Get In Gear

Tips for thriving at Moab, from event founder and 24-hour-race pioneer Laird Knight.

Moab demands that you are in shape. Don't underestimate how much fitness you'll need, says race founder Laird Knight     Photo: Photograph by Michael Darter

Can't Make It to Moab?

Steer your training toward one of these other top 24-hour races: Burn 24 Hour Challenge (NC; May); Life$tyle$ of the Rich and Famou$ (Ontario; May); Big Bear (WV; June); Summer Solstice (Ontario; June); 24 Hours of Light (Yukon; June); Hardcore 24 (NY; July); Canmore (Alberta; July); 24 Hours in the Sage (CO; August); Salsa Two-Four (MN; August); Hurkey Creek (CA; September); Seven Springs (PA; September); Seven Oaks (IA; September); Old Pueblo (AZ; February).

1. MAN UP
Five-person teams are a lot more relaxed, which is great for your first time. It's challenging but not brutal. You've got a little more time between your laps to eat, rest—even shower or get a rubdown. And trust me: Your third and fourth laps, which you're very likely to get in if your team is at all fast, are still going to be hard.

2. GET ON THE SAME PAGE
This is one of the biggest issues that comes up. And it's understandable. If you're there just to have a good time, but your buddies have been training all summer to be competitive, you're not going to be very popular. Make sure everyone's expectations are in alignment.

3. THICKEN YOUR LEGS
Moab demands that you be in shape. Many 24-hour-race courses are just eight or nine miles. This one is 15 miles with plenty of climbing and slow grinding. Don't underestimate how much fitness you need.

4. SHARPEN YOUR SKILLS
You'll also need confidence in your riding. The course has some gnarly technical sections and deep sand pits (lean back, keep motoring, steer lightly). You'll make up a lot of time if you can take the drops—get comfortable with those (practice landing on front and back tires at the same time). Most important: Know what terrain you can—and can't—ride.

5. LIGHT 'ER UP
In terms of speed, nighttime riding with good lights isn't that different from daytime riding. Do some shakedown cruises long before the race to become familiar with your lights—how to mount them, how to route the cables, and how long your batteries will last. And go with a two-light setup if at all possible—one on the bars and one on your helmet.

6. GET A CREW
This might be the most important advice when it comes to having a good time and being competitive. Sure, you can pull it off with no support, but why suffer needlessly? Bring a team manager to pay attention to your big-picture needs: waking you up, taking you to the log tent for your next lap, keeping your bike running. Having two is even better, so they can get some sleep. And, remember, these people are also your teammates. Feed them, buy them beers, give them team jerseys to wear.

7. KICK BACK
It's so easy, especially early in the race, to come back from your laps and get caught up in the excitement of the day. It's the middle of the afternoon, the tunes are jamming. And then, suddenly, "Hey, it's your lap." Ignore the distractions and go lie down. Come four in the morning, you'll be glad you did.

8. PLAN ON FLATTING
On every lap, make sure you're carrying what you need to fix two flats, just in case. Also, learn how to repair a broken chain. It doesn't happen often, but carrying a chain tool and an extra link means you won't have to walk back to camp.

9. SPLURGE ON THE RV
The hot ticket is the motor home. No question. More often than not, the winds kick up or it's close to freezing at night. Even a small RV as your base, with people sleeping in tents around it, is worth the expense.

10. SCOUT IT OUT
Get there at least a day or two early so you can pre-ride the course in a relaxed way. Learn where to go fast, where to conserve energy, where to be prepared. Honestly, though, you're going to Moab. There are so many other spectacular trails around there besides the racecourse.

11. WATCH THE STANDINGS
Even if you're in 64th place, 63rd is just a couple minutes ahead of you, and 65th is just a minute behind. No matter where you are in the standings, you've got a race.

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