How to prepare for an MTB ultra race

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The Absa Cape Epic is regarded as the toughest MTB stage race in the world. It attracts elite MTB professionals and sits at the top of the list for many amateurs. And for those enthusiasts, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience – entry is by lottery thanks to its popularity – so it’s vital to get it right. Here are some tips to ensure that you get that finisher’s medal.

Find the right team-mate

The race is contested by two-person teams. Because the rules require you to stay within two minutes of each other, ideally the two of you need to be of a similar ability and level of fitness. Patience and good communication are also key.

Do back-to-back training sessions

Continually riding day after day is hard and you’re likely to find your arse is sore when you get back on your bike each morning. So try and fit in some back-to-back training rides to prepare for this.

Know your kit 

Make sure you have the right kit and it works. You need a full-suspension bike with 29in (76cm) wheels, tubeless tyres with sidewall protection, a spare chain and lots of brake pads. There is a high probability that something will go wrong with all that distance to cover so ensure you know how to repair or change a tubeless tire and fix a snapped chain.

Read Tobias Mews's account of racing in the Cape Epic in Men's Fitness August 2012. You'll find lots more advice on how to prepare for fitness events in the magazine - subscribe now and we'll give you five issues for £5.