Here is your pre-race checklist plus pro tips on gear, nutrition and bunch etiquette to ride your best Cape Town Cycle Tour.
KIT – WHAT TO WEAR?
It is Cape Town – expect all-the-seasons in one day!
You want to be appropriately dressed for whatever the weather happens to be doing. As a general rule, two layers on the chest is usually enough for all riders – that is one base layer garment and then your riding shirt. It is, however, a very good idea to have either a gilet (wind-vest) or a wind-jacket as a third layer that can be used while in the start area and on the route if necessary. The day before the race you should pack everything out that you need to take with you to the start line. Doube and triple check you have everything you will need. Do not forget your socks, riding shoes, helmet, eyewear, number and timing chip.
It is always a good idea to do at least one ride in any new garments before the actual race to check for any fit issues. It is not a great idea to change your shoes or cleat position the night before the race. Finally, do not wear underpants inside your lycra – they are going to leave a scar!
BIKE – IS IT RACE READY?
You should do your pre-race bike check a few times in the final 10 days leading up to the race
Check everything! Pay particular attention to the condition of your chain, tyres and brake pads – if they are worn, cut or damaged, replace them. If you think they are a little worn but are unsure if it warrants replacing, rather have it checked out by your local bike shop. If you do happen to replace any working parts in the days leading up to the race, make sure you do at least one ride prior to the race to let the new item settle in.
If you have traveled down to the Cape with your bike, it is absolutely crucial that you do a ride (before the race) to ensure everything is set up correctly again and in working order. Prior to packing your bike for the trip to Cape Town, check all your measurements and record them in a safe place so you can rebuild the bike with your exact setup.
The night before the race you should do a comprehensive bolt check – that means checking every single bolt on the bike to make sure everything is nipped up. On the morning of the race, the only thing you should need to do is double check your tyre pressure. Being self-sufficient on race day is mandatory. Make sure you have a pump or CO2 canisters, two spare tubes and a multitool on you. If you are in an early bunch and are riding to the start (in the dark) you should have lights on your bike.
NUTRITION – DO WHAT YOU USUALLY DO, MOSTLY
Eat little bits, often
In the last few days leading up to the event it is a good idea to increase your intake of clean, complex carbohydrates. This ensures your glycogen storage is optimized. On the morning of the race, your breakfast should be no different to what you usually have before a long training ride. Avoid the temptation to overeat.
If you are using energy products, do not try something new on the day of the race. Only use products that your digestive system is comfortable with. During the race, the key to successful fueling is to eat little bits, often. On the bike, a liquid carbohydrate and electrolyte mix is a good idea as it fuels and hydrates your system simultaneously. Bars and gels are a great idea, but again, only use what you have tried before. As a general rule, you will not need more than 750ml of liquid for every hour of riding.
RACE STRATEGY – KEEP CALM
A few key strategies for the race can make your day a lot safer and far more memorable
Being on time for the start On the morning of the race, you should expect the traffic in Cape Town to be intense and the parking to be scarce. Arriving in the City early to give yourself time to park and get ready is a very good idea. You don’t want to stress yourself out before the race has even started.
Bunch etiquette. There are a few important things to focus on when riding in the bunch. Do not overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider you are following. Keep your line as predictable as possible without swerving erratically. Remember there is probably someone on your rear wheel so be smooth and predictable when braking and pay attention to where you aim your snot rockets. Do not stare at the axle of the wheel in front of you – you need to be looking a lot further ahead so you can give yourself time to anticipate and react to any erratic movements within the bunch. If you hear a crash behind you, do not look back as you will likely cause another crash. Be a safe wheel to follow by pointing to any potholes, nasty edges and other road hazards so the rider behind you can avoid hitting them. When you are sitting in, try and position yourself in the smartest position to avoid any crosswinds and danger zones. Ride smart and be courteous. It is not the World Champs!
Getting your pacing right is very important to avoid running out of energy towards the end of the race. Be careful not to get sucked into racing at a pace that is too fast for you, especially in the first half of the race. It is very easy to get too excited early on and ride faster than you should – this is a recipe for disaster so don’t do it. If you find yourself in a group that is going too fast for you, be smart, – sit up and let it go. Riding within your limits is key to an enjoyable and successful day out. You want to finish strong, so hold back in the first half and then slowly increase your pace as the race goes on. Doing your share of work at the front is important but don’t get suckered into dragging the entire bunch for kilometer after kilometer. You want to roll through, put in a decent stretch on the front of the bunch, – without spiking the pace – before easing over for the next rider to come through. On the climbs, start at a pace that is well within your ability, keep a good cadence and steady tempo. If faster riders are stomping by you, do not be tempted to jump onto their wheel, just let them go and ride at a pace that you know you can sustain.
If it is your first 100km plus event it is a good idea to break the distance down into sections that give you smaller milestones to focus on. So as an example, focus on getting to the top of Wynberg Hill, then the next point could be Fish Hoek, then Smitswinkel, then Noordhoek and so on. This is a proven mental technique used by the world’s best endurance athletes – it eases the anxiety you might be experiencing by breaking the route down into bite-size chunks. Check windguru on the day before the race to get an idea of wind direction, speed and gusts that you will encounter during the race.
Throughout the day, be nice to all the volunteers, race organizers and City officials who make this event possible, and never ever throw your toys
Lastly, remember, it is essentially a fun ride so don’t take things too seriously. Take in the views, meet and make new cycling friends. The day is all about celebrating your health, raising funds for charity and living the bike life you love so much.
| IMAGES: Gary Perkin & Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust |
| MORE: capetowncycletour.com |