5 tips for a successful Coast to Coast

5 tips for a successful Coast to Coast from gravel racing expert and co-race director Matt Acker

  1. Preparation is key! This doesn’t mean just riding a bunch and getting fit. Spend some time preparing for every facet of the event. Make sure your bike is in good working order, you have the necessary repair items (and know how to use them!), you have good clothing/kit options, you have a support plan, you’ve familiarized yourself with the course, you’ve read the riders guide, you know the rules/instructions, etc… A key piece of advice I heard from another event director long ago was this; Not knowing the rules is no excuse for breaking them. READ THE RIDERS GUIDE! Every year we encounter people breaking rules because they didn’t read them, and the rules are for your safety and to keep things fair. If you’re going to invest the time/energy training and getting your body ready it makes good sense to spend a little time reading through the information, reviewing the course and making sure your support crew is dialed in.
  2. Training for an endurance event involves more than just riding your bike. I learned a long time ago that simply riding 10, 20 or 30 hours a week wasn’t enough to be successful at endurance racing and staying healthy. It wasn’t until I added proper recovery routines, good nutrition to support the training, mental exercises and good sleep hygiene that I really opened up my potential and felt good. Make some time to simply stretch, do some mobility exercises, mix up a recovery shake after hard rides, get a little extra sleep when you can and eat plenty of nutritious food. Splurge a bit and get yourself some active release therapy, a massage or hit the sauna/cold plunge from time to time! You’ll have a much better experience if you take care of your body along the way.
  3. Test your bike and race setup before race day! All too many times I’ve seen people on the side of the road with a flat or broken chain and that 1,000 yard stare as they realize they have no idea what to do. Be sure to practice with your repair kit, know what parts you need to carry and have them handy to use. Your local bike shop will probably be more than happy to help you figure out what to buy/carry and tell you how to use the kit. Sure riding a ton of trainer miles can get you fit, but it’s little to no help when you hit that first sandy section. Be sure to get out and ride in terrain/conditions that you may encounter on race day. Get heat acclimated in case it’s hot on race day. Tinker around with tire pressure and find out what works best for you. Make sure your tubeless sealant isn’t as dry as the Mojave Desert. Try out that new pair of fancy bibs you bought on a long weekend ride before committing to riding 200+ miles in them. This all goes back to BEING PREPARED!
  4. Help your support crew help you. Spend some time talking to whomever you have lined up to do your support. Write down a simple checklist, instruction document or cheat sheet for them to have handy. Take the guesswork out of their day and make it as stress free as possible for them. It helps to have some type of sign, flag, bright clothing or other unique feature to identify them at the checkpoints. Remember that there are hundreds of other crews at each location, and they probably won’t get that front and center parking spot. Give them a tote/cooler for each checkpoint and have it labeled. Have everything organized so you don’t look like the Tazmanian Devil at Big M. If you have an iPhone or other app then share your location with them so they can know how far away you are. Most important thing of all is to BE KIND TO THOSE SUPPORTING YOU!
  5. Once race week arrives just relax and recover! Either the hay is in the barn or the barn is barren. Either way you signed up for this event and it’s almost go time. Stressing out about your fitness, bike choice or anything else that “is what it is” won’t get you anywhere. Just chill out, spend some time reading the rider’s guide so you know what to do and sleep and eat. This gets more important as you get to the day before the race. Assuming you’ve prepared and done what you can just enjoy the process, meet some new people and have some fun. Stress can be one of the biggest hinderances to performance so try and limit that with relaxation techniques, staying busy with fun/mundane tasks and focusing on other people and conversing. You’re in for a beautiful day riding your bike around/across Michigan with a bunch of like-minded people so remember that and focus on dipping that front wheel in Lake Michigan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *