This is coming from the mouth of a mountain bike racer that has never raced a short track mountain bike race before.
So here is how it went down.
I rode my mountain bike to the race from work as a good warm up. I had never raced this kind of race before and only been to the event once. As I rolled up I headed straight to the sign up booth. It’s a very obvious table with waiver forms scattered all over it. Immediately I could feel how relaxed the environment was; it exuded fun. I looked around and everyone was laughing and cheering.
I noticed they were running behind on the races which was nice because I arrived right when my race was suppose to take off. With no time to pre-ride the course several people gave me the low-down. I basically just knew the first turn was a left. I was told the course changes every week.
They called the women to the line and I rolled into the second row. My friend, Emma Coakley, told me it’s best to be in the front. Oops. Anyways, the men filed in behind us and we waited for the GO. Looking ahead at the grassy section and sharp left I squeezed my grips ready to race.
If you think starts are scary, this one is not. After the first sharp turn the race was spread out. I hit the next sharp turn and whoosh! My back tire slid out and I drifted through the turn. It has been a while since I have raced in such dry dusty conditions. Last week was all mud and slick roots and today was dusty loose dirt.
My first lap was sketchy. I cranked when I could then slammed on the brakes flying way to fast into the turns. I discovered very quickly that I needed to be smart about my cornering.
As I pedaled my way through the course I found the climb. Shortly before the finish line is a short steep climb. I steered right and stood up. Pushing fiercely down on my pedals. I tried my best to crest the top smoothly. I reached the top managing to maintain a very small amount of speed (felt more like a stand still at the top) and pushed myself over the edge.
The men zipped past me as I tried to regain speed. I headed up the last small climb to the finish line wondering how many laps I would have to complete today.
As I passed the finish line I scanned for the guy with the sign. As I read the sign I about died. How was I going to keep this pace up for 7 more laps? With my friends all around cheering and yelling I just tucked my head down and kept pushing.
Coming through for the last lap, people were calling for wheelies and guys were holding out beer. Who could ask for a better mountain bike race experience then that.
The last lap was my hardest. I was physically exhausted from accelerating out of the turns and ready to be finished. I pedaled through the last three turns and noticed how quiet it had gotten. The crowd had all shifted to the finish line leaving me on my own. I entered the finish line straight and was so excited/relieved to have finished my first short track race.
Short track is unlike any race I have done before. The vibe is very easy going and friendly. Everyone seems to be there for the same reason: burn your lungs for 20 mins, drink beer, and see other people suffer.
I highly recommend everyone try it out. I see it as a great way to introduce racing for beginners and also a great workout for your legs. I know when I have my own kids we will be at this every week. I saw families all around and kid’s cheering for their mom’s and dad’s. I love seeing kid’s enjoying something I am so passionate about.
Looking back on the race I learned once again that I need to practice my cornering. One thing short track does is brings out your biking flaws. It really lets you know what you’re good and bad at. So if you see me around the trails doing circles that’s just me practicing my turns. If you guys know of any great trails around town that are great for practicing corners or even some tips/tricks comment below. Thanks once again for reading my Louisville Short Track Race Report and I hope to see you at the next race.