So, you’ve signed up for the Grand Junction Off-Road. Maybe it was a dare from someone else, or maybe it was a bet to yourself, but either way, it’s coming up fast. If this is your first mountain bike race, you are probably freaking out a little bit – I mean, it’s less than two weeks away. If you haven’t put in the miles you think you should, the first rule is NOT to panic.
This is the time of training that everyone goes a bit insane and tries to cram all the miles within a few short days when they should have been clocking those for the past few months. If you try to do that now you have a good chance of getting sick, injured, or just feeling fatigued during the race. Logging crazy miles now will make you tired for the race and the fitness you’ve acquired won’t show up until a few weeks after the race. So, what should you do? Try these tips – they might not get you a podium finish, but you’re more likely to have an enjoyable time.
Set a Realistic Target – so, you’re not as fit as you wanted to be. Now is the time to adjust your expectations. Take a realistic look at your current fitness level and determine your new goals. Having a clear, mental, picture of where you will finish and the pace you will set. This is also a good time to determine which course challenges you’ll go for, and which you’ll dismount and walk around.
Improve Your Skills – if you set a goal to ride through everything on the course, no matter if it’s not race pace, you need to improve your skills. Instead of clocking those killer miles, go out and get better at rock drops. If you live in the Valley, ride the course and pick a few tough spots to master. While your fitness level won’t be much improved in this little time, your bike handling skills can be! As your skills increase, those challenging spots will require less energy, offering you more energy for the rest of the race.
Check Your Bike And Gear – if you already don’t have the fitness level you were aiming for, you don’t want your bike or gear to slow you down more. Complete a thorough check of your bike to make sure it is in smooth, running, order. Is your seat comfortable? Are your brakes feeling good? How is your shifting? How old are your tires? Do you have spare tubes? Can your riding clothes last for a few hours without feeling too hot or cold? Make sure you’ve thought all of these things through for race day. The last thing you want is to put in all of this effort for your gear or bike to be the thing that lets you down.
Diet – no, we don’t mean that completing a crash diet will help you, but watching what you fuel your body with the week leading up to the race will make you feel more prepared. Drink plenty of water, eat fresh fruits and veggies, and don’t go crazy on the carbs. While having some carbs in your body for fuel is helpful for endurance races, over-doing it can make you feel sluggish. Also, be sure to pack your race fuel accordingly. Use this last week to experiment with which race foods you like best – bars, drinks, gels, or chews. These all come in various flavors. So, stock up on the ones you enjoy most. For these longer races and when you are really tired, eating is sometimes the only thing that gets you through them and also the least appealing thing when you are cracked. Pack things that will be desirable to eat.
Sleep/Recovery – race nerves are a real thing, and this causes people to sleep fitfully the night before a big event. Try to get plenty of sleep leading up to the GJ Off-Road, especially the night before. If you’re just unable to sleep the evening before the race, it isn’t the end of the world, as long as you’ve been well rested leading up to it. The other variable to keep in mind is a rest day or recovery day ahead of the race. This gives your body a chance to reenergize and be prepared for your race effort.
The GJ Off-Road is a fantastic, fun-filled event that will make you want to come back year after year. So, don’t stress too much if you haven’t put in the time to make this the best race ever. Use this year as a guidepost for races to come. As always, if you need anything before the race, stop in and ask. Our staff is happy to help you dial in your bike, your gear, and your fuel.