All your training is done, and you've probably got one last pre-event ride to go. The most important thing to do is plan well, be organised, and make sure you're properly prepared for your race or event. The whole reason to train - aside from enjoyment - is to be good on event day. Taking that extra bit of time to make sure you've covered all the bases is extremely important. Here are a few tips to make sure you're on track for a great day.
Check the weather
- If the forecast is for hot and sunny weather, be sure to take sunscreen, and even sun sleeves and a cap. Sunburn will drain your energy and dehydrate you, so be prepared for the riding throughout the heat of the day. It's also a good idea to take extra electrolyte drink mix for your bidons, as excessive sweating means you'll need to replace your lost electrolytes.
- If the forecast is for wet weather, plan accordingly. Be sure to have a high quality rain jacket that packs up small and fits in your jersey pocket. Take spare gloves, cap, and even socks in a plastic bag in your jersey pocket; if the weather improves, changing those items can give a huge morale boost. Take more clothing than less. You can always take off what you don't need, but you can't put on what you don't have!
- With wet weather, it is a good idea to reduce your tyre pressure. For more tyre pressure advice we have a tyre pressure blog article to follow.
- The most important thing is ensuring your body temperature is managed. In the cold you'll need to eat more and keep your chest dry and protected from the wind. In the heat you'll need to drink more, and don't be afraid to pour water over your head and jersey; a wet jersey while riding in the heat can act as a refrigerator.
Prepare your food and drinks beforehand
- We recommend you have all your event nutrition sorted at least two days prior to the day. That way if there's anything you don't have, there is ample time to go to the shops.
- Plan on fuelling up with 300-350 calories per hour of riding time. The calories can come from food and drinks. Energy bars and gels are made to consume during exercise, they are conveniently small to fit in your jersey pockets. Electrolyte tablets are a great idea as you can take extras with you to put in your bidons when you fill them with water.
- It's very important to have a healthy, hearty dinner the night before your ride. We recommend a high carbohydrate dinner with some protein and healthy fats.
- The ride/race day meal is your most important meal. This is going to be your foundation to get you through your event, and the calories you consume during your ride are simply to top up the energy you ate in the morning. Aim to consume x grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight, some protein, and drink plenty of water.
- A great trick is to drink 500ml of electrolyte drink with your dinner the night before, and with your breakfast in the morning. It's a given you're going to sweat a lot in your event, so you can give your body a head start by being well prepared and hydrated.
During ride fuelling
- Start fuelling up in the first 30 minutes of the ride/race. If you get hungry, you've left it too late.
- Drink every 10-15 minutes. The last thing you want to do is feel thirsty, so stay on top of your hydration right from the start. It's important to remember to drink in the cold weather too. In the cold you might not feel like drinking, but you'll still sweat, so the fluids need replacing just the same as on a warm day.
- Start off with the more solid energy bars you take, and progress onto blocks and gels and even caffeine gels later in the ride. Gels can be pretty tough on your stomach, so if you have not had much experience eating energy gels, we recommend you limit yourself to just two or three over the course of your ride.
With most of your nutritional needs covered, there is one major key to enjoying your event- your bike! You should have had your bike serviced about a week prior to the event day. You need to rock up with a nice and clean bike with everything in good working order.
Here is a checklist of things that are needed for your ride:
- Bike in perfect working order (book service in for early in the week of your event)
- Bike computer and electronic gear batteries fully charged (take a car charger just in case!)
- Sunglasses (with different lenses depending on the conditions)
- Bib shorts (plus a spare)
- Jersey (plus a spare)
- Undershirts (bring a few options depending on the weather)
- Vest/jacket/rain jacket/arm warmers/booties/gloves etc
- Cycling Cap (summer for sun protection or winter for warmth)
- Race day food
- Race day drinks and bidons
- Cleaning up stuff like wet wipes and extra water
- After event food and drinks
- Toilet paper
- Map to get to the race
- Petrol in the car for the drive
- Cable ties for frame number (and scissors to cut the cable ties)
- Pins for jersey number
- A simple tool kit for emergencies
- Spare wheels
- Spare tyre and some tubes
- Electrical tape
- Asthma puffer / medications
- Registration packet / info (where possible try and do this before event day)
PDF checklist of the above to print
At the end of the day, the reason you're getting coached is so you can improve and get scores on the board. Performing on "game" day was one of my specialties, and that's why I've put together this list to help you get the most out of yourself too. Being organised and prepared for your event means you can put all your focus into how you ride. Get out there and have some fun!