Attack of the race-day nerves

Hey Lee…

I race DH, and recently I find my nerves get the better of me during my race runs. My last race I did, I thought my legs were going to give out 1/4 of the way down the racecourse and felt like I had no more gas in the tank.
My practice runs usually go very well…but as soon as the pressure of doing well in my race runs…it just seems my mind takes over. Do you have tips on how to handle the pressure of racing.



I could write an entire book on this subject (hmm …), but here are some quick thoughts:

Race like you train. Your race run is just another run. No crazy pressure. Practice fast and have fun — and race the same way.

It’s just another run. Don’t worry about your time or place; they’re arbitrary. Focus on what you can control: looking ahead, staying loose, leaning your bike in corners, etc. The time and placing will take care of themselves.

Keep your legs moving. You’re tensing up; that’s why your legs are blowing up. Stay loose, and try to pump everything. It keeps your legs fresh, makes you faster and is more fun.

Practice fast and fun — and race the same way.


PS: The book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by multi world champion Brian Lopes and me has a chapter on this.

4 replies
  1. Phillip Ball says:

    I think Ariel Lindsley gave some good advice in your “XC to DH Conversion” post from August 7th that also helps fight some of the race day jitters and feeling like there is no gas left in the tank. His advice was to not practice too much at a race because you’ll end up worn out and fatigued. I found that you also end up psyching yourself out and over analyzing the the course too.

  2. brent says:

    Hey Lee!

    What’s your opnion on non race weekend practice say at Keystone! Do you like to break the course down in sections or do you prefer top to bottom runs for conditioning?


  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Both. Learn it one section at a time. Do some full runs so you know how it feels.

    At races, Stee Peat only does full runs. He focuses on a different part of the course each run.

  4. bikerider says:

    When tension grips you, breathe slowly. Practice it before the gate start, and maintain it. If you hold your breath for the first portion of your run, you’ll starve your body of oxygen and suck.

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