Monday, July 02, 2007

MTB weekend action - fear is the mind killer

I did a little MTB racing on Sunday. Well, 'racing' would be the wrong word for it because this particular course is an internal challenge. Frankly, Swanson scares me. It's twisty, filled with roots and fast, steep little whoop-de-doo things that make a 29er want to take flight, and most of all because last time I rode it a spent the afternoon in the hospital with Marc. I needed stitches from my wreck and he had xrays done which confirmed he'd shattered his clavicle the on the pre-ride the day before. Of course, the cause of the accidents was way too much roadie speed and way to little MTBer skills.

Nonetheless, it's one thing to know the cause and solution in your head, and quite another to let the fear go and apply what you know, especially now that I'm keenly aware of the pain quotient my rate of travel + any given solid object can yield.

So, Sunday I had three main objectives: 1) Safety for Superweek, 2) see if I liked my newly raised bars, and 3) go ride that freaking course despite the sick little feeling in my gut that makes me cling to my brakes, stiffen my upper body, and desperately long for the open road.

As far as meeting the objectives... well, I'm nursing no superweek threatening injuries, I'm still out on the bars and #3 will take some work.

I should have gone and rode the course a couple of times by myself in the morning, but didn't make it up there in time. I rode part of the course once before I raced and discovered on the start line that they'd opened a section closed to the beginners that I especially don't care for. Oh well. Relax, pick the line, keep your eyes on where you want to go.

WHACK. OUCH. Drag the bike out of the way wondering why can't I feel my knee. Oh my whole leg feels charley-horsed. After a bunch of guys passed, most asking if I was alright (thank you! for checking), I drug my bike to the top of the rise and Shim said, "Is that front tire a little soft?" I squeeze it and sure enough, it's so soft it's not even funny. Wonder I made it that far. So, I filled it back up and after rubbing my leg a bit continued on the course. Problem was that I'd lost faith in my front tire which made me more fearful and magnified my caution which in turn made me stiffer and less "into the groove" than I already was and I really kind of wanted to quit. But, one thing I do know, is that once you start letting fear creep in, it'll spread until its paralyzing effect cripples most everything you do.

So, when I forgot the right turn down a steep incline and froze up, I just quick stopped, got out of the way of other racers, retraced my ride to 20 feet, got back on and rode it correctly. I did this multiple times through the course and was consequently the LAST one in. Oh well. There's nothing wrong with being scared, inexperienced, etc. It's what you do in response that matters and defines you.

As far as that tire goes... well, it turned out to be a slowish leak from a small hole in the sidewall that I'd thought the sealant had filled, but maybe the sealant got knocked out? I'm not entirely sold on this tubeless technology. Flat or not flat. That's easy. This is it gonna hold stuff is hard on my peace of mind.


Neve_r_est said...

It's easy to screw up and eat it at Swanson. Friggen roots. More time on the trail helps, last time I was there I felt like a pinball.

Tubeless: add another cup of sealant to your tires. My spring races were all plagued by slow leaks b/c I wasn't using enough sealant to properly coat the inside of my tire.


sydney_b said...

I wondered about that, Dennis. I'll add more. Thx!

Danielle said...

Roots are the enemy!!!

Take care for superweek. I can't wait to read the updates.

oldmanandhisbike said...

I am not in favor of tubeless. Stick with the tried and true tubes (that is an oldman speaking, right?). And their lighter too.
MTB is so different from road that I can see how it requires mental adjustment on your part. I know I would be scared sh_tless if put on a road course with guys all around me. Give me trees over handlebars anyday!

Chris said...

When I was doing more mtb than road biking "back in the day", I remember the fear you describe.

Fear causes hesitation and hesitation causes a world of problems in mtb. More off road practice is the only fix I think.

Nikemom said...

your badger gear looked great... i didn't stick around to the end, but i'm sure you looked just as tough and hard to beat as when you started... good luck at superweek!

VeloCC said...

Syd, I admire your courage and toughness! You talk about that "fear" and to a lot of people I would say, keep your momentum up, speed is your friend, but in your case, I don't think that works...:)
You are almost TOO FAST, well not really but you should take some "driving-lessons" to get your power under control, literally.
And trust me, the moment, you feel, you control your bike and the trail, the fear will be gone and all that is left is POWER, SPEED and way fewer crashes.
I know this fear, oh so well. Sometimes, it followed me just for a few minutes and sometimes it didn't let go of me for the rest of the ride after a crash, e.g. after sliding out over a wet root.
Today, I have more skills and I KNOW that, but I didn't even realize it until I read your race report... I haven't had that fear in a while.
There are still things that I am afraid to ride, but I think that is different.
Anyway, I'll take you out for a ride any time.
Mind over matter!!

sda said...

so what about the fc50? making the journey?

June Upshaw said...

hey I found a quote.
Eric Heiden.

Bicycle Racers love living on the edge. They need to know the extreemes of their physical limitations, and enjoy living beyond them.

YOu got the moxy. I admire how tough you are, Syd. (yeah he said that too! haha)

3p0 said...

well, way to stick it out syd... you just need to start riding that mnt bike with us more...

tuesday night? or are you on the road to breck?

sydney_b said...

Chris, I think you're right. More time on the MTB is the only answer. Maybe this weekend I'll make some time to focus on technique. I'm awaiting my new helmet tho. That was another thing. Nothing like knowing there's a crack in your lid to make you not want to see how sturdy it is. (No lectures please. I had to wait to get paid to replace the one I broke.)

Nikemom, thank you. :) I felt so slow and a discredit to the uniform, but I'm gonna do it and the bike justice soon enough. Just got to get to 'cross season in one piece. Ha!

That's so true, June. We do have a need to push push push. Whether its speed, power, or endurance. I know it's dangerous sometimes, but I just can't seem to get the hang of knitting.