With the race season almost upon us, several weeks ago I asked one of the clubs most experienced riders, for an insight into his race preparation in the hope that this may be helpful, to those new to racing, or yet without a race preparation routine.
Being competitive and race ready requires many hours of sacrifice and hard training, yet without the fine detail of preparation, can stand for little. With over 10 years competitive experience we asked Neil Seffen, not so much for his secrets, but for a useable insight into the shape of his final weeks before racing.
2 weeks out:
No point worrying about cramming in last minute training as the hard work has been done in the previous 3 months; but making sure the mechanical & nutritional side of things is sorted is a must.
Check the race bike is good to go regarding gears & tyres, no need to check the brakes, as these are not required from February to September.
Ensure the energy gels and water bottle sports drink mixes have been purchased, no point having developed a highly tuned engine only to run out of gas!
If going fully pro and getting a sports massage, best to leave a full week between it and the race or the legs will still be feeling heavy.
1 week out:
Time to start tapering and only do some light spinning on the bike.
Once the race season is fully underway and the body is more ‘race fit’; then by all means return to the interval sessions and longer midweek rides…but the shock of full on racing always takes a bit of getting used to!
In terms of nutrition, make sure you’re properly hydrated 2-3 days out as just drinking loads of water the night before and you run the risk of flushing all the good salts and minerals out of your system.
Also get the good carbohydrates into the body on Thursday and Friday (if racing Saturday) and by good I mean the rice, pasta and cereals.
Definitely give the booze and takeaways a miss during this time as they all affect the body’s ability to access specific energy systems and ultimately perform to the best of your ability.
This is when to get the kit sorted and everything needed for race day – leave it until the morning of the race and in the race to get out of the house you will forget something.
Shoes- make sure cleats are good and securely fit into the pedal.
Clothing-lay the race kit out, taking into account the forecasted weather and its better to have an item in the kit bag and not use it rather than going looking for it and realising its at home.
Race numbers-get them pinned at home; nothing worst than looking to get warmed up and having to wait on a team mate fumbling with safety pins.
Food-don’t forget to eat on the way to the race and have some liquids and healthy snacks to keep the blood glucose levels up. Depending on the race length, always have 2 bottles loaded with a sports mixture ready to be put on the bike and always have gel/bar in the pocket for every 20-30 minutes of racing.
Sleep ins are now gone and an early start is good to get the breakfast in and then pack the car.
Don’t forget the race licence or forget about everything else mentioned in this write up!
By now you should have researched where race HQ is and how long it’s going to take to get there. Its always a good rule of thumb to arrive at sign on with at least 60 minutes before the race is due to start; this allows plenty of time for catching up with guys you haven’t seen since you last pinned the numbers on the jersey; getting changed and deciding how many base layers to wear; filling the pockets up with sustenance and checking the tyres are ready to go.
Last thing to do is to get the legs oiled up with some muscle rub and don’t forget the baby wipes as it’ll be hard enough holding onto the handle bars.
Warm up done; excess clothing dumped in the car and make sure you get to the start line before it starts or it can be lonely chase, while watching the peleton disappear up the road!!