The following information and advice is provided to help riders, and particularly first timers, prepare for the event. If you are new to mountain biking, or this is your first 100km or 50km race then this information will help you understand what you’ve got ahead of you and provide guidance to help ensure you have a great race on the day (which you will!).
Kona Odyssey familiarisation ride - Sunday January 27th
The familiarisation day ride for the 2013 Kona Odyssey will be held on Sunday January 27th. The day will be conducted by the Forrest Mountain Bike Club and is open to all riders to attend.
The familiarisation day is conducted in a friendly, non competitive environment and provides the opportunity for riders to be lead over parts of the course used for either the 100km or 50km Kona Odyssey races. Members of the Forrest Mountain Bike Club will provide leadership for those attending the famil day and show you where the course goes and provide a few tips and ideas on how best to prepare for the race itself.
There will be a $15 attendance fee per rider and that will go towards the Forrest MTB Club and will also cover the costs of a lunch time BBQ available to all famil riders once you have finished. There is an additional $5 charge for non MTBA members to provide insurance for yo uon the day.
All riders are asked to meet at the Forrest Brewery on the main street and be ready to ride at 8:45am when we will conduct a short briefing before departing on bikes at 9:00am. Please bring everything else you need to ride for 2-4 hours including water, food, spare tubes, pump and bike tools. There will be different groups heading off on th e50km adn 100km courses and different paces.
To keep in touch with the Forrest MTB Club before the famil day, ask a question or learn more about the club contact the club secretary Danielle Roche on either 'firstname.lastname@example.org' or call 0411 016 444 or (best of all) follow them on facebook here.
NOTE: the familiarisation day ride will not go ahead if there the day is declared a total fire ban.
MTBSkills.com will be running a MTB skills session on the Sunday following the familiarisation day with Norm and Jess Douglas conducting a specialised clinic for up to 20 riders on how to ride the Odyssey trails with maximum efficiency and flow. Visit their website at www.MTBSkills.com.au for more details or email Norm at email@example.com
If you want a guided ride around the Forrest trails in your own time, added with some expert advice and riding skills sessions then look no further than MTB Bike Skills Clinics. Norm and Jess live locally in Forrest and know the trails inside out as well as how to pass on crucial skills for turning any rider into a confident / fast rider over any terrain. Check them out at www.mtbskills.com.au
Otway Expeditions Mountain Bike Tours
In addition, Otway Expeditions Mountain Bike Tours provide custom mountain bike tours out of Apollo Bay, e-mail Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rapid Ascent is happy to partner with Next Level Nutrition to bring you a customised power point presentation on ‘How to manage your nutrition intake before and during the Kona Odyssey.’
More and more people are becoming aware of how important nutrition is when exercising and this TERRIFIC PRESENTATION explains all the basics that will help you maximise your efforts on the day. It explains what carbo loading is and how to do it, what foods are best to eat in the lead up and on race morning, as well as how much to eat and drink during the race. It is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about MTB nutrition and we thank Alan for preparing it for us.
Click here to see the presentation
About Next Level Nutrition: Next Level Nutrition is a sports nutrition consultancy, founded by sports dietitian Alan McCubbin with the vision of "Redefining Performance Through Food". Alan is at the forefront of sports nutrition in Australia, as a board member and Vice President of Sports Dietitians Australia. He is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Accredited Sports Dietitian and mountain biker. He works with everyone from Olympians to recreational athletes and through the use of web technologies he provides (Rapid Ascent and) his clients with a premium level of support and guidance with their training.
Alan has also prepared a range of other presentations for Rapid Ascent as listed below and we highly recommend taking the time (approximately 30 minutes per presentation) to watch and learn from these very valuable presentations.
Adventure Sport Nutrition Presentations (menu page):
1. Sports Nutrition Basics & Training Nutrition
2. Weight Loss for Endurance Athletes
3. Sports Nutrition Supplements for Endurance Athletes
4. Nutrition preparation for Competition
5. Eating & Drinking Endurance Races
If you like what you see here but want some more personalised information then we encourage you to contact Alan at Next Level Nutrition directly via his website: www.nextlevelnutrition.com.au
So you ride up and down beach road most weekends and get around on a bike a fair bit - so why should you do this event? What does mountain biking have that road riding does not? Let me explain…!
There are a whole lot of things missing when you’re riding your mountain bike; like traffic and traffic lights, fumes and road rage, there’s no car doors to watch out for and there is no funny hand signals to indicate there’s a pot hole ahead of you because the only thing you can see is the guys arse in front of you – nope we don’t have any of that.
Mountain biking is all about a bunch of other things; it’s about the trail and the adventure it takes you on, the roll of the track and the flow of the turns.
Mountain biking is about getting away from town and into the beauties of the bush with a bit of mud and the odd snake thrown in! We’re still into café’s and riding with your mates – we all know there’s few things better than that, but we’re also about the toothy gins and woops of joy you get when you’re tearing down a roller coaster line of single track with the wind in your hair and the trees just centimeters from your handle bars… yeah baby – that’s when you feel alive!
It doesn’t take much to get into mountain biking, Melbourne has heaps of tracks both inside it and all around it. Your road riding fitness will take the worst of it away and you’ll be left with the joys of rolling through the bush with a grin from ear to ear.
How do you get into it? Borrow a mate’s bike or pick up a demo bike from a shop and go for a spin along some of the trails along the Yarra. There’s enough trails behind Fairfield to keep you riding for ages. Another good place to go is Lysterfield and the new Commonwealth Games Track. This is not too technical, good rolling fun with some great views of the city with hundreds of kangaroos to hop along beside you. The You Yangs also have a good number of easy and harder trails with signage and a description where to go and all of these are within 35 minutes of the city max.
There are plenty of mountain biking clubs out there to help and give advise so feel welcome to just call into a bike shop and ask them where to ride – they’ll be only to happy to welcome you to the fold!
These basic pointers will help keep your expectations for the Kona Odyssey realistic to ensure you enjoy your day.
- Keep things in perspective – remember that the emphasis should be on enjoyment, satisfaction and fun. Training and racing shouldn’t be a chore.
- Listen to your body. If you’re feeling unwell, don’t train on regardless. As a general rule of thumb for head colds, if you have symptoms below the neck (such as chest congestion) then REST. If you are injured, see a physio who can help you avoid further damage.
- Vary the speed (or intensity) at which you ride. Although you have entered a MTB marathon, your training rides should not be all long distance trundles. Long slow distance makes long slow riders - if you train slowly, you’ll ride slowly in the event. On the other hand, if all your workouts are at break neck pace, you’ll probably be injured and miss the Odyssey.
- Remember to warm up and warm down and include time for stretching before and after each ride.
- Recovery – If you don’t allow your body sufficient recovery between training sessions, your performance will be affected considerably. Remember that the body gets stronger through the recovery process. Recovery means plenty of sleep and regular rest days in your training program, especially after longer training rides. Experienced cyclists might train on a daily basis but even they build in "easy" days.
- Technique – Once you can physically ride a bike, you tend not to think about your technique, other than not falling off. However, a good pedaling technique will make you more efficient and thus, a faster rider. A poor technique will cause muscles to fatigue and can lead to injury and decreased performance. See the text below about how to pedal smoothly and efficiently.
We all know how to hop on a bike and pedal but by studying pedaling technique closely, it’s possible to maximise our cycling efficiency – a handy benefit on a long day in the hills.
When we learned to ride – perhaps racing the bus to school - it was all about pushing down hard on the pedals, rocking the shoulders and going lactic. Looking around at many cyclists today, it appears little has changed. Emphasising the downward push - or “mashing” the pedals - is very energy consuming and over works the quadriceps muscles. Pedaling in irregular jerky “squares” means that there are dead spots at the 6o’clock and 12o’clock positions where muscular effort is not being transmitted to the forward movement of the bike.
Contrast this with the smooth pedaling action of professional cyclists on long hill climbs. The pros pedal in a circular motion, exerting an even force all the way through the pedal stroke. It utilises both the hamstrings and the quadriceps, offering you a whole lot more muscle to get those wheels turning. This continuous flow of energy from the leg muscles to the pedals allows you to pedal for longer and puts much less strain on the knees. It also helps you to climb as you are driving the wheels into the floor and maintaining traction on a loose surface.
So how do you pedal perfect circles?
- Pedal through the 6o’clock position as though pulling your foot back to scrape mud off the bottom of your shoe. Begin the pulling-scraping motion at 3o’clock.
- To get through the 12o’clock dead spot, pedal as though kicking a heavy door shut with your foot. Start the pressure at 10o’clock and keep pushing to 3o’clock.
- Using SPD type pedals rather than toe clips will help you with this technique a lot, although you should still be able to try it whatever pedal design you use.
Pedaling in circles does take practice and a conscious effort to change. When first trying it out, find a smooth flat track and concentrate on the action of one leg at a time (keep the other foot on the pedal though!) As you get the feel for things, try to maintain the action on slightly steeper hills and rougher terrain.
Each time you hit the trails, spend a few minutes thinking about your technique so that eventually it becomes automatic. Once you have the hang of it, pedaling technique can be improved by pedaling with a single leg clipped in at a time – we recommend an indoor training for this, as it’s far too embarrassing to try in public.
Cadence (or the speed of your pedaling) is the other important component to pedaling technique. A high cadence reflects a high number of revolutions per minute. Road cyclists often “spin” at a cadence around 90rpm for long distances, but for mountain biking this cadence is often much lower due to the terrain. Your cadence will vary according to the trail conditions and there may be some hills where you don’t exceed 30rpm.
As a rule, you should try to pedal at the highest cadence that allows you to maintain a smooth pedaling action. Don’t pump a big gear on hills and revert to “mashing” the pedals, and don’t select such a small gear that your legs are running away with themselves and you’re wobbling all over the place.
Experienced riders pedal with a cadence between 80 and 100 RPM depending on the terrain. 95 RPM is the target cadence, as it is the most efficient.
Cadence is very important for making it up those big uphills. Using a proper cadence will mean you will make it to the top of that hill instead of burning out half way – and there are a few hills in the Kona Odyssey so this is good point to practice!
The Kona Odyssey has more than its fair share of hills so it’s worth thinking about how you can improve your climbing technique.
Obviously, the first thing you should check your bike position to make sure you’re getting the most out of your machine. Start with the saddle height – if your saddle is too high or too low, it will alter the ability of your muscles to pull and push. (Sitting square on the saddle, your knee should be almost but not quite straight when you put your heel on the pedal at its lowest point.) Never alter your saddle height more than 3-4mm at a time. It’s a trial and error process. Minor alterations in your saddle position can make a lot of difference to your pedaling efficiency.
Ensure that the tilt of the saddle slopes forward a few degrees. Change one thing at a time and then check out how you feel riding uphill. Play around with the set up and get a feel for the new position. Don’t forget to mark your original positions, just in case you decide the old set up was best.
There are two climbing positions to choose from – seated or standing. The position you choose depends on the length of the hill, the terrain and the incline. Try to select your gear before you get to the hill and if you have to change again during the ascent, keep it smooth.
When seated, you will have better traction and can maintain a smoother pedaling style:
- Sit slightly forwards and keep your head low.
- Pull back on the handlebars to drive the rear wheel into the ground and try to stay relaxed.
- Use a low gear and spin rather than pumping the pedals.
- If you can’t stay seated any more, the options are to stand up on the pedals and keep going or get off and push. During the Kona Odyssey, new MTB riders may wish to conserve their cycling energy and get off and push – there is no shame in this.
Should you opt to keep going and pedal standing up:
- Keep your weight balanced over the front and back wheels.
- Hold this posture as you smoothly change the pressure from one pedal to the other.
- Don’t run too low a gear.
On long climbs, try to stay seated where possible or alternate between the two positions. Fast sprints up shorter hills in a standing position consume a lot of energy and should therefore be used cautiously during an endurance ride, particularly if you are a less experienced rider.
Remember that it can take several months, if not years, to develop into a hill-climbing animal - so keep training and make sure you make the most of the old adage – whatever goes up must come down!
We hope you’ve done plenty training already - nothing beats early preparation and a good base level of fitness, but what to do over the next four weeks?
Even if you haven’t been following a strict training plan, it is well worth actually writing down a program for January. You’ll be more likely to stick to your plan if it’s stuck to the fridge door for your friends and family to see.
The beginning of most long-term training plans emphasise low intensity aerobic workouts to help build a good level of base fitness. Later weeks retain some of this aerobic work, but also introduce more intensity as well as increasing training session length.
So with four weeks to go, it’s time to become specific with your training. The conditions on many of your training rides should now reflect those at the Kona Odyssey.
For the next three weeks:
- Now is the time to complete your longest rides. Even for newcomers to the sport, your longest ride must be over five hours in length. Many riders will take over eight hours to complete the 100km Kona Odyssey.
- For shorter rides during the week, one option is to find a circuit that includes several steeper pinches to simulate the undulating nature of the Kona Odyssey course and to teach your body to adapt to different riding intensities. There’s a big difference between spinning up a long steady climb at a comfortable rhythm and covering the same amount of vertical climbing over a series of pinches.
- Do a ride or two at a higher intensity. While your longer rides should be at a comfortable pace, intervals and hill repeats (or surges) fine tune your body by increasing its lactic threshold.
- If you’ve been training indoors or on your road bike, its now time to re-acquaint yourself with your mountain bike. You’re going to be pedaling it for several hours so you may as well comfortable. If all’s not well, there’s still time to make some changes, but there’s only one way to find out - by riding it!
With one week to go, it’s time to wind down. While some riders see the final week as a chance to make up for lost (training) time, you’re better off resting. You don’t want to feel tired and flat on race day. Over the final week, we suggest:
- Go for a couple of short rides to keep the legs turning over.
- Include just a couple of higher intensity bursts to keep sharp - but don’t keep your heart rate up for too long.
- Resist temptation to stop training and do nothing at all, you want to keep ticking over but focus on recovery, relaxing, eating and sleeping (ahh!)
You only get out of your body what you put into it – so one of the most important ingredients to having a good day at the Kona Odyssey is to make sure you consume the right amounts of food and drink during the ride. This goes for the tail end riders as much as it does for those at the front.
The following pointers have been prepared to help give you an idea of what is going on inside your body during the race and some more popular theories on how to keep it replenished!
Basic NUTIRTION FACTS
Protein, fat and carbohydrate are the main components of your diet.
- Protein supplies the amino acids essential for muscle development, but little energy while a mix of fat and carbohydrate fuel the working muscles during exercise.
- Fat is relatively hard for your muscles to “burn” and it produces energy slowly.
- Carbohydrate is easy for your muscles to “burn” and it produces energy quickly.
The ratio of fat to carbohydrate in the fuel mix changes according to how quickly you need to produce energy (e.g. how fast you want to ride), your fitness level and how much carbohydrate you have remaining in your fuel tank.
During very low intensity riding, a higher proportion of fat and a lower proportion of carbohydrate are used by the working muscles. During moderate and faster riding such as during the Kona Odyssey carbohydrate is the main fuel used by the working muscles.
Unfortunately the amount of carbohydrate that your body can store is relatively small and it can become quickly depleted. When the body's stores of carbohydrate start to run low, the muscles are forced to burn a less energetic fuel mix, which contains a higher proportion of fat than they would like. The more-and-more you deplete your carbohydrate reserves, the more-and-more fat will be added into the fuel mix. This increasing reliance on fat is felt as fatigue.
So maximising the amount of carbohydrate fuel you have available is the key to maximising performance in an endurance event. So to have a good race you should:
- Ensure that your carbohydrate tank is full as possible before you start
- Feed yourself with carbohydrate during exercise
- Re-fuel your carbohydrate stores immediately after exercise finishes
- Topping up your CARBOHYDRATES throughout the ride
We all start with some carbohydrates in our bodies before we start and for a rider of 75kgs this would typically mean a maximum of about 450grams 'pre-stored' before the event. Now the maximum amount of carbohydrate that your body can absorb during endurance exercise depends on your body weight - such that we can only absorb about 1 gram of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour. (So our 75kg rider can only absorb about 75grams of carbs per hour of exercise).
Remember that although you can consume (swallow) a lot more carbohydrate than the 1 gram per kg, any excess will just sit in your stomach waiting to be absorbed which leaves you feeling full and bloated – uncomfortable!
So to ensure that you have the maximum amount of usable carbohydrates in your body during exercise you should try and consume about 1 gram of carbohydrates per kg of body weight per hour of exercise. Any less and you your energy levels could start dropping off and any more and it could sit in your stomach and you'll feel bloated.
Just remember that your muscles empty your carbohydrate tank faster than you can fill it. As soon as you start exercise you start to empty your fuel tank and therefore make room for more to be added, so make sure you keep eating and adding fuel back into the tank right from the word go. (Don't forget that sports drinks have carbohydrates in them as well so you can combine your hydration with your carbs intake – refer below).
So some key points are:
- try and consume approximately 1 gram of carbohydrates per kg of body weight per hour of exercise.
- start eating from the word go, don't wait until you get hungry
- eat and drink in numerous little bursts (almost continually) rather than in big binges which could leave you feeling full
- try and plan your eating so you have some variety and are carrying enough to get you through
This eating program is just on way of trying to keep adequately nourished during the event and if it is quite different to what you have been doing up until not make sure you test it out on a few longer training riding before the event.
Pre EVENT MEAL on the morning of the race
The pre-event meal aims to top up carbohydrate reserves and fluid levels, while leaving your stomach feeling comfortable and you feeling confident. Generally, the pre-event meal should be consumed 2 to 3 hours before the ride starts, so you have time to use the toilet afterwards!
There is a huge combination of foods which are suitable before exercise and it is important to experiment to find the most suitable option for you. Keep in mind the meal needs to provide both carbohydrate and fluid and ideally should be low in fat.
Some ideas for pre-event meals include:
- Toast + banana + honey + sports drink + Cereal + low fat milk + fruit + juice
- Spaghetti + toast + water + low fat yoghurt + fruit + cordial
- Ham salad roll + sports drink + fruit smoothie + an sports energy bar
These meals need not be too scientific and should not vary too much from what you eat ever breakfast time. If you are going to change your pre event meal then it is worth experimenting before the race – just to make sure that what ever you eat leaves you feeling good rather than heavy and sitting on the toilet!
To load or not to load? Carbohydrate loading is one aspect of sports nutrition which can create a lot of confusion among athletes. Carbohydrate loading aims to maximise muscle glycogen stores before endurance exercise. Basically, athletes exercising continuously for 90 minutes or more at a high intensity will benefit from some form of carbohydrate loading.
Carbohydrate loading is not an excuse to gorge on anything you can find - commitment is required to achieve the necessary high carbohydrate intake. Guidelines for carbohydrate loading include:
- Reduce training load over the last 3 days before competition. During these 3 days, increase carbohydrate intake to 8-10g/kg body weight
- Avoid the temptation to indulge in high fat foods. This may cause weight gain and will make it difficult to consume enough carbohydrate
- Reduce fibre intake to leave room for high carbohydrate foods and avoid feeling bloated
- Make use of compact carbohydrate sources such as sports products
- Be careful eating too many carbohydrates the night before the race, you don't want to stuff so much in that your body does not have enough time to process it before you start and it is just sitting there as you start riding up that first hill!
Just as with nutrition and food, keeping hydrated whilst out on the bike will ensure you perform at your best and have an enjoyable day out at the Kona Odyssey.
Keeping yourself well hydrated isn't easy and for athletes the importance of staying hydrated cannot be overstated. During exercise the amount of sweat produced varies hugely from person to person according to body size, gender, exercise intensity and environmental conditions. The average sweat rate for an 80kg person cycling at a moderate intensity in 20 deg C heat is 1 litre / hour. So dehydration can occur very quickly if we are not making an effort to replenish lost fluids from BEFORE THE START!
There plenty of scientific methods to determine if you are dehydrated but the easiest guideline is to keep track of how often you have to go to the toilet! - you should be peeing every 3 hours and it should be straw coloured (not bright yellow!) so if things are different down there you should drink more!
Thirst unfortunately is not a good indicator of the need for fluid as by the time our thirst mechanism has kicked in, we are already dehydrated. This is why it is important to drink on a regular basis before, during and after riding as well as on non-exercise days.
Start drinking BEFORE THE RACE
Keeping hydrated on a daily basis needs to become a habit and especially so in the 2-3 days before the race – try the following tips:
- Keep a filled drink bottle with you whenever you can and sip from it regularly throughout the day.
- Keep the bottle on your desk at work or in the car or in your bag in the staff room – wherever you can access it frequently
- Try to minimise your intake of coffee and tea. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it will cause you to urinate more and therefore lose even more water
- Likewise alcohol doesn't count as good fluid!! It too is a diuretic
- During a normal day even when you are not training, you should aim to get through at least 2 large bottles or 8-12 glasses of water
BEFORE THE START of the Odyssey
- Drink at least 400 – 600mls of water or sports drink in the 2 hours before you ride
- Ensure that you are well prepared, fill your hydration pack and bottles are full with water or energy drink and carry plenty of food with you
- Avoid a heavy session on the beer the night before!
DURING the Odyssey
If it going to be hot (which is very likely) these pointers become even more important to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable day:
- Aim to drink 200-300mls of fluid every 15 – 20 minutes or about a bike bottle an hour. If it is hot you may even need more even is you don't feel like it!
- Start drinking early and do not wait until you get thirsty
- Drinking regularly in small sips is often more comfortable than taking in a larger quantity at once. Hydration packs are great for this
- Practice pulling your water bottle in and out of its cage whilst on the move during training rides – don't wait until you stop to drink
- On the Kona Odyssey there are several places where you can get water but don't rely on these alone – you must be drinking in between these points
- Fill your bottles up if you are running out. You will lose more time due to reduced performance if you keep cycling in a dehydrated state than if you spend a few minutes replenishing fluid supplies and keep drinking
- Avoid cordials and juices before, during and immediately after riding as the high sugar content can slow down stomach emptying and mean that the real fuels takes longer to reach the working muscles
- Sports drinks are absorbed quicker than water and have additional minerals in them to replace what you have lost through exercise.
The main message is keep drinking and eating the right stuff from before the start and you will keep going, enjoy your event and recover faster.
Clothing and Equipment
The Otways are amongst the wettest areas in Victoria and receive more than their fair share of wet weather even in drought. Conversely, it can get very hot out in the Ranges and particularly this summer when everything is already very dry. As such, competitors should be prepared for all weather conditions. Check out sports apparel stores and local bike shops for cycling specific gear.
As part of the race rules we require that all competitors in both the 50km and 100km events carry a First Aid Kit comprising: 2 x crepe bandages, 2 x non-adhesive wound dressings, 6 x steri-strip wound closures, 1 x triangular bandage and 1 pr of surgical gloves (we will be completing spot checks). It may be worth your while to check out our article on snake bites.
For slower riders, if you are leaving the Forrest Festival site after 4:00pm you must have front and rear lights installed on your bike prior to departing and these lights must be switched on after 8pm.
Our suggested equipment includes (much of this could be carried in a hydration pack or backpack):
- At least two litres of water at the start of the event (it is possible to fill up at three different streams before reaching Forrest and again when you pass through the Forrest Festival on the 100km ride).
- Rain jacket and/or thermal top and bottom (weather dependent).
- Sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Food and nutrition to last you until you reach at least the Forrest Festival site.
- Bike pump, tyre levers, two spare inner tubes and puncture repair kit.
- Chain breaker, allen key set, spoke key, small bottle of bike lube, and even a spare derailleur hanger in case you wack it and bend it.
- Mobile phone
- Money to buy food at the Forrest Festival.
- This may sound like a lot of gear to be lugging around on a ride and in many cases you won't need it. However, if something does happen to you or your bike in a remote location, you'll be well equipped to deal with most situations or stay safe until help arrives.
Have you hugged your mountain bike recently? Have you had a close look to check that all is well and it's going to get you through the Odyssey? Nothing is more frustrating than having a poor result or a DNF because you didn't get your bike in decent condition BEFORE the event. So take the time now to check your bike and get it in tiptop shape.
Before we get started on a checklist, let us assure you that you don't have to have the latest and the best to enjoy the Kona Odyssey, as long as you find your existing bike comfortable and it all works well, you'll be fine.
Make sure your bike is in good working order:
- Clean the bike thoroughly, and lubricate all parts as required.
- Check wheels are they running true or are they buckled? And your skewers, make sure they are tight.
- Look at your tyres, how worn are they? Cuts / abrasions on the sidewalls? Minimal tread? Make sure you have tyres appropriate to the conditions. A good, general condition tyre is generally OK unless the course conditions are very wet or very dry, where a specific tyre may be better.
- Look at your inner tubes (if you use tubed tyres). If they slowly lose air pressure or have heaps of patches on them already, it's better to replace them now. 40psi (depending on tyre) is about right.
- Brakes: you'll need them on some of these epic descents, so are they rubbing? With V brakes, make sure there is even pressure on either side of the rim and that the brakes are rubbing in the middle of the braking surface, rather than against the tyre. If you have disk brakes, is your caliper aligned or is it rubbing against the rotor? Is your rotor straight and tight? Is there plenty of life left in the pads and are they operating at full power rather then feeling a bit mushy and ineffective?
- Check all cables and replace if necessary. Check brake blocks and disc pads (better to replace them if they're on their way out - 50km or 100km riding can be hard work for half-worn equipment).
- Run your hands over your chain, are there any stiff or broken links? What about broken or bent teeth on your chain rings and cassette? Keep it all nicely lubricated and running freely - even take some lube with you on the day.
- Are your gear / brake cables tight and casings nice and clean? If it's hard to change gears, try changing your cables and casing with a clean set.
- Your derailleur should be straight and the hanger tight. Do your gears shift sweetly or are they rubbing in some gears? It's far easier to fix this now than put up with it for 100km. How are your jockey wheels and free hub - any funny noises in there?
- Have a look over your bottom bracket and cranks.Is everything tight and running freely?
- Finally, have a general look over everything else and make sure it's all nice and tight - handle bars, bottle cages, seat post, pedals
- Make sure that your seat is high enough, and that you have enough reach to the bars - it may be worth putting on a longer stem if you normally run a very short one. The general rule for the seat height is that when you are sitting down, your leg should be almost - but not quite - straight when you put your heel on the pedal in the six o'clock position. Use this as a starting point to find the most comfortable position for you.
- Check that all your controls are set up on the bars in a comfortable position, paying special attention to your brake levers. Ensure the lever blades are not set too far away from the bars.
- Consider using a foot retention pedaling system to maximise the efficiency of your pedaling: SPD-style pedals (Shimano SPDs, Time ATACs, Crank Bros. Egg Beaters etc) but make sure you get some practice in first!
- Fit a second bottle cage to your bike so you can take a second bottle if you'd rather not carry a hydration pack.
- Make sure that what you are going to wear is comfortable and that you have worn it before. It's not much fun riding for 5+ hours in shoes that don't fit.
If you change anything on your bike shortly before the event, make sure you have had a few rides on it to ensure all is well and that the changes will be comfortable and reliable during your marathon.
Bike specific tuning
There are lots of bicycle types around these days with different strengths and weaknesses. If you have the choice of a bike you probably already know which one is your favorite for the long rides.
Long Travel Full Suspension: slightly heavier than the XC version but more travel to suck up all the bumps and to give you super traction, can be difficult to maintain.
- If you run a single chain ring and chain retention device, swap this for a triple chain set and add a front mech and shifters.
- If you run a very short stem, consider swapping it for a longer one to get a better position on the bike.
- Swap any heavyweight wheel set, tyres or tubes for more XC specific lightweight versions wherever possible.
- Make sure the shocks are set up correctly. It might pay to put more pressure than normal to stiffen them up so you don't lose all your energy through suspension 'bob'. You don't have to worry about this too much though if you run intelligent shocks like Manitou SPVs or have on the fly adjusters.
- Use SPD-style clipless pedals if you don't already.
- Put a long seat post on the bike that will let you reach a suitable and comfortable pedaling position.
XC Full Suspension: light but comfortable, most people use these in mountain bike marathons. Often needs a little bit of looking after.
- Check that both shocks - front and rear - are set up correctly. We believe that comfort is more important than speed in a marathon, so it might be better to run a softer set-up, but the final decision is yours.
- If they have long travel options it's worth winding the travel down to around 80 - 100mm front and rear to keep the benefit of suspension without it hindering climbing and powering through bobbing.
- If you can't fit a second bottle, we suggest you carry a hydration system.
Hardcore Hardtail: takes a good beating, can be heavy, often setup for a different purpose.
- If you run a short seat post, swap it for a long version - possibly a suspension seat post - to get you in the best pedaling position. If you run your post low, extend it.
- If you run a very short stem, swap it for something longer to aid pedaling and cross country handling.
- If you run a single chain ring up front, swap it for a triple ring chain set, and add a front mech and shifter.
- If you run a heavy-duty wheel set, try to swap them for a lighter XC wheel set. And/or swap the heavy-duty tyres and inner tubes for lighter, XC tyres and tubes
- If you run a long travel suspension fork and you have a travel adjust feature, wind the travel down to around 100mm, depending on your frame's geometry and handling characteristics.
XC Hardtail: light, easy to maintain, increase of comfort through suspension forks, good in mud.
- Make sure that your suspension fork is set up correctly for your weight.
- Maybe install a suspension seat post to take the sting out of the tail for your butt.
- Fully rigid bikes: light, less vulnerable to technical problems, less comfortable.
- To increase comfort, it's worth running a pair of wide tyres to give you extra cushion against the trail buzz: 2.1ins are perfect, but anything up from a 1.95ins tyre is good.
- Running tyre pressures lower than normal will also cushion your ride, but be careful as this will make them more susceptible to pinch punctures as well. Experiment with tyre pressures and find one that works best for you.
- Install thick, cushioning bar grips to aid comfort and wear a pair of gloves with palm padding.
- Think about installing a suspension seat post to keep your perch as comfy as possible.
The information should have covered most of your technical needs but the bottom line is to get onto these things now rather than the just before the race!
There will be mechanics on site at the registration area on Friday and at the Forrest Festival during the event but these guys will be mega busy fixing breakages so make sure your bike is in good order before you start!
If your bike needs a tune up or some new components we recommend you take it to your local bike shop.