Fiona Millburn is a cyclocross racer from Sydney. Fiona spent her 2015 travelling across Europe and North America, playing mechanic for her husband, Garry Millburn. Fiona will be sharing some of her CX knowledge with us throughout the 2016 season. Her other articles for us can be found here and here.
Race day is my favourite day, however I know for a lot of people race day can be a little bit daunting. Everything from nerves and excitement to not feeling prepared…I’ve had a couple of people ask me lately how I’m so relaxed on race day, so I thought I would share my tips on how to be ready to race.
It all starts well before actual race day. If you like to take your racing seriously you have hopefully done the months of training beforehand, because being physically prepared for the race should give you confidence that you're ready for it, and leaves you with a lot less "what if’s”. If you are just there to have fun then you can focus more on getting organised.
In the couple of days before racing I always make sure my bike is prepped and ready to race - all pretty simple stuff and its handy to be able to do it yourself, not to mention cheaper. It also eliminates the chance of things going wrong on race day. Most importantly if something is wrong you have a couple of days to get it fixed.
I also make sure all the kit I’m going to want to wear on race day is clean and dry, and that all my food for race day is organised.
The day before is always very similar, this was instilled into me years ago by my husband and watching his race routine. He will very much enjoy what I am about to say, but he is right! Routine makes everything just flow smoothly. I always do pre race spin ups, just enough to get the legs firing and loosened, and this ALWAYS ends with a coffee.
I also make sure I am well hydrated, lots of water maybe even some coconut water for some electrolytes too. Fuelling my body is essential; protein, good carbs and lots of greens plus the essential pre race scoop of ice cream. Don't judge me...its part of the routine! (Ed: having spent time with Garry and Fiona, I can confirm that ice cream is their weakness!)
I always pack my bag the night before as it makes for one less thing to do on race morning. Depending on race day conditions it can be a fair amount of stuff to take. For a cold muddy race I always prefer to take a bit extra because being cold on race day is just miserable. I also package things up into smaller bags so I’m not searching for a pair of knicks or the socks that match that kit. Because I do like to match.
This may seem like a lot, but here's what I like to pack for each race:
- 1 x skinsuit
- 2 x knicks
- 2 x jerseys
- 2 x winter jacket
- 1 x rain jacket
- 1 x vest
- 3 x pairs socks
- 2 x gloves
- 1 x leg warmers
- 1 x booties (because I don’t have two pairs of shoes and I like them dry and clean for race time)
- 1 x helmet
- 1 x shoes
- 1 x sunglasses
- 1 x garmin + heart rate strap
- clothes to put on after the race
Maybe race day is my favourite because it’s about the only day I get to sleep in. As racing is in the afternoon it means for a relaxed and lazy morning and because my bag is packed and I know my bike is good to go, I really don’t have too much to do on race morning. I eat my regular breakfast - muesli, fruit and yogurt, then chill out for an hour or so.
Because my husband and I both race, teamwork is essential. While my husband packs the car I get race day nutrition sorted. My pre race meal is a jam and banana sandwich which I eat 3 hrs pre race, 2 bottles of skratch labs, a bottle of water, some coconut water, ready to mix protein shake and some home made protein balls or nut squares. I always throw in a couple of pieces of fruit too. Then we are off…straight to the coffee shop, because coffee.
As soon as we get to the venue I like to get set up straight away, although usually I get side tracked chatting to everyone! After registration I throw on some kit for a practice lap. I will usually only do a lap or two, then I get into some clean dry clothes because hanging out in muddy and sweaty kit is a big no no.
An hour before my race I’ll get into my skin suit and a jacket on then get on the trainer to warm up. I usually roll to the start line nice and early so I can have a little bit of pre race banter, and before you know it, it’s go time.
Post race, my husband is usually there with a jacket, water bottle and protein shake in hand. I clean up straight away, face and legs with a wet towel and then fresh kit if it’s dirty or if it’s more than 10 minutes until the podium (If i’ve made the podium that is!). Post podium I am straight out of my kit and into regular clothes to stay warm and dry. Plus I down some coconut water, because cyclocross is thirsty business!
Every race day follows this plan, whether I am racing my local race or I’ve travelled to a national or international race. It means i don’t get nervous or stressed because I have my race day dialled!
You can shop MAAP skinsuits here