A few months ago, I had an interaction with a pro triathlete that began from him claiming his race was destroyed due to a poor response from the neutral support. I gave him some advice that was not taken well. After that exchange, I began to think more about what it means to be prepared and why its never good to do a race with the option of walking away pointing a finger at someone other than oneself.

There are many things at a race that can end one’s day, but most are beyond the control of the well-prepared athlete and cannot be avoided in the big picture. Things that are within one’s control should be prepared for and managed so that there is never a controllable failure.

That means learning how to do all the basic repair maintenance that could be needed in a race. It means carrying a responsible amount of tubes/tires/tools, etc to deal with possible breakdowns. Where to draw the line on what is carried depends on the course, distance and condition of one’s bike. The easiest way to limit what may happen is to bring a bike that is perfect condition with new tires and excellent preventative maintenance performed in the days prior to the race. It will also be a bike that has no new parts (other than tires, which should have a few kms on them to ensure they are installed correctly).

It’s an old adage that one should not try new equipment in a race, and on a bike that is truer. Bikes are becoming more complicated with the evolution of super bikes that have proprietary brakes, shifters and other components, and utilizing new components in a race without testing in normal hard training, is a recipe for disaster. That goes for changing to a race specific cassette (for races that have lots of climbing, for example). Going from a small cassette that has a narrow range of cogs to one that has a large range (and uses significantly more chain) can lead to a rear derailleur that stops shifting, at best, and a breakdown at worst.

As the new year approaches, this is the perfect time to build your plan to race prepared alongside your training plan. All that training and sacrifice should never go to waste due to showing up unprepared for simple mechanical issues.

 

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