The biggest race on the South African cycling calendar gets underway tomorrow and whether you’ve been training since November or dusted off your bike three weeks ago, these basic pointers should help you to a PB. Okay, so maybe not if you just got it our the garage three weeks ago…
You can’t get any fitter in the last week leading up to the race, in fact you can only do your body (and race time) harm. Rest up, don’t walk if you can stand, don’t stand if you can sit, and don’t sit if you can lie down.
Forget that traditional wisdom of ‘pasta the night before’. Hopefully you have added extra (good) carbs to your diet for at least the last three days before the race (think rice, potatoes and pastas) but stay away from creamy and spicy sauces.
Carry these in a tubby bag under your seat, a hydration backpack, stuff them into the pockets of your cycling shirt or duct tape them to your bicycle…just don’t leave them at home!
- Timing chip (forget it and all the pain won’t be officially timed and recognised)
- A spare tube (at least one). Make sure it’s the correct size for your tyre.
- Tyre levers (it’s always good to have two – they weigh nothing).
- A pump (or CO2 bombs)
- Two energy bars
- Three energy gels
- Medical Aid Card
- Cellphone (put it in a sandwich bag with your med card to protect it from sweat damage)
No matter how nervous you are on the morning of the race, force yourself to eat a light breakfast. A bowl of oats with a banana and honey about an hour-and-a-half before should keep you fuelled well past Simon’s Town. (But don’t eat anything your stomach’s not used to – if you eat two eggs with bacon before your training rides, that’s what you have to do before the race). Slowly drink 500 ml of energy drink in the hour leading up to the start.
Stick with your group
Try to stay with your group. The pace might seem out of your comfort zone at times, but you can use up to 30 per cent less energy in a slipstream and that means a faster time. Get to the front of the group near hills if you’re a weak climber and likely to fade.
Don’t go too hard too early
Boyes Drive adds an extra climb and steep descent to the route, but it’s not the only place to be careful. Chappies and Suikerbossie await, make sure you have some left in your tank for those. From there it’s pretty much downhill to the boerewors stand and beer tent (except for the little bump out of Camps Bay).