Given that the race start was located in a military base only 30 minutes ride from my house, I decided to do a course recce the evening before. Going through the gates into the 5th Special Forces Regiment, a place I’d passed many times, wondering what was behind the guarded entrance, was an breeze. I wasn’t even asked for any identification or what I was doing there – I guess the bike I was riding was the only ticket needed!
I rode up to where the course had been marked out and jumped in half way, there wasn’t too much to worry about from a technical standpoint, just a couple of sandy corners, a rough section then a short sharp climb. I managed a couple of laps, one easy (heart rate zone 1) then a second slightly faster lap (heart rate zone 3 / 150bpm). I captured the course on my recently purchased Garmin Virb Elite camera to share with a few friends who were also racing the following day.
I turned up reasonably early to see a large number of mountainbikers, mostly unfamilar faces as this was just my second MTB race in Thailand. The atmostphere was good, a friendly vibe, lots of chatting and picture taking.
I proceeded to register in the Open category, feeling confident this course would suit my strengths, with some fast flat sections and small climbs.
The format for the race was 90 minutes, as many laps of the 1.6km course as you could complete in that time period.
The race was a mass start, with reportedly 250 participants, although my gut feeling was that it looked slightly less than that number. We started on a tarmac climb, I was caught about 4 wheels back, but managed to ride off the side of the road and keep with the small lead group. I followed for the first lap, just to see what lines other riders would take, if I’d missed anything obvious and to see how strong they were. The benefit from drafting on the MTB certainly isn’t as large as riding Road, but nontheless, there is still a measureable watts saving to be had.
On the second lap I could feel that the lead group weren’t able to keep the power up the climb and on the fast flat second before the end of each lap, so I decided to breakaway. I knew that once I was out of sight, it would have a psychological effect on the riders behind. After moving to second wheel, I decided it was time. I pushed hard for one lap, at which point I’d started lapping some of the backmarkers. I got around the first few groups without slowing too much. My heartrate was around 177bpm for the climb, settling down to 170bpm for the flat sections. I continued at this pace for the next 30 minutes. I had no idea how large the gap to second place was, so I continued to push on. After around 1 hour, I had an indication that the gap was over 3 minutes, so I decided to drop the pace, keeping the heartrate nicely in zone 4.
I started to lap some of the members of the lead group, I’d ridden with for the first lap, so I knew at that point I could ease of slightly, knowing that I had a big road race coming up in 6 days time.
90 minutes had passed an I wasn’t sure if that meant I had to finish the lap, or I could just stop right there. I decided it wasn’t worth the risk, so continued another 3/4 of a lap, pasing the line and confirming my Place in Open (Overall).
Fox Jam Track, sponsored by Fox Racing (forks) and Mosso Bikes was a nicely organized race. The track was impecably marked, whilst being very short, it still had plenty of space for overtaking. Water was readily available in the right spots (top of the hills!).
My only suggestion for the race organizer would be that to make this a more family friendly event, possibly to hold a separate race for childrens age categories (12 yrs and under, Under 15, Under 18 etc), possibly 45 mins or 60 mins before or after the main event.
I also took along my trusty Garmin Virb Elite camera and recorded the race in it’s entirety in 720p, you can see the full video below.
My training and build, whilst not being specific to this race, worked well. I was able to hold a 165bpm average heart rate for 90 mins, with a peak of 179bpm. I have been adding in one MTB specific training ride per week to adjust to the slightly different riding position. I planned this race to be part of my pre-race build for a race in China the following week. My weekly volume had been around 18 hours per week, 6 days riding with 1 rest day.