While almost everyone who enters a mountain bike race claims to be out for victory, the fact is that only a small percentage of those people actually have a chance of making it onto the podium on a given weekend. What that means is that most people really enter bike races for the fun of it, to participate in an activity that gives them pleasure, affords them the chance to challenge themselves in a competive environment, or gets them off the couch for a few days each season.
As those of us in the northern hemisphere round the corner and move towards the race season, many riders are going to start tuning up their bikes, hopping on new rides, and, in general, getting ready to rip on their local circuit.
BikeMagic has a neat feature that follows a group of guys through their first mountain bike race. It’s a solid writeup that emphasises what most casual racers should try to get out of their first couple of races, namely a feel for the type of event and a determination to improve personal results over time.
At the other end of the racing spectrum, NSMB.com has a writeup by Andreas Hestler of the Rocky Mountain-Business Objects pro team that discusses the importance of proper suspension setup for race conditions. And while the writeup is basically a promo piece for the Marzocchi Marathon fork, Hestler does discuss what it’s like riding near the front of the pack at a very high level.
For me, the bit on NSMB is an interesting counterpoint to the BikeMagic article since it shows how much individual goals can vary when it comes to racing: some people saddle up to improve their results from the previous year, while others strive to reach the podium at every race. Pick your poison, but most people who race regularly can’t get enough of it, and they plan vacations around out-of-town races, talk constantly about ‘getting’ this or that rider the next time out, and express disappoint if they didn’t do as well as they’d hoped at the end of a tough race.
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