Ride my bike

It's what Nick has been telling me on every ride we've done in Palmer Park. Ride my bike - racing doesn't matter if you can't make it over the technical sections cleanly. Drop out of race mode, ride my bike and think about shifting, timing and technique. Hard to do in the middle of a fast lap and wanting to get back to transition so Nick can head out, but faster then walking. I noticed it at Sage - in the sections that I've always struggled and the new rock climb, I was smoother when I told myself to "Ride my bike." I forgot about time, focused on getting the right lines, being in the right gear and timing the pedal strokes to clear everything. When I stayed in race mode, trying to bulldoze my way through things as fast as I could, I invariably screwed up and clanked something. Which meant I was off the bike and walking. Not the fastest way to get back to point A at all.

In Palmer Park, its going to be even more important to ride my bike and not stay in race mode the entire time. The switchback in Little Moab - over the course of our few pre-rides, it's been the only time I've made that section consistently. Talking myself through it, focusing on my line and my body mechanics. Not racing down at full speed, asking for a crash. The rock garden at the entrance to Templeton - again, ride my bike. Be in a gear I can pedal, but can produce power. Don't try to cheat the rocks - small wheelie, half pedal, pop that rear tire up and over and keep riding. I've already decided that the staircase on Templeton will be a planned dismount - I'm still so inconstant with the last two rock steps that it's going to be safer and easier to just run up it. But the descent down into Lazy Land - eyes on the trail, weight back, no front brake. It's all rollable, but don't try to cheat some of the bigger rocks. Some of them are sidewall eaters. After that, it's all familiar riding back to the camper. But even the familiar trails can trick you, so it's never safe to just relax and space out, staring at the stars and the city lights.
Riding my bike at Palmer Park
Photo Christian Murdock

So while this is a huge race for us, I need to remember to ride my bike. Remember all the work we've done on skills and the improvements I've seen this year. (Last year I wouldn't have ridden on Templeton at all and I almost always walked down the Little Moab switchback.) Treat it as a fast paced trail ride with my friends and I'll make it back safely and cleanly.

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