Whether you’ve been mountain biking for years, or have just discovered the true joy of singletrack, here are 10 reasons to don a race number and get those elbows out.
So, you’re a seasoned mountain biker and have the scars to prove it. You regularly clock up Strava top tens, always join the local club on their ‘adventure weekends’, can navigate your way around your local trails without GPS or a map and can wax lyrical about tyre choice, the pros and cons of boost spacing and which body armour works best with a sports bra.
Or you’ve been convinced by your friends to get a bike. They’ve dragged you out round local trails at the weekends and, although you initially struggled with fitness and skill, you enjoyed the post-ride atmosphere. You now regularly find yourself sneaking out on your lunch break to try and nail that step up, hone the switchbacks and shave a few vital seconds off your lap time ready for the next group ride.
Or, perhaps, you’re somewhere in between. You love riding but don’t always have time to do as much as you like or head out whenever you can, but have never ventured ‘in between the tape’.
Whatever your level of riding experience, we reckon everyone can benefit from a taste of racing, and here’s why…
1. The community
You may only see your fellow competitors over a race weekend, but give it one race and you’ll feel like you belong to a new community.
Your fellow MTB gang will be like family for the weekend. They’ll keep you company on the push-ups, session the technical sections with you and high-five you across the finish line. By the end of a season you’ll be organising Christmas BBQs and holidays.
Seems obvious!Most people have Strava, right? You like to see if you can beat your time or get further up the leaderboards? Well racing is the best competition! Especially if you win!
But winning doesn’t necessarily mean beating everyone else. You could aim to be fastest on a particular climb, stage or section of the run, or just race your own time. Sometimes, winning can also mean setting yourself goals to try and improve on over the season.
3. Support your sport
Increased entry numbers raises the standard across the sport. The more riders that enter the better you have to be to win. Although you may not have aspirations of being the next World Champ you could be supporting someone who does, and that’s pretty cool.
4. Find new routes
Most of us love a good trail centre; the all-weather trails, marked routes and warm post ride cafes, but racing can take you off the beaten (and groomed) track.
5. Pushing your limits
Everyone gets scared or nervous on race day, even the pros will stop at big features and wait to see who will drop in first.
Racing could mean meeting more people to go riding with!
6. Find other people to ride with
What, not everyone is in to mountain biking? You may find it hard to believe, but it’s true!
If you’re having trouble finding people to ride with then signing up for your local race series could be the perfect way to find new riding buddies. We’re a friendly bunch, after all.
7. The sun won’t always shine on race day
You’ve entered the race, paid your entry fee, washed your kit, packed up your bike and travelled to the event village. But wait… it’s what? It’s raining? I have to ride in the wet? What if it’s off camber? What if it’s rooty? What if the rocks are slippery?
Race conditions won’t always be your ideal conditions but practice makes perfect and the experience can only make you a better rider (although admittedly, it may not feel like it at the time!).
I appreciate that racing isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve already given it a go and really didn’t like it don’t take this as a ‘you must race!’ article. If you’re out riding your bike and having fun it’s all good.
You can get involved with racing in other ways too, such as marshalling. It’s a good way to get involved while staying outside of the tape.
See you at the Mt.Kenya EPim on the 24th November. Just about 200+ or minus well laid out circuit.