MTB stage racing takes riders back to the roots of the sport. Expect big loops on the best trails in the area and be ready for an epic day on the bike! Self-support skills are mandatory: ability to fix a mechanical on the trail, route finding (courses are flagged, but they often get removed by “wildlife”), inclement weather preparedness, planning hydration/ nutrition strategy for the day, and of course a mindset to embrace the unexpected. Quebec Single Track Experience, like most stage races, will have aid stations along the course. However, racers should not depend on these because mechanicals typically happen at the furthest point from civilization, the cookies may have been stolen by Yogi the Bear, and Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor.
Here is what I’ll carry with me each day of QSE
Osprey Pack My ride pack must be comfortable, adjustable, and big enough to hold all the stuff I need to be self-sufficient for the day
Flat repair kit
Hand Pump. For whatever reason, when I am stage racing, a flat is followed by another. The ease of a CO2 cartridge is out ruled by repeat and reliable use of a hand pump.
Tube. Make sure it’s the right size, but in a pinch a smaller diameter tube will work – but a larger diameter will not.
Hyperthreads duo jacket. With removable sleeves, water resistance, and windout fabric this garment can tackle the weather.
Arms and knees. These are easy to use for warmth, are easily stashed in my pack, and if I forget to put sunscreen on one of my arms (I’ve done this); a hot arm is better than a sunburnt arm.
Fleece Beanie. If you get really cold, keeping your head warm will have the largest return on investment.
Hot Hands. These small single-use heating pads can be put in gloves or socks to keep them warm if I get soaked, cold, and have a big descent in front of me. Numb hands make braking and shifting nearly impossible.
I plan to carry .5 – 1L of water per hour of riding.
I use one scoop of GQ-6 Green Apple Base per hour of riding in my hydration pack. This provides electrolytes and some of the calories I will need.
I carry a water bottle with plain water to wash down gels
King-sized PayDay bar. If my stomach turns or my stoke needs a little fire, this saves the day!
I carry enough nutrition and water for an hour longer than I expect the stage to take me, just in case. Bonking makes a hard day more difficult.
Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are just part of the game. Stage races have excellent volunteers on courses who will help with a serious medical issue, but sometimes there is the in-between injury. Here is my mini first-aid kit:
Big Band-Aid (2)
Steri-strips (8) for a laceration that may need stitches
Ibuprofen (4) to dull a cramping low back
Benadryl (4) to slow the swelling of a bee sting or itching of poison oak (Epi-Pen if you are allergic!)