Racing 101

Wanna race your mountain bike but don't know how to get started? You've come to the right place! The Nebraska Lottery Psycowpath Mountain Bike & Trail Running Series is a well-organized race series that is just as excited to see a first-timer cross the finish line as it is a seasoned racer. We are committed to creating an event that welcomes all participants and fans to come out and enjoy the outdoors, as well as some friendly competition. We know trying a race for the first time can be daunting so we've tried to answer some of the popular questions. Of course, if you have further questions, please feel free to email the Psycowpath promoter, Ryan Feagan at ryan.feagan@gmail.com. IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS YOU'D LIKE TO SEE PUBLISHED, PLEASE EMAIL THEM TO roxzanne.abbott@gmail.com. SHE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Q. WHAT KIND OF BIKE DO I NEED? A. Any kind of off-road or hybrid mountain bike with knobby tires.

Q. WHAT DO I WEAR? A. You can wear what you picked up off the floor this morning. But you are required to wear a bike helmet. We also recommend gloves to protect your hands in case you fall. Plus, they help keep your hands ON the handlebars!

Q. HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT CATEGORY I SHOULD RACE? A. There are four categories: Juniors (Under 19), Cat. 3 (Beginner), Cat. 2 (Intermediate), Cat. 1 (Pro/Expert). Within those categories are age classes: Junior classes are ages 10-12, 13-15, 16-18 for both girls and boys; For men, the classes are: 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50+. For women, the category is Open, meaning no age breakouts, so all women race together within their designated category. There is also a Marathon category which is a mix of riders at all abilities who just want to race longer than their XC category allows. There are age classes for Marathon Men: 39 & U and 40+ If you are racing for the very first time, sign up for Beginner, or Cat. 3 If you're only out for the experience and can do just a single lap, then the Beginner Cat. 3 level could be for you. If you're able to hang with the faster guys and gals on group rides, then maybe you're an Intermediate Cat. 2 level racer. If you're leading the group rides all the time and weighing your food before you eat it, you are probably an Expert Cat. 1 racer. The mountain bike rules are pretty flexible but usually once one has raced up a level, one rarely goes backwards so start below a level and work your way to the next level.

Q, HOW LONG IS EACH RACE? A. It really depends on which category you put yourself in. The higher the category, the more laps. We try to keep the Cat. 3 races at one lap or at least 30-40 minutes. Cat. 2 classes will race at least two to three laps depending on the course or for 1-1.25 hours. Cat. 1 are usually close to two hours and could be 3-5 laps depending on the course. Marathon races are 4 hours.

Q. WILL I HAVE TO RACE AGAINST THE FAST GUYS/GALS? A. Each category races separately from the other. Juniors start at 9a.m. All Cat. 3 & Marathon classes race in the morning at 10 a.m., while Cat. 1&2 race at noon but are staged so Cat 1 go first and then Cat 2. You will be lined up against other racers in your class (age). Each class then starts within 30 seconds to 1 minute of each other to avoid crowding. So, for instance if you're a Cat. 3, then all Cat. 3s will gather at the start and then the race director will "stage" you or group you by class (age), from youngest to oldest.

Q. IS THERE A KIDS BIKE RACE CATEGORY? A. Yes! A development club for kids called DEVO manages the kids races. Their race is usually a short lap or two around an easy short section of the course. For the older kids, they usually race on a shortened version of the adult course or do the whole course depending on the venue. Not all venues will have a DEVO event. There are prizes for all, and podium spots for the top finishers. A great way to introduce youngn's to the sport, and to involve the whole family in your race day experience! For more information on DEVO go to omahadevo.org.

Q. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RACE? A. Please refer to our price page.

Q. WHAT AM I GETTING FOR MY ENTRY FEE? A. Aside from a perfectly groomed and marked race course, each racer gets one series t-shirt, sticker (per season) and sometimes free post race refreshments and food at the events. Also part of that entry fee goes to the local trail maintenance club trailshaveourrespect.org who maintains the local off-road trail systems.

Q. WHAT IF I CAN'T FINISH? DO I GET MY MONEY BACK? A. It's OK if you can't finish. Sometimes it just isn't going to be a good day. If you can't finish, you just need to report in to the time keepers and they will list you as DNF (did not finish). Unfortunately, there are no refunds.

Q. WHERE ARE THE RACES HELD? HOW DO I GET TO THEM? A. Trail information, including directions, course descriptions and venue descriptions (so you can decide if you want to bring the family) are listed on our website.

Q. HOW SOON DO I NEED TO GET TO THE EVENT? A. A good rule of thumb is about an hour before race time. That will give you time to register, get all your gear ready and warm up. Day-of Registration closes 30 minutes prior to your event, so please plan accordingly.

Q. HOW DO I REGISTER? A. We have online registration through USACycling.org or you can register at the event for an additional $10. If you have not raced before, please email ryan.feagan@gmail.com to request that you be put on our email list. Emails are sent out weeks before each event to let racers know registration is open. When you arrive at the race, look for the registration table.

Q. WHAT IF IT RAINS? A. The goal is to have the race and do everything in our power to do just that. But racing in mud isn't fun and worse, it damages the trails. We take the decision very seriously and consult THOR if we're not absolutely sure. If weather looks questionable, we will keep racers notified through Facebook. If the event gets postponed, the rain-out date is the next day, Sunday, but with later start times. Those start times will be posted on our website and on Facebook. If it's still too muddy, we will reschedule and your entry fee will go towards your next race.

Q. WHAT SHOULD I EAT AND DRINK BEFORE OR DURING THE RACE? A. Depending on how long your event is will determine your pre-race and race day food intake. Generally, if your race is under an hour, eat a regular meal the night before and at least 3 hours prior to the race. Don't over eat. Your body will use the energy from those two meals to fuel your body. Eat a goo-pack or drink an energy drink about 15 minutes before the start to top you off. During the race drink water as often as you can or at least every 15 minutes. If your race is 1.5-2 hours, still eat the same way but you may want to chew a portion of a cliff bar about 45 minutes to a half-hour before the race. Goo pack 15 minutes prior. If it's a hot day, be sure to hydrate well. You should probably have another one or two goo packs every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes after race start. If your race is 2 hours or more, you will benefit by consuming protein after your 2nd hour of racing and it's a must at 3 hours and beyond. Otherwise your body will start turning muscle into energy and that's when fatigue will set in and it will be time to take a nap instead of riding (i.e. bonking). Protein comes in a variety of options. It's best to test out your options before racing with it to avoid stomach upset. Most bike shops can hook you up with some kind of protein powder. It's not recommended to hydrate with only protein-based solutions. You will learn a very hard lesson if you try. It should be in addition to water or a water-based electrolyte replacement.

Q. WHAT'S ALL THIS TALK ABOUT ELECTROLYTES? A. Electrolytes are the nutrients the body needs to function at it's best during high output activity. Electrolytes are commonly found in sports drinks which contain sodium and potassium salts for replenishing the body's water and electrolyte levels after dehydration caused by exercise. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, contain a large amount of sugar for energy, which can cause stomach upset if over-consumed during high intensity. You might want to research more diluted varieties for hydration during a race. Check online or any of your local bike shops.

Q. WHAT IF I GET HURT? A. If by chance you launch yourself into a tree or onto the ground and can't finish the event, walk your bike out to the start/finish line and report to the time keeper. If your injury is more serious where you would need professional medical assistance, let another racer know right away. We ask all of our participants to help a fellow racer no matter what. Then that person can go for help. Each race director has someone assigned for emergencies. Sometimes we are able to get off-duty PMT's to volunteer their time at the event. In any case, you will be taken care of as soon as possible.

Q. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE RACE IS OVER? A. There will be food on the grill to eat usually and music playing. There will be an award ceremony after all racers have completed the race and times have been recorded. If you raced in the morning, stick around and cheer on the other classes or the kids. Just by hanging out you'll be able to meet many other fellow racers.