Peak GMT Mountainbike Race Report 2017

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Peak 6 hr Challenge

The first wave of intrepid racers lined up on the top of Tweed, Downpours in the wee hours of the morning were enough to make the course, hereby known as the “gnarled albatross” for the route’s peculiar resemblance to a seabird, not just techy and hilly but downright treacherous.   Fourteen year old local, Jackson, ailing with an emergent case of strep throat, lead the pack up to Shrek’s Cabin, but was soon exhausted by his illness.

After the first lap, it was already apparent who was going to go the distance and who was just trying to survive to go another round. Sam Darling, Phillip Parrish, and Tucker Weaver held their positions almost the entire race, with two veteran racers, David Boyce and Robert Paton, making respectable showings not far behind. Four laps, fifty miles,6.5 k feet on terrain most riders would be pressed to handle with fresh legs in pristine conditions. Parrish, racer for Bicycle Express and a GMT regular, made his move on the last lap overtaking Darling by two minutes, which in a race of this length and intensity could just as well be two seconds. Weaver rode in a half hour later to take third.

Peak Gnarly Adventure

The Gnarly Adventure did not look like the start of the race, but the start of an expedition, and in a way it was. The racers had their maps spread out trying to make heads or tails out of the mish mash of arrows and x-es sketched onto them. When the RD was fielding questions, someone asked how long this would take. He gave a wild guess, four hours…now wait, maybe five. Nervous laughter ensued.

They were off with a good chance that we would not see them again for another six hours, and for about half the field, this proved true. Not only did they have to collect tokens from each and every trail, they had to navigate in such a way that it would not conflict with the loop course. Several racers had been riding the GMT for years, but no matter. They underestimated how tough it would be. Peter Woolson showed up, flushed, exhausted and exhilarated, at exactly the four hour mark with all twenty tokens going down as the Gnarly Adventure’s first victor. He, as well as Christina Mattsson and Casey Novotny who wandered in a half hour later, were all local riders.

Those three were impressive. But what blew our mind was Mark Whalen, whose first serious ride on the GMT was during the race and he managed to complete the challenge a half hour after the regulars. The rest of the field filtered in close to the cutoff, each missing only a few tokens, each exhausted and having had the time of their lives.

Get Race Ready – 6.Enjoy

PEAK®

Do These 6 things and You’ll be Ready to Mountainbike Race

STEP SIX Smell The Roses

Have fun. Pack a picnic in your hydration pack and linger at the top of a mountain with a friend and have deep conversations. Pretend you’re announcing a grand prix race the whole way down. Sit by a waterfall with a good read. Read a page an hour; spend the rest of the time peering above the pages at the scenery. Don’t research the best swimming holes. Pack some old Chucks and trudge down the river and find one yourself. Make a few dozen stops along the ride to forage for berries. Revel in your new lip color.  Learn not to take yourself so seriously and watch your racing and life improve dramatically.

READ

1.Go Against the Grain
2.What to Eat
3.Teach to Do
4.Build Capacity
5.Learn Calm

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Get Race Ready – 5.Learn Calm

PEAK

Do These 6 things and You’ll be Ready to Mountainbike Race

STEP FIVE Practice Active Meditation

You can cue Mr. Miyagi of Karate Kid fame if you must, but find the most mundane, time consuming task that you can muster  (scrubbing the bathroom tile grout with a toothbrush, clearing a football field sized meadow with a scythe, whatever) lock away the phone, the tv, ALL distractions, and get to work. Whatever thoughts pop into your head, pay them as little mind as you would your crazy racist uncle. Don’t actively expel them, just let them pass and fade away naturally. Come back to focusing on your breath and the task at hand. Be in the moment. Forget about the goal. Forget about the rewards. Forget about your lengthy to do list.  It will feel uncomfortable at first, but with enough practice, you’ll find contentment in the moment even doing the most seemingly drudging task. This will build your mental endurance substantially and get you to the finish line.

READ:

1.Go Against the Grain
2.What to Eat
3.Teach to Do 
4.Build Capacity 
5.Learn Calm

 

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Get Race Ready – 4.Build Capacity

PEAK

Do These 6 things and You’ll be Ready to Mountainbike Race

STEP FOUR Spend Lots of Time in the Saddle

There’s no getting around it. To complete an endurance race you need to build up your mental and physical capacities to their optimal level without injuring yourself or burning yourself out. That means at least one or two days a week of serious, uninterrupted riding ramped up over weeks and months mixed in with a few lighter days.  There are lots of good periodization plans available on the internet so I won’t waste space describing them here.

READ:

1.Go Against the Grain
2.What to Eat
3.Teach to Do 

 

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Get Race Ready – 3.Teach to Do

PEAK

Do These 6 things and You’ll be Ready to Mountainbike Race

STEP THREE Teach Someone to Ride

There is a lot of sound advice out there suggesting that if you want to get better, ride with people better than you. Absolutely. But there’s another perspective that says you can make significant improvements by riding with newbies. Here’s how: As you start to master mountain biking, much of what you do moves out of conscious awareness. Most of your skill becomes hardwired which is a great thing. It frees up space to learn new skills which propel you to ever higher levels of mastery.

Teaching newbies moves your mind in the complete opposite direction. You bring skills that you now take for granted back into conscious awareness. How is this helpful? Besides the satisfaction of introducing a great sport to initiates, teaching is like taking a refresher course. Through instruction you become hyper aware of whatever deficiencies may have snuck into your riding habits while you weren’t looking and you have a chance, even an obligation, to refine them. As a result, your fundamentals improve where otherwise they would’ve been neglected indefinitely.

READ:

1.Go Against the Grain

2.What to Eat

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Get Race Ready – 2.What to Eat

PEAK

Do These 6 things and You’ll be Ready to Mountainbike Race

STEP  TWO Save the candy for Halloween

If you know it’s going to be another long, cold New England winter and you heat your home with a stove, what do you use? Do you stockpile lots of paper, cardboard, pine sticks and gasoline? Or do you order a few cords of slow, but hot, burning hardwoods?

Expel most of the refined sugars and simple carbs from your life and I guarantee that you will feel and perform great (After a solid week of feeling awful. Straight sugar is like a drug and what you’re feeling is straight up withdrawal.) Check labels. If the so called energy bar has 20g or more of sugar, take a pass, or better yet, make your own. Dump the gels in your hummingbird feeders.  Feed yourself right and you’ll bonk next to never given smart planning. As with all  trail nutrition, experiment diligently prior to race day. The time to give up your sugar addiction or to figure out the right formula is emphatically not on or immediately prior to race day.

Read 1.Go Against the Grain 

 

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Get Race Ready – 1.Go Against the Grain

PEAK

Do These 6 things and You’ll be Ready to Mountainbike Race

STEP ONE Go Against the Grain

I get it. You have your favorite loop that you know like the back of your hand. You’re the Strava champion of the world. Here’s the harsh truth–no one cares about this except your mom and your doting nephew and chances are they’re even faking it.

If you want to get better, you have to stretch your mental and physical muscles in ways they’re not accustomed to. As long as it doesn’t detract from anyone else’s enjoyment and doesn’t violate the rules of the trails, ride your favorite loop..backwards. You’ll soon figure out that you aren’t as good as a rider as you thought you were, but stick with it and you will be.

Get a good light and some extra battery packs and ride at night as fast as you can without putting yourself in peril. Even the most familiar trails will be a challenge and your bike handling skills will improve automatically. Other ideas–pick a fairly technical trail and ride it as slow as possible without faltering. Pick an easy, lightly trafficked, trail and ride it as fast as possible.

~Matt Baatz

1.Go Against the Grain
2.What to Eat
3.Teach to Do
4.Build Capacity
5.Learn Calm

6. Smell the Roses

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Learn more about the Peak GMT Gnarly Adventure and 6 Hr. Challenge

 

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