So, you’ve been riding with friends, you’re feeling pretty rad, and a few of your buds have mentioned the Fedhealth MTB Challenge this coming weekend.

Sounds like an awesome family day, right? You’ve also heard that Fedhealth members and dependants enter for free … free massage zones, rider goodie bags and giveaways, plus loads of lucky draws and prizes. And, on top of all that, once again, the breathtaking Boschendal Farm will provide the setting for this popular annual event. Beautiful! But, you’re still not sure whether you as a rookie should enter …

Here’s the thing, many newbie mountain bikers can be forgiven for thinking that the sport is all about the long, hard slog. With wildly popular events such as the Absa Cape Epic and the Wine to Whales (plus too many other races to mention!) you could easily feel intimidated by the mind-boggling distances that South Africans like to ride. And, hey, that’s cool too.

However, although mountain biking is for sure a competitive sport, ultimately, it’s about riding bikes and having fun. Consider for just a moment how many people will choose to stay in bed and not show up for the race. YOU BEAT THAT PERSON. Perhaps they’ve quit biking altogether. YOU BEAT THAT PERSON. Or, perhaps they’re too afraid to start … Just by showing up YOU BEAT THAT PERSON.

Afraid of finishing last? The Tour De France used to give a prize for the Lantern Rouge (red lantern), or the last placed rider in the pack. Here’s the deal: even if you’re the red light, you’re still an integral part of the race. The race cannot end without you.

So, if you’re thinking of dipping a toe into the racing world this weekend, here’s what you need to know:

  • Ease up on intense training. The idea is to get to your first race with fresh legs not in the recovery phase. Have your last outing say 3 days before your race with the sole purpose of refreshing and moving your legs to continue to accelerate muscle recovery.
  • Check the consumables on your bike such as tyres, brake pads, cables and drive train for wear and tear. Check all the bolts – particularly around the brakes and steering, feel for play in any bearing. Have the relevant puncture repair and see that your pump both works and fits.
  • Choose an achievable goal. Are you after a result or do you simply want to finish?
  • Get enough sleep. Our bodies regenerate and recover better during sleep. It is vital that your legs are fully recovered for the race.
  • Hydration and nutrition is key. Hydrate not only during the race but also before. Load up on protein and carbs. A good plate of pasta or boiled rice and chicken is a good idea the night before the race.
  • Pace yourself during the race. Ride at your own pace, let the jackrabbits take off. You might pass them later.
  • Get there early to register.

Mountain bike events have a great atmosphere and ultimately everyone is there to have some fun.

There will for sure be plenty of people to cheer you on, so c’mon, see you at the race!

Source: fedhealth.co.za, stillwatersports.com, bicycling.co.za, www.redbull.com, mbtchick.com, bryceviewlodge.com, active.com, www.fullspeedahead.com, tetongravity.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.