You never know until you try! That's what they say at least.
Photo: Heather Carter Photography
It'd been over three years since I've been between the tape (thanks COVID) and I wasn't sure what to expect - would I have race day jitters? Would I be able to handle my nutrition properly? Can I still start well? What about my pre- race ritual?
While I had considered myself more or less "retired" from racing after three years off, I tossed my name in the hat, got on the waitlist for the first round of Cascadia Dirt Cup 2023 (CDC Hood River Enduro) and said to myself if I get in I will race. Well, I got in!
If you're not familiar with enduro racing, here's the low down - generally speaking there are 3-6 timed race "stages" each day - these stages can be anywhere from 1 minutes to 25 minutes long, pinned, descending as fast as you can. Events may be 1 day or two day and at times more (5!). When you finish one "stage" you "transfer" to the next. Depending on the series, you may have a start time at the next stage, meaning you have to hustle even the untimed section. Other events you can take your time as you start the next stage when you get there. Most enduros total 20-40 miles/day with between 2000 and 6000ft of climbing in total for the day. It's a unique format as you have to have the power to sprint and skill to descend, but also have the endurance to make it through the entire day. Imagine yourself racing a 25 minutes stage after you've raced 4 stages already, climbed 5000ft and ridden 30 miles. You're beat, but it's time to race. It's so very fun and challenging at the same time.
Race day eventually came, and it's like I'd never left. There were no race day jitters - just focused, almost moving slower through my old routines. The day went as planned, albeit my starts could use a little bit of work - I managed the win by 40 seconds, and was proud to stand on the top of the podium amidst some folks I used to race against three years ago.
Note to self: Anything is possible if you want it bad enough, just do the work, and never be afraid to try!
But, where do I start?
They say preparation is the key to success - one of my most important pre-race habits is prehydration! Starting the day before, I make sure to pre-hydrate with plenty of water. I usually aim for my body weight + 20oz daily, so will typically aim for an additional 20-40oz prior to race day. I then take a preworkout the morning of about a half hour before the race - my favorite is 1st Phorm Endura-formance - a stimulant free pre-workout containing creatine and beta alanine, supporting optimal ATP energy regeneration, while fighting off muscle fatigue via reduction in lactic acid. You can expect improved muscular endurance and overall anaerobic power. I've been using this formulation during training rides over the winter and can tell a pretty big difference in how I feel on the bike, as well as overall strength - I am generally able to ride harder and longer than when I do not take it before rides. If you haven't tried it, you should. It's all natural, comes in a whole bunch of different flavors and tastes DELICIOUS! Check it out!
Stay tuned for more race day tips & tricks!