1st XC race, help me set some goals

I have my first XC race (since 2015) coming up this Saturday, i wasn’t supposed to start racing for another 4 weeks but this is local so i entered it.

The race will be 1hr-1.15 long, not very technical (my strong point) and not very hilly with just some short punchy climbs.

Currently i’m 2nd week into short power build and failing alot of workouts after an increase in FTP so not feeling too confident or in the best of shape hence wanting some non results related goals.

Any ideas?

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Have fun

Rubber was kept on the ground.

I’m not much of a racer, so I can’t offer advice there. Aside from don’t push so hard that you crash.
Short Power Build is a different matter. It hurt me badly and I struggled to finish some of the workouts.
I think when you really hit the trainer and your FTP is rising rapidly, it’s inevitable that something like SPB will poke holes in things.

For the record, I’m still getting faster every week.

Some non results goals I have set for XC races, depending on how I feel and where I’m at in training:

  • Start hard and hang onto lead group as long as I can. If I blow up, fine; if I settle into endurance mode, also fine.
  • Start slower, and work on moving up through the pack (assuming not DFL fitness). Passing isn’t something that people often ‘practice’, or at least me, and there’s a level of comfort you need to do it quickly, effectively, and choosing the right spots.
  • If your race is several laps - work on consistency in your pacing. The high level racers in my area knock off lap after lap at a very consistent pace. Purely time-wise, I would have finished 4th rather than 6th in the early season XC race I did a couple weeks ago if I had been able to pace my first lap better and finish my 3rd/last lap faster. This is something I’m trying to work on.

I’ve been through short power build 2 seasons already, and about to start it up again now, and since the race results of this one don’t matter to you - I would make the decision of what your weekend training will look like in the big picture. If you go super deep on Saturday, you might risk having a successful prescribed workout Sunday. So you may choose to add some extra laps or endurance riding after your race to make it a big training day, and pencil in an easier aerobic ride Sunday; or you might hold back a little and work on some of those other points so you don’t bury yourself over “not a lot” of TSS Saturday, but enough to derail your Sunday workout.

Random thoughts from a fellow XC nerd. Have fun!

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It’s your first race back, so just have fun and don’t worry about the results.

If you can, pre-ride the course so you can get a feel for it and the only goal I would set is to try and feel like you rode to the best of your ability on that day, in that moment.

Setting specific goals can come later.

My wife always says…“keep the rubber side down”. Great advice. Remember XC hurts…it will be a one hour VO2 max session.


And YES Short power build after a FTP increase hurts… Trust me when I say this, that you are making progress. After pushing through SPB and racing the first few XC races of the season just looking at lap times there was a huge improvement .

BELIEVE in your training and when the start whistle blows go out and have fun.

I am starting short power build 2 weeks late (thanks illness) and know these will be tough. I am not sure how you define Fail – unable to do ANY of the workout? have you dropped your intensity by 1-3 % This is a topic for another thread but something to think about.

Process like goals are fun.

Is it Multiple laps? Try to go faster or consistent or +1 min each lap - something you think you can do.

Distinctive climb or feature? Try to pass a rider in it - any rider.

Another one I did when I was less than fit was ABS - always be smiling - if you have the brain power to think - smile.

An alternative to ABS is ABP - always be pedaling. This is useful for TTs and less fun than ABS

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Im glad im not the only one struggling, im fine for a short while but then the heart rate wont come back down and i start the next interval still gasping from the last

I did think about going as hard as possible from the gun and seeing how long i last but i think maybe hitting consistent lap times would be a better plan, then go all out on the last lap.


Start slower, and work on moving up through the pack (assuming not DFL fitness). Passing isn’t something that people often ‘practice’, or at least me, and there’s a level of comfort you need to do it quickly, effectively, and choosing the right spots.

I always felt like you needed to be in the woods with the first group otherwise you’re getting gapped by slower riders ahead of you. Moving up through the pack on a 1 hour race can only get you so far if the contenders get a gap on the pack.

I would much rather force faster riders to pass me than passing slower riders. Just my experience.


Good advice above, I’ll just add a couple quotes I use and are mindful of before my XC races:

  • Calm, focused and fast.
  • Ride smooth, no crashing
  • Easy on the corners fast on the straightaways!
  • You have trained for this, it’s going to hurt, but no more than before.
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Yup, but look at the big picture… if you race over your abilities, that first rule of keeping the rubber side down gets a lot harder. As has been said many times, the best racers are the ones going that hard because they can maintain it and they aren’t going as far above their abilities as it might seem when you see how much faster they are… they’re just that fit!

This isn’t actually my experience. The best riders get in the woods at a sprint and typically they will settle into a race pace. Yes you have to be fit enough to keep up with the main group or else my advice doesn’t matter as you aren’t competing for a podium anyways. And if you can’t go fast and stay on the bike it also doesn’t matter.

Obviously I have no idea what his goals are. If he wants to podium, do what I suggested. If he is just looking to finish, there is plenty of good advice here.

Thanks for all the suggestions guys, however everything went out the window as soon as the gun went off, i went from 3rd row to near the front in about 5 seconds as there was a bottle neck around 200 metres after the start and very few places to pass however somehow i burped my front tyre and had to call it quits after maybe half a lap.

Fitness wise i felt reasonable, maybe 70-80%, i wasn’t really prepared for the speed of the higher catagory of racing but glad i’ve got a feel for it and i think by this time next year i can be competitive rather than hanging on.

Next race is a local midweek race in just over 2 weeks, the course doesn’t really suit me and i’ve had a mix of good and bad luck so fingers crossed.

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So, what is the plan to deal with that next time?

I’ve already changed tyres which i knew i should have done before the race.

They can burp as well. I carry a CO2 and a tube. I flatted out of one race as I was so cold I could not get my fingers to work. At one race, I could not get the tire off and ended up riding out on a flat. This year, I am going to carry a foam/sealant CO2 can to get me back out of the course. Also investigating the tire plugs.

Wondering if you are going to carry anything or just continue the risk.


I’m not going to carry anything, i had the elite women starting 2 mins behind aswell as 2 more catagories, it was a course with very few passing places so i called it quits early, i may pack a co2 from now on just to see if it will re inflate but this was not far after the start so i probably would have been passed by almost every one.