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11.018b – Æight days a week – Tuesday

So the time for panic is over! The thing is, at this point, you can only make certain adjustments anyway. You should concern yourself with the set-up of the bike, eating the right food, preparing the right food and getting as much rest as possible.

A couple of short fast training sessions could be good, or maybe one longer slower paced one, but it’s far too late to make any big changes now so your normal routine has to go on the shelf. Pros call this the taper and although everybody trains slightly differently the basis of preparing for a specific race will be to train continuously harder up until a point. For me that’s about a week before a big race, but it’ll change depending upon the race, my general pace and my recent health.

When you get to that date, you have to change your focus to relaxing – this sounds easier than it is! The last thing most people want to do this close to the big day is stay off the bike, but it’ll make vastly large improvements if you do. The trouble is it’s hard to gauge or measure until the race itself and you’ll only be able to achieve a good taper with experience. It worth noting to that when I say rest, I don’t mean don’t exercise – it’s important to stay supple and some easy riding or something low impact like swimming is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy.

It’s also a good time to write a plan for race day and the day before. Most people will be busy with various commitments right up until they race and the last thing you want is to turn up only to find that your shoes or helmet are neatly tucked away under the bed! Most weekends therefore have a rough plan of action including the times I have to be at certain places and the kit I have to pack. It doesn’t have to be set in concrete, but it’ll give you the peace of mind to enjoy your week rather than constantly thinking about what needs doing.

The golden rule of course is that if you think of something either put it on the list or better yet, get it done straight away. There’s no advantage to washing your bike last thing the night before a race – if you find something cracked or broken there won’t be a chance to fix it and your race may be over before it starts. However if you get the bike in the stand on Tuesday there is plenty of time to buy replacement parts and fix or tune your bike until you’re happy. Once you’ve got the bike how you want it, do not fiddle with it, especially if you don’t really know what that tiny bolt does!

Some people can spend hours fixing very little on their bike and some can spend minutes fixing a lot, but most people manage to make their bike worse when they “service” it themselves! The thing is most people don’t appreciate the complexities of their own bicycles. Gone are the days of the home mechanic with a limited tool kit, the bike is now a high tech solution to a very demanding problem. Suspension systems are more complex than those found on motocross bikes, modern disc brakes make your car’s brakes look clandestine and frame technologies would be right at home in the Moto GP/F1 paddock.

Add to that the common site at domestic races of prototype developments that change on a weekly basis as designers dream up new ways to race faster or harder and the humble mountain bike can be viewed as a highly sophisticated piece of machinery – not to be messed with by the bodger! But in all seriousness if you’re going to take your racing seriously you need to be honest with yourself – If you aren’t a competent mechanic or if you don’t have the time then it really is best to find a good mechanic and build a strong relationship with them.

At THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY we service and prep bikes for two riders at the moment and are always looking to expand this. If you know someone who’s interested in kick starting their racing career then let us know and we can discuss their needs and maybe even get them on the team. We take care of everything and having previously done everything for myself I really understand what a daunting prospect that is. If we can help, then we will do!

At the end of the day [comes the night] all of us just want to get out and ride.

THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY proudly use Kona™ Framesets, Fox™ Suspension, Rohloff™ Transmissions, Shimano™ and Ritchey™ Components, Schwalbe Tyres, Exposure lights™,  adidas™ Eyewear, Clothing and torq™ Performance Nutrition. We also buy additional gear from Cotswold Outdoor to support our riders at races. We’re not sponsored by these brands, but we wouldn’t use any other equipment.

For more information you can find us on Facebook, WordPress or email us at

“83.R”, “THE.8.RAC3R” and “THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY” all appear courtesy of, and belong to, Glen Whittington.

We also support The British Heart Foundation and will be racing this weekend at Insomnia to raise funds for them. You can help by pledging as much or as little as you’d like here! Please give generously.

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