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Guide To Multi-day Mountain Bike Stage Racing

If you are looking for a challenge that will test your endurance, skills and mental toughness, a multi-day mountain bike stage race might be just what you need. These events are not for the faint of heart, but they can be incredibly rewarding and fun if you prepare well and follow some tips. Here are some things you should know before you sign up for your next adventure on two wheels.

What is a multi-day mountain bike stage race?

A multi-day mountain bike stage race is a type of cycling event that consists of several stages or segments, usually held on consecutive days. Each stage has a different route, distance and terrain, and the riders must complete them within the cut-off time. The stages can vary from short and technical to long and gruelling. Some of the most famous multi-day mountain bike stage races include the Cape Epic, Cape Pioneer, Go2berg and Wine2Whales in South Africa, the Transalp across Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, the Swiss Epic in Switzerland, the Volcanic Epic in New Zealand, the Cape to Cape in Australia and the BC Bike Race in Canada. 


Why should you do a multi-day mountain bike stage race?

A multi-day mountain bike stage race can be a life-changing experience. Here are some of the benefits of doing one:

  • You explore new places and trails you might not otherwise visit.

  • You challenge yourself physically and mentally.

  • You meet and bond with other riders who share your passion and enthusiasm for cycling.

  • You get to enjoy the camaraderie and support of the race, volunteers and spectators.

  • You create a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you cross the finish line.


How do you prepare for a multi-day mountain bike stage race?

A multi-day mountain bike stage race requires a lot of preparation, both before and during the event. Here are some of the things you should do:

Choose a race that suits your goals, skills and budget. 

Research the race website, read reviews from previous participants, and check out the route maps and profiles.

Tip: If travelling across multiple time zones, factor in travel fatigue and jet lag. Consider arriving at the event location a few days before the event so that you can combat the effects of plane travel.

Train accordingly. 

Depending on your fitness level and the length and difficulty of the race, you should start training at least 6 to 12 months before the event. Incorporate long rides, indoor interval sessions, hill repeats, recovery rides, strength training, nutritional training and cross-training into your routine. Also, do skills rides and practice riding on similar terrain and weather conditions as the race.

Tip: Make sure the event bike fits you, and train exclusively on it, even when training on paved or tarred surfaces. The more you ride the bike, the better the adaptation, ride feel and bike handling skill set.

Maintain your nutrition and hydration needs. 

Eating and drinking well during training is crucial for your performance and recovery. Consume enough calories, carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes and fluids to fuel your body throughout your preparation. 

Prioritize your sleep!

Here is a why -

  • During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, including muscles and tendons.

  • Sleep enhances motor skill memory consolidation. Adequate rest will improve your ability to execute complex movements and techniques.

  • Sleep replenishes glycogen stores.

  • Intense training can temporarily suppress immunity. Sleep boosts your immune system, helping you stay healthy and recover faster from injuries.

  • Sleep regulates hormones like cortisol (stress hormone) and testosterone. Insufficient sleep disrupts hormonal balance, affecting your recovery and performance.

  • Sleep enhances cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. You need sharp sensory function during training and competitions.

  • Proper rest ensures that you have better coordination and reaction time, reducing accident likelihood... fatigue from inadequate sleep increases the risk of injuries.

Tip: 3-4 weeks before the event simulate the event sleep schedule...have similar going to bedtimes and waking up times as the event.


How do you crush a multi-day mountain bike stage race?

If you follow the tips above and prepare well for your multi-day mountain bike stage race, you will have a great chance of crushing it. However, there are more things you should do before and during the event to ensure a successful and enjoyable ride. Here are some of them:

Bike components do not have to be lightweight. Consider something heavier... it is often better because it is more durable.

During a mountain bike stage race, durable equipment is crucial. The event location is often remote and rugged, the terrain can be rocky and challenging, and covering the daily distances can take hours. All of these factors can put a lot of strain on the bike and its components, especially the saddle, seat post, seat post clamp, handlebar and stem... your equipment must be designed to withstand the demands of the terrain.

Durable equipment is less likely to break down, enhances your performance, ensures safety, and provides peace of mind during a mountain bike stage race.

Tip: It is also important to fit suitable tyres for the terrain and surface of the event. Opt for tyres that are grippier and durable over those with low weight and faster rolling resistance. Low weight tyres are often designed with thinner sidewalls and less robust construction. While this reduces weight, it also makes them more susceptible to punctures and damage. In racing scenarios, a flat tire can be disastrous. Opting for slightly heavier, more durable tires can help prevent unexpected mishaps during a race.

Your bike... have it serviced!

If planning to participate in a multi-day mountain bike stage race, you should service or check your bicycle before the event. This will ensure that your bike is in optimal condition and that you can avoid mechanical problems or breakdowns during the race. Servicing or checking your bicycle will also improve your performance, safety and comfort on the trails. You will be able to enjoy the race more and have a better chance of achieving your goals. A well-maintained bike is a happy bike!

Tip: It is essential to pack all the rotational systems, such as a headset, bottom bracket, pivot and hub bearings with marine grease. Regular greases may lose their effectiveness when exposed to water, but marine grease remains stable and continues to protect the metal surfaces... marine grease maintains an oil film around components, preventing water washout during wet weather and when using high pressure bike washers.

Pack smartly and consider the climate. 

Pack some snacks, energy bars, gels and recovery supplements that you like and are easy to digest. List the essentials for each stage, such as clothing, helmet, gloves, shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, tools, spare parts, first aid kit, nutrition, etc. You do not want to carry too much or too little gear during a multi-day mountain bike stage race. Also, consider what you need after each stage, such as recovery clothing, shoes, towels, toiletries, etc. 

Tip: Pack at least 2 or more sets of spare brake pads. These often need replacing after wet stage, and sometimes hard to find at the tech zones.

Pace yourself. 

Do not start too fast or too slow in each stage. Find a comfortable rhythm. Do not try to keep up with riders/teams who are stronger or ride with riders/teams who are slower than you. Ride at your own pace and focus on your own goals.

Eat foods that your gut knows.

During a multi-day stage race, you’ll be pushing your body to its limits, burning significant calories. Consuming familiar foods ensures that you maintain sufficient energy levels. Eating foods your gut is accustomed to also reduces the risk of digestive discomfort during the race.

Tip: Consume a substantial meal of carbs and lean protein at least two to four hours before the stage starts. Over-fuelling is better than under-fuelling, especially for longer endurance races, but avoid eating within 60 minutes of the stage start time. Eat and drink early and often during each stage... carry enough nutrition (liquids and solids) for the stage duration or enough to get you to the first refreshment stop.

Take extra care; your immune system might be slightly compromised. 

Keep a safe distance from others and keep your hands clean. Keeping your hands clean at multi-day sporting events is crucial for your health and safety. You may come into contact with people, surfaces, and objects that could carry germs, bacteria, or viruses. These could cause infections, illnesses, or diseases that affect your performance or well-being. By washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser when soap and water are unavailable, you can reduce the risk of getting sick or spreading germs to others. You can also protect yourself from injuries or infections by covering any cuts or wounds on your hands with bandages or gloves. 

Get a post stage massage to enhance recovery and ease any soreness or stiffness. 

After intense activity or training, sports massage aids in recovery. It encourages the removal of metabolic waste, which accumulates during high-intensity activities. A sports massage promotes circulation and relaxation and supports your body’s natural healing processes.

Tip: After receiving a massage, it is crucial to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated... staying hydrated aids in detoxification, aids muscle repair, and reduces soreness.

Stay off your feet. 

Take some time to relax and unwind after each stage.., by all means, enjoy the post-stage vibes but with limited time on your feet. Do not walk around too much, chill, rest those tired legs... sit instead of standing, and lie down instead of sitting.

Rest well. 

Getting enough sleep and rest is vital for your health and performance during a multi-day mountain bike stage race. Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep during the event, and avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants that interfere with your sleep quality.

Be flexible. 

A multi-day mountain bike stage race can be unpredictable and dynamic. You might have to deal with changes or surprises that are out of your control, such as route alterations, time adjustments, weather variations or other factors. Do not let these things stress you out or ruin your plans. Instead, be adaptable and open-minded. Adjust your strategy, expectations and attitude accordingly. Be prepared for anything and embrace the challenge.

Stay positive. 

A multi-day mountain bike stage race can be mentally challenging and physically demanding. You might encounter difficulties or setbacks, such as bad weather, mechanical problems, crashes or injuries. Do not let these things discourage or frustrate you. Instead, stay optimistic and resilient. Remind yourself why you are doing this and how far you have come. Enjoy the scenery, the atmosphere and the company of other riders. Have fun and smile.

Celebrate your achievements. 

A multi-day mountain bike stage race is a remarkable feat that deserves recognition and appreciation. Do not forget to celebrate your achievements, no matter how big or small. Share your stories, experiences and emotions with others. Take some photos, videos and souvenirs to remember the occasion. Be proud of yourself and what you have accomplished.


A multi-day mountain bike stage race is a unique and rewarding adventure that can enrich your life in many ways. If you follow these tips and prepare well, you will crush it and have a blast. You can use this guide for multi-day road bike stage races such as the Tour of Margaret River in Australia, the Tour Du Cap in South Africa and any of the Haute Route events in Europe. 


That is it. Thank you for reading. I hope you found it to be a useful resource. Questions, comments and high fives! Drop them here.


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