There’s a big race coming up. You’ve spent weeks, or even months, preparing yourself, riding as much as possible, watching what you eat, and even ditching friends and family so you could train. You are ready… or, at least as ready as you will be! The last thing you want is a mechanical to put you out of the race, wasting all the hard work you’ve put into preparing for the race. Here are some tips to make sure your bike is as ready to race as you are.

If you have to travel to race, be sure to take everything you need. Make a list, check it twice.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.

While I’m not sure if Confucious really said that, I am sure it’s good advice. Getting the bike ready starts long before the race, two or three weeks out actually. You wouldn’t wait to do all of your training until the day before, would you? So why wait to check the bike until the day before? The night before a race is NOT the time to be doing major work on your bike! Starting early will give you time to replace any worn parts (which you probably don’t have laying around and will have to order) and get them broken in before the race. Here’s what you should look into:

Tires: Check your tires for wear and damage. Inspect the sidewalls and the tread, look for cuts, bulges, embedded debris, anything that could cause a failure. If you’re not confident in a tire, replace it.

Brake Pads: How much life is left in your brake pads? Is it enough to get you through that 50 mile race if it rains? Having an extra set to carry with you just in case isn’t a bad idea. Brake pads are like toilet paper – there are nasty consequences for running out.

A tire failure can ruin your day in a bad way. Make sure they’re up to the task.

Stans: How long since you last topped off the sealant in your tubeless tires? If you shake the wheel and don’t hear Stans splashing around inside, you need to add some more.

Drivetrain: If your ride is shifting smooth, then great, move on. If it’s not good, figure out why and get it fixed. Take it to your favorite LBS and let them tune it up, replace what’s worn out (chain, cassette, cables, etc). If you had to replace the cables, be glad you’re smart and got it done early. Now you have time to break them in and get the initial “stretching” over with and get the system re-tuned so it’s running like a sewing machine on race day.

Hidden Dangers: When was the last time you checked your chainring and cleat bolts? Probably never, right? Most of us never think about them. Well now is the time to check – I’ve read too many race reports where someone lost one of these critical bolts and were not able to finish the race. You don’t want to be That Guy. (example: 3 days before the 50 mile Fools Gold my buddy Ross discovered that 2 of his chainring bolts were missing and another was loose!)

A well tuned and clean drivetrain goes a long way towards having a good day on the bike.

Final Prep

On the night before the race you need to get all of your stuff taken care of. That way, the morning of the race you don’t have anything to do except get dressed and get to the start line. Get your clothes laid out, food prepared and ready, pack your hydration pack with whatever tools you’re taking. Here’s a good checklist for prepping your bike the night before:

Tire Pressure: Get your tires aired up to whatever pressure you plan on using.

Drivetrain: Wipe away as much dirt and grime as possible and re-lube your chain. A smooth, quiet drivetrain goes a long way toward making you feel good on race day.

Hidden Dangers: Check those chainring and cleat bolts one more time.

Check your cleat bolts!

Go Get Some

Alright, you’re ready – get some sleep, you’ll need it! In the morning all you have to do is eat, fill up your bottles/hydration pack, get to the venue and put on your riding clothes. Oh, and don’t forget to take that all important pre-race potty break!

# Comments

  • trek7k

    Great tips. Definitely a good idea to prep a few weeks out so you can wear in new parts and get used to any changes. Sorta like running a marathon – wearing brand new shoes on race day is a sure way to get blisters!

    Speaking of “hidden dangers” – last week I found my rear rotor was missing two bolts and two more bolts were halfway out. If it had been the day before a race I would have had a hard time finding the spare parts I needed…

  • Krampy

    Excellent advice. Depending on the length of the race, I also like to have my food plans worked out also. If it is a multiple lap type event, have bundles organised so I can easily restock. Otherwise work out how much food I will require for the length of time I am expecting to race.

    Less things to worry about on the day the better.

  • bikecowboy

    Good advice. Got the Rampage this weekend. Pulled my bike out yesterday to look it over and lube the chain. While I was doing that I noticed that my rear tire had a pretty good wobble. After checking the spokes I found one that had come loose. it was somehow wedged between the others and wasn’t very noticeable. Glad I found it yesterday instead of Sunday morning!

  • Fitch

    Great advice, and a great primer for basic bike once-overs, too!

  • rickram88

    Great advice. One more tip to add: DO NOT play softball or any other activity outside of riding a bike. I pulled my hamstring this past weekend right before a 6 hour race and totally messed me up. I felt like such an idiot! Careful with injuries pre race. It will cause a day of anger and depression not being able to race.

  • Suvacrew

    Add to the list a powerlink! When it gets wet, muddy and gritty, the drivetrain does strange things and sometimes crosses a shift and the chain goes bye bye.

  • mtbgreg1

    This is good stuff. I was thinking about this on my ride actually… getting stoked about our race in October!

  • bikecowboy

    Well I hate to admit it but maybe everyone can get laugh out of it. I went to the race today and got in such a hurry that I forgot to put my number on my bike! Another bit of prep advice…put your number on your bike as soon as you get it!!

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