Monday, July 2, 2007

Bike Lessons

Beyond the physical preparation that I'm getting from the BC Bike Race, I'm learning some valuable lessons that I can take with me to Transrockies. Here are a few of the most notable:
- Keep your eyes peeled for the course markers. This will help you avoid turning a 118km day into a 132km day. We finished the day at 7 hours 38 minutes, but would have been a lot closer to 7 hours if we hadn't missed an important turn.
- It's a bad idea to 'lay the hammer down' and not change your fuel intake just because you're 'feeling great' and you THINK 'it's all down hill for the last 30km'. You may discover it's more like 40km, it's not downhill, and your body, suddenly and without warning, needs more fuel. (A lesson from yesterday) 
- Black bears can climb trees!
- Descending can be fun! I've never liked descending. At the absolute worst times (usually right before a dangerous obstacle), my brain short circuits as it struggles to reconcile conflicting messages. There is the conscious instruction to let my bike work its magic (by laying off the brakes), the semi-conscious desire to keep the handle bars from escaping my hands (by gripping my handlebars tightly), and then the primal 'survival' instinct to stop moving toward the danger (by slamming on the brakes). The result ranges from skidding, to an endo, to the person behind me cursing and crashing into me. Today, I discovered that I can manually override this malfunction by using my middle and ring finger on the brakes and using my pointer finger to grip the handle bar. I descended today like never before. I even came up with a new descending song - oh, hoh, I'm the great descender.
- Riding as part of a team is fun and educational. In the last two days, my teammates have taught me a bit about riding, a bit about myself and a bit about working with people. I've sometimes viewed teammates as adding a challenge to the experience, but I am learning that they can be quite the opposite.

We escaped today with almost no rain. We may not be so lucky tomorrow. But, I'm not going to spend too much time worrying about that. Time to sleep.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points you make, Tori, I can see your analytical mind is working with your enthusiastic heart to make this a great experience. Best of luck tomorrow and of course for TransRockies. The word of your current race experience and success has been circulated to all the Team Viking membership, you are in the spotlight this week. Keep up the good work!

Not that I am qualifed to "coach" a mountain biker, but be sure you look ahead and pick the point you want to ride the bike, don't look at the obstacle you want to avoid. We tend to go where we look!

July 3, 2007 at 5:47:00 AM MDT  
Blogger BikingBakke said...

It's good you're learning things as you go. As for the course markers, if people are all caught up in the experience of the race, they often don't have the presence of mind to observe what's around them. It's a differentiator between "experienced" racers and "newbie" racers. Always eating is the right thing to do, and I know you do it on your road bike... it's another example of how the race excitement sometimes takes away from things you know. Races of that scale, how fast you're going this minute have very little bearing, it's more how fast you're able to maintain for the last hour of a stage. People can be flying or standing still as they hobble to the finish.

On the descending front, you can also set up your brakes to be a little closer to the bars to facilitate the finger action you're doing if that helps. I've always done it with just the index fingers on the levers. Remember, brake before turns then roll through with your knobbies gripping. You only have a given amount of traction, and braking can overcome that traction way easier than cornering can. Once you're done with the downhills out there, you can ride with Nutbrown to work on your descending. You'll be a pro after that.

And live in fear of that being hit from behind incident. I say that only because I saw a guy at La Ruta get hit from behind in similar fashion, and it ripped his derailleur off. As he stood there looking in disbelief, the guy who rear ended him said something along the lines of "bummer" and rode away. Slow sinking feeling follows, especially when you're hours from anywhere, and need to convert to single speed!

July 3, 2007 at 5:09:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now when you are back road riding, will we hear you merrily singing Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" as you motor along?
No. 1 fan

July 3, 2007 at 6:46:00 PM MDT  

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