I was thinking about mountain biking the other day, and how much racing in the woods I used to do...I want to do more but Mutha Nature hates mountain bikers!!!
Anyhoo, back in the day when me and my hommies were chasing MTB championship points all over Missouri, we were students of the game!!! By that I mean we knew everything there was to know about our bikes, what tires to use when, the proper tire pressure for the course, how much everything weighed, and the right suspension set up!!
The thing that I think made the most difference in our game planning, was going to the venue the day before and doing an inspection lap of the race course.
We would go out and just ride the course, which had a few benefits, but the main one was learning the fast line and alternate lines through the technical sections. In my experience this generally paid off, especially early in a race when the bottlenecks occurred.
The one instance that I know it paid off for me, was a race at Landahl Park. I went out to ride the course and ended up going alone which is no big deal. As I rode that day I looked at every section I thought I might have problems with from going into and riding out of angles.
There was one section I remember clearly...It was a short climb, not too steep, but it had lots of big rocks...at the top you made a right turn and it dropped away into a rock garden of good sized rocks. The key to this section was to make it up the short climb before it...do this and you will put time on anyone who doesn't clean this section. So I stopped and found the good line up it, and tried to clear it twice with no luck. I thought to myself oh well it would probably be faster to run anyway. So I finish the lap confident with what I learned on my inspection of the course.
On to the race...GO, were off, up the first climb and a small group of 3 ride away, and i'm at the front of the rest. We get out of the first section of single track and I pin it WFO to get across...YEA I made it!! so we keep hammering and hit the next section of single track, there are 4 of us now.
Fast forward a bit...the guy that's on the front tells us that his front derailleur is broke so he will pull out of the way when we get to the next climb. Down to 3 of us. We keep it on kill for the next 3 or 4 miles and shuck the number 3 guy. Down to 2. Racing along and the guy in front of me rides away and i'm all alone now...I think to myself...Great...2nd place isn't so bad. So I keep riding what I thought was a good pace and sure enough I run him down. I get to his wheel and follow for a while, he hits a stick and flips it up into his rear wheel...I say to him...dude you got a stick...as soon as I say this it locks up his rear wheel, around I go and put the hammer down to lead the 1st lap.
Lap number 2 was uneventful...I get to the section I described earlier, and fly up it like it was flat, make the turn and roll down the rock garden and on to the smooth stuff, put it on kill again, and won the race by over 3 minutes!!!
I'm pretty sure that being a student of the game went a long way in that victory!!!
That win is the one I hold the highest over all of my wins!!!
So needless to say, knowing as much as possible about any battle you are about participate in, is a huge advantage!!!