I Want A Podium: Part 3

The third part in Mike Ayles’s ongoing attempt to get himself on an MTB race podium using only advice gleaned from the Bikemagic forum…

Well, here I am ‘en France’ as it were. If you’ve been following my progress, you’ll know that it’s going pretty well. At the twentyfour12, I coined the fastest lap in our team. Not satisfied with that lap, I went out for a faster lap and had a bit of a fall!

So, what kind of things am I capable of now? I’m no superhuman or anything, but earlier this week, I decided to go out for a nice gentle ride. It ended up being about 50 miles with me stopping every five minutes and asking, “Je cherché Angouleme”. Although a largely unintentional 50 miles, I felt pretty good afterwards. And I found a weird French bike shop – bonus!

I must be getting closer to that podium place, surely. But there’s one way to find out – racing! Planning is everything, so of course I’ve no idea when the next race is. I think that there’s a Gorrick sometime in September… But really I’m aiming for next season.

I’ve been pondering categories of late. My current plan is to start off in the fun category, and when I get into the top ten, I’ll move up. Racers, please let me know whether that’s a sensible thing to do!

A couple of bike issues. I’m still running the DMR Moto dirt jump tyre on the back and really need to get some lightweight race tyres. I’ve had my eyes on some Panaracer Razers, which look fast, and a lot lighter than my DMR Moto/ Conti’ Vertical mix.

I’m still on flat pedals, but only because of my lack of confidence when clipped in. I’m pretty sure my stack at the Twentyfour12 would’ve been a lot more severe had I still been clipped in. So I’m tempted to get some clipless pedals with platforms, like Crank Bros Mallets or Time Z Freerides.

One thing I’ve tried, but not been too successful with, is energy food/drink/gel/jelly beans/cake. I invested a fair amount of money in various types of energy drink/foods – they’re mostly gone now, and I must admit, I found no performance benefit. I assume that they must do something or they wouldn’t exist, but I just couldn’t see the advantage. I reckon I’ll just stick to my standard diet and eat sensible things before, during and after races.

As I’ve another couple of weeks in France with my bike, I’m tempted to go “touring” for a bit – just load up a bag then ride to the coast for a few days or something. I’m sure when I get to the coast, I’ll do nowt too healthy, but the getting there should benefit me in some way. I want to ride about 500 miles by the end of this holiday – I’m at about 65 at the moment, so that’ll be 435 miles in two weeks, easy.

So here are the things I need to know next:

  • What’s the most suitable category for next season?
  • Are platform clipless pedals a good idea?
  • What am I missing about “sports nutrition” products?
  • And of course, what tyres should I buy…?

Over to you…


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