6 keys to a successful 24 hour mtb race: 5th Key

In a 24 hour race the weather and temperature can fluctuate greatly so it is important to have the proper clothing and gear to get you through the event.

I would say comfortably but the reality is that you will likely be uncomfortable in the race no matter what, the idea is to limit the suffering as much as possible as well as the time spent in the pits.

The biggest key is to have 1-2 extra chamois to change into as every 8 hours it makes a big difference to pull on a fresh set of shorts. This also be a good time to get a quick wipe down and then head out on course with a completely fresh kit. Ideally this change over should take under 2 minutes if you are properly organized in the pit. In some races, like the past World Championships in Scotland, there isn’t time to change kits as the racing can be so tight. In these circumstances you just need to put mind over matter and get the job done, but if you’re struggling and there’s an opportunity to put on fresh kit, this can provide a brief lift and help get your momentum going again.

Dealing with the weather it is easy to get over excited and try to pack something for every possible scenario. In reality all you need is a couple extra sets of socks, a light wind jacket, a rain jacket, a skull cap, a couple different set of gloves, booties and 1 to 2 changes of kit. Knee warmers could also come in handy but other then that there’s really not much else required.

At the World Champs in Scotland in October 2018, it rained for 20 hours and the temperature varied from +4 to +12C. I found with a set of Smartwool socks and normal cycling shoes I was good for the whole race. Sure it was a bit chilly at times but it wasn’t cold enough to lose any toes! I stayed in the same set of shorts the entire race and didn’t require leggings. Leggings would’ve been nice at times but they also add a lot of weight once they are soaked through and full of mud so I opted to leave them off. Up top I changed jerseys twice thanks to the my support crew. Putting on a dry jersey and then my lightweight 7mesh Oro, rain jacket, in the middle of the rainstorm made a huge difference in keeping my core temperature up. Towards the end of the race I  swapped out the Oro jacket for a slightly heavier 7mesh Revelation jacket. This added a bit more warmth as I settled into more of a diesel pace to finish off the last couple laps once I had a nice lead on 2nd place. I found limiting my stops for clothing changes, and just adding or taking off a jacket was key to keeping the pit stops to a minimum. A skull cap was also key as it adds a lot of warmth with minimal weight and is easy to add or remove.

Other things which are handy is to have two helmets so you can have a quick change out once it’s time to have a helmet light on. It’s also good in case you have a crash and need another bucket to cover your head for the rest of the race. Another good piece of gear would be a lightweight vest with pockets. This would be good to add a bit of extra warmth at night without having to pull on a jacket which can make it difficult to reach into you pockets.

When it’s all said and done you’re never going to be more then 7-8 km away from you pit area and a change of clothes so it’s not like you’re far off in the Himalayas somewhere in which you can’t easily make changes to your wardrobe. As for warmth, I prefer to be a bit cold as it motivates me to ride faster, while if I start to overheat I often tend to slow down. This is a personal preference.

While out training it’s good to experiment with different clothing options so come race day you know what to do to quickly adapt to the constantly changing conditions and what will help you perform your best!

– Cory Wallace