Do you remember Gosse van der Meer? Last month, we had a chat with him, which you can read in this article. He told us about his bike trips, his races and how he tackles everything. In the second part of his interview he tells us about how he prepares for an MTB or cyclocross race.
Gosse, let's talk about MTB or cyclocross: how do you prepare for a race?
Besides all specific training focussed on competition, I usually try to be at the race venue at least one day before. So, I usually leave home two days before the event. I check if everything is packed and ready to be put into my suitcase and then set off! On the day I arrive at my destination, I prefer not to ride my bike but relax instead: I usually go and take a look around and have a coffee.
And so, we get to the day before the race…
Exactly! I usually cycle for an hour and that includes a 15 minutes spin on the road. It’s also very important to test out the route of the race. If I have already raced there in the past, I only need to do 2 or 3 laps to check it out. If, instead, it is a new race for me and I have never ridden the course, then this practice ride will take longer. I do a very slow lap and memorise every corner and all roots and rocks. Then I look for possible places to overtake: in short, I check everything very carefully. If necessary, I do another 3-4 laps. Then I do a fast lap: you know that when you go slow, everything goes well! During the fast lap, I test the technical sections and try to understand how fast I can push myself on each corner. At the end, I do another 15-minute spin on the road or roller.
Fantastic! We can't wait to know how you get ready on the day of the race.
Elite races generally start in the afternoon, so I have time in the morning to get ready. If the race starts at 3pm, I have breakfast about 8am. Then I go for a ride on the road (45 minutes/1 hour) and only sprint about 5-10 times during this ride for maximum15 seconds to wake up my legs. Depending on races from other categories, I do another test ride on the course to see if the conditions have changed. Finally, I warm up for 30 minutes on a roller, doing several short sprints before the race. It is important to be warmed up but not tired!
You mentioned breakfast… but what do you eat before a cyclocross or MTB race?
The evening before the race I like to eat a lot! My mechanic and I usually try to find an Italian restaurant. Then I order a pasta dish with Bolognese sauce and a pizza. I always eat all the pasta and half the pizza. I take the other half away with me and keep it for after the race. When I suffer during a race, I think about that other half of pizza!
The following day besides breakfast, I don't each much more: usually a sandwich about 12pm and a banana an hour before the race starts. Oh yes, and 10 minutes before the start, I eat an energy gel. I also continue to drink enough throughout the days.
You have told us that you always try to be positive and happy. But what exactly do you think about when you are at the starting line of a race?
“I like riding my bike because I like going fast and I want to be the best!” This is my mindset also before taking part in a race. In short, I want to win! If I know that I have done everything I possibly can, that I have given my all and done my very best, I will not be disappointed if I don't win the race.
One last question: what saddle do you use and how does it feel?
I use a Blaster on all my bikes (road, CX and MTB). It's perfect for me and that's why I use it on all my bikes (8 in total). It's very important to always have the same feeling when you sit on the saddle. Since I have the same saddle for all of them, I don't need to get used to a bike every time and I'm sure that I won't feel any discomfort or soreness during or after the ride.
Thank you Gosse!