The biggest newbie mistake is letting yourself be seduced into speeding along with faster riders early in the day, only to crack 60 miles in. Fall in with riders who pedal your pace and avoid going into the red (feeling breathless) for the first 50 miles. You'll finish fresh and strong.
Avoid aches and pains in your neck and back by changing your hand position often and standing out of the saddle to stretch periodically.
Take advantage of rest stops to use the bathroom, refill bottles, stretch and grab some food. But don't linger. A stop that lasts more than 10 to 15 minutes will cause your legs to stiffen up and make it harder to get going again.
Eat a carbohydrate-dense meal three to four hours before your start. If your start is early and this is not an option, then you should consume liquid carbohydrates (namely, energy drinks), plus energy bars, semi-solid fruits like bananas, or honey. This will top off your glycogen energy stores.
Carb-loading starts two days before the race. Rest during these two days allows your muscles to build up plenty of glycogen stores when you consume the proper amount of carbs. When you carb-load, you should eat about 10 grams of carbs per kg of body weight daily in the two days leading up to race day. You won’t need as much protein as usual because you won’t be breaking down those muscles. Don’t go an eat a massive bowl of pasta the night before a race and expect a miracle to happen. This will probably just upset your stomach and shock your body.
Here’s what you should always check on your bike before a race:
1. Lube chain, check tire pressure
2. Make sure bike is shifting properly
3. Double check that all bolts are tight
4. Test your suspension for proper air pressure and that it is functioning
5. Clean the essential parts—a clean drive train works better than a greasy, dirty drive train!
Estimate how much time the ride will take and imagine yourself riding, having fun, and finishing.
If things get tough, tell yourself you will be ok, that you will finish, and that you will come around. The mind is a powerful tool and chances are if you believe in yourself, then it will happen. Think back to the longer rides you have done, or other difficult bike rides. This will help you remember that you got through it.