If you’re riding Bontrager Twentyfour12 this weekend (or Sleepless in the Saddle next month come to think of it), and whether you’re new to the crazy world of 24-hour racing or competing in your fifth event, there’s always something new to learn to make surviving the race a little easier.
We’ve questioned some of the UK’s top enduro racers over the past 12 months, those that specialise in 12-hour and 24-hour events, and aren’t immune to punishing their body in the pursuit of glory, on what it takes them to reach the top.
What it takes for these top guys and girls to win such events, the process they go through and their preparation, is really no different to what somebody with more realistic ambitions should use.
So read on for some excellent advice from our experts below:
We start with 24-hour racing top tips: Part 1, an article which sees Josh Ibbett, Ant White, Mike Cotty and Rob Dean share what it takes for them each to survive and succeed in an enduro or marathon event, each with more 24-hour races under their belts than most people put together.
Rob Dean’s words really resonate with us, this piece of advice being something that everyone should remember when it gets hard: “At one point it will feel horrible, and hard, and generally a bit sad. Remember, it’s meant to be hard, this is why we all do it, this moment is the real test, and the rest is fun.
“Eat more, slow down, drink more recover a little and keep moving. On my last “bad” lap I took two bottles and an extra bar, some sweets and it all got devoured and then I was fine. You CAN do it, just let your body recover a little and push on. The smile will come back before you know it.”
In 24-hour racing top tips: Part 2, Matt Page, current British National 24-hour Champion, Ian Leitch and Rich Rothwell share some words of wisdom.
A highlight is this gem from Matt: “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.”
Rich Rothwell meanwhile reminds you not to get scared of the scale of the event. “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…”
Preparation is essential
The key to surviving a 24-hour race is preparation. We’ll assume you’ve completed as much training as you can by the time you’re reading this article, and in the days leading up to the event you should be considering resting and ensuring you’re fresh on the day.
Matt Page shares some preparation tips that are important in the heat of the action, what to drink, when to eat and how to pace yourself. He also answers that most important of questions, should you carbo-load?
Rob Dean also took time out of training to share his top tips, such as this nugget: “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.”
Finally, Ant White, one of the UK’s fastest 24-hour racers says there’s nothing wrong with taking some of your favourite snacks. “Soul food, to supplement the above with your favourite snack foods; chocolate, jelly babies, flapjacks, raw jelly, and a few things that is easy on the stomach. For some Muller rice, for me full fat coke. I find some caffeine is good after midnight.”
Read and digest all that and come Saturday, you should be fine.