Have you signed up for a Gran Fondo or charity ride? Now is the time of year when most of those rides are coming up, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re like us, you’re probably starting to get down into your final week or two of preparation.
Remember, it’s the little details that can undo us. Things that may seem harmless when off the bike: a slightly off-center stem, a slight creak from the bottom bracket, picking the wrong flavor of gels, a hill coming sooner than you expected, etc… can all become issues that seem monumental by mile 50– enough so that it can get into your head and begin to impact your performance.
To head off such calamity, follow our checklist below.
After all, cycling is like life. Taking care of small details now leads to successful outcomes later.
1. Get In One Last Big Ride
The weekend before your event, try and do one last ride that’s at least 75% of the distance you’ll need to do. And make sure you do it wearing the clothes you plan on riding in, and with your bike set up how you will be riding it. This will be your big chance to test everything out and make any changes.
Hopefully you’ve been training for at least 8 weeks beforehand and are fully prepared. This last ride is to get some last miles in the legs and check your fitness level to help to determine pacing for the event itself.
2. Rest Up
The week leading up to the event itself, rest up. Try to go for a ride every day, but just do some gentle, small ring spinning for short distances. This will help keep your legs limber and preserve your fitness, but will also keep you rested so you feel fresh and ready come game time.
3. Prepare Your Bike
Is your bike tuned up? Is your gearing right? Do you need to change out tires or add more padding to your bar tape? The week before the event, either spend a few evenings fine tuning your bike, or take it to a Performance Bicycle shop and ask them to do a quick tune up (you might want to call ahead for lead times).
Don’t do anything drastic though like change out your saddle, try a new pair of shoes, or change your stem length or bike fit. Now is NOT the time to try something new. Even if you invested in an upgrade, roll with what you have until after your event (unless it’s new wheels or tires). You don’t want to realize at mile 35 of a 100 mile ride that the new saddle you bought isn’t really working out.
Don’t put it off until the night before. If something goes wrong, you’ll want plenty of time to fix it.
4. Study The Course And Elevation Profiles
Get to know the course beforehand. Do you know where the turns are? Do you know when the big climbs are? You don’t have to memorize everything, but you should be familiar enough with the route to know what to expect. If there’s a cue-sheet you can download, print it out and bring it with you. If you have a GPS or cycling computer, see if you can find the course map on Strava or Garmin and load it on your computer.
You can also go old school Pro and use a piece of tape on the stem to write down any significant areas of the course on it.
For Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, we’ll be using a Garmin GPS and a piece of tape on the stem to note at what mileage the big climbs start at (and where they end).
5. Prepare the Night Before
The morning of an event is always a hectic one. Between dressing, eating, getting to the event, sign in and getting to the start line, there’s a lot to take care of.
Make it easy on yourself, and do as much as you can the night before.
-Chain cleaned and lubricated
–Lights (if needed for early AM start) affixed to bike
–Clothing laid out
–Food flavors and types carefully selected
-Jersey pockets / seatwedge pre-packed
-Phone and cycling computer fully charged
–Water bottles pre-filled
–Drink mix flavors carefully selected
-Breakfast pre-made and ready to eat
-Alarm set for at least 2 hours before start (to give you some time just in case)