The ins and outs of preparing for a successful race
With many long downhill stages, it’s impossible to remember every rock and tree, but we have some tricks that will help. Before you pre-ride, be sure you’re aware of the official race schedule, as well as any rules. Does the race director require you to wear certain safety equipment, such as a full-face helmet or knee pads? Or perhaps you have to register before pre-riding and display a number plate while on course. This varies from race to race, so check the event’s website or registration tent before riding.
Once you’ve checked in on the rules, here are three tips to help you get the most out of your pre-ride.
Get a Lay of the Land
Separate from learning the trails, you’ll want to figure out some details that will be important on race day. For instance, knowing where aid stations are will help you plan how much food and water to pack. Also, knowing to expect a steep transfer that’s worth just pushing your bike can be helpful.
Choose the Right Equipment
Every race is different so you may want to make equipment changes to dial in your bike for the course on hand. Running the best tires for the trail type can make a massive difference in your confidence, and therefore your speed. You may also consider tweaking your suspension settings to suit a smoother or rougher track.
Pick Your Lines
While you can’t memorize every twist, turn, and drop of every stage, a proper pre-ride can help you prepare for the most important sections. Run through each stage at a reasonable pace (not flat-out) and stay aware. If you come to a tricky corner or trail feature, re-ride it until you’re comfortable with your line. Once you’ve done that, be sure you find a landmark (a funky rock or tree) to remember the section by on race day. My rule of thumb? If you find most of your lines most of the time, you’ve done well.