By Vicki Barclay
Approaching a big race like the Trans-Sylvania Epic, people always ask, “How you are feeling?” and “Are you ready?” I always find it a funny question to answer! The same way as when someone asks how a job interview went, men tend to answer with confidence, I have noticed, whereas females tend to be more coy and careful. I prefer the coy and careful approach.
The truth is, mountain bike stage racing is like no other racing. As Heidi Klum from Project Runway would say (yes, I know, I love crap TV!): “One day your in, the next you’re out” (with a very abrupt tone for out). You can be having the ride of your life, only to be taken out by a mechanical, illness, etc. In other words, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
This spring, with the incredible support from the Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team, I have been able to participate in a whole range of races on my journey towards TSE, including the Maryland State Champs at Greenbriar; the Whiskey Off-Road; the Wildcat 100; Mike Kuhn’s universal relay race; a 4 hour endurance race; and a cross country race in the Mid-Atlantic super series. It has been the most enjoyable spring racing to date, mostly because I have loved racing my Cannondale Scalpel 29er! The bike climbs like a cross-country hard tail, but floats over the rocks like an amazing full suspension bike.
But do all those races mean I am ready for TSE? Thoughts start creeping across my mind, like “Should I have done more back-to-back hard days of training instead of racing?” “Why didn’t I make the effort to pre-ride some of the stages that I don’t ride too often?” “Should I be more anal about my bike set-up, positioning etc?”
What I am learning more and more with stage racing, and indeed all other types of racing however, is that you have to quietly accept and be at peace with your preparations, turn up to the start line rested, and not get caught up in what other people are doing in training, eating, drinking, etc. At least that’s how it works for me.
The prologue starts Sunday and I am excited about what the week will bring. Are you ready?