Mendocino is a very different challenge for me as an Enduro racer.
It's tight, twisty, tree hugging, slow average miles per hour style riding is extremely tough for me. The ideal bike for this style of riding would be 26inch wheels, narrow bars with short travel. and The ideal rider would be a small, light weight, finesse rider.
Well... I'm tall, I ride a long travel 29er with wide bars, a coil shock and I'm more of a thundering bull of a rider that is perfectly comfortable with high speeds, terrible rock gardens and large jumps. All of which are directly contrasting attributes for this course that is laid out to challenge the CES racers this Father's Day weekend.
So what do I do?
Do I change my bike? I could race a 275 bike that I would have to borrow and set up for me, or I could alter my current bike to try and better suit the mystical, twistical Mendocino trails. I would have to buy and cut new handlebars ($179), run an air shock ($450) and change my large volume fast rolling, light casing tires to something more narrow with large knobs to maintain traction in the tight twisty single track that every timed stage consists of from top to bottom.
This race is going to be more challenging for me than usual because it takes me out of all of my comfort zones. Not only am I riding trails that do not suit my preferences, I'll have to change my bike. Specifically my cockpit. The point of contact for my experience of the trails on my bicycle. The most intimate of connections between rider and machine will be altered, foreign. Although it may be fun trying something new, it would bring no comfort in familiarity or safety in experience.
It will be a constant reminder in a very visceral way that I am out of my element during this entire race. It will add to the emotional and mental fatigue I will experience throughout the 6000 feet of vertical I will be climbing and descending within 42 miles of riding. Which could be an advantage I suppose as the day goes on.
I will have some time to adapt, change and get comfortable on this new bike beneath me, but will it be the advantage I need to do well against my peers? Some of which have two or more bikes to choose from for this specific reason.
Which leads me to ask another question... do I care enough to do all of this for one race? Should I have another bike for situations like this in the future or should i just accept the budgetary restrictions and "run what I brung"?
We will see soon enough.