A lot of preparation goes into an enduro race weekend. With so much riding and racing on many different courses, it’s important to be prepared coming into the race to perform as best as possible. Let me take you through my preparation going into the Winter Park Big Mountain Enduro, a local race for me. So let’s jump right in!
When the courses are released by the race organization, I make sure to give myself plenty of time to practice. For this race, they were released Thursday night. After studying them that night, I woke up early to make sure I had ample time to ride and get used to the courses. I made sure I ate a big breakfast with complex carbohydrates and proteins so that I would be prepared for the big day on the bike. I also go through my bike making sure everything is working properly; shifting is clean, brakes work well, tires have full pressure, suspension is working well. When all of this is done, I grab all my necessary gear and head out to practice the stages.
I usually strap on a GoPro to my helmet when pre-riding for enduro races. Because of the limited practice time on each stage, it helps to be able to look over POV footage of the courses so that I know where I’m going a bit better. When I’m riding, I make sure that I’m confident that I can ride each section of track fast (at a race speed). Sometimes this means hiking back up to try sections again, and whenever this happens, I make a mental note to remember this section and other key sections of track. I do this by marking it with a certain tree or trail feature, so that when I see that feature in my race run I remember that section. Normally, on technical trails like Winter Park, I would have to do this a lot, however, I have been riding Winter Park since I was 11 years old, so I know the mountain pretty well and didn’t have to use this technique.
Throughout the day’s practice I remember to conserve energy. If I expend too much energy on practice days, I won’t be able to perform my best on race day. This means going easy on climbs, not sprinting the entire race stage, not riding too much, all these tactics help conserve energy. I also remember not to push myself too hard on practice days. If I try and ride too fast on practice days and end up injuring myself, then I won’t be able to perform in the race and possibly even the rest of the season. On the Friday practice day in Winter Park, I had a crash on a technical section of track on an already injured shoulder. Thankfully I was able to push past this setback thanks to all the hours in the gym preparing for circumstances like this. I spent time stretching and icing my shoulder that night and was good to go by race day.
After practice and pre-riding is over, I do a thorough check on my bike and make any necessary changes needed for the bike to perform well and be ready for race day. This part is crucial, because when I can trust my bike will perform and when I feel good on the bike, I have the confidence to push harder and race faster. This weekend my RIP 9 RDO was working perfectly, I had been struggling with finding a setup that worked for me but I’ve finally found it and feel really good on it.
Proper fueling is also a crucial part of the preparation for a race weekend. On a race weekend, I eat and drink constantly. A reminder I give myself is to never feel hungry or thirsty on a race weekend. I drink as much water as I comfortably can during the day, and make sure to bring plenty when practicing. I also focus on the quality of food on the race weekend. For me, I like to eat lots of complex carbs, and stay away from too much meat. I also eat gluten-free, as I don’t react well with gluten. So what does that look like? My go-to pre-race dinner is usually quinoa, sweet potato, a bit of chicken and spinach, arugula and other greens with some tomato, avocado and almonds or cashews. I make a big pan of this and eat as much as I can stomach. In Winter Park, I did a good job of fueling properly.
The last piece of preparation I do before a race is always getting good sleep. Sometimes that can be tough with all the nerves that come with racing. I find that listening to my favorite chill music helps me drift off to sleep better when I’m nervous before a race. It is crucial to be well-rested coming into a race, because otherwise motivation, endurance, strength will all be diminished or affected.
After all that preparation, I had a good race. I ended up 15th in a stacked Pro field. I rode safely with no crashes or mechanicals, but I felt like I had more in me, like I could have pushed harder. As always I learned from it and I’m stoked to see what comes up next! The team had an awesome time this weekend. Jazlyn Smith ended up second in the Under 21 Women’s category, losing by only a second in the end! Both Miles Wells and Kale Lantz had crashes and mechanicals which set them back, but the speed is there and the results will soon show it!
I’m excited to get back to racing soon, at round two of the Revolution Enduro Series (presented by Niner Bikes) in Steamboat, CO this weekend! Thank you and see you then!