Our favorite sport is all about competition. From trying to pass your buddy in the middle of a rock garden to World Cup downhill racing, the desire to be faster than the rider in front of us is always present. Let’s take a look at how, and how not to, get your bike and your kit ready for race day.
Begin your race prep about two weeks before the race, so you have time to break in new parts and make sure they don’t present any new problems. Start with these maintenance procedures:
Give your bike a good wipe down. A careful cleaning will often reveal damage that went unnoticed before.
Check torque on all bolts
Make sure suspension pivots are moving freely and are in good working order
Install new cables/housing if more than a few months old or if shifting has been poor
Bleed brakes if necessary.
Install new brake pads if necessary and bed them in correctly.
Check drivetrain for wear, including derailleur pulleys, and install new chain if necessary
Straighten warped rotors
True and tension your wheels
A few days before the race do the following
Re-check torque on all bolts, including your pedal cleats OR loctite flat pedal traction pins
Make sure your tires are trustworthy by inspecting them for wear, cuts, or leaks
Top off tubeless tire sealant level
Lube chain and check for damaged links
Check wheels for true again
Don’t forget to take potential weather conditions in mind as you get your bike dialed in. If there is a possibility of wet weather, make sure you have a set of sintered metallic brake pads and a pair of mud tires on hand.
The night before the big day do the following:
Wipe your bike down one more time
Relax, have fun and pin it!
Now that your bike is primed and ready to take you to the podium, let’s go through what should be in your gear bag. If you don’t usually wear one, you’ll also have to decide whether or not you’ll be wearing a hydration pack. If it’s a shorter enduro race with timed sections around five to ten minutes or so, it might not be worth carrying extra parts since if you have a mechanical, your race is effectively over. For multi day races with longer stages, then making up time is a possibility and a stocked pack could be a good idea. Multiple 4X World Champion Jared Graves carries “…every spare that is easy to carry that could break, and every tool for that job…” including a derailleur, hanger, cables, spokes and nipples, duct tape, and chain lube.
In order to make sure you are comfortable, fueled up, and ready to deal with any bike problems that arise, make sure you are bringing a well-stocked gear bag.
Nutrition items for on the bike fuel and recovery
If it’s a multi day event be sure to bring enough food and cooking gear to prepare it.
Depending on how trustworthy the weather forecast is, pack cycling clothes for every condition you might encounter on the bike. Bring a fresh kit for each day if you have it. A nice clean chamois will make you feel much better. And bring plenty of clean socks.
Don’t forget clothes for after the race, again paying attention to the weather forecast. You want to be as comfortable as possible at all times.
An old pair of shoes is good to have on hand just in case a buckle fails on your current shoes.
Don’t forget your helmet and sunglasses or goggles
Bike and Race Specific Items
Basic bike tools
Chain lube and cleaning rags
Spare tubes and patch kit
Spare chain and master link