By Peter Ebro, GripGrab
A race setup for a mountain bike race in hot and dry conditions can seem pretty straightforward compared to a setup for cold and wet conditions. But with the right gear, you can gain small advantages that will help you come out on top when the race ends — both in terms of comfort and competition. In this guide, you’ll have an overview of my setup for the Danish mountain bike relay race H12 in May 2018.
H12 is a 12-hour relay race in teams of four people. Each lap is 12.5 km and very fast. We chose to swap riders for each lap, so I was only on the trails for around 33 minutes a time.
My choice of clothing is made from these considerations:
I wore the GripGrab Race Wear consisting of the Race Bibs and the Race Jersey for the whole day. The material is thin and breathable, and I could use the jersey with a sleeveless mesh base layer underneath without overheating or getting cold from my own sweat. By 8:00 p.m., when I headed out on my last lap, the temperature had dropped to around 15 degrees; I chose to wear a thicker short-sleeved base layer underneath my jersey.
The Race Jersey is tightly fitted with elastic sleeves with so-called “fullgrip” silicone bands that keep them in place at all times. The back pockets are very flexible, so you can bring a gilet and your other essentials, but still tight enough to keep my very few essentials (a spare tube, a CO2 pump, tire levers, and a mobile phone [in case of emergency] in place, even when riding over the technical passages with exposed roots.
For me, the most important part of a bib tight is the padding. It’s the key to a comfortable ride, especially on longer rides where you're spending a lot of time in the saddle. The second most important part is the fitting on my thighs. I like it with a silicone completion so it will stay in place. The GripGrab Race Bibs offers me exactly those two things — and does it brilliantly!
When riding a mountain bike I prefer gloves without any padding so I’ll have the most undisturbed grip on the handlebars. I brought with me both the GripGrab Racing Glove and the Vertical Glove, which both feature the InsideGrip technology — it offers a perfect and secure grip on the handlebars, even when your hands get sweaty. Read more about the InsideGrip technology here …
I prefer the Racing Glove because it is so very thin and well fitted, but brought the Vertical for the evening laps with lower temperatures. I never swapped but stayed with the Racing Glove for the whole day.
Photo: Jesper Halvorsen / Action Photo Crew
I typically get chilly feet easily, even when conditions are reasonably mild. But for racing I like to wear thin socks, so for Scott H12 I wore the Lightweight SL for most of the laps. For the last evening lap, I put on the Racing Stripe Sock, which is slightly thicker.
I actually also brought with me a pair of Windproof Socks and RaceAqua X Shoe Covers in case of bad weather. But they both stayed in the bag for the whole day — I was all good with the thin summer socks.
On the last evening lap, I put on a pair of warmers because of the dropping temperature. I chose the very thin Arm Warmers Light, which gives you just a little bit of warmth and minimizes the wind chill effect on your arms. I felt good out there — not too cold or too warm.
Photo: Michael Jensen / Action Photo Crew
It's important to differentiate between race comfort and training comfort because of two factors.
In a race, you are willing to compromise your level of comfort to be even the smallest bit lighter, more aerodynamic, or more able to grip the handlebars.
In a race, you are also making a bigger effort and you’re therefore producing more heat than in a training situation, which means you don’t need to dress as warmly. (This will also apply in an interval session, but not in the warm-up and cool-down periods.)
In this post, my gear was for race comfort.
Now, after the race, I wouldn’t change anything in my setup. I think it worked out perfectly for the conditions we faced. I had a great time on the trails!
Read more blog posts about mountain-bike-related topics:
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