Thinking about doing some mountain bike races? But have little mtb experience? Or no mtb bike? NO problem!
Here is how you do it:
Firstly, choose an endurance event because if you still do not want to throw your bike into a dumpster after a few hours of riding it means you like the sport and will likely stick with it. You can go for for example a 6-hour mtb race in Michigan.
Drive 9 hours to the race the day before.
On your drive to the race location stop to buy a bike and clipless pedals (who cares that you have not used such pedals on a mtb before).
Then stop again to buy biking shoes and have a guy in store install cleats on them for you.
10pm the day before the race remove the flat pedals that came with the bike and install those clipless pedals.
Yeah right, those flat pedals are so tight you cannot remove them. Hope that someone at the race location will be able to do it.
When race morning comes, make your friend help you remove those pedals. Remove one but the second one remains stuck. 30min to the start. But do not worry, who needs to test whether cleats position works for you or try to see whether she can clip in and out anyway? You will have 6 hours to find out.
Take the bike to a tent of a local bike store. Have three guys working on it, one of them breaking a pedal wrench in a process and the other cutting himself on your front ring. But they manage to do it! 5min to the start.
Oh right, test ride the bike sprinting to the start line. Try to clip in and out once or twice. All good.
And off you go! 6 hours on trails in a pissing rain.
If you are lucky (like I was), they stop the race after 4 hours because of race conditions – trails became mud pots, rocks and roots slippery, bikes do not shift anymore because everything is covered with a thick layer of mud and even if it was not your hands are so frozen that you cannot shift anymore anyway.
At the end of all this you are a mountain biker.
Ok, so the race was fun even though the weather was horrible (call me a sissy but I was not complaining one bit when they decided to shut it down after 4 hours). I have not wiped out at all and had to "test" whether I know how to clip out only once. I LOVED my new bike and my new pedals. Those clipless pedals are awesome for mtbiking.
We did around 7.2mile loops and I managed 5 in 3h38min so around 36miles of mountain biking (there were quite a lot of people racing but most of them did 8h team rides. There was only one another woman stupid enough to do 6h solo ride and I beat her. So I won the race, but there were only two of us:). With each loop I was getting more confident in my skills, unfortunately with every lap the conditions were getting worse and worse. It was great nevertheless. Some of those mtb guys were going as if they were cruising along a newly paved highway. They are crazy badasses! (I want one of those at home.)
Did I mention that I loved my bike, Giant Talon 2011? You remember a guy I met last year at a traffic light when I was biking home from the criterium race and he invited me to come to do a race with him? So he found that bike for me and it was a great deal. He is the nicest person ever! I mean seriously, I met him only three times and have not seen him for a year but he did the research, called the seller, discussed the bike specifics and price with him, arranged the meeting for me, sent me 30+ test messages about how I should test ride it to make sure it fits me, how to install the cleats, how to clean it afterwards. Isn’t it the nicest thing ever? We went out for a coffee on Sunday but before that we went to buy a bike rack for my car and he showed me how to assemble it and everything! I bought him cookies for his help, because who does not like cookies, right?
And I did not want to throw the bike into a dumpster at the end of the day so I guess it means I liked it and am hooked.