If you’re looking to line up for your first mountain bike event, here’s a few tips and tricks we’ve learned that helped the process go a little smoother.
Pick an event. If possible, staying local is your best option for your first event. That way you’ll be able to better familiarize yourself with the demands of the course terrain, and know how to set your bike up for race day.
Get social. Mountain biking is the most fun when shared with others, so bring a friend! Having a friend there can also help take some of the pressure off and you can just enjoy the ride.
Set goals. Assess your current fitness level and decide what you’re looking for out of your first race. Are you looking to podium? Or to simply have fun and try something new? If you’re looking to podium, you should set your goals based on the length and terrain of the race. Interval and endurance rides will help build up your fitness, and setting goals for time on the distance of the course can help you track your gains. If you’re looking to have fun and experience something new, your training can be minimal but make sure you can comfortably complete the distance the race will be.
Find the right fuel. While nutrition before a race is crucial, there is no “one size fits all” solution, so find what works for you by testing out different meals before rides. Generally, eating on the light side about 3 hours before your race will give you time to digest. Depending on how long your race is, you may want to carry some fuel such as Gu or Honey Stingers. If you’re not familiar with on-the-go fuel but are planning to use some during the race, make sure to try it and make sure it works for your body instead of introducing something new on race day.
Check your bike. Making sure your bike is fully tuned and ready to go will help minimize the chance of having a mid-race mechanical. Make sure your shifting is working properly, and your brakes are braking. If you’re not comfortable tuning your own bike, most bike shops have mechanics on hand that would be happy to help.
Have fun! One of the best things about MTB racing is the process, so enjoy it! The week before the race, rest more, ride a little less, and get plenty of sleep. You’ll meet a lot of new like-minded riding buddies at the race, and you may just get hooked!