William’s Lake Race Report!

There were mountain bikers everywhere on the trails…Riding around you and over you on tiny mountain bike trails. Kicking, punching, fighting to get ahead. 

Oh wait, that is a triathlon swim start, not mountain bike race.

That is what I thought a mountain bike race would be like: people scrambling all around you, yelling “move over!” when there is no space for you to move…Falling, crashes, broken bones, blood.

It was none of that.

Since I had the day off, I decided to  pay the $35 registration fee for my first ever mountain bike race: Williams Lake Mountain bike race. It is a race that is part of the New York State Mountain Bike Series. I have always wanted to try one out, and a mountain bike race was on my bucket list of things to try before I turned 30. Alright, so I’m just a year late in checking it off the list. The thing about mountain bike racing, is that during the spring and summer months, 99.99% of my training is for the triathlons, and my mountain bike is forgotten in the back, collecting dust and becoming the residence of insects. My biggest fear about trying one out during tri season, is falling and breaking something, which would mean saying sayounara to racing for the rest of the summer.

But this year I decided, what the heck? I would pre-ride the course the day before, and if I felt it was too intimidating, then I simply wouldn’t do the race. It wasn’t like it cost me the $$$ race fee that I am used to paying for races.

So I went for two mountain bike rides to remember what it is like to be off road and was able to pre-ride the course with a friend of mine (who was one of the reasons I decided to do it– knowing someone else there always helps!).

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Only females would say it is time to stop for a selfie.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not uber confident on my mountain bike…The fear of breaking anything stops me from trying out obstacles, like go over large logs or rock piles. The pre-ride was good in that I was familiar with times when I had to get off my bike (hah!) It was also a time where I realized I should probably do more mountain bike riding before attempting my first mountain bike race, and maybe take care of my mountain bike a little more instead of forgetting about it :-\  Numerous times on the pre-ride my friend Kellie chimed, ” You need to look at Molly’s bike before she goes– it’s making a lot noise…Make sure you look at Molly’s bike…” I guess the fact I didn’t completely trust my bike would survive the race didn’t help my confidence levels either. Thankfully, one of her friends took a look at my bike before I left, and no, I cannot remember the last time I actually put lube on my mountain bike chain (my bad).

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Come race day. My normal pre-race “Ugh I’m going to vomit any minute…why am I doing this again?” thoughts claimed their territory in my head and I drove to the venue. Mountain bike races are very different than triathlons. People aren’t as uptight and the atmosphere is much more of a relaxed one. Kellie showed me how to put the race number on the bike and introduced me to tons of super friendly people.

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The race began with different “categories” starting a couple minutes after each other–similar to a swim start. There weren’t too many women starting, which was nice, because it lessened my fears of the mass start, and our category had to do two laps on the course. (I don’t know how other riders are able to do five laps– I would never be able to survive that).

I’m not going to lie, it was tough. Roots were slippery, rocks were slippery, heck, everything was slippery. I’m not used to, basically, sprinting on the bike for two hours. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I was able to get my HR up as high as it was on a bike in long time. There is more thinking that is involved on the mountain bike: which is the best way to go over/through this? The trails on the course are more technical than I’m used to, and you really don’t have as much time to recover as you do when riding on the road. Not to mention, you use your upper body a lot more than when you are riding in the aero position on your tri bike.

I got off my bike when I had to, and let people pass when they needed to. I tried to keep up with my friend/ mountain bike teacher, who reminded me when to drink (when do you drink during a mountain bike race?!?)

On the second lap, I felt my confidence rise and rode over things I didn’t on the first lap and surprisingly I only fell twice (in the same spot on both laps).

The best part of the race, other than not dying, was being able to ride through a cave. It isn’t every day you have that on a race course.

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I think this is what you do if you are a mountain biker

All in all, I had a total blast. I was reminded how much I love mountain biking, and that I should really spend more quality time with my mountain bike. Everyone I met was super awesome, friendly, and completely down to earth– which is, I guess, how most mountain bikers I’ve met are. It is a type of race I never really thought I would ever do, yet one that I cannot wait to do again!

Thanks for all your help, Kellie! It’s a lot more fun when you get to do a race with a familiar face! And thanks for the tips/ taking a quick look at my super-noisy bike Martin!

 

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