After a boring week this week all changed today with my first ever mountain bike race. To say it was muddy is an understatement. I am not sure if the conditions for all mountain bike races are like this one but with the weeks constant rain it was one big mud hole.
The route was shortened to 26km due to the river being impossible to cross with a bike, think it would have been impossible to cross it without a bike. I must take my hat of to the local bike club who organized the race. They had to change the route three times during the week because of the rain and they even had to build a bridge of over ten meters to make it possible to cross the river at one point. The route was also very clearly marked without any hick ups finding your way.
Well I must say I haven't had so much fun in a long time. Being in my off season and not training everyday I just went out to have fun and didn't have the pressure of doing an Ironman on me. There were 92 competitors for the 26km race and 32 for the double loop 52km race. I am so glad I didn't do the 52km race, as my back wouldn't have made it. Funny my legs didn't feel any strain but not being used to a mountain bike my back was really hurting in the last 5km.
We started about ten minutes after the long distance race and for the first kilometer or two we were three guys riding in the front. I stuck to the back of the two and just rode along. Going over the first hill, we encountered one of many downhill sections. Luckily I rode this part of the course last week and knew what to expect. I passed the two guys and stayed in front for the next ten kilometers. One of the guys dropped back but the other was staying about 100 meters behind me all the time.
That's when my off season lack of fitness kicked in and the guy passed me after the ten kilometer mark. I tried staying with him but my heart rate was touching the 180's and I had to remind myself that this is a fun race, I don't need to be so competitive. From then on I raced hard but stuck to my own rhythm and enjoyed the race.
I stayed in second position for the rest of the race with three guys chasing me but they could not catch me. When we were hitting the technical sections they will close the cap but when we hit the hills or the long downhills I will pull away.
The photo at the top was taken before the race, clean and dry. Luckily I didn't take the camera along as I don't think it would have worked after the race, everything was just wet and full of mud.
Doing so well in my first mountain bike race was really a surprise to me and I even received R200 for my second place at prize giving. The prize giving was great and with the Highveld Mall, the local shopping centre sponsoring the race there was a lot of prizes and lucky draws. It is really great having so many prizes for a local bike race.
Must say mountain biking is just the opposite to sitting in the aero position on my TT bike doing an Ironman. With an Ironman you find your rhythm and you then just stick to your heart rate and power wattage limits. With mountain biking there is no rhythm and you change speed, position and gears all the time. Another thing I also learned today is never to wear my lucky Thumb ring when doing a mountain bike race. When I race an Ironman I am in the aero position all of the time. My thumb didn't appreciate me hanging onto the handle bars and with all the bumps I have a nice blister on the inside of my thumb at the joint.
Well done to Jacques (@trijackal) son, @weaselattack who won the under 14 category and he is only 11. Well done Wessel.
Results will be available tomorrow at: http://www.spectrumsport.co.za/Highveld_Mall_MTB_20091122.pdf
Ps: And luckily I didn't fall today, but had some close moments
Heart rate: 165 bpm ave
Calories: 1682 kCal
Speed: 20.3km/h ave