Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My First Mountain Bike Race- The Erwin Park Endurance Series

That' me on the left. I finish in sixth place of out of ten who participated in the 4 hour single speed division. Picture courtesy of Stalin Photography.

It was a cold, cloudy and muddy 29 degrees Fahrenheit when I rode my first mountain bike race two weeks ago on January 10th, 2015. Since showing up is half the battle, I figured this was going to be my best chance at placing well in a local race. The race was held on a course that I am familiar with and ride often. I also assumed that most of the local competition wouldn't show up due to the cold weather. What I wasn't ready for was the injury I suffered on the day before the race, which has resulted in a seroma on my inner thigh as a result of crashing into a tree and is currently keeping me off the bike as I write this.   

The crash was so bad that my rigid single speed has momentarily become a front suspension mountain bike,  currently equipped with a $25 used fork from the spare parts bin of a bike shop. A new rigid fork has been ordered and I will be going back to rigid as soon as I install it. Thankfully the tree that I ran into only bent the front fork of my bike and did not bend the frame itself. The suspension fork that I raced on clanked and banged even on the slightest of drops. I might as well had been racing on a pogo stick with a bike attached to it. Despite the odds, even with a bruise building fluid in my leg, a bad fork which changed my bike geometry and the cold, pneumonia inducing weather I decided to show up to this race. I had already paid my entry fee, which was non-refundable and I did not want to miss the opportunity to participate in my first mountain bike race. In hindsight, I probably should have stayed home, sucked up the entry fee but maybe saved the money spent on ER and doctor's visits as a result of further aggravating my injury. 

I ended up getting sixth place in my division of ten riders. Overall, I wasn't in the top ten racers but I definitely wasn't last. This experience has made me want to try doing this again in the future, maybe when I don't have so many odds stacked against me. Had I showed up to this race with a fixed up bike and uninjured, I definitely could have placed in the top 3 of my division and would have walked away with a medal. I wish I could say that I enjoyed this experience without pain and I would have enjoyed it much more without an injured leg, even if I got the same result. The one thing that this race did teach me is that mountain bike racing is still a lot more fun than racing in criteriums or road bicycle rallies. The single speed division doesn't boast a lot of participation so getting a good result is more attainable than riding for overall position. I plan to give single speed mountain bike racing another try in the future, once I can get back on a bike again, which won't be for at least another week or so. 

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