1) They're really hard! It's like doing a 40k time trial, but for two hours! I don't have a power meter on my mountain bike, but I did use my PowerTap in HR-mode. My average HR was 172! That's almost my threshold HR! It also didn't help that I went into the race feeling overtrained. I think all the mountain biking I did this week was a bit much. Even so, every time I do a mountain bike race, I realize how much "easier" road racing is. There's just no resting in a mountain bike race. Even when descending, you have to be on top of it and stay focused. With all the body english, even while descending my HR only got down to around 140!
2) Racing mountain bikes negates all the things I actually like about mountain biking. Like taking my time and just going whatever pace I feel like. Enjoying the scenery and the sounds of being out in nature. No worries about wattage or HR. Just riding for fun. But when you race mountain bikes, it's stressful! First you have a chaotic start with everyone sprinting from the line (not at the line, like at the end of a road race). Then once the dust settles you're either trying to pass someone, or being passed. This is especially nerve-wracking on singletrack. That's where I was actually trying to do the passing! And of course, there's no time to enjoy the scenery. What fun is that!?
So needless to say, I didn't have a good race today. I was suffering the whole time and realized that I really need to stop racing when I'm overtrained...the outcome is never good! I was glad I pre-rode the course, it helped in a few instances. But unfortunately, I didn't pre-ride the one section that was added at the last minute and was actually the most technical! Of course, that's where I crashed...twice! I think my fatigue by that point also contributed, but at least I didn't break anything...on me or my bike.
I'm not sure how I finished as I was so disappointed in my ride that I just took off as soon as I could. I know I wasn't last, but I wasn't climbing near where I should have been. Looks like this week will be another recovery week.
Results from the Knobby Tire Series web site: