Are you participating in your first 947 Ride Joburg? Or wanting to improve your previous time?

Here are some handy tips to help you get through the “Johannesburg World champs”.

  1. Look for a group along the route that is at a similar level

    Seeding at this event is quite a hefty process, a big percentage of people do not participate in lead up events which causes their seeding to drop down the rankings. If you have entered this years event, try and do some of the bigger cycling events building up to the 947 Ride Joburg, this will help increase your chances of being seeded correctly in a group similar to your personal strength capacity. Typically, you are as fast as the group you are in (With exceptions), but the theory is that if you are in an earlier batch, you can work together along with the other riders in your group to jointly get a faster time and allow a more efficient race day strategy (Please practice group riding and echelons in training rides before initiating in an event environment. The more slipstream you can get, the more you can recovery at a higher speed (Dont just be a wheel sucker!!!!)
  2. Get your nutrition in order

    Nutrition can make make or break your race performance. Thus the need to optimize it to the max. As a standard, you should do the event with at least 2x 750ml bottles on your bike. The weather conditions are always very hot (The odd rain), which means that you have to stay hydrated to avoid cramps as well as replacing the electrolytes used and feeding the body sufficient carbohydrate. I do not recommend using water only, try and invest in a good Carbohydrate endurance drink, there are plenty of brands out there – ask your local bike store for advice on this. Once you have your race drink covered, look at some food options as well. Most people look at energy bars, but this isnt always the best option. Use what is easiest to eat and break down while chewing, you dont want to fight your food. My reccomendations would be to go as natural as possible, there are lots of fruit type of energy bars with cranberrys, dates, apricots etc. But dont be afraid of the good old African energy bar (Banana). Frequency of nutrition supply is vital, a general rule would be to take a sip of your drink – every 20 minutes, and a bute of food every 30 minutes. *IMPORTANT* – make sure you try and test your nutrition on a couple of training rides before the event to avoid any stomach problems and body rejection!!!

  3. Manage your effort

    Effort management is all about being as consistent as possible from start to finish as possible. The trick here would be to set a realistic goal time for the race in accordance to previous races and training rides (factor in the elevation gain of the rides, the more climbing – the slower the speed). Once a goal time is set, usually in your race pack there would be a guideline of times to certain landmarks or points, this is a handy tool if you do not have a speedometer or GPS device. A common mistake cyclists make when training and racing, is that they will go super hard on a climb – then get to the top in oxygen depth and use the downhill after to freewheel and recover. WRONG!!!! The way to be most efficient and manage the effort is by pushing the same amount of power out on the uphill as you do on the downhill. Basically doing this, you will feel like you are going too slow on the uphill where people will ride past you burning their matches. However once you hit the top of the hill and it is time for a flat or descent, you need to put the same amount of energy out as you did on the uphill, this will help you save energy, and more importantly GAIN TIME!! You will overtake the riders that passed you on the climb, but next time they wont catch you as they have gone into oxygen depth and need to recover. In more advanced terms: if you own a power meter on your bike, rather hold for example, 200 watts on the uphill and 200 watts on the flat and downhill than pushing out 300 watts on the uphill and 100 watts on the downhill. PEDAL ON THE DOWNHILLS (generally only start freewheeling from 60km/h or more)

  4. Cadence/Leg Speed

    Your leg speed is very important, having the wrong leg speed can cause cramps and muscle seizures. No coach can ever tell you what the best cadence is, but they can give you guideline. Basically you want to stick between the parameters of 80-100rpm (I would highly recommend investing in a device that displays cadence, you can also practice this on a Wattbike at your local gym or studio). The whole theory behind cadence is that, the HIGHER your cadence, the less strain on your legs BUT your heart rate at that specific power effort will be higher. Then, the LOWER your cadence, the more strain on your legs BUT your heart rate will be lower at that specific power output. Going below 80rpm becomes junk and an over scale of leg strain, then going over 100rpm becomes inefficient (unless you have been training over 100rpm for a sustained period of time before the event). Personally i would recommend scaling more to the 100rpm side as your legs are more fresh for the later stages of the race, and your heart rate will definitely be able to recover better than your legs would at a lower rpm. I do advise trying different cadence numbers before the event in your training rides to find the perfect balance for you personally.
  5. Ride your bike the day before

This point is one of the most overlooked. A good majority of cyclists do not ride their bikes the day before an event because they get the impression that they will be “tired” the next day. THAT IS NONSENSE !!!! The reason why you should always do a pre-race ride is because it acts as an activation ride, where it wakes up your body and lets it know that “HEY, ITS NOT TIME TO RECOVER”. This is important because it will act as a leg loosener which will make you feel fresh the next day on the event, as well as help avoid tightening or cramping up of muscles at the start of the race as well as on the tougher sections. Another very good reason to do a pre race ride is so that you can do the last minute bike test to make sure all your equipment is in order and there will be no equipment surprises come race day. My recommendation for a pre-race ride would be to do a 30 minute suburb ride, very easy. spin your legs at a high cadence – then do 3×10 second sprints with a 5 minute recovery in between. This will wake up your legs and at as the perfect activation without fatiguing you.

You should now be all set for your best 947 Ride Joburg Experience yet!

This post was brought to you by Fabian Valsecchi, for Fabian’s Bicycle Transport. For all your road, Mountain bike, and triathlon bike transport needs to events – log onto www.bicycle-transport.co.za or contact 0829298693 and Email fabian@bicycle-transport.co.za