I’m drooling looking at the footage of the Quebec Single Track Experience (QSE) stages. Finding lines on the root-crossed dense forest trails of Valcartier will be a challenge. Flowing down the bermed descent of St. Raymond will be a deserved reward after the climb. Riding the terrain of Mont Ste-Anne will give me inside tips […]
First race of my season, and the first running of the Dev Tech Pro XCT in Midway, Utah. A new course. A new race season. Old home turf and old friends to connect with. Second weekend in a row with my sister. Second to none stoke.
I have spent time with Summit Bike Club, a youth development team, who created this event. These kids are as comfortable off monster drops as they are on highball balance beams. I knew they would turn the rolling hillside that was the site of the 2000 Winter Olympic Nordic events into something playful that would reward an XC racer with BMX, trials or DH skills. On pre-ride, I was not disappointed.
The course featured two steep climbs that were just long enough to singe your legs. But you would not get to recover from these; they were followed by descents full of tight switchbacks, extremely steep shoots, bike park style jumps and doubles, rock gardens, drops, up and overs, and slalom tree lines. It would be impossible not to have fun on this course. My challenge would be to stay at race pace and not get distracted playing on the obstacles.
Friday: Short Track. I love it when short track is the day before XC. It lets me work out my race nerves, get a feel for the terrain at speed, and is a great race tune-up. This short track was not UCI sanctioned so the U23 women got to race with the pro women. This was so cool. These young women have grown up mountain biking, where many pros had not heard of a mountain bike at their age, and they added fresh enthusiasm to the field. My sister cheered me on as round and round I went. It was hard to stay fluid on the course and it took me a few laps to stop waste my energy braking to drop speed for a blind turn and accelerating out of it. I’m not quite in race form yet and some cobweb clearing happened for me at this race. Flow would be essential for my success at tomorrow’s XC race.
Saturday: Cross Country. My plan was to test my early season fitness by staying with the lead group for as many laps as possible. The first climb pace was exhausting to keep up with. I focused on my strengths: steady pacing so I am strong in my last lap, taking the direct/fast line at obstacles, and flowing through turns to not lose momentum. I had moments where I moved up the field, I had moments where I knew I could not close the gap. The whole time my sister was running around the course to cheer me on and take photos. She was as tired from being a spectator as I was from racing. Though I’m in early season form and most of the other women have been racing since late March, I pulled into the finish in eighth place. My best UCI finish yet. Look out, I’m going to crush this year!
One of my favorite local trails finally emerged from the snow, and this morning I gave it a pedal. I was going fast – really fast. And I felt perfect flow with the terrain, not like I was risking life and limb. I figured I have just forgotten what it feels like to rip a favorite trail since winter in Bend, OR has been one of those, “100-year winters,” and time on the mountain bike has been sparse. Once home I loaded my ride data and, sure enough, I was riding that trail faster than I ever have before… even faster than that time I chased a Pro gravity dude down it (dumb; don’t do that!) and was sure I would either hit a tree or break my frame.
So, what changed? Time away from a technical sport leaves me rusty and needing a few weeks of “back to the basics” drills and practice to get my form in shape. On my ride I was practicing the nuts and bolts of riding with flow: dynamic body positioning, scanning ahead and momentum management. This cobweb-clearing should not have added up to a blistering pace on wiggly and sporadically technical single track. I was puzzled.
After a hot shower and a good lunch, I sat down for my daily meditation session. I reluctantly started meditating this winter as recommended by my physician to help manage my insomnia. Meditation is helping me reign in my wandering mind. In my practice today I did not do such a great job at keeping my thoughts on task. On one of my brain’s ambles it struck me that concentration was the new driver to my speed. Focus. On my ride this morning my mind gave undivided attention to the terrain as it approached. Thoughts about my to-do list, what I want for dinner, or if my Dads birthday present will arrive on time did not pop up to distract me. Nothing existed but the task at hand. Meditation: my new secret training tool.
Want to give it a try? I started by downloading some free meditation apps. I like Calm and Head Space. They both have an intro-to-meditation series, and each lesson is only 10 minutes long. That’s it. That will get you started. It’s a low time commitment, has nothing to do with religion, and you can do it anywhere (even at a quiet place along the trail). Meditate, and go faster.
- Connect with other lady fat bikers.
- Improve your snow riding skills.
- First time? This is a fantastic first fat bike ride experience.