A gruelling 25-hour race taking place on the edge of summer, It is the world’s longest one-day road cycling event. Teams of four race through the night with the team that have completed the most laps winning. After competing in the event last year, we thought it would be handy to put together some Red Bull Timelaps Tips and try to give you a steer on what equipment you should be bringing to stand a chance of taking the Win.
Most 24hr endurance races take place in the summer, to maximise daylight hours and find favour with Zeus. Red Bull Timelaps is not like most races. 25 hours of racing within a day means it can only take place on the day the clocks go back. Which mean it’s the end of October. Which means as we saw last year, the weather can be very, very variable. Thrown into this wintery mixer are some unique features and strict rules. Your tactics need to be watertight, as do the overshoes that should most definitely feature on your packing list. To help your team do as best as possible, we’ve compiled a core packing list and some racing tips.
Red Bull Timelaps Tips – Packing list:
- 3m x 3m gazebo (with sides) is preferable, if not as big a tent as you can source
- Waterproof groundsheet (to keep your bags and kit free from the dew)
- Camping chairs and a table
- More cycling and warm clothing than you think you could possibly need (imagine you’re heading for a 2-week cycling and camping trip in Scotland, in January. That should get you there, seriously. You won’t regret it.)
- A fresh set of cycling kit for each stint – getting into wet bib shorts is deeply unpleasant
- Overshoes and good gloves for the night hours
- Waterproof shoes for walking around the wet grass (wellies/hiking boots)
- Sleeping bags (or duvets you don’t care about)
- Camping stove
- Coffee (there’s free Red Bull but, you know…)
- Camping light for the gazebo / communal area
- Homemade savoury food in Tupperwares (there’s only so many energy bars and gels you can eat. Sweet potatoes, pasta, rice etc. should help to stave off the sugar crashes. There are food trucks there, but they’re closer to the food you crave after a 6hrs of beers, not 6hrs of crit racing)
- 2 or 3 good USB battery packs – 10k mAh and multiple charging ports
- Good bike lights (each rider needs a full-beam front and solid rear light. If at any time your lights fail, you’re sent back to the start and forfeit the lap. Make sure they’re charged at all times)
- Track pump
- CO2 canisters, wider tyre levers and spare inner tubes – changing a tyre with numb fingers is not pleasant.
- Bike insurance that covers you in a race
- An insurance approved bike lock
- A van or campervan, if you can get access to one; having somewhere to lie down where it’s quiet, dark and dry is blissful at 3 am.
- Finally, and most importantly, a non-riding Directeur Sportif. Someone who coordinates you turns, makes sure your lights are charged, sorts out sleep allocations and that people are generally where you need to be at the right time. Then buy them several beers at the end. This person could save you a lot of time and stress. We relied heavily on ours. You’re allowed a ‘mechanic’ with you. They don’t know how to bleed a hydraulic disc brake; just someone reliable and organised is a godsend.
Redbull Timelaps Tips – Strategy:
- It’s a 25hr race. Do not go off too hard. The teams that fared the best were those with the most consistent turns and times.
- Regularity and consistency with the length of your stints are key. Make sure the rest of your team know your intended ride time or number of laps. Don’t say you’re going out for 90 minutes, and come in after 30.
- You should aim for a minimum of 1hr stints. Otherwise, you spent a lot of time in transition, wasting time you’d just gained burning matches for half an hour.
- Consider doing longer stints through the night to give each other more chance to sleep.
- Changeovers are crucial. It’s a triathlon style transition where you transfer an armband timing chip to the next rider. This should be seamless. Ideally, your teammates should assist, particularly if the riders are wearing big winter gloves. The riders link wrists and just slide it across from bicep to bicep.
- Try to establish a call or signal to let your teammates know you’re 1 or 2 laps away from transition. This gives the next rider a 10-20 minute warning for getting ready and taking on some final fuel. This is much easier if your pen is on the track edge, harder if you’re one or two rows back.
- Where possible, try to ride in a group of a similar ability, being sure to take turns on the front. It may feel easier than hammering it solo, but you’ll last a lot longer.
- If you’re in a good group and feeling comfortable, stay in it. If you’re flagging and losing time, come in.
- If you know another team, try to coordinate turns with them. Riding solo, at any point, makes it much, much harder. This is how 1st and 2nd place won it last year.
- Consider simple ways to maximise your aero efficiency – it saves a lot of energy.
- Take a phone with you in case you puncture or your lights fail on the other side of the park, just to let your team know what’s going on.
- If you’re jockeying for a top 10 finish, your timing for the Power Hour needs to be spot on. The entrance to the power hour lap opens at 2 am. You need to be rolling to that at 01:59 am to make sure you’re in the front bunch. If you’re about to pass the entrance at 1:56 don’t do another lap, just wait.
- Your last lap is the final lap you complete before midday on Sunday. This could determine whether you win or come 3rd.
- Oh, and remember to have fun. That’s what it’s all about right?
To those in the solo category, I take my hat off to you, you wonderful nutters.
If you have any more tips or suggestions to share, please comment below.