Cyclists devote countless hours of practice to training for long rides. They spend a lot of resources on the best equipment and prepare mentally and physically for hours on the bike.
However, it is easy to overlook a few critical things in the final two weeks before the event. A few minor mistakes can cost you all the time and effort you put into getting ready.
So, here is a list of tips to help you be at your best on the D-day.
1. Prep your body
The most important tool you need to sharpen before a cycling event is not your bike; it is your body. Every athlete aspires to have a competitive advantage. Your rigorous training schedule requires a comprehensive eating plan that helps you get to the optimal recovery stage.
Consume foods that are rich in protein and plenty of green veggies. And, don’t forget to hydrate. Water keeps your body temperature stable and your joints lubricated. It acts as a carrier of nutrients that provides fuel to your organs and keeps you healthy. Dehydration can cause fatigue, muscle cramps, and other serious issues further impacting your performance.
The night before the race is not the time to experiment with your diet. Eat the same carbs-rich meal you would generally have the night before a training ride.
On the D-day, try to eat breakfast at least two hours before your race. Consume something you would usually eat for breakfast before a training ride; make sure it contains carbohydrates and protein.
2. Prep your Bike
Give your bike a thorough once-over the day before the race. Nothing should go untested. Check that nothing is loose and that your shifting and brakes are working correctly. Inspect the gear and brake cables, new tyres, chain and cassette, brake blocks, and bearings.
Clean and lubricate your chain and drivetrain, and inspect your tyres for any deep cuts or other irregularities. Ensure that the gears are well-trimmed, the wheels are set straight in the frame, the quick releases are securely closed, and the brake pads aren’t rubbing against the rims.
Also, make sure your lights and drink bottle cages are safely attached to the bike. And most importantly, if you have any work done on your bike, take it for multiple long rides to ensure that any potential issues are identified before the event.
3. Get in the Mindspace
The best way to get into the right mindset for a race is to organize everything to the minute detail. Pack everything necessary the night before your race. Know what the weather will be like so you can pack accordingly.
Make a list of all the cycling apparel you’ll need. Get a cycling top and shorts, a fresh pair of socks, shoes, helmet, gloves, and anything else you’ll need for the event. If your event requires a race license, don’t forget to bring it with you.
This may seem obvious, but many people don’t even know the exact location of the starting point of their race which leads to last-minute panic. Print out all of the race’s start times, directions, and maps, and arrive early.
4. Be prepared for the course
You should always become acquainted with the course. The race organizers generally provide a route map well in advance. So, check out the ride and possibly ride sections.
If the course is hilly, be prepared to climb and have an idea of the length of the climbs, so you don’t expend all your energy halfway up a climb. Take careful note of all potential hazards and danger points on the course to be well prepared.
Also, during training, make sure to participate in group rides so that you become accustomed to riding in densely packed groups at high speeds. It will help you get used to cycling etiquette as you’ll need to get around without infuriating other riders.
5. Gentle ride the day before
After you’re done fine-tuning your bike, go for a gentle spin the day before your race. Go for a simple practice round to keep the body moving and warm up the muscles you’ll be using in the race.
Remember that no race is ever won by training the day before a race. Overworking your muscles may even cause fatigue.
The event is not the place to try new things. Use the same bike that you trained on previously. Another thing to avoid is using a new set of wheels or kit that they have not previously used.
Over to you…
Many things can go wrong on the big day. But if you do all of this, you’re giving yourself the best chance of having the ride of your life. Now, get out there, break a leg!