Well on the weekend I had a bit of a dream come true. I got on to the podium of a Pro Elite race at the NZ MTB Nationals. I was 5th in Elite Men and maybe for a lot of people that doesn’t sound like much but for me it was a bit of a dream. Like a lot of things though, the truth isn’t really that great. I want this blog to be honest and real, so the truth is, I was actually 19th across the line out of all the starters in Elite, and I was pulled out at the end of the fourth lap because of the 80% rule. (I think that means that if the guy leading – Anton Cooper/ Sam Gaze – is going to lap you, you get pulled – ie when they get within 20%).The starters in Elite are separated by class, into Under 23 riders, and everyone else. Historically, the U23 riders would have been slower in general but these days they are generally faster, and so you can see that 14 U23 riders beat me.
If there is one big fat learning from this race it’s to just keep going the best you can even if it’s a bad day. You might do better than you thought.
I actually didn’t have a great race really. I find the twisty nature of most singletracky courses quite hard. I don’t have a great deal of finesse cornering and I’m quite a big bag of meat to accelerate so those things combined were a negative. The highlight of the course for spectators was the section called ‘Boulderdash’ Basically a big drop off from, er, a boulder. You get the idea. Lots of cheers but when I took the nana line a couple of times no-one cheered at all so there was kind of this pressure to do the drop. I think only one guy got hurt on it in the age group races. The rest of it was 70% fast flowy singletrack, a couple of little techy droppy bits which were fine and some 4WD.
The 29er wheel size makes a huge difference for someone like me on those loggy droppy bits. The bigger wheels kind of glide over the top, rather than catching so it’s much smoother and easy to ride. Same goes for drops you feel like you won’t go over the bars so bad.
Start: 9/10: Really good. A fast flattish slightly rising 4wd road for about 500m till the first singletrack. Just gassed the crap out of it and kept sprinting so I was probably in top 5 after that. Learning: Keep your eyes peeled – a guy lost his pedal or something and there was a bit of a crash that I avoided. Like driving a car – keep looking up the road not just the wheel in front
Climbs: 5/10. Terrible. Not really any long climbs here to capitalize on anyway, but I just didn’t feel it. Strava file shows OK wattage for what it’s worth but I lost place after place on that first climb. Went from about 5th to about 12th in that one climb. Disaster. Put out about 416 watts for 1min 30sec there but it wasn’t enough. The power data curve on strava shows my power is almost identical from race to race for splits like 2 min, 1min 30, 2 min etc.
I’ve seen a pretty neat deal on Wiggle. $1200 NZD and free shipping for a Powertap G3 wheelset. Think I’ll go for that when its back in stock and get some real power numbers.
Descents: 3/10. Even worse. Crept down Boulderdash pretty slow and even though I rode all the obstacles kind of fine, the other riders in Pro are so fast they leave me behind. Don’t know what to do about that yet.