I’m thinking about Over the Hump starting soon and getting butterflies in my stomach…you probably are too! And yet, even in these last days I’m also thinking of ways to squeeze out a little more speed come race day. We are all at different levels, but perhaps some of these suggestions can help you take it to the next level. Regardless of your skill or class you race, one of the absolute joys of OTH is the unrelenting search for just that little bit more.
- Ditch your hydration backpack for a water bottle. I often see riders lugging around an extra 5-10 pounds on their back during the race. The core of cycling is power to weight ratio. How much power can I generate in relation to my weight. When weight goes up, you need to generate more power to sustain that effort. When weight goes down and you maintain the same power, you are able to sustain your effort longer and harder. When you trade in that dead-weight-backpack for a simple bottle, you automatically increase your power to weight ratio. You will go faster, longer. It is simple science. Oh, and ditch your saddle bag too.
- Get some extra sleep. A few years ago I was riding with a ProTour/Olympian cyclist. As we were riding, a mutual friend asked him what he can do to go faster. His response was simple “Get more sleep.” Plenty of studies have backed this up, but the reality is simple, a rested cyclist is a fast cyclist. Sleep starts NOW. Not just the night before the race, but the days and weeks leading up to it. Turn off episode 29 of that zombie show on Netflix and get the extra rest.
- Supplement. Personally, I try to take a caffeinated gel about 15-30 min before the race washed down with some science-liquid. Your local shop should have plenty of options, but try and eat something that your body can easily absorb and convert into energy during the intense efforts needed on those 2nd, 3rd and 4th laps. Don’t eat while you ride, your body can’t process it fast enough to convert it to energy. Get something in your system and your body will thank you later.
- Get a Professional Bike Fit. We are all just asymmetric beings trying to fit on a symmetrical machine. I was just fit on my bike and notice even the small tweaks make a huge difference. This is a great opportunity to check in with your local shop and work with them to get you in the best possible position for the maximum amount of power transfer. Recently, I was speaking to a local shop owner who claimed this is the single most important ‘upgrade’ you can make on your bike.
- Smile. Remember, the number one rule of Over the Hump is to HAVE FUN! When you smile on your bike, when you enjoy your racing, when you relax and grin at the wonderful opportunity to be able to race your bike, all the stress, nervousness, anxiety and butterflies melt away and your soul gets wings. That is a scientific FACT. Well maybe not a fact, but at the end of the day, if you spend all of your energy on nerves, apprehension and angst, you won’t have that energy to use to drop your competition on that last hill. So smile a bit more, plus the cameras are watching.