10 tips to prepare for VolCAT06-11-2019
Properly preparing for a stage race is key to getting the most out of it. The better your level of fitness and preparation when you get to the starting line, the more you can enjoy every single day. These types of events have become a key focus for amateur riders, and completing four days of intense MTB is an appealing challenge that is tough yet possible with minimal preparation. And, with enough time remaining to get your homework done before VolCAT, which takes place in Easter, there’s no time like the present to get some tips on how to emerge triumphant from the stage race.
Train well in advance
In MTB, as in life, it’s always best not to leave things until the last minute. When it comes to your physical preparation for VolCAT, plan ahead. Set aside your free time for training and set yourself some goals in terms of a minimum number of weekly training hours. Consistency is vital to physical preparation. It’s better to train with a certain level of frequency, even if the sessions are short, than to be inactive for long periods of time.
Plan what equipment you will use
In MTB, and especially in a stage race such as VolCAT, your gear plays a key role. Make sure you don't wear or use anything for the first time during the competition. Ideally, at least one month before, you should be cycling with the same equipment you will use at VolCAT, from trainers and clothes to your bike itself.
Try to replicate the tiredness you’ll feel after a stage race
In line with your daily routine, try to build up your level of tiredness by training several days in a row so that your body can adapt to the appropriate level of exertion. What your body has to go through on a four-day event is very different to a one-day race.
Learn to rest
Continuing on from the previous point, do not train more than what your body is capable of recovering from. Rest is an essential part of the training and development process. The balance between training and rest is key to your progress, and the training you do has a positive effect on your body.
Come to the event feeling fresh
If we had to choose between turning up at VolCAT tired or not having trained enough, we would choose the latter option. It’s important to come to the start of the first stage feeling fresh, both physically and mentally. At an event like VolCAT there are no transition or recovery days and as the days pass by you’ll become more fatigued. Starting things off with enough enthusiasm and strength is of the utmost importance.
Plan your daily routine
In a stage event everything adds up. The less you leave to be improvised the better, especially because after a long day of MTB everything is that little bit harder. Think about what you'll have for breakfast each day, how you'll recover after the stage, where you'll eat, and plan any other routine activity you will have to carry out over the course of the event.
Plan your recuperation
A key aspect of a stage event is recuperation. Think about what recovery methods you have available to you in order to get the most out of them. There are many options, from the usual recovery shake after each stage, through to nutritious food and more ‘professional’ methods, such as sports recovery massages, cold baths, compression boots or even a revitalising post-stage nap.
Prepare for the worst (mechanically speaking)
Try to be self-sufficient; that is to say, prepare a mechanical survival kit with everything you need in case of the most common breakdowns: a replacement inner tube, CO2 cylinders, a portable pump and a comprehensive multi-tool are essential. After that some things can save the day, such as clamps, duct tape, a quick release bike chain link and a kit for repairing punctures and tyre tears.
Plan ahead and test out what you’ll eat during the race
As in the mechanical section, try to be self-sufficient with food. Although there are constant refreshment zones throughout the VolCAT course, you never know when you might experience an unexpected slump in energy. As with bicycle equipment, never try anything new in terms of sustenance during a race.
VolCAT is an MTB celebration. At the end of the day we're all there to have a good time. Try not to get overwhelmed at any point and enjoy the route, the atmosphere and everything that a multi-day event like VolCAT consists of as much as possible.