Coming back from Singletrack 6, a 6 days mountain bike race in Bristish Colombia, I though about sharing some tricks and tips for mountain bike stage races. It seems like these type of events are getting more popular among all types of riders and many looks a little bit anxious in term of preparations, so here are my inputs:
1-Use Chamy Butter
Yeah, this is my very first advice: Just use it, a lot! You might feel good in the first couple of stages, but it will eventually hit; you will have experience saddle pain somewhere in the week. To avoid that, use chamy cream
2-Eat well and a lot
In order not to bunk after 2 stages, you need fuel. Consuming not enough nutrients directly leads you to leisurely motion pace and bad recovery. Don’t miss the food truck; otherwise you might never be able to come back to the level you are supposed to perform within the week of racing.
30 min after the stage, I try to eat a proteinated bar or a shake to rebuild muscle fibers. I also take a lot of fluid and eat carbohydrates right away so my body don’t starve and has something to take from to replenish liver and muscle carbohydrate reserves for the next day.
Then, an hour or two after the stage, I have a normal meal (whatever which time of day it is) and I finally have a huge diner at night with a lot of carbs.
And don’t forget to eat well. Yeah, you might have burned a lot of calories, but crap food pollute your body that is in recovery mode so don’t give it junk!
3-Sleep after the stage
After eating your meal, power nap for 20-30 min.
As for the chamy butter cream, you probably won’t feel the need for it in the first days, but it will hit you right in the face as you get into the second half of the week. Also, chances are your night of sleeps will be shortened by various sources of distractions so take every opportunities for napping .
4-Ride hard, recovery harder
Ride as hard as you can but don’t neglect recovery. Numerous are the ways to recover from a bike race… I just got convinced that Elevated Legs are pretty damn good! So I got a pair, and it seems to work fine. Otherwise, leg elevation in your hotel room is suitable for a lesser budget.
I don’t usually get massages or use compression socks during stages races cause it makes me feel lazy and not punchy. Gentle foam roller could work fine to brake up some muscle fiber adhesions.
5-Take it easy
Do not stress with the event; we all want to do good, but ‘eh’ it is just a bike race.
Don’t take it too seriously; adopt a cool and easygoing mindset to make everything work better.
I went to Singletrack 6 (link) with no plan.
I brought my tent.
I slept in my car prior to the first stage.
A local invited me at its place for the second night, and I slept in a camping place for a couple of nights…
In fact, I was deciding where I was going to spend the night on the very same day and it worked out perfectly for low cost.
In the end, Pat and I hanged out with different people every night and we made some really good friendships.
6-Enjoy the ride
Enjoy the trails, the views and the actual race. You may not go back to this event or location anytime soon, just enjoy it while you are there.
7-Hang out with other racers
As already mentioned, I made some awesome friendships in about just a week. Be open-minded, learn about other experiences and jump on opportunities. You might be racing ‘against’ some guts, but at the end of the day we are all mountain bikers that share the same passion for “ripin” minerals. Share your story, crashes and mechanical problems with others and I am sure you’ll just meet awesome people.
To finish with, if you are considering doing a stage race: Go for it!
These events are incredible, you will have a blast and it will make you discover awesome places.