The Chicks in the Sticks race for many will be their first foray into mountain bike racing. While the event is going to be relaxed and lots of fun, preparation for the event is important and for those whose nerves are starting to build here are some pointers to keep them under control..
As many of us do not have the experience of the number of km’s trained and raced in our legs as Swell Specialized rider Jenny Blair. I have asked Jenny if she can share some of her knowledge and tips for riding/racing an endurance style of event.
Jenny is the current Elite Women’s Marathon champion and practically won every Marathon race in Australia over the past 10 years.
A bit about Jenny:
What got you into riding?
I joined my local cycling club while training for a triathlon after a long stint studying and I soon realised I was a better cyclist than swimmer or runner so I focused on that discipline on the road scene in Europe until I came to Australia & discovered the fun of single tracks and fire roads!
And how many years have you been riding for?
About 5 yrs on tarmac and 5 years on dirt!
What keeps you motivated to get out on your bike every day and stay focused?
Motivation starts in my garage thanks to amazing support I receive from Specialized – it’s not hard choosing between my S-Works women’s specific bikes & riding gear! Moving outside from the garage, I have access to some of the best trails in the country & bunch rides here in Canberra – I owe a lot of my results from the encouragement I get from fellow Canberran riders & local team mates – being part of Specialized racing and FTP coaching keeps me focused on my results I can bring to these great teams of athletes.
What is the current bike/s that you are riding on?
I train and race on the Specialized women’s specific S-Works models the Amira, the Era 29er dual suspension MTB & a Fate 29r hardtail. I am looking forward to the arrival of the 2016 all new women’s specific long travel MTB, the Rhyme as a shredding bike!
For Race Day:
Jenny can you please share with us your race day essentials to pack?
My team mates in our Subaru Forrester with our Specialized S-Works MTB bikes of choice aboard our Thule bike racks! My Oakley Radar Lock sunglasses with interchangeable lenses for the specific race conditions, helmet, shoes, 2 sets of kit, socks, an under jersey depending on conditions & fingerless gloves as it’s easier to access food & tools quickly! Gu energy tabs, gels & Passion Projects protein powder for complete race day nutrition SPF50 sun cream & lip balm. Baby wipes, water & a rag to wash myself back to looking somewhat respectable!
There are so many energy foods available on the market do you rely on these for fuel or do you also pack some regular foods like a vegemite sandwich?
I mainly rely on gels for race food & pack white sandwich jam squares (crusts off!) for the longer marathons. In training, I use the Passion Projects Raw protein bars & make my own when I run out – raw mixture ingredients such as peanut butter, cacao & nuts are so much healthier & easy to eat on the bike.
For a novice racer do you have any tips on getting through the 3 hours on the bike without destroying yourself before the finish?
Training for this distance up to the race is a starting point as you will have more endurance built up to get you through the race without blowing up – know your limits! – Don’t race the first half like it’s the last half! Find a rhythm & stay smooth – you will find yourself riding stronger towards the finish. – Be regular with your nutrition from the start. If you forget to eat or drink within a certain time, your body will start working harder than it should & then it’s too late to replace the vital calories.
Is it important to warm up before the start of event?
Yes, it is, but also depends on your goals as it can make a difference to your result – if you have a good warm up, chances are you will be more comfortable riding in faster groups from the start & get up the hills more efficiently with the muscles warmed up! It’s also good to warm up on some sections of the track (or if some have pump tracks!) to get your MTB skills and body position in motion for the race!
How do you stop others who look fit from intimidating you before you start and event?
I just remember what I have done in training and back myself! Self-seeding is important in mass starts, but focus on a strong start & be positive about your ability & you will soon find yourself up at the front more regularly!