With the Cape Cycle Tour around the corner, your preparations for the race are likely in full swing. The time is now to formulate a game plan, get some sleep and make sure your tyres are pumped before burning around the Cape Peninsula like there’s no tomorrow!
1. Get your body clock in check
Body clocks can be adjusted, but not overnight. A week or so before the race, start getting into a routine of waking up, having breakfast and getting your ablutions done at the same time as you’ll need to on race day. – If you’ve been doing most of your training in the afternoons, try a session in the morning once or twice the week before so that that first climb out of Cape Town doesn’t come as a complete shock to your system.
2. Don’t overdo the carbo-loading
Gorging on pasta for three days is a bad idea. There are a lot of misconceptions about carbo-loading and many people go too far. Eating a balanced meal on Saturday night is just as important as on any other day of the week. Sure, you need to stock up on fuel for the long day ahead, but you need lots of vitamins, minerals and protein too. Whole wheat anything is a winner. Avoid alcohol for 24 hours before the event – save it for the post-race celebrations!
3. Don’t use new stuff on race day
New equipment needs time to settle: Wheels that have been built in factories have a tendency to go out of true or break spokes the first few times they bear weight. New cables stretch, causing gears to grate. New shorts can cause chafing. Unfamiliar energy drinks can upset your stomach. The expo is a great place to pick up a bargain or some shiny new bits but fitting them onto your bike the Saturday night before the race is a recipe for disaster. Stick to the equipment you’ve tested in training.
4. Rest week
It may be too late to catch up the 80-odd hours in the saddle you need to get under the three-hour mark, so keep your training light the week before. Keep the gears easy and the revs high. Also, early nights are a must. – Beware the expo! There’s so much cool stuff to see that before you know it you’ll have spent four hours on your feet (and spent a small fortune).
5. Go for a ride on the Saturday before
Going for a ride the day before will not only allow you to check that everything on your bike is working, it’s also a good way to release some nervous energy, which will help you sleep at night. Try doing a few short intervals in a very light gear.
6. Formulate a (realistic) game plan
You should have a ballpark idea of the kind of time you’re aiming for and your race pack comes with a very handy breakdown of the split times needed for various checkpoints along the route. It’s fair to assume you’ll go a bit faster than you normally do on your own but remember that the hardest parts of the route come at the end, so don’t fire all your guns in the first half chasing unrealistic targets. – Adjust your projected times according to the conditions that await you, most of all the wind. A south-easterly wind (the most common for this time of year) means a head wind for the first half of the race while a southwesterly means a tail wind up Suikerbossie.
7. Have fun!
This is the most important tip of all. Unless you’re starting in the first group, the only person you’re REALLY racing is yourself. A small dose of patience always goes a long way when you’re dealing with crowds. Relax, you’re in Cape Town, try to have some fun!
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