Preparing for the XC Indoor Challenge at Ray’s Indoor MTB Park

hey lee-

i am super lucky and super psyched. i’ve been invited to do an indoor mtb timetrial at ray’s indoor bike park in ohio.
2009 Tri-Flow XC Indoor Challenge at Ray’s Indoor MTB Park

was wondering if you’ve ever ridden there and if you have any advice. i’m racing my hardtail which i feel pretty good on. per the website, the course sounds like mostly xc riding and 2 technical lines. don’t know what you could say, but thought i’d ask. i’m reviewing mastering mountain bike skills by some guy l. mccormack as we speak.;)


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tough girl cycling team

When you are uncomfortably pinned, your instincts will tell you to stand up, away from the “danger.” Don’t. Whatever happens, concentrate on staying low. This gives you the range of motion to carve and pump the way you need to. Judy practices high-intensity XC-bike pump at The Fix.


Wow, what a great opportunity. The top five women get paid — and only five are invited. That is rad.

You pose an interesting question. You’re a pro racer, and I guess you’re in decent shape, so let’s focus on specifics:

Go for the flow
The winning racer will carry smooth, consistent speed from start to finish. I’m guessing most of the racers will haul butt on the XC sections then tense up and slow down in the tech sections. You’ll be riding on wood-over-concrete, and that can be freaky — especially to a base-mile-riding, Lycra-wearing XC-type.

Forget that you’re in “that tech part” or on wood. Focus on the next section and just ride your bike.

Intensity plus technicality
All of you practice your intensity, and some of you practice technical riding. Very few practice technical riding with intensity. This is key. Get used to entering tech sections at red line. Learn to stay relaxed and let it flow. Super D and DH racers know all about this.

Idea, since you live in Boulder: Go to The Fix. Rip some hot laps around the neighborhood to get your heart rate way up. Dive into the pump track for a few laps. Pull back out and hammer in the parking lot. Repeat. Keep the same mindset the whole way. You’re not “pedaling” or “pumping” — you’re just riding.

Experiment with your intensity level, and see which intensity gives you the fastest times through the tech sections. Hint: It’ll be higher than you’re used to but lower than you expect.

Drop your seat
Your seat must be high enough to yield Awesome Power(tm), but it must be low enough to let you flow the fun stuff. It’s too late to learn a remote system, and, besides, you won’t have time to mess with it on such a short course.

Try dropping your seat just a bit — the international Super D standard is 5/8 inch. Experiment to find a height that gives you good power and opens up your cockpit so you can flow. Remember: You won’t win this with your Awesome Power(tm). You’ll win it with smooth, consistent speed from start to finish.

Warm up really well
Endurance racers frequently underestimate the demands of shorter events. When you toe the line, you should feel like you’re in the middle of an XC race. You should be warm and frothing at the mouth. And — this is important — the specific energy systems must be ready to go. That means your warmup must include sprints and hops and pumping and everything you’ll be doing in the race.

Good luck, and tell us how it goes!

— Lee

Lee Likes Stickers

I finally made up some stickers, and Judy is rocking some at Ray’s this weekend. That sure would look cool on the front of Mountain Bike Action!

6 replies
  1. JimV says:

    I was at Rays this weekend. The race sounds fun! (We make the 5-hr drive to Cleveland several times every winter)

    The xc course is tight with frequent features that require short bursts of power. The big climb is probably only 30′ elevation gain, but it’s steep with a 180 “switchback.”

    Lee – any chance of a coaching weekend at Rays? You could rent the place for Friday or Monday for a class and do small lessons on the weekends? (I did a Shaum’s March camp there last year) He’s got a smooooth pump track.

  2. judy says:

    lee – thanks for all good info! i’ll let you know how it goes.

    jim – good to know about the xc course. thanks!


  3. judy says:

    hey lee-

    sorry it has taken me so long to write. there’s been so much to write, that i haven’t known where to start. (writer…blocked!) i’m in the process of posting a race report to my blog, but here’s the short and sweet of it. (i saw chris’ question on the website and hope i address it here too.)

    to begin,

    thaaaannnnkkkkkkk yoooooouuuuuu!

    i got 2nd and was stoked! the coaching and tips helped with my time for sure and – without question – made riding at the park that much more fun – because there was a lot of fun stuff to ride.

    it was really good to get out on the pump track with you and the gang. practicing laps at speed and then hopping into a technical section was helpful for sure. being smooth in those transitions really does take work – if not just for skill, also to not be freaked out.

    the pump track also helped with fluidity. with all the turns, bumps, etc., being as smooth as possible definitely came in handy. i’ve been riding mostly road this off-season, so it was good to focus on technical riding for few solid hours before i left. it did take a bit to get back in the flow of it. at first, i felt like i was dancing but fully missing the beat. (yah…go judy, go judy.)

    warming up was tricky since there was a fair amount of stop and go before the race, but I see what you mean about warm-up being key. xc races definitely are a little more forgiving if you aren’t fully warmed up. the race was about 10 minutes long and by the end i had hit my vo2 levels and was all jittery from adrenaline. it happens so quickly; you have to be ready by the start.

    one thing i should have dialed in was the gears i wanted. i kinda figured it out in warm up, but didn’t have the best ones at speed ironed out. it was a small detail, but the race times were so close that every second counted. aside from trial and error, do you have a tip for figuring that out in a warm up?

    all in all, it was a very fun weekend. the race itself was really fun and different; a welcome break from the norm. we spent all saturday afternoon sunday day riding round the park. i spent a lot of time on the pump track and like jim v said, it is a sweet pump track.

    you would love riding there. people go there from all over because it is that much fun. we met people who flew in from maryland, drove in from west virginia and regulars that walked in from their house down the street. everyone at the park was super nice. ray (the park’s namesake) and others we met gave us pointers on how to ride new stuff, which was very cool.

    yah…definitely two thumbs up.

    thanks again for all your help!


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