There is one crucial difference between stage racing and one-day racing: you have to wake up the next day and do it all over again. Oftentimes when waking up after a tough one-day challenge, the last thing I crave is getting back on the bike. Having a lazy day on the couch usually sounds exactly like something my body wants, so I had to do some major adjustments to get ready for the Vuelta Ride – riding every single stage of the Vuelta a Espana on the same day as the professionals just hours earlier. 21 days with only two rest days. Here are 7 things that helped me get out of the bed day after day, prepared for another tough day on the bike.
It is absolutely key to stay in the aerobic zone and burn no matches. That means keeping a comfortable pace and not letting myself go faster, especially when I had super motivated cycling buddies with me who wanted to “help” me by pacing me with an unsustainable speed to the finish line of that particular stage. This means not letting your ego take over. Always think of the bigger goal: of finishing the entire stage race and not just that one stage.
With one stage, the impacts of riding with gears that are too big is not necessarily that crucial, but in stage racing/riding it is a necessity to ride with gears that are comfortable. Over the course of the stage race, legs are getting fatigued and power is declining; thus, it might not be possible to push the same gears with such ease as on day one. With a lot of mountainous stages, I chose a compact gearing with a 32-tooth cassette.
Creativity is required if drinking loads of water doesn’t’t sound appealing. I don’t like sugary drinks, which have a bad effect on my stomach, so I only drank water, but I set myself a reminder to keep drinking. Staying hydrated is very important throughout the stages, especially when it’s hot as it was in the inland of Andalusia with the thermometer climbing up to 48 degrees Celsius.
4. Multivitamin tablets
Although I’m not a big fan of tablets (especially when it’s possible to take it in in natural form), during a stage race it might be very tough to get all the required nutrients. The body is craving for all kinds of minerals and vitamins, so a quality multivitamin will definitely help you meet its demands.
5. Sleep after lunch
This is my best recovery technique. A nap after the post-stage lunch is perfect. I usually felt very grouchy after it, but I could feel how my body accelerated the recovery process.
I avoided deep tissue massages as they don’t work well with me, but light massages worked wonders to get the circulation going.
7. Legs up
I tried to lie down as soon as possible after the stage to put my legs up. Especially after a hot day, my legs tend to accumulate fluid in the ankle area, so putting my legs up felt especially good.
A stage race or ride is a very different experience from a one-day challenge and requires a different mindset and strategies for success. But I love being immersed into a cycling challenge over multiple days or even weeks. If you’re going to take part in a stage ride or race, I hope the tips above will be helpful!