Updated 25 February 2015

Cycle races: Your last-minute strategy

Don't train like crazy in the last few days before a race. Here your last-minute list of do's and don'ts.


Don’t train like crazy in the last few days leading up to the Cape Town Cycle Tour. A total of four hours of easy cycling during the final week, with a last light training session the day before and a light, carbo-loaded breakfast two hours before starting time, is the best thing to do.

Here is a list of last-minute do's and don’ts for cyclists ahead of the Cape Town Cycle Tour:

What you shouldn't do

  • Leave it to the last minute to do anything major on your bike - cycle shops are simply not going to have capacity for anything tricky. If you've trained with it, you're going to have to ride with it.
  • Try and fix the back/knee/ankle problem that had been troubling you - it's too late to make any significant improvement.
  • Train like crazy. Too many extra kilometres and hours will have the opposite effect of what you're hoping for: you may be fitter, but you'll also be depleted on race day.
  • Climb Chapman's Peak for the first time, at speed - if you're going to climb it for the first time this week, do it very slowly - or in a car. In fact, if you haven't climbed it before, rather wait until the day unless you are a very strong cyclist.
  • Eat nothing but carbohydrates between now and the ride.
  • Get drunk the night before the tour.
  • Leave picking up your race number to the last minute - particularly if you live in Cape Town.
  • Buy new equipment/clothing this week and use it on the ride - only ride in tried-and-tested clothes on a tried-and-tested bike.

What you should do in final preparation

  • Ride for about four hours this week – all easy rides, with just a small amount of sprinting.
  • Do your last ride on Saturday - an easy ride (no more than one hour) - using the same kit you will ride with on Sunday.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for the ride - know that you will relax and enjoy it.
  • Check your splits on the C Cape Town Cycle Tour website - it will give you a good idea of where you have to be and when, in order to achieve your target time. Be realistic.
  • Pick your race number up in good time.
  • Try and have an early night on Friday - you will sleep better than you will on Saturday.

The night before: the checklist

  • Make sure you have adequate amounts of your favourite carbohydrate drink - put it in the fridge or the freezer the night before.
  • Decide what you will take to eat on the ride, and pack it into easy-to-access bags.
  • Include suncream sachets
  • Pin your race number on and lay out your cycling clothes for easy access in the early morning.
  • Make sure that your start and finish cards and your transponder are with your clothes.
  • Put your helmet, gloves and sunglasses out at the same time.
  • Check your bike - including pumps, spare tubes and puncture repair kits.
  • Don't go to bed too early - you won't sleep.
  • Make sure you know your starting time and when you need to be in your shute.
  • If you are starting late, make sure you know which roads are going to be closed and when, so that you can get to the start on time.
  • Programme the medical emergency number into your cellphone: 021 434 1199.

On the morning

  • Eat breakfast about two hours before your start. Eat mainly carbohydrates, and keep it light.
  • Apply sunblock just before you leave.
  • Take something to eat and drink while waiting to start - again, carbohydrates in both the food and the drink.
  • Stretch while you wait to start and try to sit down until you have to go into the main starting shute.

On the ride

  • Keep to the left if you are nervous
  • Look in front of you at all times
  • Drink enough water, but don't overhydrate
  • Enjoy the ride!
  • If you need to bail out, move to the side of the road and wait for the sweep vehicle, or stop at any of the official bail-out points. They are the Old Boyes Drive link to Main Road,  Dido Valley Road in Simon's Town, immediately before the Naval Gunnery School, refreshment station #9 at the foot of Red Hill, refreshment station #12 at the foot of Chapman's Peak, and the first traffic circle in Hout Bay.
  • At the finish, don't come to a dead stop. You'll cause a pile-up.





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