Racing Tip 21 – The 2 x 10 Too Fast Start

Just about anyone who’s been in a mountain bike race has probably had the experience of starting the race way too fast, only to blow their legs and lungs up a few miles down the track.  You get too excited, putting too much energy into the start, only to pay for it for the rest of the race.

Well, here’s a mountain bike racing tip that will help you keep your race start under control, so that you’ve still got plenty of energy for the rest of the race.  But first, before we get to the race tip, let’s look at…

The Problem:

You’re at the race start line.  The start gun is loaded and about to fire.  You’re excited, a little nervous, and you’ve got a ton of adrenaline pumping trough your veins.

Bang!  The start gun sounds.

You take off like a rocket.  All that energy and adrenaline has you shooting up the trail at 110% effort.  You don’t realise that you’re putting out 110% effort at the time because you feel so good.  It’s the adrenaline that gives you the extra 10 percent spark.

But there’s a problem…

And it’s Getting Bigger

You Can’t Keep Riding at 110 percent Effort.  You’re using way too much energy.  So, about 3 minutes up the road your legs and lungs start burning.  ‘Oops.  Took off too quick’, your head says.  You’ve still got a long way to ride, so you back off your effort by about 10 percent to be safe.

But you’ve still got problems.  Sure, you’ve backed off 10 percent, but you’re still running at 100 percent output.  And nobody can keep that up.  But the excitement of the race and the adrenaline still have a grip on you so you keep on riding at 100 percent.

Then it Happens

(skip to the 2 x 10 Solution Video)

About another five or ten minutes up the trail your legs and lungs really start to blow up.  Lactic acid creeps into your leg muscles big time. That sinking feeling creeps in too, as you realise that not only did you start the race way too fast, but you’re still riding above a level you can sustain.  Your legs are really starting to ache…

So you back it off another ten percent, down to ninety percent effort.  But it’s too late.  All those fast first miles have chewed through too much of your energy and leg power too soon.  You can’t even keep up some normal kind of pace for the rest of the race, so…

…you cross the finish line disappointed.  ‘If only I didn’t start the race so fast, I could have done so much better,’ you say to yourself at the finish.

The 2 x 10 Race Start Solution

Unless you’ve specifically trained for hard and fast starts, find your 90 percent as quickly as you can.  Just like this…

You’re at the start of your next mountain bike race.  The start gun fires.  You go.  But straight away you back off your pedal effort by 10 percent, back to 100 percent.  Then immediately you back off another 10 percent, down to 90 percent. 2 x 10.

You might feel like you don’t need to back off 20 percent at the time, but that’s because all that adrenaline has got you feeling so good.  It makes you 110 percent the rider you usually are.

But This Time You Know Better

You now know that the bulletproof feeling won’t last, so you follow the 2 x 10 rule and back off your pedal pressure two times ten, down to what feels like ninety percent.  You let your legs settle in to the race, and you find your flow and a good race pace.

And the Best Thing is…

You also find it much easier to increase your pace and apply bursts of power where you need to because you haven’t used too much energy on the start.  It’s the 2 x 10 race start that’s helped make it happen.  Smiles all ’round.

Mountain Bike Racing Tip 20 <<< The Race Face

Mountain Bike Racing Tip 22 >>> Pressure Check