When I got into mountain biking I had ran almost 100 races. I loved them all- 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons and even an 50k that led to my knee going out with a girl I can’t do this anymore, you got to drag this leg from mile 17 to 31. That particular race led me to mountain biking.
When running I loved training and working towards a race to say motivated. I found racing Enduros not only kept me motivated to get out and ride but also challenged me to ride terrain I might not ride if I didn’t have to race on it. However, there was also a side of mountain biking that made it extremely competitive. Most races will do podiums per age category from 3-5 places deep. Unfortunately, the female categories are very light and there is not a large selection of age categories. Some races only have one age group per category i.e. all females race Category 2 (sport equivalent in Enduros) so a 50 year old races a 14 year old. I have been in this situation many times and I am like I could be your grandma cutie pre-teen that is going to whip my ass out here real quick. There you are in your category with only 5 other women, you trained for months, you feel great, you didn’t have any crashes, you are so incredibly proud for riding the crazy technical terrain, you climbed 3500ft and rode your heart out on 4 downhill stages to finish in one piece. Nonetheless, you were in 6th place and the only one not on the podium.
Now your focus is on being last, you don’t feel as great as you might if you finished a marathon with 400 other women. In the marathon you don’t care if you are last. You finished the damn thing! This is what I want to bring to MTB races. I want racing to be all about the individual goal. Your goal is training and finishing an Enduro or Cross Country race- do it! Your goal is to just finish without crashing or riding more technical terrain than you did last time- do it!
This is also why I started the MTB EXP Race Team. Well actually I started it after going to my first Enduro and there were barely any women. I said I am going to form a team and bring the women. The next year I showed up with 20+ women. However, I do want a “race” team that is more of a community of women that like to challenge themselves and work towards their own goals.
You are a winner when you get out there and do it regardless whether you earn a wooden medal or not. Let’s race ride!