Ridgeline Rampage Race Report
Ridgeline Rampage Race Report – or- My First Mountain Bike Race.
This was an afternoon race so the normal get up early routine wasn’t there. I did get up to mee to to meet my TNT athletes to get them set up on their run workout. My legs were feeling a bit heavy from yesterday’s strength session. Since this was my first race of the season and only 4 weeks into bike training, I did the session knowing I might be a bit sore.
Once home from the TNT workout, I started to get my bike gear around. A quick clean of the bike I then loaded up the car and made my way up the highway to Castle Rock. Check-in /Registration opened at 11am and I got there a little after and picked up my race number, 420, which got a lot of comments.
I met up with the fellow WMBA members racing and chatting with some guys that I know. The nerves were definitely there – more from the riding aspect of the race over the racing aspect!
Temps were near 80, it was a bit windy. I hung out in the shade until it was time to get a quick warm-up in. My brief warm-up was just on the streets in the neighborhood around the park. I got to the line up when the men’s pro half-marathon was starting. The women’s XC race went off at 1:15. Each lap was a windy/twisty figure 8.
The start was a gradual climb and boy did my legs feel it. It was a pretty short stretch to spread out before hitting the single track. Conventional wisdom for this kind of race says start at the front and really fast so you don’t get behind the slower riders. As my warm-up was inadequate and my legs a bit heavy, that initial climb hurt and I found myself towards the back. This, as expected, got me behind a few slower climbers and let’s just say it was a cluster. Not a great start.
My plan was to ride the first lap to get more comfortable on the course and then ride the 2nd lap even faster (if I could). A lot of the first lap was finding my legs, navigating some of the slower men who started ahead of the women. I was glad I pre-rode the course a couple weeks ago. And very glad I signed up for the cross-country sport race and not the half-marathon! I leap-frogged another WMBA member, Heidi a bit of the first lap. Grateful she was behind me on one of the big descents and encouraged me through it. I was not very aggressive today being my first race and slowed to let a lot of people pass.
Happy I made it through the first lap in one piece, I started in on the second lap with a bit more separation from other riders. Unfortunately I knew a lot of this separation was because I was towards the back of the group. I swapped a water bottle at the aid station before heading back into the single track. I caught up to Heidi at the start of the first climb (I had let her zip past me towards the end of the first lap). My legs were finally warmed up, but on the longer steep stuff they definitely felt the effort I was demanding of them! This lap, however, was marked by all the half marathon pros and strong age groupers zipping past. For the most part the trail was wide and I was able to let people pass. One of my athletes, Steven Thompson of FLiBye Racing, came in a pack of 3. He gave me a nice pat on the back (a little push?) as he zoomed on by.
I was riding not too far from some others in my age group, but my lack of experience on a mountain bike didn’t let me keep the lead. The one “bad” experience in the race was when I was basically holding up a few riders on a descent. This was a sandy section with relatively narrow trail and a drop-off. I had let a few guys go past, but another was caught up behind me when it got a bit more narrow (and steep off the side). He was cool with it and understood it wasn’t safe to make a pass, especially if I wasn’t super comfortable. From the back a few guys (and a woman) started yelling, but he yelled back in my defense. That I greatly appreciated. Probably less than 30s later it was safe for me to pull over a bit (I didn’t stop) and let them by. A couple gave me words of encouragement. The woman wasn’t too happy and yelled in a not so friendly tone, “please let me pass.” At least she said please?? I wanted to yell back “I had been letting people pass me all day and you are no different, and I get over when I feel it is safe to do so.” She went by and unfortunately I let that moment get to me (and I know I shouldn’t have!) probably because of two reasons: 1) I know am a relative novice on the mountain bike with tons of room for improvement in descending skills. 2) I was getting fatigued – not only does mountain bike racing take a lot of physical strength, it takes a lot of mental concentration, which compounds the fatigue.
There wasn’t too much left on the course after this, maybe a mile or two, so I just had to fight my way to the end. At this point I’m definitely exhausted, but really glad I made it through the course in one piece! I popped through the finish chute in 2:21:36. Three ladies in my class finished less than a minute ahead of me, which I believe was due to skills, not fitness. At the chute I saw Kerri of WMBA already changed out of her kit (she killed the course in 1:50) – wow. I basically finished my 2 laps in the time it took a lot of people to do three. Lots of room for improvement here!!
Afterwards we caught up with all the WMBA gang, chatted with Steven who maybe took 3rd (the results were messed up for his class) and Craig of BV/SoCo Velo, and Sarah who ran a 25k race in the morning and then came up to help with the race event staff! I hung around for the awards, as some WMBA gals got some hardware (that was made of cardboard).
My heart rate was up there! Way different than ironman or marathon racing!
- I made it through my first mountain bike race with very little overall mountain biking experience.
- 99% of the riders were super friendly and supportive on the course.
- My nutrition/hydration worked because I didn’t cramp up or bonk.
- The WMBA gals are an awesome group with which to be involved
- Do not let other racers affect your race (other than pushing you a little harder to catch them!)
- The pros and fast age groupers really fly – they are motivating to watch.
Here’s a link to more photos.
I’ll post another report on my nutrition soon…