It’s great when you can travel from home to a race, you have all the support and kit there to help set you up for a great day on the bike. But more often than not you have to travel, and as the adage goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, sorry, Boy Scout.
Preparing for a race covers a whole host of elements, from physical training and mental preparation, bike prep, nutrition through to travel and accomodation logistics to name but a few. In this post I’m going to cover the week running up to a big race, what I do to prepare and when, as well as outlining my race day routine running up to the start line.
7 Days to go
With 7 days to race day, chances are it is the weekend, you might want to get one last big training ride in before resting up over the coming week. Conveniently the weekend also gives you plenty of time to get your bike race ready, a good place to start is with my earlier post on race Bike prep.
Hopefully your bike received the all clear, however if anything has been flagged up as needing replaced then you have the time to order any new parts to get your steed back to full health before the race weekend.
On a side note, try not to stack it in the week running up to a race, just a suggestion.
Other things to do are to ensure any travel and accommodation arrangements are made and you know how to get there, you don’t want a stressful drive to ruin to start of your race experience, after all its meant to be fun!
3 Days to go
With 3 days to go your training should be in full taper mode, so instead of lounging on the sofa its time to pack your race kit. This is a basic list and should only be used as a starting point. It is always better to pack something and leave it in the car than have to scrounge around the carpark for a bottom bracket tool 30 minutes before the start of the race!
- Bike (obviously)
- Knee pads and armour if it is a gravity race
- Shorts and Bib if you are so inclined
- Winter/rain clothes (being caught off-guard can make for a miserable race) including base layer, arm/leg warmers, etc.
- Post-race, warm change of clothes (change out of chamois as soon as you can)
- Back pack (if using one)
- Bottles, use N+1 to work out how many you need
- Heart rate strap (if you use one)
- Race food
- Post-race recovery drink/snack
- Post race beer (if not driving)
- Electrolyte drink or tabs
- Plenty of water
- Spare wheels ready to race
- Cycling computer (if you use one)
- Bike floor pump
- Tools: Ensure you have tools for all parts of your bike, bare minimum take, Allen key multi-tool, flathead & Phillips screwdrivers, electrical tape
- Spare tubes, tire levers & CO2
With your race kit packed its time to give the bike one last check. This is especially important if you needed to order any parts for your race bike after its thorough going over earlier in the week.
So you’ve traveled to the race venue and got your self settled into your dig’s, tomorrows the big race and its time for the race routine to kick in. Not staying at the race venue and traveling the morning of the race? No problem just just do the final count down at home.
If at the venue and its possible, go check out the course, if its a downhill, go walk the track, if its a XC race go walk or ride a lap.
Time to eat, carb load like crazy, pasta and a lean protein like chicken or tuna is a great place to start. Don’t over do it and don’t eat anything that your not familiar with the last thing you need is stomach issues from a dodgy curry, keep simple and carb filled. Lay you race day kit out, pack your back pack if you are using one, set your bottles or hydration pack out, you know it’s all fine as you checked it when you packed it on day three but peace of mind leads to a good sleep and rest is important.
Breakfast time! this meal sets you up for your race so make it count! A balanced mix of slow release carbs and some protein for the win. So a big bowl of porridge followed by a fruit salad with some greek yoghurt and coffee for me. Some people like eggs as well, but I’m not an egg guy.
Hydration before your race is just as important as during your race, make sure you include electrolyte drinks in your pre-race hydration especially if its a warm day.
Get to the race venue good and early with at least an hour to spare, as soon as you arrive get yourself registered and collect your race number.
Run through the final check list
- Number pinned
- Tires pumped and pressure checked
- Computer on bike and HR monitor on
- Full bottles
- All the food you need
- All multi tools and spares needed packed
Allow time for a proper warm up, stretch up slowly working through all the major muscle groups, a quality warm up should take at least 30 minutes. Do some sprints as well as some climbing where possible, the more intense the race is from the gun the more intense the warm up should be.
The hour before your start time have a final snack, a banana or a gel with caffeine is ideal.
Get yourself to the start line early and get a good position if its a mass start, if the race has a staggered start then be early for your start time.