Thursday, August 1, 2013

Racing and focus

For years while competing in sports I've always shied away from endurance sports mainly because of my bodies predominantly higher content of fast twitch muscle fiber, which have given me a knack for strength in speed. Though, at the time I didn't realize this it's probably why I've always excelled in most stick and ball sports ex: Football, Baseball or anything that required a fast sprint, agility, or strength. Generally these are all attributes of fast twitch muscle fiber or strength fiber as opposed to slow twitch fiber which most endurance athletes possess at a higher level. However, sometimes in life things take a different path or a seed is planted inside of us which elicits a change in our perspective. Cycling has become a major icon of my life in the past 10 years, that is road cycling. Love it, always will.  But lately getting my feet wet in mountain bike racing is something’s that's really caught my interest. That's right endurance sports. My experience with mountain biking only began a few years ago so my overall technical skills are still being honed. Why race?  Racing makes you a better rider. You can improve your riding skills more in a single race than in months of casual training. Why? A race focuses your mind and floods your neural system with adrenaline. When our brain is exposed to high levels of adrenaline during a time when we need to focus the brain adapts to skills much more efficiently. The race environment makes your brain pay attention, it force feeds your system and you find you’re doing things you didn't think you could. Plus knowing a race is coming up you'll have a tendency to eat and train better. This all brings me to last weekend’s race, the SOS challenge in Stewart forest near Stewart airport in NY State. It's part of the NYS mountain bike series and I can't say enough good about their organization. It's top notch in every way. This would only be my second race and I went to get some experience in on a fast course. Fast course it was as well as a slick mud fest due to the heavy rain during the race, but still a blast. The forest seems to contain a lot of Shale rock which gives surprisingly good traction when wet as opposed to the rock content in Connecticut. After getting lost pre riding the course with 2 other riders and putting about 11 - 12 miles extra on our legs we arrived back with about 20 minutes to spare before the start. I felt pretty good during the race and with more experience this is the kind of course that should suit me. Unfortunately, I dropped my chain no less than four times which ensures a little frustration. I knew something was bent or twisted because the shifting was erratic and the occasional ghost shifting can really break your rhythm but hey so what it was still fun. I just left the chain in the small front ring a rode the best I could. I was doing 2 laps but decided to bite the bullet and pull off at the end of the first, truly a hard thing to do but it was frustrating with the mechanical issue. I wasn't the only one with mechanical issues as I saw a few "walkers" on the way. Some guy parked next to me lost both his front and back brakes halfway thru the first lap. When I looked at his bike sure enough no brakes. Kind of gets your attention on a fast course. When I arrived home and dug through the mud on the drivetrain I found the rear derailleur damaged, the hanger bent and the pulley guide damaged. Hey just serve up new X-9 rear derailleur. All in all an excellent experience.

A popular spot after the race.

Rear Derailleur took a hit and bent the hanger

Start finish SOS challenge

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