Nick and I were talking about this on our final pre-ride before the Growler. As I've gotten stronger with the technical aspects of mountain biking, I've started wanting to ride everything. It's challenging and fun - and a good test of how far I've come from when I first statue riding. Trying to ride everything is just fine in daily training. That's when it's time to practice skills and figure out lines. The amount of time I spend working on skills will have huge benefits down the road. Being able to ride the rough stuff when tired or having the skill to muscle through a tricky rock garden will only save me time in the long run. It's usually faster to stay on the bike and keep moving forward. If I can clean the obstacles that is. If I can't, it's not a big deal during a pre-ride or trail day. 

But in racing, it's about getting from point a (starting line) to point b (finish line) the fastest. There are no style points for technical prowess during races unless it gets you to the line quicker. Being able to ride everything can be faster, but it can also burn some matches that might be needed later. The Growler last weekend proved that point for me. I might have garnered the cheers of the spectators for cleaning things and jumping rocks, but was it the smartest way to ride? I'm not sure after thinking about it. There were things that I walked because I knew it would be too much to try to ride (skull pass and one of the rocks on JoshO's on the first lap) but everything else I tried to ride. It was a pride thing - I knew I "could" everything and wanted to have the cleanest race I could. And I didn't consider cyclocrossing over the rocks as having a clean race. So there were a few times that I tried to ride something only to stall out and have to unclip anyway. Instead of having the momentum to just hop and over, it's minutes lost and energy wasted.

And there in lies the dilemma - how to handle the technical stuff in big races? Do I dial down the pride a little and accept that many of the other women aren't even trying to ride everything? Accept that it's going to be faster to cyclocross through some things and just do that? Or do I keep trying to ride everything, knowing that I may be giving up time and expending energy I might need later? Each one has benefits and drawbacks. If I stop trying to ride everything I might be faster on the clock, but that's not going to help me improve. At some point in time, I will be able to ride everything and will need to be able to ride it at race pace. A choice to be made at every rock garden. But a choice that can wait till is tie on a number plate again. 


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