Three years ago I stopped doing endurance sports, and entered the more fast and furious world of bicycle racing. Twenty plus years of long course running, riding and mountaineering accostumed me to what I call “chronic” pain: pain that doesn’t hurt all that bad but pain that you have to live with for hours on end. Bike racing, by contrast, has what I call “acute” pain: intense but short-lived suffering. I’ve come to prefer the acute pain – get in, go hard, get out.
I now find myself in possession of a position at the starting line of the 2013 Leadville 100 mountain bike race, and consequently have found myself back in the endurance (i.e. chronic pain) game. Last Saturday I got a taste of this pain at the 2013 Echo Valley Mountain Bike Race – 60 mile division (the course was actually 63 miles).
|A smile goes a long way in a long race|
Prior to Saturday the furthest I’d ever ridden my mountain bike was 50 miles, so I was entering into uncharted territory. Road biking and mountain biking are as different as Harley riding and motocross. Sure there is some overlap, but not much. Mountain biking, especially mountain bike racing, searches out every little weakness, every little thing that you might have let slip a bit, and then it throws it in your face. The biggest obstacle is cramping.
I don’t know why, but nearly every mountain bike racer that I’ve talked to experiences cramps – in nearly every race. For me it’s only mountain biking and it’s only during races. Go figure. Some say it’s low hydration. Some say it’s a deficit of electrolytes. I’m not so sure about jumping on either wagon. Obviously maintaining hydration and electrolyte levels are important, but personally I think that the best way to avoid cramps is to increase muscle strength. So that’s why I need to end this post and pedal down to the gym.