The X100 Race is coming up quick, and we here at the shop are eagerly awaiting the chance to prove our massive manhoods to people. We've put our heads together to come up with the best tips and tricks for the big day. Here's the ones we're willing to share with you. Don't beat any of us, though.
1. Nutrition. Just like Mom always said: "You're gonna wanna bring a snack." And you will want to. There's a million different options, but it takes time to figure out what works best from you. The very worst thing you can do is try something completely new on race day. You never know what might make your stomach queasy, and if you're riding for ten hours, you don't want to be any more uncomfortable than you're sure to be. Gels, bars, drinks and everything else: give it a try first.
Eat a solid meal two hours before the start. It doesn't need to be massive, but it should be substantial. Oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, waffles, maybe some orange juice or a smoothie, whatever sounds good to you, eat a bit. Try to avoid too much caffeine. It'll make it harder to hold water throughout the day, and it can also raise your heart rate unnecessarily.
On the bike, do what you'd normally do for a big ride, but add just a touch more. Eat and drink early and often. Once you've fallen behind drinking or eating, it's impossible to catch back up. Set a watch or your Garmin to remind you every twenty or thirty minutes, and make sure you've packed a lot for the aid stations. Having a few things to choose from can help you eat more, even when you don't feel like it.
Erg! Bars are tasty, and having a few bottles of Heed or Perpetuem can be a huge help. But remember, give it a try before race day.
2. Bike Preparation. Getting your bike tuned up and looked over a week or two out from the big day is a very good idea. Trying to get your bike tuned up the night before the race isn't, and not just because Nate only works till midnight. Getting your tune up early gives your new parts time to settle while you work out any kinks. Trying new things like seats, grips, gear ratios and all the rest can be a gamble. Make your changes with enough time to make sure they're going to make you happy as a Hassellhoff.
Be ready on the trail, as well. Bring a tube, even if you're running tubeless, plus a multi-tool, a Powerlink, plenty of CO2, and perhaps the best tool of all, your cell phone. Races like the X100 have a ton of places to get help, but help can be a long ways off when disaster strikes. Airlifting in Nate to put your chain back on is probably more expensive than you'd like, too.
3. Taper. As Joe Sovis once said, "You've only got what you've got." Riding 300 miles the week of a 100 miler won't do you much good. In fact, it's the opposite of good; it's BAD. The legs to do a 100 mile mountain bike race in August come in May, June and July. Big base miles, time on the trails and some amount of structure add up to a much faster and more enjoyable experience. If you're cramming, do big miles a few weeks out, and shorten up the week before. The week of the race, be smart. Shorter, harder efforts and some time to rest up will make you feel fresher when the gun goes. And no, EPO isn't the answer to all your problems. Ask Lance.
4. Dress for Success. Chamois cream is worth its weight in gold for any ride over three hours. Keep your sensitive areas lubricated, and ride the most comfortable bibs you own. That doesn't necessarily mean the thickest, but the ones you won't mind being in for ten hours. Think of it this way: you're going to be wearing these clothes for at least 195 minutes, the equivalent of three and a half screenings of James Cameron's blockbuster, Titanic. It's late August, so plan on wearing warm armers and a vest for the first few hours. Temperatures could be as low as the 40's, and starting the day off freezing will be mentally draining. Some priceless Dennis Bean-Larson advice on clothes; "You should be chilly on the line, punk."
5. Don't Stop Believing. Don't. Seriously. You can do it. Ride in a group, encourage each other, and stare at the wheel ahead of you. If you're in no-man's land, ride at your own pace, settle in, and keep plugging away. Everyone has a different tactic. Jason Whittaker, distance racer extraordinaire, hates looking at his speed but likes knowing how many miles he's knocked down. He'll usually change his Garmin not to show speed so conspicuously. Cody Sovis will tape off his distance at time, just looking at speed and average speed. Stay positive, keep pedaling, and set goals, even if it's just picking the next tree to get to.