Mark Carroll
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Mark Carroll

2017-11-06

Surviving Multi Stage Races - 
Mark Carroll
The Coach - Mark Carroll
The Coach
By Mark Carroll

Surviving Multi Stage Races

Stage races in South Africa are now a regular feature on the cycling calendar. Whether you are experienced at stage racing or are planning your first event, here's your survival, or perhaps thriving guide.

Train
Cycling is a dynamic experience sport where the fitter you are, the more fun it becomes. Entering a stage race with the idea just to finish is a potential recipe for disaster. Consider the impact of finishing in 7 hours when the first rider is done in 3.5 hours?
- 3.5 hours more exposure to the elements; heat, cold, wind, rain.
- More physical fatigue on a body that's not conditioned sufficiently.
- Greater nutritional demands and energy drain.
- Less recovery time
- Later batch start the following day so greater chance of hitting the worst of the environmental elements.

Hours spent training properly means much less time suffering in the race, it's well worth the time and effort!

Excluding the podium finish as the goal, compromise with perhaps a 5 hour finish time by getting in the training time and maximizing the quality of that time. It's not just the legs either, multi stage racing drains the whole body, so a program with off bike conditioning like squats, lunges, press ups and core training will be invaluable.

Get familiar with the terrain and climate
Luck favours the prepared. Arriving on the start line with the wrong equipment, like gearing and tyre choices for example, will compromise your event from the start.

Mental toughness
If there's a 100km stage then make sure this distance appears at least once in training. Mentally knowing the ability is there to complete the distance, knowing what fatigue feels like at the 100km mark, learning the skill to manage pace and energy use, how the body handles drinking and eating on the bike, etc... are all positive inputs to ensure that there is mental preparedness along with physical.

Packing
It's not a fashion show, so don't pack casual clothes for every occasion. ESSENTIALS are the key word or after a long day in the saddle, you will dread lugging an overly heavy bag of non-essentials. Cycling clothes for each day, the minimum of hygiene products, first aid and spares, and of course the minimum of casual and warm clothes for after the stage.


Cell phone airtime and data
Never rely on the race organizer hot spots, they are almost always either down or are so bombarded by 500 other connections that there's no bandwidth. Make sure you have sufficient airtime and data to catch up with life outside the race village at the end of each day.

Prepare for a bad day
A mechanical or other problem is a likely occurrence, be professional when something goes wrong, like a puncture, and repair it as quick as you can to get back in the race. Anger and frustration is a waste of time and energy, it can also ruin the joy of the race, so try remain composed, problems are one of those things, it will happen to many so don't let it ruin your race.

Nutrition on the bike
This is important on a single day race and it's critical on multi-stage. The stomach's digestive capacity while exercising is trainable, but it needs to be trained, which means purposefully taking nutrition on training rides and building energy intake capacity. An adult male can train to around 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, which is 360 kilocalories. Not sufficient to replace losses, but sufficient to mitigate loss and help support performance for the next day. Note this is hourly intake, so should be spread through the hour and energy intake missed in one hour cannot be caught up the next hour. Also remember to include the carbohydrate content on fluids as part of energy intake. Stomach cramps and nausea are not par for the course - it's a nutritional problem. If it happens in a training ride, find the cause (for example too much fibre or even fructose) and replace with alternate nutrition.

Recovery
Eat and drink first, even if it's chocolate milk as you cross the line. Here's a checklist of things that need to be done:
- Wash the bike.
- Collect kit bag.
- Shower.
- Eat and hydrate.
- Drop bike off to sort mechanical issues.
- Get a massage
- Put the feet up and try get in a nap.
Time flies and there's a lot to do. Get the admin out the way quickly to get the feet up early.

More positives of stage racing
Days out on the bike is time away from the office, no chance of taking calls when riding, socializing with mates and other cyclists, talking bike after the race, feet up in the day taking naps - sounds more like a holiday, so soak it up and enjoy the time out.

Stage races in South Africa are now a regular feature on the cycling calendar. Whether you are experienced at stage racing or are planning your first event, here's your survival, or perhaps thriving guide.

Train
Cycling is a dynamic experience sport where the fitter you are, the more fun it becomes. Entering a stage race with the idea just to finish is a potential recipe for disaster. Consider the impact of finishing in 7 hours when the first rider is done in 3.5 hours?
-       3.5 hours more exposure to the elements; heat, cold, wind, rain.
-       More physical fatigue on a body that's not conditioned sufficiently.
-       Greater nutritional demands and energy drain.
-       Less recovery time
-       Later batch start the following day so greater chance of hitting the worst of the environmental elements.

Hours spent training properly means much less time suffering in the race, it's well worth the time and effort!

Excluding the podium finish as the goal, compromise with perhaps a 5 hour finish time by getting in the training time and maximizing the quality of that time. It's not just the legs either, multi stage racing drains the whole body, so a program with off bike conditioning like squats, lunges, press ups and core training will be invaluable.

Get familiar with the terrain and climate
Luck favours the prepared. Arriving on the start line with the wrong equipment, like gearing and tyre choices for example, will compromise your event from the start.

Mental toughness
If there's a 100km stage then make sure this distance appears at least once in training. Mentally knowing the ability is there to complete the distance, knowing what fatigue feels like at the 100km mark, learning the skill to manage pace and energy use, how the body handles drinking and eating on the bike, etc... are all positive inputs to ensure that there is mental preparedness along with physical.

Packing
It's not a fashion show, so don't pack casual clothes for every occasion. ESSENTIALS are the key word or after a long day in the saddle, you will dread lugging an overly heavy bag of non-essentials. Cycling clothes for each day, the minimum of hygiene products, first aid and spares, and of course the minimum of casual and warm clothes for after the stage.


Cell phone airtime and data
Never rely on the race organizer hot spots, they are almost always either down or are so bombarded by 500 other connections that there's no bandwidth. Make sure you have sufficient airtime and data to catch up with life outside the race village at the end of each day.

Prepare for a bad day
A mechanical or other problem is a likely occurrence, be professional when something goes wrong, like a puncture, and repair it as quick as you can to get back in the race. Anger and frustration is a waste of time and energy, it can also ruin the joy of the race, so try remain composed, problems are one of those things, it will happen to many so don't let it ruin your race.

Nutrition on the bike
This is important on a single day race and it's critical on multi-stage. The stomach's digestive capacity while exercising is trainable, but it needs to be trained, which means purposefully taking nutrition on training rides and building energy intake capacity. An adult male can train to around 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, which is 360 kilocalories. Not sufficient to replace losses, but sufficient to mitigate loss and help support performance for the next day. Note this is hourly intake, so should be spread through the hour and energy intake missed in one hour cannot be caught up the next hour. Also remember to include the carbohydrate content on fluids as part of energy intake. Stomach cramps and nausea are not par for the course - it's a nutritional problem. If it happens in a training ride, find the cause (for example too much fibre or even fructose) and replace with alternate nutrition.

Recovery
Eat and drink first, even if it's chocolate milk as you cross the line. Here's a checklist of things that need to be done:
-       Wash the bike.
-       Collect kit bag.
-       Shower.
-       Eat and hydrate.
-       Drop bike off to sort mechanical issues.
-       Get a massage
-       Put the feet up and try get in a nap.
Time flies and there's a lot to do. Get the admin out the way quickly to get the feet up early.

More positives of stage racing
Days out on the bike is time away from the office, no chance of taking calls when riding, socializing with mates and other cyclists, talking bike after the race, feet up in the day taking naps - sounds more like a holiday, so soak it up and enjoy the time out.




Mark Carroll

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