Stage Race Training & Tips
This is a review of a couple of documents I found on the Cape Epic website related to training for a MTB stage race. The first is a Training Guideline and the second is a race report that contains a number of good tips.
The Training Guideline is aimed at the riders who will be doing a stage race for the first time, who don't have a coach or some sort of structured training plan and whose goal is to finish the race. It gives a brief overview of training, zones, keeping a log, cross training and overtraining. The assumption is that the reader has at least 10 hours/week to train and up to 15 hours/week the month before the race. Anything less than 10 hours/week and the event will be more painful than fun. For the experienced racer, this is probably not something you have to read. The main thing that I found useful was a few words about partners:
1) Try to train with your partner
2) You will need to ride at the speed of the slower rider
3) "Friendships will be severely tested if one partner starts clobbering the other..."
Those three statements sound obvious but it's harder than it seems, especially #2. If you're the type that hates getting past on a training ride or who picks up speed when you see a cyclist in the distance and will even make adjustments to your training ride to follow said cyclist just to catch up an pass then you might be better off not being the stronger of the team otherwise #3 will be a serious issue. Believe me it's no fun, been there done that. So #1 is key.
The race report was written by a fellow who describes himself as an average cyclist and raced the CE in 2005. He will be back again for round two this year. It's a good read and it's intended for "first time participants." I took first time to mean first time at the CE, but after reading it there is useful information for stage racing in general.
Page 12 has a good idea on what to do if you find that you are unable to eat before a stage. Sounds wired, but that happened to me twice in '04, once at the Transrockies and also on one day at La Ruta. I almost puked just looking at a bagel while standing in the breakfast line at the former. Chapter 7 has a good overview of what you'll be doing at a stage race every day. Chapter 8 has some useful suggestions like taking earplugs and tips on how to toughen up your arse. Never tried that and hope I never have to. I would also suggest taking a mp3 player. I can't fall asleep with earplugs but I can when I'm listening to my favorite tunes. It'll drown out most noises, but there are some people who can snore like a horse and even a mp3 player won't help! You know who you are.
The main points to remember are again about partners:
1) "Choosing the right partner can either make or break your Cape Epic"
2) "The partnership you create will be the foundation of your race. It will determine whether you have fun or your Cape Epic experience becomes an eight day long nightmare!"