Racing Tip 20 – The Race Face

This mountain bike racing tip is all about mind games. Even when your legs and lungs are hurting you’ve got to keep yourself in a good state of mind to perform your best in a mountain bike race.  And here’s one mountain bike racing tip that will help you do just that…

Poker players have a poker face, and as a mountain bike racer you should have a race face.

Just like in Poker, your race face can give you a psychological advantage over your competitors, by hiding what you’re really thinking. And it can give you a couple more psychological advantages too.  But, before we get to those,

Imagine This…

You’re 5o kilometres into a really hard and tough 60 kilometre mountain bike race, and some guy who’s been sitting on your tail for the last 20 kilometres, who you thought was barely struggling to keep up with you, all of a sudden breezes past you up a climb like it was no effort at all.

You look over at him and the expression on his face is one of pure pleasure and freshness. Sure he’s puffing, but he’s looking good, compared to how you’re feeling. And he’s not rocking side to side on his seat, either. His posture on the bike is good, and it looks like all his power is going straight to the pedals.

How would that make you feel?

Seeing your competitor so fresh in the late stages of a race? It could be all it takes for you to forget about trying to stick to his rear wheel. In your head you might think “I’m not going to be able to stick with him – he looks too fresh” so you won’t even bother chasing.

Well, maybe he’s just got his race face on. And maybe with a race face that could be you passing and accelerating away from him next time.

No Chain Baby

The Race Face Video
Do you find it hard to think of a race face? Well, think of a little chant about something you enjoy, or something that makes you smile. Something that’s easy to remember and something that brings a smile to your face.

Mine?  I have two.  The first one is “no chain, baby” It’s a saying I picked up a while ago from George Hincapie, actually. And it’s turned into an ongoing personal joke between a good friend of mine and me, so the mere mention of ‘no chain’, brings back some funny memories and makes me smile every time.  No chain to me means that you’re riding so effortlessly, feeling so good, that you don’t even feel like you need a chain to pull your bike along. Now that’s fresh!

And the second one? “Christmas pudding”. Thinking of that always bring a smile to the dial.  I say to myself that I’ll get some Christmas pudding if I can pass this guy and accelerate away from him.  There are no Christmas pudding shops out on the race course, but sometimes you need to play mind games with yourself to get that extra incentive to keep going hard.

Ten Million Dollars

Yours? Could be a memory of something great in your life. Could be thinking about the feeling you would have if you just won ten million dollars. Maybe it’s thinking about the words biggest shoe shop (that’s one for the girls).  Whatever it is, make sure it makes you smile. Then…

…use it on the start line, whenever you’re overtaking somebody or pacing them, or even when you’re waiting in transition ready to head out for your next lap for your four-man team. Look fresh and look sharp.

And don’t forget the rest of your body.  Sure you’ll feel tired on the inside, but don’t let it show on the outside. Keep your posture on the bike so that all of you looks like you have plenty of energy and plenty of spirit left in you.

Sometimes That’s All it Takes

Sometimes, in the right situation, all you need is to look strong and fresh for the competitor your passing to instantly feel demoralized and beaten.

“Gee, he looks fresh,” they might be thinking. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to stick with him.”  Bingo!  You’ve just gained the advantage.  And here are…

Two More Reasons For a Race Face

1. Your race face and the thoughts that make it happen, can help you think and stay fresh and focused on the bike, keeping you in a positive state of mind even in the toughest parts of a mountain bike race


2. Your competitor’s race face won’t demoralize you and put a dent in your confidence the next time he tries to pass you, because now you know what a race face is. All you’ll be thinking is “Sure he looks good, but I’m not buying. I reckon he’s just got his race face on.”

“No chain, baby.” It’s on like Donkey Kong.

Mountain Bike Racing Tip 19 <<< Passing Strategies

Mountain Bike Racing Tip 21 >>> The 2×10 Too Fast Start Solution