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Ten Tips for First Time Adventure Racers

September 14, 2016
Ten Tips for First Time Adventure Racers

The Act-Belong-Commit Augusta Adventure Fest is home to the biggest adventure race in the world with 3,000 competitors coming from across the globe to take part in the adventure.

The event takes place on Sunday November 6 and consists of; a 13.8km Spirit Inlet and Ocean Paddle, 28.5km Mountain Bike, 1.9km Inlet Swim, 13.4km Coastal Run and a 400m team run to finish. With varied terrain, good competition and a great race atmosphere, all in the wilderness and untouched landscapes in the south west of Western Australia, there couldn't be a better opportunity to try something new.

For those cyclists out there looking to give this event, or any adventure race a go, here are the top ten things you need to know.

1. Technique

Thanks to the duration and aerobic nature of cycling, most riders would have developed a big enough engine to comfortably get through the event from a time point of view. The challenge lies in being able to put that endurance to good use. In order to do that, you need to have good technique in the other disciplines you're not so familiar in. So when you are putting together a training plan in preparation for the event, focus on improving your technique instead of logging lots of miles. Instead of flogging yourself in the pool, on your feet or in the kayak, focus on quality over quantity to get your technique as polished as possible, and let your engine get you through on the day.

Good technique equals efficiency, combine that with good aerobic fitness and you have the ingredients for success.

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2. Get your nutrition right.

You may be used to having nutrition on the bike, but the demands of different activities will require a different nutrition strategy. Obviously it's virtually impossible to consume food during the swim, and unless you are used to it, eating on the run might be problematic too. Plan to take the bulk of your calories in during the bike or kayak portion of the event and make sure you have rehearsed your nutrition strategy prior to the event. At the very least you should try the nutrition you plan to use on the day to make sure it agrees with your stomach.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

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It may be tempting to jump straight into the longer distance, but if it’s your first off the bike adventure and you’re not completely confident with your skills, then swallow your pride and opt for the shorter distance. The Augusta Adventure Race has a long and short course option, both of which provide a challenge. You’ll still get the same sense of adventure and satisfaction from completing the event, and have a lot of fun in the process. It will also give you an understanding of what it takes to come back the following year and complete the long course.

4. Course knowledge

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This one almost takes the cake and will impact your training prior to the event. The courses for 2016 are brand new so even if you have raced any of the previous 10 editions it's worth checking out the new layout.

Look at the course and be aware of what it involves. Speaking from experience, an 11km trail run isn’t the same as an 11km run on tarmac, and requires vastly different skills and fitness. In my first attempt at an adventure race I completed the run section as a team. The run was an 11km trail run which I thought would be no problem as I would regularly run 15-18km on tarmac in addition to racing shorter 5km and 10km events. What I didn’t count on was scaling rocks, running on the sand and negotiating technical trails. My run training on flat straight roads did little when it came to traversing more technical trails I encountered on the day, so be prepared and tailor your training accordingly. Many events will have a list of providers or companies that offer training in the lead up to an event so take advantage of their knowledge. This is especially important for any activity you are lacking confidence in.

As well as knowing what you're in store for, knowing the course is especially important if you plan on doing it as part of a team. Knowing approximately what time your team member will come through or what time you need to meet them is crucial. The last thing you want is to be waiting at the transition area for a team member, only for them to think you're still another hour away.

Here's a sneak peek of what you can expect

5. Equipment

So many things are out of your control on race day, so as well as preparing your body and mind for what might greet you on race day, make sure your equipment is as good as it can be too. Make sure your bike is serviced, your shoes, running clothes, goggles, swim trucks are all up to the task, and your kayak is mechanically sound. In addition to that, make sure you know how to deal with an issue if it arises. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the forest with no idea how to get out or fix your bike. Practise basic maintenance tasks that you may encounter on the day including changing a flat tyre, adjusting bolts and cables and doing minor drivetrain repairs. Here's a helpful guide for preparing your bike for an event.

6. Mountain biking is different to road riding.

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It sounds like an obvious statement but don't think just because you ride a road bike you'll be able to dominant on a mountain bike. Mountain biking requires a different set of skills, and success isn’t solely focused on your power numbers or weight.

As mentioned earlier try to build and improve upon your technique in the lead up to the event. Head to the local trails and practise climbing steep climbs, navigating tight single track and even get used to jumping obstacles. There are many different types of mountain bikes and wheels to choose from so here's a rundown of mountain bikes to help get your head around the different options. If you plan on hiring a bike, look for one that is designed for cross country use.

7. Cross training is GOOD!

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Riding a bike is fun, enjoyable and a great form of exercise that doesn’t have the impact of other activities, but it has its downside too. The hunched over position of riding can lead to back and neck issues, poor posture and reduced flexibility. The non-impact nature of riding also doesn't have the stimulus to promote bone density like strength training and load bearing activities. Therefore the cross training required to complete an adventure race could be great for your body.

Kayaking, running and swimming will all have beneficial effects on your body that would be impossible to get if you only rode your bike. Swimming promotes flexibility, increased lung capacity and full body movement. Kayaking is great for core and upper body strength. Running is a great cardiovascular exercise and provides the load bearing to improve bone density. All of the activities require significant cardiovascular fitness as well, so your aerobic capacity is only going to get bigger and stronger with the cross training.

8. Pacing

For any endurance event pacing is a key to success. Start out too hard and you'll pay for it somewhere down the line, same goes for a specific leg of the race if you go too hard, it will come back to bite you. This is especially applicable for the swim and kayak events which could be heavily influenced by the wind and ocean swell.

A technique which might help is to have an A, B and C time in mind for each leg. The 'A' time is if everything is perfect; the weather, your nutrition, how you feel, this is best case scenario. The 'B' time is a more realistic time based on your training and expected conditions. The 'C' time is if you're unlucky on the day, weather isn't cooperating or just don't feel up to it. These three times will guide you and ensure you don't over cook a leg of the race. For example if you are on track for an 'A' time but you're pushing into a ferocious head wind, it's a sign you're going too hard. If you're going quicker than you're A time then you know you're going far too hard.

9. Make the most of your advantages

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The one leg you should be looking to exploit is the mountain bike leg. Riding fitness is going to be a huge advantage, even if your skills aren’t quite as good as full time mountain bikers. On less technical sections of the course push hard and make the most of your riding fitness.

Another advantage riders can exploit is improved aerobic capacity. Succeeding in these events isn’t about all out speed, it’s more about strength and resilience which bike riders have in spades.

10. Get social

As we mentioned up top, the Act-Belong-Commit Augusta Adventure Fest is the biggest adventure race in the world with over 3,000 competitors and 10,000 spectators across the weekend, so make the most of the festival vibe. If you are taking the family get the kids involved with the Augusta Junior Survivor race which features a fun filled 4km obstacle and adventure run.

The Act-Belong-Commit Augusta Adventure Fest website is full of information to help you make the most of your time in south west Western Australia, and there's a superb Facebook group that’s very active with chat and information updates focused on the event. The Rapid Ascent team encourage spectators to make as much noise as possible as the competitors go by, so head to the expo, grab yourself a cow-bell and show your support.

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BikeExchange is a partner of Rapid Ascent, an events company that runs popular mountain bike and adventure races such as The Redback, Bike Buller MTB Festival and the Giant Odyssey MTB marathon. The Act Belong Commit Adventure Race is a 58km multi-discipline event comprising of ocean paddling, mountain biking, swimming and coastal running which can be completed in teams, pairs or as an individual. There is also 'MINI' and 'Junior Survivor' events to cater for everyone.

The 2016 edition will take place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November and features a new course and event layout. Find out more at the Act-Belong-Commit Augusta Adventure Fest website.

Thanks Rapid Ascent for the great pics

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