5 Things To Consider Before You Line Up at the Patapsco 100
by: Jon Posner
Are you ready? Really ready? Check out these five tips that will help stack the odds in your favor during the inaugural Patapsco 100 MTB race-
Get horizontal and try to stay there. It isn’t enough to just say you will “take it easy” the day before the race. The efforts on this course are frequent and many of the climbs are too steep to remain seated. To bank the energy reserves and be fully rested, consider sitting or lying down as much as possible leading up to the start. Yes it is important to rest the legs, but think about resting your heart too – don’t make it pump that blood all the way up to the top of your body. Sitting and laying down helps lighten the load on your legs and on your heart and preserve strength for when you will need it most during the race.
Inspect all your equipment. There is almost nothing worse than feeling ready, starting well, getting into the groove, and then having to toss in the towel because of a mechanical failure that could have been prevented. Check your tires, including sidewalls, squeeze all your pairs of spokes, give the full length of chain a close look, and have someone who knows what they’re doing run through your brake system and drivetrain. Use PLENTY of chain lube and try to keep your hubs and drivetrain from getting submerged at the river crossings. You don’t necessarily need it to look like it just came from a total major tune up and detail job, but you do need it to do its job flawlessly for a bunch of hours in the woods.
Know your pace and stick to it. By now you have hopefully done some longer rides at effort and you know approximately what your pace will be. It is an easy trap to succumb to at the start of a race when a bunch of folks blast off from the gun, but chasing those fast rabbits too much, too early, can end your day before you reach the finish line. Make a conscious decision not to chase too much beyond your limits. It is a race, and you should push harder than any on any training rides, however keep it in check to make sure you can do the full pull. Riding when you are completely bonked stinks. Racing while completely bonked is worse.
Have a fuel strategy. Know what you will be eating & drinking and when. Take advantage of the aid stations and the volunteers – both exist to support your race and you should use them. Keep your fluid intake high and make sure to keep calories coming in at regular intervals. This sounds like no-brainer stuff, but in the thick of a race, especially one without a lot of “recovery sections” where someone would ordinarily think to eat and drink, it is critical to stay on top of things to avoid getting into a deficit.
Keep it positive and smile. It may sound silly, but smiling has been shown to have physiological benefits, even if you are miserable and just telling yourself to do it. In a study last year published in the journal Psychological Science, test subjects who practiced smiling “recovered from the stressful activities with lower heart rates than participants who held neutral expressions” If you are feeling crushed or blown up, take a few moments to reflect on all of the training and preparations you made for this race, and smile as you remind yourself that you are spending a whole day riding your bike in the woods and it really doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
Good luck everyone and wishing a safe and successful event to all !!!