How-to: The ultimate guide to multi-stage racing - PART II

Pics: Bruce Newton, Todd Weselake, Margus Riga,
Dave Silver

This is Part II of the ultimate guide to multi-stage racing. For Part I, click here.

What to take

For every day of racing you need to have a set of racing clothes – top, shorts and socks. You can use gloves more than one day but have at least a couple of pairs.

Package each day’s clothing into a plastic bag. When the day is done use the same bag to store your used gear. That helps seal away the stink until you can get to the laundromat.

A good bike bag like the padded EVOC in the pictures is a worthy investment. Mine has safely transported my bikes all over the world. Watching out the window of a plane at the way some baggage handlers do their thing should be enough to convince anyone that cardboard boxes have their limitations!

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When you head out to race each day always take the basics required for repairs; multi-tool, chain-breaker, chain link, mini-pump and/or quick-fill compressed air canisters, a tube, a derailleur hanger and a medical kit. A scrunchable lightweight rain top is a must, even if you only use it for warm-up before the start.

Beyond the racing essentials don’t forget your civvies. Sure, throw in a collared shirt and some good jeans but focus mainly on being relaxed and casual. So, t-shorts, shorts, thongs, runners and hoodies are the go. Don’t forget a hat, sunnies and your swimmers too.

Toiletries and a towel are essentials as is sunscreen and chamois cream. If you’re tenting, then a compact sleeping bag, an inflatable mattress and pillow are also must-haves.

Other things to consider

Get your bike properly serviced before the event! That’s rule number one. Don’t skimp. It never pays off.

Arriving at the event organised and with time to spare is a great way to kick off your multi-day MTB experience. Being in-situ the night before the start with a good meal in your belly and a pleasant place to sleep is really important.

In fact, eating and sleeping is of obvious ongoing importance. Some events cater, some don’t. If you don’t have to worry about where your meals are coming from and you can afford the cost, then do it. If not, then you’re hunting calories.

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So, to bed. Tenting is a common solution at multi-day races, generally two people in each. Yep, do it once for the experience, then pay the extra for the single tent, or go the whole hog and motel it.

Being able to come back to your own shower and a freshly made bed makes up for plenty of the camaraderie you might lose by bailing out of tent city.

Plenty of multi-day races offer you the option of assisted transportation. That probably means packing a day bag with civvies and toiletries for the post-race so you can clean up on the spot. If you have your own vehicle it’s a pretty good way of doing it because then you don’t have to wait around until a bus is filled up. It does get complicated if the race is a point-to-point though. Having a helper along then becomes critical.

The racing

This is the bit you know about. The one key thing to realise is not bust your gut and explode yourself on day one. This is a marathon not a sprint (except for the elites of course), so pace yourself.

The best thing about this style of racing is how the rest of the world just fades away from your focus. Everything in your life is geared around riding the bike for those few hours each day, hopefully on some of the best trails you’ve ever experienced in your life.

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Anyone can do it

A classic weekend warrior, Bruce only started riding mountain bikes in his early 40s in a vain attempt to recapture his youth and a slightly more successful effort to shed some weight. He quickly got hooked on racing and has participated in all sorts of events since. His first multi-day race was the 2001 Forrest Festival two-dayer, his most the 2018 BC Bike Race in Canada. His plan to head back this year was foiled by the international COVID-19 lockdown. Hopefully 2021!

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