Riding the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge and need some tips before the big day? Trevor Court, cycling coach at Activeworx and Performance Coach for Team Dimension Data, gave us some expert advice.
1. Get your bike set up.
It is very important that you get your bike setup up correctly before you start training properly. Pain at the front of your knees generally indicates that your seat is too low. Pain at the back of your legs and knee area might mean the seat is too high.
2. Ride as often as possible to see the best results.
This might mean 2 days during the working week and a longer ride on the weekend with a club or group. You can do 2 spinning sessions a week and then a group road ride on the Saturday and an easy ride on the Sunday. Try ride with groups as much as possible so you get used to riding in big bunches. This can be very daunting but it will help you during the race because you save so much energy riding in the bunch in comparison to riding lone wolf and being a hero the whole race. There are plenty of clubs doing rides during the weekend and Kyalami race track is open during the afternoon in the week. Training at Kyalami provides an awesome safe environment to get used to riding on the road.
3. Learn how use your gears.
Too easy a gear is not necessarily the most efficient way to climb a hill. Rather go into a hill with good speed and gear down as you go up the climb. Don’t start the climb in your easiest gear, because you will be pedaling like crazy and you won’t be getting anywhere fast.
Make sure you get your nutrition tried and tested before you do the race. Don’t just buy energy bars, gels and drinks the day before the race. Make sure you buy and test the products before the race. Different people react differently to energy products. You don’t want to be 30km into the race and having stomach problems which will slow you down or cause you not being able to finish the race.
5. Do the race distance before the race day.
This prepares you mentally and physically for the race. It gives you a good idea of how to pace yourself to get the best possible result on race day.
6. Make sure you get the proper cycling apparel.
The correct cycling shorts with a good chamois can make a very big difference. The correct pants can mean you sit in the right position of the saddle with minimal bum discomfort. If you don’t have the correct pants, riding for a prolonged period can be pretty uncomfortable.
7. Stick with bigger groups during the race.
Sometimes you might feel too strong for a group you are riding with and then you try and go solo. Don’t underestimate the strength of riding in a big group. Only break from a bigger group if you are confident you can find another bigger group up the road that will help you to a faster 94.7 time. If you are not certain I would advise you to stay with the group you are in and then save some energy for the final 10km or so.
8. Don’t be a hero.
If you’re feeling strong and find yourself in a group where the riders are each taking turns on the front, don’t ride in the front too long to show your strength. The extended time you spend on the front of the group will decrease your energy reserves and can leave you empty later on in the race. Shelter from the wind as much as possible and be smart when to use your energy.
9. Prepare for the race the night before to avoid stress in the morning.
Get all your spares together, all your nutrition ready and all the equipment. It’s best to put the energy powder in the drinks in the morning of the race rather than putting it into the water the night before.
10. Enjoy the race and remember “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” – Greg LeMond (Tour de France winner)