Prepare for success

With all the hours we put in through out the year to get ready for a race, more about its one of the most frustrating things to have an issue arise in the race that forces you off the back or causing your race to end shortly.  It is especially frustrating when these issues happen, and you realize that with a little extra preparation, perhaps it would not have happened.

To make sure you are fully prepared for racing, here are a few pointers that one should be taking care of 2-3 days before the race to ensure you and your equipment are fully ready to perform at its best.  If you wait until the day before the race or don’t do these things, will inevitably be less prepared for the event and are likely opening a door for bad luck to enter.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

So here are a few things to do a few days before the race.  You want to avoid waiting for the day before the race to do these, to ensure that you have time to make adjustments or pick up needed parts should you come across any potential issues.

Bike – Double check your equipment a few days before to ensure you have time to fix any issues and pick up spare parts before the shops close before heading to a race.  This both saves you the frustration of messing it at the race, trying to rush to find parts mid event or having to drop out of a race because of mechanical issue that could have been prevented.  It is also important for your own safety as well as others.  With some worn parts if they break/fail it could cause a crash.  Here are some of the main things to check out:

  • Tires are in good condition – replace any tires with big gashes, worn out, or flatting frequently (i.e if you have had a couple of flats lately and the tire has been on there a while, its probably time for a new one.).  If you are on the fence whether you need a new tire(s) or not, just go for a new one if possible.  Put it on before the race, save the “Maybe its still good” tire for some training miles when you are not planning on racing it.
  • Brakes – make sure the pads are in good condition and will not wear down mid race if they are getting close.  If they are questionable, replace them or at least get a spare set of pads to bring with you to the race(especially if you are headed to a stage race).  Also make sure they are tuned properly(not too much space or too little to reduce your braking power).
  • Chain – Clean and make sure its not worn, replace if necessary so you don’t break a chain during the race.
  • Clean the drive train, inspect for worn teeth on the chain rings or cassette.
  • Shifting – make sure bike is shifting properly, replace cables and housing as needed.  This is both to save you the frustration of “ghost shifting”, and also makes it safer to race on – if your drive train is not working properly, it could catch or slip and cause you to lose control and crash.
  • Cleats – make sure they are in good condition, replace as necessary.  Sprinting/attacking on worn cleats and they can break and are more likely to come unclipped when unwanted and cause a crash – one of the worst crashes I have seen was caused by this.
  • Bolts on bike – put a wrench in every bolt.  Make sure your bars, saddle, chain ring bolts etc are properly tightened.  Use a torque wrench when needed to make sure things are not over tightened per their specs.  – p.s. in crits, you do not get a free lap for a mechanical that is preventable, such as bars slipping because they were not tight enough.
  • After making changes to your bike, try to get in a ride on it to make sure any settling of parts, bolts, cable stretch etc has a chance to work itself out and you catch it before the race.  Give one last check over after the ride as well to make sure things are still as set and there are no new issues(Like a new gash in your tire…).  Try to get this ride in before your bike shop closes just in case.

Other needs:

  • Special food needs – if you have any dietary specifics, go shopping on before you leave for a race to make sure your bases are covered before you leave.  Some of the small towns that races are nearest may not have what you need.  You also don’t want to have to be running around doing this when you could be resting if it is a stage race.
  • Same for energy foods – get your drink mixes, in race favorite foods, gels, bars etc ASAP, and don’t count on where you are going to have what you need, chances are they will not.

Things to do for your legs/body to ensure its ready-

  • Right before a race is most likely not the day for the hardest workout in the world.  A hard workout a few days before can be good, but it depends on the rider and the race. An easy ride with leg openers(Some short intervals, but nothing too hard that will make you too tired before the race) is good the day before a race.  You cant cram miles/intensity in for a race in the final days before it.
  • Keep hydrated, focus on good nutrition and getting the best rest as possible.  Going into the weekend rested and hydrated is important.  You can become chronically dehydrated, so working on keeping your hydration levels up in the days leading up to the race is important.
  • Try to keep off your feet when possible, avoid weight lifting in the 3 days before a race if you are lifting weights.
  • Foam roller, the stick, getting a massage are all great tools to help prep the legs in the days leading up to a race.  Avoid deep work – use all these tools lightly, it should be the feel good kind of work, not the deep working out all the tension from training in the last 2 months kind of work – that will make you feel sluggish at a race and hinder performance.
  • Eat well!  I find the way I eat the day before a race is as important as what I eat in the race
  • Try to tie off any nagging stressors before leaving if you can so its not in the back of your head during the race weekend, allowing you to focus on racing well and good recovery, not worrying about something you have to do as soon as you get back home.

And a few other notes on things to bring to races to have in your heads now and while thinking about planning:

  • Bring extra food, and a gallon of water(at least!).  You will not complain about having too much food or water with you.  You will complain if you run out of either one. Many race venues are not anywhere near any running water!  Bring a gallon jug of water with you!
  • A warm jacket goes a long ways in early season racing.  Bring your warmest winter puffy you have.  Long underwear under your pants can be good too.  Keeping warm vs kinda cold is going to improve your recovery.
  • Pillow!  Bring your own pillow if you are staying overnight anywhere for a race.  You are used to it and will sleep better likely than if you are in a new bed and have a new pillow as well.  It is also nice for driving around and trying to nap on the road if you get the chance to split driving shits.

The list can go on for things to take care of in the days leading up to a race, but these are the main ones.  Hopefully you will find these tips helpful in your race p

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