My first race was a 3 hour MX style endurance race - solo. There were no big jumps (thank god) but lots of tricky ground winding in and out of trees, ravines, mud lakes etc. The winner averaged 35kmh on a 7 minute lap with just a couple of areas you could really open up for a few seconds. I have never ridden with other riders before so having other bikers around was very unnerving for the first few minutes until the crowd thinned out a little. My first training lap took me about 12 minutes (I averaged about 7.5 minutes during the race)....within the first 400m I had plowed through a bottomless puddle and got muddy water in my goggles, especially in between the 3 tear offs I was wearing. Not wanting to lose the tear offs (my last 3) or get blasted by other riders I kept them firmly in place and tried to peer through the distortion. Not recommended...I had a death grip on the bars for the rest of the round and finished the practice lap wondering if it was even worth going back out there...I was also the only one absolutely covered in mud before the race had even started! I got talking with a guy.... "......just avoid getting wet and time your passage through muddy sections to you don't get sprayed....." Ok. Easy enough. And what about the death grip ? "....imagine you are riding a horse. Stand up as much as possible and GRIP THE BIKE WITH YOUR KNEES". Wow....what a difference. I had to focus on doing that at first but after a while it came naturally. It really freed up my arms and I did not suffer once from the dreaded arm pump I had felt coming on strong from my first practice lap. Overall I was pretty happy with my first racing endeavour...we were 32 solo starters, I finished 19'th with 19 laps, the winner put in 26 laps. I managed to beat 10 two man teams. I lost quite some time on the open stretches with small whoops.....my rear end had too much rebound and I also lacked the technique (& strength) to really power through them. I fell about 7-8 times, without injury, and got pushed off of the course once by the race leader (we locked handlebars for a few moments!) The bike performed flawlessly and my home made bolt "mod" of attaching the suspension to the linkage arm worked beautifully. Sound check with bike OFF ".....your bike's not too loud is it ?....Ok...enjoy your race!" Racing?!?!? I'll be back !!!