Lasseters Easter in the Alice starts tomorrow, with the first stage sending elite racers on a 75km singletrack-heavy loop of some of the best and some of the roughest trails in Alice Springs.
Racing in Alice Springs at this event, or The Redback in August, combines a number of unique demands. The trails in Alice Springs aren’t full of technical ‘gnar’. But they are made from either rock or sand, with plenty of drift, corners, lumps and humps. They’re an absolute blast to ride, but quite taxing to race.
The sharp rocky environment, and thorny flora, means a few changes are made to equipment. And the hot temperatures and demands of even a short 3-day stage race place a few extra demands on riders too. Here’s a quick look at some of our prep.
Updates to our Norco Revolvers
There’s no big news on this front, save for being quite precise with tyre and shock pressures to get the most supple ride, but also the most supportive for racing hard. The use of suspension lock out will be minimal.
Tyres are Maxxis EXO models in the tried and tested Ardent Race front, with an Ikon on the back for slightly less rolling resistance. Even after testing many tread options this is still one of the most frequently used combinations. Sealant was refreshed with more Orange Seal sealant before leaving home.
Alice Springs has plenty of thorny and sharp things that can come out and grab pedals, shoes, shins – or even derailleur cables or wires. So we keep our Shimano XTR Di2 bits reinforced and right in close to the frame.
Alice is very dry and dusty – so we are using dry lubes. While short pre-rides have been perfect for Ride Mechanic Bike Milk, race day calls for Bike Mix, which is longer lasting. This tends to be the chain lube of choice for rides and races beyond 3 hours. Less than that and the Milk is excellent with minimal clean up needed.
A flattish top tube isn’t a bad place for notes, and in this case we use the space for the distances for the feed stations, and the finish. No, it’s not hard to remember, but it helps when you’re tired and fatigued.
Spares and hydration
Most events in Alice Springs have some mandatory equipment. Like multitools, pumps, tubes, fluid carrying capacity, a first aid kit and more. So, it’s best to keep what you can on the bike, and have a plan for the rest.
We’ve got a couple of options for Camelbaks, and for this race there are options to use large or small, depending on individual fluid requirements. The large Camelbak MULE one can carry enough with supplementary water bottles at each aid station, or you can use a smaller (and lighter) Camelbak Chase Bike Vest. This brings in the need to swap to a new one.
First Aid kits are bulky and light, so they can easily go in a large bag or on the bike.
Tubes and similar spares tend to be held down low on the bike. It’s more stable there, clean (not that we expect mud!) and easy to get to.
Although we carry a CO2, it’s s stage race, and it’s Alice Springs. A pump as an excellent back up, along with a tool, hanger, link and tyre boot to keep on the rider.
Looking after the rider
In some races water isn’t always enough – it really depends on the rider but for this race having an electrolyte drink really helps. It’s a proving ground for MegaBake Kitchen’s Vietto’s Tears, which is Ph neutral. So that should be ideal on the long stage, and for anyone with big dentist’s bills.
We’ve used Adidas Eyewear for years, and although each stage has an early 7am start, the sun is strong so dark lenses are a must.
Clean lenses are also essential, and a wipe for right before the stage keeps any dust off the lenses for clear vision.
Preparation goes a long way, and our hosts take food very seriously! It’s Easter and while there is a lot of chocolate to go around, there are also some hearty salads ready to go in the fridge for post race lunches with bread.
There’s also a freshly made cake, with more planned. It’s easy to forget to eat after a stage bit when there’s such scrumptious food waiting – we’ll manage.
With registration only hours away, we’ll know in less than 24 hours which riders will wear the leader’s jerseys for Stage 2, and who has claimed the lead of the 2018 XCM Series.