The Art of Free Speed

I had a race on Saturday, one of my favorites. It’s the annual Alpine Days Mountain Bike Race. It’s one of my favorites for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s the first race I ever did way back when I was 14.
  2. It’s the only race every year that I can warm up from home.
  3. I’ve won it several times, and it’s on the trails I frequently train on and grew up riding. It’s nostalgic.

This year had a new course, and a new starting point than any previous year I’ve done it with the start and finish area being at Lambert Park, rather than at the Park down the street. The course was also pretty backwards from previous years, but it was a lot of fun.

The gun went off and I had a pretty good start, nailing the whole shot and getting a gap on the field with one other rider after about 2 minutes. He stayed with me until about 5 or 6 minutes in, when to my surprise, I got a small gap on him.

I was surprised by the gap, because I didn’t put in a huge attack, I just did some pumping. The trail we were climbing had a few little downs that I thrusted all of my weight down which caused accelerations. 4 or 5 of these in arrow and I had maybe 30 feet on him.

Although not a huge time gap, it was big enough that if I put in an attack to follow, it would be really hard to respond, and I’d end up out of sight. And out of sight, out of mind. So that was what I did.

This led to a solo ride to victory. In the end I was about a minute ahead of second. I honestly think that a big part of winning the race had to do with those small accelerations.

Often times people think that in order to win a mountain bike race they just need to be the strongest person there and be half descent on the downhill.

With the right course, that could be true. But more often than not it takes some tactic, a little bit of good luck, and riding the trail in the correct way.

I think that’s where I had the advantage on Saturday. I rode the trail in the correct way which gave me boosts of speed while the other rider stayed the same. This led to a hidden attack to get out of sight, which made the mental game really hard.

One thing led to another.

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