Your First 24 Hour Team Race

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Tips

24 hour moab mountain bike race 300x210 Your First 24 Hour Team RaceSo you have been racing your mountain bike for a while and now you are thinking of venturing into 24 hour racing in a team format. I would definitely recommend it—it is a lot of fun. But there are some steps you can take to make it a better experience.

  1. Make sure you and the rest of your team have the same expectations. There is nothing worse than not being “on the same page” as another on your team. Whether you are doing it for fun, trying to win it, or somewhere in between, it is important to ensure that everyone has similar expectations. Then no one will be disappointed.
  2. Know the course—that means pre-ride it. You can look at a course all you want on a map and study its profile, but it is always different when you are actually riding. In 24 hour racing it is really important to know that crazy turn, obstacle, and the unexpected before you are racing. One of the worse things that can happen is calling it quits because you got taken out by the course. Pre-riding is especially important if there is the potential for your first lap to be a night lap. Ride the course.
  3. Eat your food. You have to eat because your team is counting on you. Make sure you have a wide variety food— real food and race food because you never know when your digestive system will decide that it is only going to tolerate X. If you don’t have X, you are screwed. Racing food—gels, bars, drinks—tend to be easier to digest and still provide the needed energy. Electrolyte supplement are also a really good idea.
  4. Get good lights. There are a lot of things you can skimp. Generic cereal, brand X jeans, but you get what you pay for with lights. They are expensive, but coming from a frugal person (ie cheapskate) you want to pony up for something decent. You may not need the lightest weight or the quickest charging lights, but you want something good—HID or a high lumen LED. I would also recommend a dual set up—handle bars and helmet. This lets you see what is in front of you and ahead of you at all times. Also set these up the night before just in case you get the transition lap (light to night). It is hard to know where you want your lights aimed when it is light out. And if you can practice your night riding, you will be better for it.
  5. Bring your spare parts. If you have a spare part, bring it. You never know what you or someone else is going to need. Make sure you bring the basics—brake pads, tubes, tires (yes, tires not just tubes), chain or extra links, etc. 
  6. All of your clothes. This may seem silly, but I bring practically all of my riding clothes to these events. You have to be ready for all weather conditions. Meteorologists can not be trusted—torrential rain Moab, snow in Tucson. Yes, you may only be scheduled for 4 laps, but bring six kits with options of long sleeves, knee/leg warmers, arm warmers, the works. Change out of your kit after each lap so you can get warm and dry.
  7. Be flexible. Again 24 hours is a long race and chances are good something is going to go awry. Be ready to change the game plan. If someone gets sick, injured, or their bike does not work the rotation may need to be adjusted or the race perspective may need to be changed. Just remember ultimately you are riding your bike to have fun, so enjoy it.
  8. It is okay to get passed. You will get passed on the trail and that is just fine. If you have been caught by someone they are faster than you and you should let them pass. You may be slowing them up a lot or very little. Personally, if I am caught quickly than I will quickly try to find them a place to pass because staying behind me is having a greater impact on their race than getting out of the way will have on my race. Similarly, if they slowly pull me in than I am not that much slower than they are. I will advise them that I am looking for a good spot. Also be sure to allow plenty of room to pass. Unless you have come to a complete stop, it takes more than a bike length to be passed.
  9. Rest, refuel, and stay warm (or cool). Between laps it is vital to rest, refuel, and get comfortable. If you can, sit or lay down with your legs up in the shade or next to a heater. Eat! Get comfortable—warm or cool. This will help save energy and aid your recovery. I would also suggest establishing coat hand offs at night. Once it starts getting cool you may want an extra layer or two while waiting in the exchange tent. So figuring out a system to hand off coats between the team mates that are coming and going.
  10. Bring toilet paper, wet wipes, and anti-bacterial gel. The port-o-johns will inevitably run out of toilet paper when you need it the most. Wet wipes allow for a quick freshening between laps. And anti-bacterial gel is just a good idea when camping or using public bathrooms of this kind.

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