Another Bank Holiday over, I’ve just been out for a short ride today around Hopton Woods. Really nice actually, sunshine and 15 degrees, peaceful. I felt good, considering it was the Marathon Champs on Saturday, but I kept it short at 2 hours. It amazes me at how much one really can do, where your limits of tolerance can be. A few years ago 2 hours on the bike was long, now its a nice short ride. Preferring more co-ordination/skill based sports, endurance was never my strong point, thanks to Garry at Sportstest that has now changed. I seem to love the longer, brutish events, I’d never have thought that when I rolled up near the back in long distance races at school (I was a hurdler and discus thrower!) Limits are imaginary boundaries we impose on ourselves I suppose.
During the debrief from the Marathon I ended up reading some other blogs, its interesting learning about others’ reasoning for racing mountain bikes. One thing that struck me was the lack of confidence in themselves and their ability. I’m talking more specifically about women, how do we get more women into MTB? One asked “Do technical sections put some women off?” Some folk have suggested courses should be made easier to engage more women. Dumbing down is not the answer.
A female friend once told me I was lucky, lucky that I didn’t get scared when mountain biking. I’m sure it was meant as a compliment, but in essence there is a complete lack of understanding about the nature of the sport and the work that I had put in. Being challenged and facing your fears for me is the essence of MTB. Amongst other things, it involves riding over awkward things, some of which are particularly treacherous and some of which just look treacherous. Both require a degree of skill and confidence to ride well, dream big, start small and get practising. There are plenty of coaching days, clubs and groups to get involved with and Trail centres are excellent with skills areas to practice on. If you see other women out on the trail, talk to them, most are usually approachable and would be happy to chat.
The worst thing about XC events is the number of people all trying to attempt a techy section all at once in practice, the tension builds up, you don’t want to look like a fool and a degree of hysteria develops around the section as more folk gather. Go along to an MTB marathon and we all crack on and just ride it. It’s often the case that speed is your friend, so when you are going harder in the race the difficult sections become easier. Undoubtedly, there have been many times when I have bottled it, but I will usually have a go and thankfully succeed (I’m thinking Worry Gill in Dalby – I hate it!). The one thing that I have never ridden successfully nor will I ever try again is the “Bus Stop” at Dalby Forest, after 32 stitches in my face, de-gloving my mouth and nearly losing my nose due to necrosis, I’m leaving that techy feature alone. The point of a race is to get to the finish line first, the techy route isn’t always the best, understanding ones limitations both psychologically and physically, then working on these is how you begin to improve technical ability. Not making courses easier.
Next week I get to practice my outdated skills at the 1st Gravity Enduro, I’m out of my depth, its been 10 months since I last got the big bouncy bike out.