Seems like every year I have to learn the same lessons. How quickly my feeble mortal mind forgets the lessons of the past. I flatted at St. George because I was pushing the limits and ripped a hole in the sidewall of my new Maxxis Aspen rear tire (frustrating because 1. it's new and 2. I should have been more patient in my passing) - result DNF. Then I flatted at Cholla due to a thorn which probably was already there and not having enough Stans in my tire to seal it (my mistake for not checking my front tire pre-race and preparing my bike fully). - result 12th place.
So I will give you (more importantly, me) my new priority checklist for all the remaining races.
1. Train and prepare physically so you don't suck and can actually feel like you are competing, don't worry if you are mid-pack or 1st, just be competitive where you are and work to improve.
2. Train mentally, know your course, pre-ride, train to pass, train to sprint the short climbs, train to ride light on the rocks, train so that you KNOW you can race and can let your mind master your body and push your limits a bit.
3. Check and maintain you bike completely. Not just wash it, but, clean the drivetrain, lube it, check the tires for thorns or wear and THE STANS volume, Brakes, etc. Be sure the bike can perform the way you want it too.
4. Nutrition! Eat enough and the right things pre-race that will give you the energy you need. Hydrate pre and during the race, eat a gel before the start. Give yourself a chance by doing the simple things you need to to have your body function the way it should.
5. Finally, know your competition, their strengths and weaknesses. Know who you should pass before the downhills and who you should pace on the climbs, know who will be considerate and allow you to pass and who you will need to be more aggressive with. Knowing these things can make the difference in your race.
DO NOT FORGET to do these things, Write them down, check them off, whatever it takes. That way you can finish your race AND enjoy the results, whatever they may be because you will know you did everything you could to give yourself the best possible opportunity to perform to your capabilities.
Lesson learned? I hope so!