Video | How to Prepare For a MTB Race

This the checklist you need to review before your next big race. Don’t forget something that will ruin your race weekend and effectively squander your race fee! Learn how to do it right with Art’s Cyclery while VitalMTB interjects their goofy take on what not to do.

Our favorite sport is all about competition. From trying to pass your buddy in the middle of a rock garden to World Cup downhill racing, the desire to be faster than the rider in front of us is always present.  If you’ve never entered an organized race, what are you waiting for? If you are a veteran racer, then you know how fun the race scene is. Let’s take a look at how, and how not to, get your bike and your kit ready for race day.

Begin your race prep about two weeks before the race, so you have time to break in new parts and make sure they don’t present any new problems.  Start with these maintenance procedures:

A few days before the race do the following:

  • Re-check torque on all bolts, including your pedal cleats OR loctite flat pedal traction pins
  • Make sure tires are as trustworthy as you feel comfortable with
  • Replace tubeless sealant/put in new tubes
  • Lube chain
  • Check wheels for true again

The night before the big day do the following:

  • Lube chain
  • Check shifting

Race Day:

  • Inflate tires,
  • Relax, have fun
  • Pin it!

Now that your bike is primed and ready to take you to the podium, let’s go through what should be in your gear bag. If you don’t usually, you’ll also have to decide whether or not you’ll be wearing a hydration pack. If it’s a shorter enduro race with timed sections around five to ten minutes or so, it might not be worth carrying extra parts since if you have a mechanical, your race is effectively over. For multi day races with longer stages, then making up time is a possibility and a stocked pack could be a good idea. Multiple 4X World Champion Jared Graves carries “…every spare that is easy to carry that could break, and every tool for that job…” including a derailleur, hanger, cables, spokes and nipples, duct tape, and chain lube.

In order to make sure you are comfortable, fueled up, and ready to deal with any bike problems that arise, make sure you are bringing a well-stocked gear bag.

Nutrition items for on the bike fuel and recovery

Real food

  • If it’s a multi day event be sure to bring enough food and gear to prepare it.


  • Depending on how trustworthy the weather forecast is, pack cycling clothes for every condition you might encounter on the bike. Bring a fresh kit for each day if you have it. A nice clean chamois will make you feel much better. And bring plenty of clean socks.
  • Don’t forget clothes for after the race, again paying attention to the weather forecast. You want to be as comfortable as possible at all times.
  • Don’t forget your helmet and sunglasses or goggles

Camping gear

  • Bring what you need to be comfortable

 Bike and Race Specific Items

Now that you have everything checked off and accounted for, you can focus on what you set out to do; riding as fast as you possibly can!