March 9, 2007: Cannonball's Race Razors -- Lighten Your Load
On race day, you need every advantage you can get. As an avowed weight weenie, I make sure to lighten my load as much as possible. Less weight equals less energy exerted equals less fatigue equals increased stamina, yadda yadda.
Sure, you could sneak off to the port-a-potties or the bushes and yank out a quick one before start time, that's one way to lighten your load.
Or there's also the greasy, six-pound wet-cement dump, egged on by a particularly granular bran muffin, two cups of McDonald's coffee, and the two and one-half hour drive to the race. That works too.
Another way is to strip your pack down to the bare essentials (if you wear a pack -- many riders use water bottles and their jersey pockets instead).
On the trail, when you can be far, far from any help or supplies, carrying a lot of extra equipment, food, and water is smart. In a race though, you need only what you need to get through the race.
Go through your pack. With cavernous pockets, packs can fill up with a curious and cumbersome collection of crap over time. Shitcan the notebook, the Stephen King novel, the travel bottle of Gold Bond medicated foot powder, and the four-pound multitool that you've never actually used. I carry a spare tube, a pump, and a very small multitool. If I need more than that, my race is effectively over anyway, so why lug around the weight.
Note: I now carry a CO2 inflator and an extra cartridge as well. These things are actually fairly weighty and have not yet been proven completely effective in the field, but I'm still clinging to their theoretical efficacy.
You don't need to fill the entire reservoir. Just because your credit card limit is $10,000 doesn't mean you go around with $10k of debt on your card, right? Riiigght? Right. Similarly, just because your CamelBak has a 120-milliliter bladder doesn't mean you need to fill it with 120 milliliters of water. Most cross-country races are over in about two hours, so you should scale your liquids accordingly. Figure out exactly how much fluid you'll need to complete the mileage/time of the race, then add 10 percent. Or subtract 10 percent. Most races have at least one feed station where you can pick up additional liquids -- take advantage of them.
So lighten up Francis, it can only help.
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