The Prestige: not an event to be toyed with, or confused with the Catalina Wine Mixer. The Prestige is an battle of endurance, of teamwork, of dropping personal pride…of realizing that you may not come out victorious this time, matter of fact – you may not even finish.
This was my sixth Rapha endurance event, and in the land of crazy off the rocker endurance bike rides that basically makes me well seasoned. ha! Every event starts the same way - loading up with Pedilyte, over stuffing my stomach on pasta - counting tubes, CO2 cartridges, nail painting, food prepping, and sleep. Prestige days always start absurdly early - and the temperature can make you second guess your apparel choice of the day - light weight jersey? Arm Warmers? Wind Jacket? Vest? Sunscreen? The idea of having to strip down out of my comfy sweats into my kit takes me back to the days of ski racing and early morning -30 degree training. I always spend the first 30-40 miles cussing and wondering why the hell I decided to do something this crazy. 110+ miles and 10K+ of climbing all self supplied, on desolate roads is not something that people commonly list under "For a Good Time...". Then, we hit 50m and my attitude has changed - my legs are loose - I realize that I put myself in this situation and at the end of the day I am going to be extremely pleased with my performance. I mean, what did you do this weekend?
Prepping for a Prestige is most important - from gathering your team of 4 riders and picking out your team jersey to counting and dividing the supplies that need to be carried for a 9-hour day on the bike.
|Rapha Men's Pro Team Jersey|
Apparel has become one of the team highlights of participating in these events. Having everyone match, and representing Rapha is huge. Tip to the Babes: Ditch the idea of wearing a women's jersey and go for a Men's jersey because they have adequate pockets for carrying the copious amount of tubes and rice cakes that you will need for the day. Rapha's Pro Team Jersey tends to be a 'go-to' - it comes in fun colors and is lightweight for the ungodly hot days. Oh, and when you are searching through the photos on the display page you get to peer at Peter Kennaugh. And the socks...you cannot forget about the perfect matching socks! The Athletic Community has you covered.
Part of our pre-race ritual for the last handful of these events, and meet ups have been to get fancy with nail polish. We try to collectively pick colors that will go hand-in-hand with the kit we are wearing or the pattern that Rapha is leveraging for the event. Trick to having our nails stay b-e-a-utiful throughout changing flats and mechanicals? Seche Vite it is literally the best, hard as rocks, shiney top coat you can possibly wear. Spend the $8, it is worth it....
Of course supplies differ for everyone - some people end up carrying entire extra tires, other tape tubes to the bike just so they have enough - pockets always tend to be exploding with Skratch Labs Rice Cakes or lately Cookies. Tires and bike type are always a big debacle leading up to take off - I have found that riding Conti Four-Seasons in either a 25mm or a 28mm are perfect. 2-3 tubes tend to be the best bet. I always have an extra chain link, and a valve extender - you won't believe how many times these have come in handy along with having a small tube of chain lube too. Tip for the Babes: Carry extra single-use chamois cream packets - you can thank me later for this advice. And, to answer all those looming questions about which bike is the right one to ride - well, I don't own a CX bike so really I only have one option and that is to ride my team bike (which is a Trek Slique with Zipp 303s) and it ALWAYS has been a good choice. So, when it comes to the bike...go with your first instinct. Oh, and if you burn easily...make sure you carry sunscreen!
|Sing-A-Long tunes for your long day|
During the LA Prestige in May, our teammate Julie decided on one of the climbs that we need to jam to some music while climbing up a deserted mountainside. This immediately changed our team demeanor and we all got excited - gitty - and relaxed because we were able to breath. Tip to the Babes: When I used to ride horses my instructor would always say "Sing! It helps you breath when you are tense" - from that day forward, I sign.
Just be sure to keep your phone on airplane mode the entire ride and you should have tunes the entire time! I like using Spotify to make riding lists - however, make sure you have the songs "available offline" prior to leaving for the race because you never know what the cell reception will be and you might only access to 13 songs for 9 hours....this happened yesterday. ALSO, knock it off with the headphones seriously - it is dangerous!
Clearly you want to avoid any sight of potentially bonking on these rides - in order to do that what you have to do is pretty damn simple: eat and stay hydrated. Like I mentioned above - it is never a bad thing if your pockets are exploding with real food. Think about what you will want to consume 70 miles into something like this - 7 GU packs later you are probably going to want something slightly less sugary, and that you can chew on. Skratch Labs rice cakes are great - and so are the cookies. I like using Skratch real foods because you can freestyle with the ingredients - for example our cookies for this race had almond butter, bacon and dark chocolate chips. I know, weird combination but it sure does fill those out of this world cravings you get while on the bike. The night before don't be afraid to carb up - pasta is your friend, a glass or two of wine is okay too. Tip to the Babes: I drink a pedilyte the night before I go to bed and then I drink one before we start the ride in the morning. It may sound silly, but, it helps me (probably more mentally than anything). I never drink soda, but, on these rides I do - the coldness, carbonation and sugar really help. I am a fan of carrying chicken jerky and starbursts too. Making sure you stay hydrated is really the key - Whenever there is a chance to get more water, do it! Even if your bottles are currently full - CHUG THEM and REFILL!
|2014 Boulder RGR Team|
Having a good team is vital. Being a Rapha Ambassador I am lucky because there is a pool of talented women all looking to put together a team for these crazy endurance events. I am even luckier because all the girls that I have had the opportunity to partner with get a long really well. At the end of the day, it is all about communication. Essentially having someone to make the calls on directions, food stops, hydration reminders, etc is important.
Rapha Prestiges are hard. If you are up for a challenge, you sure have found one.