Racing, Riding and More Racing

EWS Race Number

Last weekend saw round 2 of the UKGE at Innerleithen and some of the steepest, techest, gnarliest trails I have ever ridden, let alone raced.  Rather than giving you a run of the mill ‘race report’ I thought I would write about the physicality of the racing and my thoughts on how I might do my training a little differently, or how I could adapt my current training.

The 5 stages, spread over about 30km involved a shed load of climbing and a lot of steep hike-a-bike to get to the top of the hill.  The quickest racer on the day was Nico Lau who clocked up a total time of 17 minutes for 4 stages (1 was cancelled due to an injury) whilst I raced for about 22 minutes and got a respectable 52nd in Masters.  Whilst the transitions were not too tight, you had to keep moving and it was a very physical day, both going up and going down.  Those long, 1 hour climbs are hard to train replicate where I live near Bristol and I could have been fresher coming into the last stage.  With hindsight and having done the first 2 rounds, a bit more over-distance training would really help me to feel stronger for longer on race day.  Before Afan at the end of May I plan to get in 1 or preferably 2, 40km rides.  Ideally I would have done much of this work over the winter, however I was snowboarding in the Pyrenees instead!

The actual stages were so tough on the upper body and on the back leg and actually did not involve too much pedalling as they all pointed straight down the hill.  I found I felt strong and was able to manhandle the bike over the gnarly root sections and around the tight tree lined single track.  Without sounding arrogant, I felt well prepared and strong with my upper body preparations and would not really change anything except to do more long, non-stop stages to work on my finger strength and grip endurance.

This was a true test of bike and body and it was awesome, so thanks to Steve Parr and his team or merry helpers for a great weekend.    The story does not end there though as I stayed up in Scotland in order to race the Enduro World Series which starts tomorrow – 31st May.  I will write about the actual race next week when I have recovered, but for now I will talk about my race prep for one of the toughest challenges I will face since leaving the Army.

Basically I worked back from the race and planned my week.  The race is over 2 long days, with 50km and 1400m of vert climbing on the Saturday and 38km and 1500m of vert on the Sun.  I therefore came to the conclusion that resting on Friday would be the best bet and had a little lie in, lots of clean, natural and fresh food and water.  I also spent about 40 minutes stretching and had a very good sports massage to ease out the pain of the last week of riding.

I used the Wednesday and Thursday to practice the stages and try and learn some of the tricky bits.  They are seriously tough, and even steeper than at the UKGE round the week before.   Again, I found the same thing – I needed to do more long distance rides in my training.  I was able to do the practice days at a good pace, but it would have been better, and I would have enjoyed it more if my base fitness had been a little better as a result of more long distance training rides at steady intensities.  That increased fitness would also aid my recovery and ability to ride again at a good pace the following day.

Throughout the week it has been so important to keep eating enough and to refuel properly for repeated big efforts that have taxed every muscle and sinew of my body.  On the whole I like to keep things as natural as possible with my diet, however I have been using some excellent products from Torq that I really rate.  The energy drink tastes good, mixes well and keeps me topped up with energy throughout the day without upsetting my stomach at all.  After riding, the recovery drink is just as good and has really helped me to be fresh in the mornings.  After one very long day I had 2 full shakers within 20 minutes of finishing and it made such a difference. (I have not connection or affiliation with Torq, this is my honest opinion!)

On a non-training related note, I bumped into Steve Peat and made him a coffee in my camper van whilst his mechanic sorted his bike for him.  He is a top bloke, just like everybody says!

Steve Peat EWS

Overall the take home message for me is to do more over-distance training, so that when I encounter tough 30-50km events with lots of climbing that I can be really strong on them and not just survive them!

Wish me luck for the EWS.

Stay Strong