Whether you’re entering the 35km, 65km or 111km race, you’ve no doubt been practicing your ride, polishing your bike and preparing your gear for weeks. Now that we’re down to the last few days before the ride, here’s what you need to know to help you reach for your peak in the race.
Know your route
If you can, ride the course before the race to familiarise yourself with it, or get your hands on a map so you can try visualise it and identify points to look out for. Incorporate as much outdoor riding as you can into your training schedule to simulate the demands of race riding.
Get in with the group
If you’re not accustomed to group riding, make sure you get some practice in before the big day, so you can get used to riding at high speeds with multiple other cyclists. It will also assist you with learning the etiquette of race cycling, so you can ride in a large group respectfully.
Step up your overall carbohydrate intake about 48 hours before the event – try increasing foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta at meal times. Top up with carbohydrate snacks, such as cereal bars or fruit. Hydrate well the evening before the race.
Breakfast should be consumed about two to three hours before the race, and should primarily consist of carbohydrates. Importantly, stick to food that you normally have for breakfast on a training day – this is not the time to be experimenting with new cuisines! Don’t leave breakfast too late as this could cause stomach discomfort once you get started. Make sure you drink lots of fluids before the race.
If you will be eating and drinking during your race, choose sports drinks and energy bars to replace carbohydrates, in addition to sodium, potassium and electrolytes. Make sure you practise consuming food and drinks while cycling at high speed, so you get confident with this.
Check your bike
Your bike is the machine that will help power you through the race, so make sure it’s in top condition. Give it a thorough going over the day before the race and don’t forget obvious things like checking tyres, brakes and the chain. These small checks can make all the difference on the day.
Start the day right
Make sure you arrive with enough time to sort out your race papers and identify the starting point – the last thing you want to be doing on the morning of the race is rushing around!
Leave time for a 30-40 minute warm up, finishing about 10 minutes before the race begins. This should consist of static stretching, then movements like jogging on the spot, arm swings and star jumps to raise your heart rate. Finally, cycle on your bike or trainer for a few minutes. Hydrate well after your warm up.
The big race
Once you’re off, find a position you feel comfortable with in the race. Stick with the pack but don’t try to stay out front, as this will use up a lot of unnecessary energy. Avoid making sudden movements and always signal your intention if you’re going to move out. Most importantly, give it your all. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into preparing for this, so do yourself proud.
The first thing to do after completing the race is congratulate yourself – you did it! Now think about your recovery strategy. Up your carbohydrate intake for the period after the race and hydrate well to replenish lost fluids. Think about taking a magnesium supplement, such as Swisse Ultiboost High Strength Magnesium Powder Orange, which helps support healthy muscle function and assist with cellular energy production. The day after the ride, do something active but gentle, such as going for a walk or a swim, and then consider planning for next year’s race!
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.