Bike position: Bike fit is critical. You're going to hurt. However, you'll hurt a lot less if your bike fits properly. You may want to consider a higher bar/stem position (positive angle stem) than normal as it will relieve some strain on the neck/back (especially if solo). Seat choice is also important. Make sure you do a few epic rides (five + hours) to validate your position.
Long rides: Nothing prepares you to go long like going long. Get very use to it. This goes way beyond just the mental conditioning. Extended riding will help you determine what kind of foods work well for you, what digests and what your body craves. You can also accustom yourself to hydrating over many hours.
Plenty of Chamois cream, Vaseline, Desitin. You will chaff in places you didn't know existed. It's better to find this out on an epic than to experience it on race day. Heavy application of lubricants is highly recommended.
Don't forget your feet, to include shoe choice. You may experience some foot swelling (especially with a lot of hike and bike), so think about sizing. Bring extra Socks as well as pre-taping any problem areas or hot spots. Do some walking in your cycling shoes - make sure they're comfortable. Bring along an extra pair if you have them. Also include checking your cleats on your pre-race mech inspection. Loose or lost cleats suck.
Pack a race box with tools. Go tubeless if possible and bring tubes, xtra tubless sealant, brake shoes, derailleur and brake wires, spokes, a spare chain, an extra tire, a fork pump, extra bolts, bike stand, a spare rear derailleur is nice if you have it (even if it's an old one - long as it's compatible). Most races have some mech/bike shop support, but it will cost you time and $$$ for the parts.
Clothing choice: Comfort. Try it first. Make sure the shorts fit and don't chaff. Bring extra shorts. Think about weather extremes (hot and cold). Leg and arm warmers, long and short sleeve jerseys, jackets, vests, ear warmer / hat, gloves.
Get used to riding at night. Ride technical trails at night. Become very familiar with your lights. Train with the lights you will use. Cycle your batteries. Make sure you will have battery support at the race for the type of lights you have or buy an extra. Use a bar mounted light and helmet light in case one fails.
Suffering is inevitable, but as long as you keep a good attitude and try to make it fun, you'll suffer a lot less.
Final thought - start slow - it's going to be a long day!
|Early morning at the hotel|