate others!  I had a few friends who had exceptional days out on the course.  I was genuinely happy for them and it is so important in our competitive worlds to acknowledge those around us who executed a great race.  It will come full circle to us when it is “our day”!

Speaking of full circle, I plan on racing the Vermont 50 again next year as a runner (gulp) and hope my experiences of this year on the bike will lead to success and a finish with my sneakers!

Happy training and racing!

Coach Erik