A lot of training and preparation goes into MTB racing…

The last thing you want to do is make costly mistakes on the actual day of your event.

With all the stress that comes with a race, it’s easy to let good habits slip or forget something important.

Here are 5 things that you can do to make race day run smoother and ultimately give you the best chance of success.


Like many things in sports and performance, hydration can sometimes be over-complicated.

All you want to do is make sure you’re keeping your body topped up with fluid before you race, so that you’re hydrated to just the right amount when it’s time to compete.

This simply involves being disciplined enough to sip water on a regular basis from when you wake up until the start of your race.

If you’re particularly bad at drinking enough, set up some kind of alert or alarm on your phone to remind you.

Remember, you only need to take a few sips at a time, so it’s not too difficult as long as you’re consistent with it.


If you can, always use a torque wrench to make sure everything is tight on your MTB racing bike.

This will help you to avoid any stupid mechanicals that could ruin your race, yet be completely avoidable with due diligence.

Areas to focus on particularly include stem bolts on both the steerer tube and the handlebar, your brake and shifter bolts, your seat post clamp and derailleurs.

Racing pushes your equipment to greater levels than regular riding. That means any bolts that aren’t tightened might not feel loose initially, but may to loosen when racing.


This is quite an important one, and something which should be treated as a priority.

Always eat your main pre-race meal at least 3 hours before your start time.

Leaving major eating later than this will drop your blood sugar like a stone when it’s time to race. This will leave you feeling tired and sluggish right when you need to be alert and firing on all cylinders.

Get most of your eating done 3-4 hours before your race.

Then, take a gel or similar within 10 minutes to go. This will kick in just after you start your race, but still allow for some extra carbohydrates to enter the system.


Laying out your tasks in a timeline is perhaps the best organisational strategy for XC racers.

You want to know when to start getting changed into your race kit, to start your warm-up and when gridding begins.

To come up with this schedule, work backwards from your race start time, and allocate a lenient amount of time for your key tasks.

Using a whiteboard to display your timeline and putting it somewhere visible is a good way to go.

If you have a helper, make sure they’re aware of the timeline and let them prompt you when it’s time to start a task.


Mental toughness plays a massive role in MTB racing success, and many racers ‘choke’ when it comes time to perform.

Try to get yourself into a very positive mindset and be confident in your ability. It’s really easy to be intimidated and feel really under pressure.

Nerves are all part of a good performance, but keep them in check by reminding yourself of past training successes.

For my best MTB advice, check out this post on 20 Mountain Bike Training Tips.

Try not to be distracted by your competition. Everyone has their own way of dealing with pre-race nerves. Staying confident and focused will be a great stepping stone to a good race.


Do you have any tips on how to succeed on race day? Please drop them in the comments below this post!