We had a total blast at Quebec Singletrack Experience, a 5 day stage race in Quebec, last week. Peter had an awesome race and ended up second overall, and I (Molly) had a ton of fun doing talks and teaching yoga while also sneaking some runs during + after stages (sometimes with DW along in the jogging stroller since it was hot in the van). We also had SO much fun meeting a bunch of our coaching clients as well as podcast listeners who came out to the race. Cannot recommend this race enough: Despite some serious setbacks with weather, the organizers did everything in their power to make each stage happen, and kept such a good attitude going the entire time. Here, we’re sharing a couple of tips we re-realized during the week.
Stay on site if you want the full experience
If you have a group of friends you want to share a house with, or you really just care about the rides and nothing else, by all means, stay off site. But if you’re hoping for some camaraderie and maybe a new friend or two, definitely take advantage of camping or the group hotel option offered by the race. If you’re staying offsite, you miss the ‘summer camp’ aspect of the stage race!
Start recovering on Day 1
After the first stage and even the second stage, you likely still feel fresh. Don’t be fooled: It’s going to get harder. But the earlier you start focusing on recovery, the easier it will be. Optimize your recovery hydration, nutrition, rest and any body work you need to do (those stretches your PT recommended…) starting on the first day. Don’t wait until you’re sore, starving and exhausted to put recovery as a priority.
Bring enough kit
Hopefully you’ll have laundry access. In our case, we did—but it was only available for a few hours each day and there was often a lineup. Because it’s never a guarantee, we highly recommend bringing enough kit to get you through each stage, even if that means digging out that chamois that doesn’t fit perfectly but still technically functions. Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but it’s nice to have just in case.
Wash everything ASAP
Post-stage, immediately focus on getting your bike and body clean. I say it often, but getting out of your chamois ASAP is a huge priority, especially at stage races where a saddle sore can be devastating. If it was a muddy stage, try to spray yourself, your kit and your bike right away, and get the worst of the mud off. The best time to get rid of mud is while it’s still wet—this applies to your body, your kit and your bike!
Go with the Flow
With stage races especially, the odds of getting through the week perfectly according to the race schedule posted on the website are slim to none. In the case of QSE this year, torrential rains, historic flooding and forest fire smoke led to course shortening and reroutes, as well as time changes. If you’re a rigid racer, this can take some getting used to. Remind yourself over and over to just go with the flow—don’t try to play God by refreshing the weather app on your phone over and over, obsessively thinking about the impending rain. Instead, try to take a bit more of a ‘what will be will be’ approach and focus on controlling what you can control… which isn’t the weather.