As a summer of mountain bike racing rolls into view and with it the first of several 24-hour races, we decided it's high time we got our act together and started making some plans if we're to be in any fit state.
And what with weather like we’ve been treated to recently, getting out on the bike and doing some 'training' certainly hasn’t been a problem, so now it's time to enter some events. And what could be more fun than a 24-hour race?
But what if you’re new to 24-hour racing? Riding around the clock, a discipline that continues to prove popular in the UK, is no easy feat and is a daunting task, no matter how fit or strong you are. There are many obstacles to face and conquer, and that's even before you've taken to the start line.
Let's assume you've entered a 24-hour race then, like the upcoming Wiggle Mountain Mayhem, perhaps you're reading this article having entered either of these events? If so, we'll continue on the assumption that you're getting plenty of time in on the saddle, so your fitness will be up to the task. So all that lies between you and the race is knowing just how to prepare for the 24-hour race itself.
We rang up a couple of the UK’s top enduro racers, those that choose to specialise in longer distance events, and asked for their tips when it comes to preparing for a 24-hour race. We’re talking rather specifically about the preparation advice for before and during the event – we’ll assume you’ve arrived at the event HQ with a plenty of fitness.
First up in this regular series is Brighton-based Rob Dean riding for the new Santa Cruz/The North Face team, a fella we’ve interview previously (you can read that interview here if you missed it).
Bikemagic: What are you top preparation tips the night before the 24 hour race?
Rob Dean: Eat a lot, but sensible things, mainly carbs. You'll see most people with offensively large servings of pasta, even better if repeated for more than just one night before the race so your body's well fuelled.
What are your top nutition tips before, during and after a 24 hour solo race?
NEVER eat anything new on race day. It's hard enough asking your stomach to digest, constantly, for 24-hours, let alone switching to a new energy product you've bought just for the race and will be much richer and more refined than any real food you have been eating.
It's also important, for your head much more than your legs, to have treats to look forward to at certain time or lap number milestones."
I’m not sure how to pace myself in a 12 or 24 hour race? What’s the best approach?
Actually, it's surprising how hard you can set off at the start, it's not like you're going to get faster as you get more tired!
What is most important is just keep moving, no matter how slow. Even if you're Ant White, it takes a huge effort on the bike to make up even 10 minutes out on the course that you may have sat down for in the pits.
To carbo-load or not to carbo-load?
Yes, see night before preparation answer.
Should I make any modifications to my bike for the event?
Common changes are wider, though not necessarily more heavily treaded tyres for comfort (and grip when the concentration starts to lapse) and a comfier seatpost if you're riding a hardtail.
A USE ShockPost is a good idea, particularly for a 26in wheeled hardtail. Don't fit a new saddle you've not ridden before. Another common trick is two pairs of shorts, but don't forget to put your saddle down 5mm to compensate for the extra pad thickness!
I’ve entered the 24-hours of Exposure and it’s only a few weeks away. Is it too late to do any last minute training?
Never! Just make sure you're plenty rested the week leading up to the race. Long, low intensity rides, particularly over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend, will pay dividends, much more so than going and ripping your legs off for 2 hours. And don't forget to enjoy it!
For more 24-hour racing top tips like those take a read of our two-part series from last year.