Just recently got back from Wisconsin where I competed in the Chequamegon mountain bike race. 1700 start and at least that many others are denied entrance due to llimiting the size of the field. It was only my 3rd mountain bike race ever. The 2nd being the Cheq. 2 years ago.
My goal was top 200....I finished 286. Ironically, if I'd gone about 4 minuntes faster I would have made my goal. Alas, I'd given it all I had.
I find that in training you need some markers. Timed events or races that show you where you're at. When you repeat the time trial or race you have a realistic way of comparing and charting your progress or re-gress.
In 2006 my friend John Bauer elected not to go for another olympics. Although he was by far and away the USA's best xc skier in the '02 Olympics and a sure bet to make the team in '06 he stated that several markers in his training revealed that he wasn't where he felt he should be if he was to compete at the level he wanted to.
As athletes we should never fear laying it all out on the line and take an honest look at where we're at. So what if the test revealed that you need some improvement in a certain area. It could also show that the training is paying off and you're doing well....giving a confidence boost in the next big competition.
HOw did I do compared to my other Cheq? I was about 6 min slower and 30 places further back. I'm still not sure why, but it means I may have to buckle down a bit and get some riding it!