Plenty of Sleep
Resting after training helps you improve. The best form of rest is sleep, you should try get between 8 – 10 hours sleep every night. The more sleep you get the night before race day, the better.
Eat the Right Food
You are what you eat ‘That’s what they say’, and eating right can make a big difference in performance. Eat a high carbohydrate (Pasta, Rice, Potatoes etc.) dinner the day before competition. Red meat digests slower than white so make sure not to eat these before a race day. Have a good breakfast, (avoid fry ups) but don’t stuff yourself. Try to vary it with fruit and porridge. Simple is best! Avoid eating during the final 2 hours before the race, if you need to – drink a carbohydrate type drink. If your race is in the afternoon, eat a meal 2½ – 3 hours before it. Don’t eat sweets or sugar type foods before you race. For more on nutrition: http://www.irishxcmtb.com/nutrition.htm
What to Drink
Always drink plenty of fluids when training. It is important to start a race well hydrated, it’s best to drink fluids up to an hour before the start. Bring a full bottle with you during the race, get someone to hand you 1-2 bottles per hour while racing. Water is good for short races and essential in hot summer days. For longer races, use a Carbohydrate drink like, Maxim, PSP22, Hi5 etc. Energy gels such as High5, Powerbar are also excellent for giving you an extra boost up those last couple of climbs. However, remember not to take them too early on as they are very short term energy boosters. Finally, remember it is important to replace fluids as quick as possible after racing to aid recovery…
Check the Course
It’s a good habit to pre ride the course, but check your race start time first so you don’t miss the start. The pre ride will help you decide on your choice of gearing, your line in the single track sections and turns etc. don’t ride too hard. If the race organizers allow, try to get on the course the day before and ride it at a reasonably hard pace for a lap. This will allow you to see what lines you will instinctively take at race pace the next day.
Get Bike Ready
Every week you should check your bike over. Check the tyres, cables, brake blocks and gears. During the week before the event give it as good a going over as your mechanical ability allows. Don’t go opening forks and other complex parts if you are not fully confident you can put them back together properly. Clean the bike down before tuning the gears, fork and brakes as perfectly as you can. Remember, you don’t want a gear to slip on the final sprint after two hours of 100% so make sure the bike is in perfect order. From experience, if something is anyway worn-out before a race, it is certain to fail on you during the race! Avoid fitting any new sprockets, cleats etc without having a chance to test them in training.
You need to get yourself warmed up before you race, go for a spin riding at about 70% of your max effort .15 – 20 minutes should be enough. This should be within 30 minutes of the start and it could include pre riding the course. Also get into the habit of stretching before the start. Two or three hard efforts in the 30mins before the race are also a good idea to get the muscles in shape for the task ahead of them.
When you arrive at the race venue, go and sign on to race, bring your race licenses with you.(One day licenses can be purchased at sign on) Check the start time for you race, the race distance and where the start is. Double check your start time. There’s nothing worse than missing the start or having to stress yourself rushing a few minutes before the start to get ready.