Cool MTB race ...(Nor Cal Near Auburn) Tips wanted

This will be my first “real” race. It will be an XC type race on a 8.5 mile loop. I will be doing the “sport” category with two laps totalling 4400’ of elevation.
I estimate it will take me around 3-3.5 hours. (Based on a similar ride I did last summer with less elevation and more distance) If I come in any faster than that I’ll be super stoked and will be promoting TR to every living soul in sight for the rest of the year. (Okay, I already do that.)
The event is going to be on March 3rd so I expect either cool and dry or cold and wet conditions.

My main concern is with pacing myself. I do not have a PM nor do I have a cadence sensor on my mtb. I have been thinking about using a cadence sensor in conjunction with RPE.
Will a cadence sensor be useful in helping me stay within my limits?

BTW: Proceeds from the race will go towards building the Auburn Bike Park. Entry is $45 and there will be a free kids race as well.

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Use RPE in conjunction with a heart rate monitor. Cadence won’t help with pacing.
Any pacing approach requires experience to apply. Do some training rides at race pace and make a note of your RPE and HR. That will provide reference on how to pace during the race. The most important thing is not to go out too fast when adrenaline is high and RPE low.

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Why Sport vs Beginner?

The cadence sensor won’t help. If you are looking at it, the trees WILL find you.

Go by RPE. Record all you want, but if you are truly going hard, you won’t be able to look at things.

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Thank you, I plan on avoiding doing exactly that. I will keep and eye on my HR next time I get to ride outside and try to build a base knowledge of how to pace off of it.

Why not? I did a “Fun” race type of event that was 25 miles with 3,400’ of elevation that kicked my butt last summer but I was 25lbs heavier and it was over 90 degrees outside toward the end. Plus this will be laps and I am a little excited to see what I can do on lap#2. I am not trying to get on the podium or anything, I just want to enjoy it and push myself.

After reading this out loud to myself, I realized that I would probably stand a better chance of a respectable finish time if I had signed up for the Beginner category which is only one lap. Oh well, I will just do my best to finish strong without bonking.
Thanks for the tip on the RPE!

The Cool course can be very challenging. I’ve raced it a couple times and worked as crew for the race a couple more. If your technical riding skills is not high, you should consider getting out for a pre-ride before the race. In any case, racing well is as much about skill as fitness. If there’s heavy rains, there can also be a couple serious water crossings. Redirecting...

In terms of pacing your effort, the course will drive that as much as anything as the course is dominated by a couple steep climbs and a couple longish descents. They sometimes vary the route, but this is the classic “Cool” race loop. The climbs are steep enough that you’ll be pinned if its not so slippery that you have to get off. For the rest of the course you’ll just be holding threshold. 2014 Cool XC Race Loop NG | Strava Ride Segment in Cool, CA Not a lot of steady state riding on the course.


I keep a cadence sensor on my bike while racing my MTB. I don’t really find it useful at all on the trails, there’s too much variation in terrain. I like it a lot more when doing intervals during training than for racing. I do like that I can look back after the race and see what my cadence ranges were though.

I do all my MTB racing on RPE and HR. Mostly because I don’t have power on that bike, else I’d use that. I find that I do a pretty good job of pacing how hard I can go by RPE. But sometimes I’ll let myself recover for longer than I need to, and I leave HR on my display so I can see if it’s dropped far enough that I’m probably plenty rested and I need to get on the gas again.

Hey thanks for the insight! I live in the East Bay Area so I do plan on getting up there before hand to get familiar with what I am up against. I’m pretty okay with bike handling skill but I know I have a lot of room for improvement as far as keeping my momentum up and cornering could be better I’m sure.
I have been working on steep climbs specifically since most of the East Bay Regional Parks close to home full of them.

Would you recommend a hardtail or full squish?

The short travel XC 29er is pretty much always going to be the fastest choice. If I race, I’ll probably choose based on the course conditions. A couple of laps on a muddy course, with big creek crossings can make for expensive repairs on a FS bike. Lots of people will race Single Speed if its too muddy and wet. But the descents can be muddy, rutted, with baby heads, and you’d appreciate the FS then. Like always its a choice between fast and sketchy, or slow, fun and safe.

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Well my choices are:

  • 26" 9 speed Hardtail (23lbs)
  • 26" 10 speed Full Suspension (31lbs)

I am leaning towards the Full suspension if my new shock and rear tire arrive on time. Its heavy but I feel like I can climb a little better on that one despite it being significantly heavier than my hardtail.

If they both have disk brakes I’d do the one your most comfortable on. A 31 pound 26 will put you at a disadvantage.

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Just got an email that the race date has changed due to the weather.

The new date is April 7th.

Too much water,
the creeks are too high,
the trail is too soft.


I just saw that too. Works out for me, my training has been super hit and miss lately with my work schedule bouncing around and I still haven’t been able to get up there to ride at all.
Thanks for the heads up

Did you end up racing?
I had a blast!

Yeah, I signed up last minute and did a single lap. Fell over in the first big creek, got soaked, got muddy, had fun. A good time was had by all. Great weather.

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