Off to Original Source Mountain Mayhem next weekend? Us too. Divert your attention from Metcheck and check out the first part of our 24-hour racer’s survival guide; the second half will appear in the official event programme but we bet there’s something in here you forget every year.
If you haven’t done the training now, we’re sorry but it’s far, far too late. The time for panic-driven threshold sessions is long gone; the best thing you can do now, whether you’re over or under prepared, is to get as much sleep and active recovery (short, gentle rides) as you can. Make time to stretch, keep yourself well hydrated, eat well and try to get the packing done well in advance to avoid stress. And remember the racing haircut.
Make sure your bike is in full working order. The last thing you want to be doing on Saturday morning is rummaging around in ankle-deep grass trying to find the tiny, irreplaceable screw that you’ve dropped whilst trying to fix a particularly esoteric component which you knew wasn’t quite working right last week but somehow managed to forget about until an hour before kick off. You need to be able to rely on your bike to get you through as much of the 24 hours as possible with the minimum of intervention, so make sure everything’s in one piece and functioning well before the big day.
…and the tool kit.
No matter how well prepared your bike is, accidents and disasters do happen so pack the spares that you think you’ll need – and then the spares that you think you won’t. Mech hangers and brake pads are a must, whilst a bolt-on singlespeed chain tensioner can be the simplest way around an exploded drivetrain (stranger things have happened to riders attempting to pedal through shin-deep, grass-clogged mud). A portable work stand makes repairs easier but it’s just as easy to turn your bike upside down on the floor for simple jobs. Yes, there is tech support at the event but they can get very busy and it’s best to be self-reliant for basic repairs, though the universal bribe of a packet of Jaffa Cakes and a smile can go a long way with a weary mechanic.
Give your lights a full charge and test ride well in advance of the event. Lighter evenings mean less light use and battery trouble is better sorted at home than in a field. While you’re at it, gather the right bracket for the light that you’re using and stick it on the bike now; it’s one less thing to do on race day and it saves you having to hunt around for another tiny screw in the grass.
Whether the weather
We know nobody likes to talk about the mud at Mayhem but let’s face it: it has a bit of a reputation and for some of us, that’s half the fun. Mudguards front and rear will make racing in the rain a much cleaner, warmer and more pleasant experience, for both you and your washing machine. Mud tyres are a fantastic idea, particularly if you’re the lucky owner of a tyre/rim combination which are incredibly tight and time-consuming to fit, thus guaranteeing blazing sunshine for the whole weekend once you’ve lost blood, fingernails and most of your patience trying to wrestle them into place. We’d appreciate it if you took one for the team and fitted them now, ta…
Keep it clean
Pack a bucket and brush kit – or portable jet wash – to save time cleaning your bike. It also doubles up as an interim leg wash when the real showers are just too much to contemplate. The drive train is the most important bit, followed by the brakes but mud collecting on frame and wheels can nearly double the weight of the bicycle-shaped impediment you’re dragging around the course with you. Go prepared to clean it off and save your legs and lungs some effort.
Tempting as it might be to use the event as an excuse to spend lots of money on shiny new kit, try not to replace everything the day before the race. Riding a 24 hour race can place some serious demands on your body and forcing it to adapt to a new riding position, unfamiliar backpack or different clothing system when it’s already under stress is asking for trouble. Stick with what you’ve tried and tested, either replacing any kit well in advance or saving the indulgence as a post-race reward.
This is a no-brainer: take every item of cycling clothing that you own. (Obviously if you own enough clothing to start a bike boutique then you may need to exercise a little discretion and limit yourself to your favourites.) The weather at Mayhem can go from boiling hot to pouring rain and back again throughout the course of the race. Even though it’s difficult remembering exactly what it feels like to be riding in the frigid, wet darkness when you’re packing on a balmy June afternoon, you lose nothing by having everything you think you could conceivably want at Eastnor with you and taking it home unworn. Whilst you’re rummaging in the back of the wardrobe, dig out an old jacket which you can use at handover – it keeps the outgoing rider warm until he/she is ready to go, then stops the incoming rider getting cold on their way back to the luxury of camp, and by using just one jacket between the team you’ll all smell equally as bad by the end of the race.
Wellies, umbrella, sun cream, ear plugs… right, I think we’re ready to go. See you at Eastnor!
The Original Source Mountain Mayhem Magazine containing part 2 of this article plus loads of other information, articles and pics will be available as a PDF download before the event so stay tuned for that…