Bike preparation: Many sure your bike(s) are in perfect condition. Check all the drivetrain, replace anything that might need replacing in the near future.
Take spare brake pads and make sure they are all bedded in first, otherwise they might disappear within minutes.
Don’t try anything new on race day. This could mean anything from a new part or change of position to new energy food. Stick with what you know.
Don’t expect to be able to ride the whole race on energy foods, have some “normal” food to eat. My personal favourites are rice pudding and jelly babies, but everyone is different. Take a variety of foods as you never know what you will feel like eating.
Break the race down into smaller segments. Try 4 lots of 6hrs, or even 6 lots of 4hrs. It makes it more manageable and easier to motivate yourself.
Give yourself a reward for getting through the night. The hardest time is 1-3am when its dark and colder. If you can get through this phase treat yourself to something nice… like a bacon sandwich.
Enjoy it! If you’re not having fun then chances are you won’t be able to keep yourself going. It is usually a case of mind of matter. Even if it’s pouring with rain and freezing cold you can still enjoy it!
A shower and teeth brush an hour before the race – gets you feeling fresh and focused!
Double shorts and lots of Assos cream. Extra cushioning, a lack of chafe and if you want to keep at it you can wear for the full 24-hours. I find the cheapest Pearl Izumi work best as undershorts; don’t forget to change your saddle height though.
Plaster up your nipples.
If you are new to the race go out nice and steady. I did this for my first few 24’s – you’ll pull back loads of people in the night as they buckle and this will give you a huge lift! If you are more seasoned you can go out faster than you think… also racing keeps you focused and the time will fly by.
Talk to people, smile and don’t think about the distance – get to the night feeling good.
Eating: eat from the off – absolutely mandatory to nibble from lap 1. Later laps might see your body wishing to lay down an embargo on energy products. I get my pitman to make porridge hiding all the products inside plus banana and Nutella.
Protein: from hour 5-6 take on some protein each lap. Powerbar protein drink is actually nice – like choc milkshake.
Midnight beer swig. Fed up with a sweet mouth… I always have a chug of beer at half way. In sleepless 2006 I did a Tequila shot. Look forward to that treat.
Pepto-Bismol. Rap stars use it to calm their buggered insides, when the whole thing goes awry in the night chug a little back and get things settled like the Big dogs!
Arnica and peppermint leg rub – legs will re-awaken.
Save the iPod – I like to save this for later – when you get it there will be a nice boost.
-Early morning you WILL have some ‘moments’. You might want to throw it in; you might feel a dizzy on the bike sensation. Remember everyone is suffering; you are doing this because you are uber tough – grrrr! The feeling will pass and then unexplainably you feel like the best rider that has ever lived. You’ll flow, fly and love the trail. Feeling elated, you have to get past the bad to get this feeling of good!
I read an endurance article once where some big champ said… “When I am at my lowest ebb, when I feel worse than I have ever felt, when I feel that I can’t go on, t is then that I chose to make my attack as I know my competitors will be hurting more than me.
Stickers – I put stickers of encouragement on my handlebar… they say nonsense like “You’re in the Hurt Business” – Ant White’s girlfriend puts stickers promising future ‘favours’ to keep him going!
Do not ride round with a Camelback! You don’t need all that gear – take a bottle and the bare essentials in your pocket – weight makes a BIG difference over distance.
Do not stay in the pits – in and out is the way to do a good one. Ant White is the King – he pits for 10 seconds max.
Get a hug! You will at times feel alone and in a world of hurt – human contact will see energy flooding back!
ENJOY IT! – take in the view, enjoy the trail and think that when it is done you will be allowed to drink ten pints.
Exposure/Infinit Nutrition/Bertie Maffoons Bicycle Co./Union Room/Enigma Bikes
Before you start recognise and accept that a 24hr ride is going to be hard…. it doesn’t matter how fit you are, a 24 is tough and there are going to be times that you will struggle. But keep going and push through. It’s a roller coaster ride of highs and lows; you may feel terrible at points but it WILL pass and the satisfaction from dealing with the demons makes it all worth while.
Try not to think about the scale of the undertaking too much…. you could easily psyche yourself out! I like to break the race down and deal with each part separately and as it happens; there is the adrenalin and excitement of the start, the late afternoon when things settle down a bit, the excitement / trepidation of the pending night, the long dark hours, (the ‘special’ bit!) the psychological lift of the sunrise – the ‘nearly home’ morning. All these parts of the race have their own excitement and atmosphere. Treat each part as a ‘stage’ instead of counting all the hours…
Keep moving no matter how slowly you are riding! Some progress is better than no progress and if you stop, it doesn’t actually make you feel better anyway!
Talk to people! Sing! Chat to the wildlife! Anything! Just keep yourself entertained and try to lift the spirits of others! I’ve seen many people drop their head, go silent and dig themselves a hole… 24hrs is a long time to spend in your own company… But have a laugh and chat and time flies by…
If I ever feel that I’ve had enough, I remind myself that, come the middle of the week, I’ll be back at work wishing I was hairing round the woods in the middle of the night…. No matter how hard things get a 24 is ALWAYS an incredible experience and you WILL wish you were back there for a long time to come!
Hopefully, these will have been some help to those tempted with doing their first 24-hour solo race, or even those more experienced racers. I’ll be hoping to digest ALL these tips as I venture into the somewhat scary would of 24-hour racing with a crack at the 24 Hours of Exposure. Wish me luck.