With a mere one month and 5 days remaining until the start of Craft Bike Transalp in Oberammergau it is time to start thinking about more than just the physical preparation. Training the body is now an autonomic response so it is time to look to the ancillary details that ave to be addressed: the bike, nutrition, clothing, and accommodation.
The bike: The Shimano tech team from Craft Bike Transalp have listed a few important factors to consider when preparing your bike: Technical Prep is key to success. I dropped my bike with the boys at Venture Cycles last week for an overhaul that I suspect will include a fork service, chain and cassette +/- chain ring replacement, cable and housing replacement, bottom bracket overhaul, brake check and a wheel hub overhaul. It is important to replace any worn parts and make sure you are able to order any required parts within the given time frame, do not leave this service to the week before you leave. Make sure you have a spare derailleur, spare brake pads and that all your other parts can be accessed in the country you are racing… imagine the worse case scenario and make sure you are prepared and self sufficient.
Now is a good time to check that the tools you carry on your bike fit all the bits that they are supposed to fit on your bike and refresh changing a tire, fixing a chain, changing your derailleur etc. Check your CO2 canister attachment does work and take a new spare tire (or two) as the one that has been attachedto your bike, unused, for the last 6 months may have perished.
Nutrition: Do not skimp on the nutrition order as you will consume a lot in 7 days of racing and do not assume you can get the brand you are familiar with where you are racing. If you need to order food now is the time to ensure it arrives safely before you go. Look a the distances and the times from previous years, do not be deceived into thinking a <75km day will be ‘easy’, it is better to come home with food than to run out during the race. I am fortunate this year as I can get my nutrition order forwarded to a friend in Switzerland and collect it en route to bypass the extra baggage weight. In previous years I have packed my nutrition into my carry on baggage to save on excess baggage costs. If you have accommodation booked at the start it is worth enquiring whether you can get a care pack of nutrition and spares sent there for collection.
Clothing: This is very important as in a multi day race you are destined to encounter a wide range of climatic conditions and often all in one day. Transalp is in summer but traverses some very high passes and the alpine weather is very unpredictable so make sure you carry a light weight weather proof jacket at all times. In 2012 I raced Transalp with Mike Blewitt and we got caught out on the last day with a flat tire in the rain and before we knew it we were on the verge of hypothermia with few options for keeping warm. Now is the time to pull out all your cycling clothing and make sure you can cover all weather conditions, if your winter gear is looking tired dont risk thinking it can withstand extreme alpine weather conditions… now is not the time to be a tight arse, if you are cold the race will be very long and you will burn valuable calories trying to keep warm. It is a good idea to have at least 2 pairs of leg warmers, knee warmers, arm warmers, bibs, jersey, jackets and at least 4 pairs of socks. Make sure you also pack some warm, comfortable after race attire that is fashionable… by the end of a stage race the dress sense of many of the athletes crumbles, their kits are dirty and they smell. Part of completing one of these races is making sure you do it in style, there is no excuse for dirty, smelly kits, if you are not proficient in hand washing take some shrapnel for the laundry service that is on offer and wash your kits after every stage.
Accommodation: I am fortunate to have a team mate that has spent many valuable hours organising our Transalp accommodation (Stuart Spies), I am not proficient in this area and really should not advise as it wold be fraudulent.
Ultimately stage race preparation is a focus on the physical but without all these other factors in place you will not make it to Riva Del Garda successfully on the 26th July.