How to Crush (and not be crushed by) a 12 hour MTB Race

So, you’ve signed up for your first 12 hour mountain bike race. Maybe you were inspired by the NOBL crew at the 12 Hours of Glenridge or 12 Hours of Cumberland races from years past, or maybe you’re just a sucker for punishment. Whatever the reason, we’ve learned that preparation is the key to success and fun on any course, especially ones that involve 12 hour slogs in the saddle!

We’ve compiled a list of top tips & tricks from the NOBL crew about how to fuel up, gear up, and make it through a 12hr MTB race with a smile on your face (most of the time).

Fuel and Hydration

These come first because they are utterly crucial. This is not the time to rely on a granola bar and a couple of sips of water. Your body should be a well-oiled machine; it needs serious energy and hydration!

1. Carb-Load like its your job

The day before the race, treat yourself to a pasta feast. Don’t be stingy with portions; your body needs glycogen, and lots of it.

2. Hydration is more than just H2o

Your regular afternoon coffee and a few sips of water won’t do this time. Start hydrating in earnest 48 hours before the race. During the race, make sure you drink regularly and supplement your H2O with electrolytes or endurance fuel mixed into your bottles. Remember, if you wait until you’re actually thirsty to start drinking, dehydration has already set in.

3. Mix it Up!

Cravings can fluctuate during long efforts, so make sure to bring a ton of snacks to cover all of your bases and keep you fueled up when you don’t want to chew. Nutritional gels, bars, bananas, PB&J’s, pop tarts, pickles, you name it. Get creative, they all have their place. It’s always better to over-pack than to run out of varied fuel halfway through the race. If you’re not careful, you’ll be dreading that tenth mouthful of gummy bears.

Choosing the right wheel set-up

Wheel choice is critical for marathon races. We’d go with lightweight wheels that are built to perform and run fast-rolling and dependable tires.

1. Top NOBL Wheelset choices

Our TR32 and TR35 rims are built for the demands of stage racing and long-distance XC rides. Paired with any of the hubs in our lineup, they are light, responsive and comfortable enough to ride until the sun sets on race day.

2. Tread Carefully

Choose a tire model with a good balance of low rolling resistance and grip that gives you confidence without slowing you down too much. We like Vittoria Mezcals and Maxxis Aspens for packed courses and Maxxis Forekasters for loose or wet tracks.

Bike Maintenance

1. The big once-Over

Take the time to give your bike a thorough once-over a week before the race. You’ll thank yourself when you notice your dropper post was primed to fail in the first fifteen minutes. Check the brakes, gears, chain, and tires. Any of these components looking worn or tired? Replace them.

2. Pack your mini-workshop

Bring a small toolkit with essentials for on-the-bike emergencies: spare tubes, mini pump, multi-tool, chain break etc. It’s better to make a quick pit stop on course rather than having to hike out. Trust us, we know from experience.

Weather : expect the unexpected

It’s all fun and games until that rainstorm rolls in.

1. Layer up, Buttercup

Dress in layers that you can easily peel off or add on as the temperature changes and the day progresses.

2. Sun Protection

Even if it’s cloudy, UV rays can sneak up on you. Apply sunscreen liberally, consider sunglasses and seek out shade where you can.

The Secret Sauce : Having Fun!

A 12-hour mountain bike race is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. The key is to keep your spirits high and have a blast.

1. music = motivation

Bring a portable speaker and blast your favourite tunes at your pit stops. At 10hrs in, you won’t be worried about the rest of the pit judging your Mariah Carey pump-up mix. “Without You” is our go-to jam. The drama really brings out that energy late in the day.

2. Buddy up

If you’re racing solo, find a buddy to share the experience with, or better yet, a rival! Even if it’s just for a lap or two, having someone to chat with or chase can make the miles fly by. No one willing to ride out there with you? Find yourself the most hype pit crew possible!

3. Celebrate

Every lap you complete is an accomplishment. Treat yourself with a little reward, whether it’s a high-five or mocktail hand up from a friend.

Where can you find the NOBL Crew Next?

Check out our Events Calendar