Mellow Johnny's hosted a pre-ride of next week's Mellow Classic today at Juan Pelota Ranch, the venue for the Classic and Lance Armstrong's ranch. There's 8+ miles of sweet Hill Country singletrack and it's only open to the public (mostly racers) a few times a year. So, hubby and I headed out to the ranch to check out the trails. We arrived just as the gates opened and immediately noted the line of riders waiting to sign in. There had to be at least 40 riders in line and that's not counting all those suiting up, getting their bikes ready and on the trail already. Excellent turnout of very serious riders who are probably racing this course next week. Hubs and I rolled out on the trail and were shortly greeted by several racers behind us who passed us. I'm glad I could serve as another obstacle. ;-) Each of them displayed excellent technical passing skills. I also noted that my favorite gear started slipping and grinding. Not good for me or for those behind me. I had to veer over a few times to get it sorted.
As time went on, I became more and more distracted by the rider traffic and my slipping gear. I felt like I was rushing rushing rushing and had to get through sections quickly so that I wouldn't slow down the riders behind me. This quickly led to an ugly descent where I was not properly clipped in and consequently lost my balance and took a pretty hard fall that ended my ride for the day. My left leg took the brunt of the impact and I have quite a knot on my knee - no that's not a second knee. GRRR. I'm very disappointed in my lack of performance and confidence today and especially that I didn't even get to finish out the trail. What little I saw of the trail was fun and I'm sure I would have enjoyed the rest of it. But on the upside, I much rather crash and not finish early on in the ride than about 4-5 miles in.
Lesson learned. Ride your own ride. Take your time. Racers are skilled at passing slower persons. You are not skilled when you are distracted or rushing. I also learned that I'm not quite "race-ready" as I had hoped to particiapte in an Xterra triathlon this year. The ride today just goes to show that I have a lot more miles ahead of me before I attempt to do any type of mountain bike race where I'm thrown into a start with everyone else. However, maybe I would be okay in a MTB race since you start in waves with those in your category. By the time the pros hit the trails, you're hopefully done. If my leg is better by next weekend, I just might roll up to the start so I can check out the rest of the trail. :)