You've got big plans for a multi-day race or a trip to Moab for a week with your buddies. Dr. Jeff Doran, our physician ripper, turned us on to how to prepare for these kinds of epic rides.
Get fit to tackle challenges bigger than you normally get. Ronan Dugan photo
Come to the ride in solid condition. Create a training plan a few months out, put in the strength and conditioning work and make sure you are up to speed with nutrition and sleep. Up your calorie and protein intake during the intense training for those months. Adequate protein and sleep can prevent deficiencies in immune function which often spring up during intense training loads.
#2 Get it fixed
My knee hurts just looking at this. Ronan Dugan photo
Any niggling injuries present before the ride will certainly be exposed as the days- or week-long event goes on, so be sure to address them as best as possible before traveling.
Whilst events have experienced medical teams, they cannot provide treatment for chronic problems so make sure these are addressed by an appropriate professional. This includes things like dental treatments, planters warts, an ear infection - problems here could really ruin your week.
Whilst on event: fuel your body properly for the increased demands you'll be placing on it. The periods of intense activity (like interval training), long climbs and big days in the saddle. All these things have different metabolic requirements. Understand how you need to fuel yourself to survive the week. Plan both on-bike and recovery calories - and travel with as much of it as you are able.
Turn the light off, people are trying to sleep. Ronan Dugan photo
Not only will adequate sleep improve your mood and your ability to tolerate psychological hurdles, it will improve your race performance and reduce the chance of you getting sick during the week. Sleeping in a tent has its own challenges, especially if it is wet. The altitude of the campsites can affect sleep and recovery, and if it gets cold at night, prepare for this. Bring a few sets of foam earplugs.
A little course knowledge can go a long way. Ronan Dugan photo.
The key to enjoying a hard week (including getting a good result) is to actually make it to the end. Most people can't race an event or hammer for a week at 100% of their maximum pace and hope to survive.
Just get by. Rip Beyman photo
Injuries to body and bike are common and as the saying goes, you have to be in it to win it. Consistency is key, a few seconds here and there, or a longer break, over a week is nothing if it means you pick the correct line. Walk a section to make sure you are fit to ride another day!
#6 Lastly, have fun...
Mountain bikers hold a special place on the evolutionary timeline. Mick Kirkman photo
Try to relish the experience. Smile, make friends, be friendly to fellow riders. Very few people actually have any kind of career benefit from doing well in this sport - so most would be wise to soak up the experience, be grateful for having the chance to take part and try savor the memories so that we have something to keep us going when we get back to our 'normal' lives!