Michael Murray, guest contributor for the Vermont 50 Race Blog
How a first timer prepares for a race physically, mechanically and nutritionally?
You may have just bought your first mountain bike or been mountain biking for years. You have been spending your weekends going around your local mountain bike trails mastering the corners and trying to beat your best time. Now you have decided to take the big leap and take part in your first mountain bike race.
Mountain Biking Advice
Start & End of the Race
A mountain biker may be getting themselves physically psyched up before the race begins. They may be happy they have just completed a daunting part of the trail. There is no need to do it at the start or at the finish line. Move to the side, and take in some of the amazing atmosphere of taking part in a mountain bike race. Don’t get in the way of other mountain bikers.
Middle of the Trail
Mountain Bike races can be very competitive. Cycling enthusiasts are keen to get their own personal best times at the event. If you need to stop for any reason make sure you move off to one side. It is not only mountain biking etiquette. An individual fixing their puncture in the middle of the trail can be dangerous.
The majority off mountain bike trails have no directions, so make sure you are travelling across the trail in the correct way. Don’t try and push up the trails, try and use the separate push up tracks to get back up to the top. No one wants to encounter the rubber meets face thing. It’s one way to get a first way ticket to seek medical treatment at the local hospital.
There is no way to break it you. There no magical litter picker that is going to pick up your litter. Don’t drop your empty water bottle or snack bar wrappers as it’s not going to decompose for around three hundred years. The weight of carrying an empty water bottle is not going to take too much of your energy. Make sure you carry it back and put it in the bin.
Taking part in your first mountain bike race can be a daunting task. What should you do to prepare?
Spend Time Mountain Biking
It may seem a little a little bit obvious. However, you would be a little surprised on how many entry level mountain bikers spend time in the gym or cycling to work.
Don’t forget to plan to spend time on your mountain bike mountain biking. The more time you spend on your mountain bike will help them improve their upper body strength and their mountain biking skills.
Vary your Mountain Biking
Get used to different types of mountain bike trails by not always sticking to the same mountain bike trails. Exploring new mountain bike trails will help a rider get used to different types of mountain bike trails. Find out local mountain bike trails near you.
Entry level mountain bikers need to think about adding a bit of strength training into their training schedule.
The endurance and terrain not only take its toll on a rider’s legs, but also their core and upper body. Having good upper body strength in the shoulders and arms will help the rider support themselves while mountain biking.
Working out the rider’s core, lower back and hips will help the rider keep a good riding position when they start to feel tied and allow them to maintain their pedal power. Check out an article on the mountain bike training.
A lot of mountain bike races will allow the rider to get a feel for the mountain bike trail before the race begins. Going for a little practice run on the mountain bike trail is a brilliant way of building a rider’s confidence in tackling the mountain bike trail.
Five Ways To Prepare For A Mountain Bike Race
- Being comfortable on mountain bike trails with climbs
- Have confidence in the saddle
- Set up your Mountain Bike
- Riding with more experienced mountain bikers. (Join your local club
- Don’t panic if you find part of mountain bike trail difficult
Preparing The Mountain Bike for Race Day
Once a rider has prepared themselves physically and mentally. The rider needs to make sure their mountain bike is ready for race day. Shifting smoothly and braking perfectly.
The tires should be in good condition and be pumped up to the required PSI level. All the parts on the mountain bike should be tight, lubricated and adjusted for the rider’s personal preference.
A mountain bike race will put a mountain bike to the test. No rider wants to pull out a mountain bike trail due to a mechanical fault.
- Removing Accessories: Before a rider can clean their bike the need to remove any lights or bell.
- Turn the Mountain Bike Over: In order to protect the mountain bike, use an old towel for the ground.
- Remove the Wheels: Use the quick realise lever to remove the front and rear wheel.
- Cleaning the drive system: Use and old cloth and some soapy water to clean the rear derailleur and any moving parts. Give the chain a good wipe with the cloth. Clean the chain ringing with a brush. Wash the pedals and the cranks. Give the mountain bike a good wipe down.
- Clean the underside: Wash the front forks with the cloth and then wipe them dry. Clean the centre and rear of the frame. Clean the handle bars with the cloth and the brake levers. Finally use the cloth to clean the seat.
- Wheel Cleaning: Get a wet cloth and clean the rims on the front wheel. Next clean the spokes on the axle. Use a degreaser on the disk brake system. Clean the rear wheel and the rims. Pay close attention to the rear axle and disk rotor if you have one.
- Check the Wheels: Test the wheels by spinning each one and make sure each one turn freely. Place your finger against the rim to see if there are any dents. It should look straight and smooth.
- Test the Drive System: Get both pedals and spin them. There should be no noise or grindings. They should be turning freely.
- Top side of the bike: Grab the mountain bike by both hands and turn the mountain bike the right way. Use a clean cloth on the handle bars, headset and pay close attention to the brakes.
- Brakes: Test the brakes by pushing the mountain bike back and forth by gently applying the brake levers. For V brakes check the cables for any wear and tear or fraying.
- Lights: Test the bike lights to make sure they are in good working order.
Now that we have looked at how to prepare physically and mechanically for an entry level mountain bike race. We will now look at how to prepare nutritionally for a mountain bike race.
Race Day Nutrition
One of the biggest obstacles entry level mountain bikers have is figuring out what is the best types of food to eat before race day.
Having some porridge with honey that realise carbohydrates that will keep the rider fuelled up for longer. A rider should aim to finish breakfast two hours before the race and drink 500 ml of water.
Fuelling your body
The body can only store a certain amount of energy, at some point a rider will need to eat on the ride. On average the body consumes roughly sixty kilograms per hour.
Good snacks are energy bars, gels or energy drinks. Don’t wait until your feeling hungry, as this may be too late.
A rider should look to consume around 500ml per hour. Setting an alarm every fifteen minutes is a good way to keep hydrated on a regular basis.
Good Nutritional Snacks & Drinks
Fluids: Avoid coffee or tea. Choose an isotonic sports drink that is tasty and replenishes electrolytes and daily dose of vitamins.
Bananas: Are a good choose. They come with easy packaging that can be opened easily. They contain carbohydrates that help keep energy levels up and lots of other health vitamins.
Apples: A good fruit at the end of a ride. Apples contain vitamins and sugars that are ideal for a little pick me up and energy boost. They will also help with hydration.
Jelly & Peanut Butter Sandwich’s: Easy to make and prepare and will offer the rider a well needed boost in energy levels.
Canned Tuna: A good source of protein that will help balance the carbohydrates.
We hope you have enjoyed our article on how to prepare for a mountain bike ride physically, mechanically and nutritionally. You may like to read our article on common mountain bike questions at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews