When our love of Mountain Bike grows and grows, it is inevitable that sooner or later we will go to our first serious competition or race. Normally, people who practice mountain biking but do not compete, go out two or three days a week to train with the bicycle, something very different from what true elite cyclists do who train daily and prepare for competitions in a professional way , with specific workouts, special diets and even bicycles prepared for those specific workouts.
Let’s not fool ourselves. Normal mountain bikers who don’t usually compete are weekend warriors, in the truest sense of the word. There are many riders who have sponsors, with the best possible equipment and the lightest and most advanced bikes of the moment. But there are also so many others like us who only seek to improve themselves a little more, thanks to the competitive spirit that flows through our veins and that sooner or later leads us to the starting line of our first competition on two wheels.
How to prepare the first competition
The most experienced runners have a specific training program for each competition, which ends right at the moment the race begins. As weekend warriors that we are, we do not need specific training for this or that competition, but we must not forget that we must plan at least a couple of things in the week before our first race to make sure that our legs are not going to fail.
We have to prevent our first race from becoming a tragedy, and for this we have some tips that will help us to enjoy our first competition and have a really good time. The week before our first race or competition:
1. Break your legs… a week before:
The week before the competition (approximately 7 days before), we must make a route or outing with our bicycle as long and hard as possible. The ideal is to carry out an intense training, the kind that makes your legs hurt during the following days, to really check our physical condition and of course, force our legs a little more. When very intense exercises are performed, muscle fibers and tissues break down at a microscopic level, and then regenerate again, giving rise to larger and stronger fibers and tissues. The idea is to arrive at our first competition with fresh legs and not in the recovery phase, so we must make sure that this intense pre-training takes place between 7 or 8 days before the race.
2. During the week, very smooth outings:
We have already made the hardest start, and our legs are sore and swollen. With the sole purpose of recovering the muscular tissues of the legs and preventing them from falling asleep, we can make a couple of outings during the week prior to the competition. For example, we can go out on Tuesday forcing our battered limbs a little more, but not enough to break our legs again. In this way we will be able to increase blood flow and eliminate metabolic residues that may remain due to previous intense exercise. And we can do our second and last outing on Thursday, riding with very smooth developments with the sole intention of refreshing and moving the legs to keep them active and continue to accelerate muscle recovery. In this way, we will arrive at our first competition with our legs prepared for it.
3. Sleep, sleep more, and then sleep a little more:
In the days leading up to our first competition, it is best to make sure you get as much sleep as possible. Our body regenerates and recovers better during sleep, and it is vitally important to get as much sleep as possible to ensure that our legs are fully recovered for the race. We have to sleep our 8 hours every night and, if possible, take advantage of the occasional nap during the day.
4. Hydration and nutrition, the key to success:
During the week prior to our first competition, we must hydrate properly and eat a lot of protein and carbohydrates. The benefits of a good diet take time, and we must start consuming more protein and carbohydrates for at least seven or eight days before the race. For the night before the competition, the most effective is a good plate of pasta or rice boiled with grilled chicken, accompanied by plenty of water. We must also make sure we have a good breakfast in the morning, and keep our body hydrated at the highest possible level. We have to stay 100% hydrated at the starting line, since during the race all the liquid we consume will only be used to replace what we expel through sweat. If the race is very long, we must make use of bars, isotonic recovery drinks, energy gels and fruit juices, at the choice of each of us according to our own preferences.
5. Adjust and prepare your bike in detail:
It can be a real frustration for us not being able to finish the race or competition due to some minor technical problem. We must check our bike completely, check the operation of the gears, brakes and suspension, and make the necessary adjustments. The tires deserve a separate mention, which we must carefully verify and inflate to the pressure that we consider most appropriate for us. Since we are not racing professionals, it is quite clear that we will not ride one of the lightest bikes in the race, but it does not hurt to take the opportunity to mount new lighter tires and tubes, for example. Another highly recommended option is to opt for our friend’s brand new bicycle, lighter and more prepared, if possible and we have money later to invite our friend to a good dinner.
6. Find friends who will also compete:
One of the funniest ways to enjoy our first competition is by being accompanied by one or more friends who are also in the race. It is always better to have people you know close to than other strangers who will only want to leave you behind as soon as possible. Although it is clear that competitiveness is in the air in a race, having well-known people around us will help us perform more and better than doing it alone. Of course, jokes, laughter, faces of suffering and anger, escapes or falls, will always remain in the memory of each and every one of the friends who are going to compete in the same race.
7. During the race, concentration and inner peace:
At the time of passing the starting line, we can only enjoy the experience and try to finish the race in the best possible way. You have to avoid the adrenaline rush at the beginning, when all the runners start at full speed. We also have to avoid staying ahead of the race, with the most experienced runners and even professionals pushing hard. It is about finding our own rhythm, listening to our body and maintaining a more or less stable intensity. It may be that in the end we will be surprised by seeing how we passed many of those runners who came out like a bullet at the beginning of the race. By staying focused, we will be able to finish our first race successfully.