If you’re looking to line up for your first mountain bike race, following some hard-earned advice could help make the day more fun.
Stay Local: Flying to a far-off location can be exciting but you’re better off dipping your toe into racing on familiar terrain. You’ll know the trails, conditions, and how to set your bike up for race day.
Bring a friend: Mountain biking is social so don’t race alone. It’s always more fun when you can share the experience with someone. Having a friend there can also help take some of the pressure off and you can just enjoy the ride.
Set your goals: Are you looking for a new experience? Or are you hoping to podium? If you’re just looking for a new experience, your preparation can be minimal. Just know that you can successfully ride the length of the race and jump in and see how it goes. If you’re looking to reach the top step of the podium, you’re going to need to prepare. How? Intense training rides in the weeks leading up to the event, including interval rides and long endurance rides.
Fueling Up: A racer’s diet is a crucial part of performance when it comes to race day. Being properly fueled can make the difference between “bonking” (having no energy) and trying to stifle a stomach cramp from overeating. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” solution. Generally, we recommend erring on the light side for your pre-race meal at first. Eat about 3 hours before your race to ensure you have time to digest. Be sure to eat a meal that will provide long-term energy. You can keep a stash of GU or other immediate energy fuel (usually something with sugar) for during the race.
Check your bike: In the week or so leading up to the race, give your bike a good cleaning and tuning. You don’t want to do any major overhauls (fork rebuilding, etc) but be sure all the major parts are ready for race day. Be sure your tires have enough tread, your bike is shifting properly and brakes are braking. That way on race day a little lube and tire-pressure check should be all you need.
If you’re looking for a local race to participate in this year, here are a few upcoming races:
Ore 2 Shore – Saturday, August 12th
Great Deer Chase – Saturday, August 19th
Copper Harbor Trails Festival – Labor Day Weekend