Over the next couple of weeks I am dedicating the blog to tips you should consider for your pre-event planning. While some of these will be sport specific, most of them apply universally or the basic idea can be adapted for different disciplines. The intent is to make you think critically about key aspects of your prep and adapt it to your situation. Have questions or additional ideas or thoughts? Please feel free to post them on the blog or Facebook comments!
Equipment prep applies primarily to cycling which we will get to in a minute, but is important to runners and swimmers as well. Had that wetsuit out of the closet in awhile? Make sure it doesn’t have any holes and it still fits (for some athletes those wetsuits can mysteriously shrink over the winter… :-) ) I generally recommend doing a few wetsuit swims even if in the pool prior to a big event to get used to the range of motion and buoyancy impact the suit may have. For runners, make sure the shoes you are going to use for the event are tried and true and you are comfortable with them. If looking to swap out shoes prior to an event, I recommend getting several runs in them even if they are the same style that you are used to. You just never know if there will be some manufacturing error or something odd with a new pair, better to be safe than sorry.
Now the biggie in the equipment world, cycling. Based on what you find out about the course (see last entry), pick your equipment, AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE before the event and insure it’s in a top working order. Figure out what bike and wheels you are going to race, your gearing, tires and tire pressures, fork and shock pressures as applicable, etc. The value of doing it as early as possible is you can then train on the equipment you race on and go into the event with confidence that your equipment fits and functions properly and it will not let you down.
A lot of folks have a number of different bikes, one they race on, one they train on, TT bike, cross bike etc. Riding different bikes is fine, but once you start targeting a specific event you should try to ride the bike you are going to race (or an exact duplicate in terms of geometry and fit etc.) as far in advance as practical. In the event where you might be racing multiple bikes in a short period of time, just plan on riding your different setups alternating during the weeks prior. The most obvious example would be a stage racer who will race a road setup and TT setup during the same stage race. For this example, I usually recommend riding the TT bike at least 2 or 3 times a week in the weeks proceeding the event, and the road bike on the others days. Preferably the TT bike would be used for longer intensity efforts that most closely simulate race conditions so your body is used to the position under stress.
If you have separate racing and training wheels, you obviously don’t want to run your race wheels all the time, but you should still have them selected, inspected and do some test rides on them in the week or so prior to the race to ensure shifting is good, wheels are true, tires are in good condition etc.
Additionally, probably the most important item, if you are going to do any major maintenance (change tires, true wheels, overhauls, cable changes, brake pad, cogset, cranks or chain swap out etc.) the rule of thumb is 2 weeks ahead of the event and then leave it alone. That gives you several training rides to sort out if you have any issues and work them out vice figuring out you have an issue on race morning or even worse, during the race.
An extra note on brake pads, many bikes with rim brakes may have different compound pads for training and race wheels, and riders will swap out before events. Just make sure you have a set that you are confident work on your race wheels and as outlined for you wheels, I recommend riding them at least once or twice prior to the actual race to ensure they are set up right. This is especially important if you are putting brand new pads in! Nothing worse than having squealing brakes throughout a long race because your pads weren’t aligned right when you put new ones on.
Last but not least, make sure your bike is clean and well lubricated prior to the event. A clean bike is a fast bike, why haul that extra grit and dirt around and clog up your drivetrain? Also, while cleaning your bike, you are more likely to notice any issues like cracks, something loose or out of alignment, the cleaning kind of makes you give your bike a good visual inspection. On top of it all, if you have sponsors, it presents a professional image for both you and those supporting you.
Next up environmental conditions. Thanks for reading. Any questions or stuff to add, please feel to post up in the comments in FB or on the blog.