With just under a week to go until the sold out field of eight hundred riders take on Red Bull Timelaps, longest one-day cycling race in the world. Team Katusha–Alpecin rider and five-time national champion Alex Dowsett last week confirmed his participation in the race.
The time trial specialist and former hour record holder is very much suited to this race’s unique format and will look to dominate the course during ‘Power Hour’ by accumulating as many laps of the course as possible.
Given his expertise having ridden on the world tour for almost a decade, Dowsett has given his top tips for riders tackling a grueling endurance event.
Don’t be intimidated
You’ve got as much right to be in that pack as anybody else so don’t be bullied around. If you knock handlebars or something, don’t freeze, just relax into it.
If you are one of the less experienced riders and someone starts coming near you, practice giving them a touch on the hip just to let them know that you are there. Provided they are decent people they will make sure there is space for you.
Nutrition preparation is key
I think the best thing you can do is get it all done beforehand. If you’re doing a one-hour stint then two gels perhaps during the ride would be sufficient and an energy drink. If you’re looking at more like doing two hour stints, then a little bit more focused on what you’re taking on board, but I think our team are going to be looking at one hour or hour and a half sections so that’s going to be a higher intensity which will require probably less solid foods intake. It should mostly be energy via gels and drink rather than bars.
For me, trying to get a bit of sleep will be key, especially if you want to be in it at the end. The difficult thing is recovering between the first two or three legs, it’s going to be the most difficult to get the recovery in due to the time of day and the adrenalin. If you manage it, it will pay dividends in the last two or three stints and if you don’t manage it, that’s where you’re really going to start buckling in the few hours because you really carry that fatigue.
I will be trying to get my head down for even just an hour because in between the first stint it’s going to be an hour on. It will be early afternoon and then on again at three or four o’clock, if I can sneak an hour sleep in there, that would be good, but it will be difficult because it’s three o’clock in the afternoon and only the Spanish sleep then.
Any training will tire myself out ahead of it so the main thing will be for me to recover from my last races and the season just gone. Recovering from the jet lag and keep myself ticking over (so definitely not stopping completely) will be key for me. Red Bull Timelaps is a completely different kettle of fish because you’re looking at with a team of four, one hour on, three hours off. I think it’s going to be more about managing the three hours off than it is the one hour on, especially in the latter parts of the 25 hours.
Don’t battle through fatigue, plan ahead
In terms of countering the mental and physical fatigue, don’t expect to wing it when you get there because it’s a long way, it’s a long time as well. You want to enjoy it. Of course, it is a competitive event, but it’s also a fun event and if you are on your hands and knees at six o’clock in the morning still with six hours to go, you’re really not going to enjoy it. Whereas I think if you’ve got the first six hours right, you will get the last six hours right.
I think everyone will sleep in the night anyway so just make sure you pack stuff to make sleep comfortable. Take familiar stuff like your pillow from home to help things.
Red Bull Timelaps takes place on 27-28 October at Great Windsor Park, for more information and tips please visit https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/