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So you are headed to Nationals, huh?

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Old 05-11-18, 01:28 PM
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carleton
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So you are headed to Nationals, huh?

This generally applies to all levels, junior, elite, or masters. Indoor or outdoor. I think we've hit on many of these before. Maybe this will serve as a nice checklist for others.

Travel:
- Learn how to pack your bike.
- Practice packing your bike loooong before the night before your trip. You don't need surprises that night.
- Consider FedExing your bike to your hotel ahead of time. Some hotels will accept it for you and it'll be there when you arrive. You can also similarly arrange for FedEx to pick it up from the hotel and ship to your home.
- Bikes do get lost. It happened to a buddy of mine at Masters Worlds last summer. My guess is that if FedEx loses your bike, you'll get it faster than if the airline does.
- TSA will probably open your bike box/bag and move crap around...and leave it a mess. Try to tie/strap everything down.


Housing:
- Book a room on the first floor. Getting bikes in and out of elevators is a pain...especially if others are on the elevator. You have to wait for an almost empty one.
- Book 2 beds. 1 for you. 1 to spread your crap onto.
- Sharing a room does save money. But, now you got 2 people, 2-4 bikes, helmets, gear bags, rollers, trainers, etc.... It may be worth it to spend the extra for your own room.
- Get a room with a mini fridge. If the room doesn't have any, maybe the front desk has one to loan out upon request.
- Be prepared to deal with crappy wifi. Figure out how to tether your computer to your phone. Bring an ethernet cable. If the hotel still has hard-wired internet, this will be more reliable and faster than their wifi.
- Download a bunch of your favorite shows and movies to your computer, tablet, etc...to control your entertainment and relaxation routine. Hotel cable is generally awful.
- Buy groceries and snacks locally. Maybe get a cheap cooler in case the mini fridge is too small. You can also take the cooler to the track on all-day days.


Infield:
- Bring a cable and lock to lock up your crap in the infield (rollers, bike, etc...). This will provide a little peace of mind if you decide to leave mid-day for lunch with your buddies.
- You'll likely be sharing spaces with others in the infield. Label your stuff like you did at summer camp. We all have the same crap. Put your name on your rollers, wheel bags, wheels, trainers, Nalgene bottles, etc...
- If you are going to meet others there, maybe coordinate and bring one trainer, one set of rollers, one pump, one cooler, etc.. that way everyone doesn't bring the same stuff and there are 3x everything.
- Learn to do your warmup with ZERO track time. It's not like at your home track. You will not be guaranteed track time before your event. If there is an open track session, it will be full and it will be a mess. You will not be able to do your normal prep for your event. Make warming up on the rollers your "normal".
- Learn to use the rollers NOW. You don't want to be nervous about staying up on rollers while you are also nervous about your event. I knew a young woman who used rollers for the first time at Elite Nationals because she couldn't get track time to warmup. Too much going on at once and she wasn't relaxed.
- Learn how to setup rollers. There is an optimal position for rollers based on the distance between your wheels. My bike is 60cm. If you use my rollers for your 52cm bike, you are gonna have a bad time. Rollers are adjustable for a reason.
- Be prepared to deal with real heat. The infield can be 10 or more degrees warmer than the surrounding area. I don't think there will be tents but TTown might allow you to bring them. You should ask.

Gear:
- Bring backups for things you cannot borrow. You can borrow a 15mm if you lose yours. You cannot borrow a pair of shoes.
- Learn about "Bike Check" and what's involved. Do your best to measure your bike and see if you are in compliance before you even leave home. Adjust your bike and train on the compliant bike.
- At the event, ask for a "Courtesy Bike Check" the day before your event using the official jig. This will help you avoid drama. It either gives you time to mount a case for why your bike is compliant or time to adjust the non-compliant parts. TRUST. I had my bike DQ'd 5 minutes before my Kilo at Masters Nationals in 2012. Aerobar extensions were too long.
- If you have doubts and think you are in the right, ask the highest level official you can get hold of.
- If you are worried about your helmet being legal, ask...well ahead of time.

Any other tips?

Last edited by carleton; 05-11-18 at 02:01 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-11-18, 01:49 PM
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During and After the Race:
- Maybe ask a friend to video your ride, especially if it's a short time trial. I hate videos of myself...but refer to them a lot when I'm evaluating things. They are useful. It's a bigger ask to have someone record a long TT or bunch race.
- Find the board where the results are posted and take pictures of results for your group (and others if interested). For time trials, the results posted there will often have the splits which are helpful in your progress as a racer and when you evaluate your competition...who will likely be your competition next year, too. The website only shows your final time, and the USA Cycling website will often screw that up, too and just show your final place and no time.
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Old 05-11-18, 02:37 PM
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Pack your personal Riding Apparel as carry on
Bring your helmet, shoes, clothes, saddle and pedals as carry on. If you end up having to borrow a bike because yours got lost in transit, at least you can race on your own gear.
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Old 05-11-18, 03:53 PM
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T-Town does allow tents in the infield, so if you can bring one, I'd recommend it.
There is a water fountain by the locker rooms to use in a pinch, but I always take my own cold water. There is a Wawa (convenience store) pretty close where you can buy cold water and other drinks, as well as food.
Most of the locals will have tents. If I'm there I'm happy to share.
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Old 05-11-18, 05:00 PM
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BikeFlights shipping FTW, seriously.
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Old 05-12-18, 05:06 AM
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The first time I went to elite Nationals - which was in South Carolina - I remember one moment that really changed how I would approach traveling for bike races in the future.

It was late at night, and the session had just ended. It might have been 11PM, finally starting to cool off from the heat and the humidity. I'm there trying to pack up my bike and belongings, which are scattered throughout the canopy that I and some friends are using. And as I'm dealing with this fiasco - and thinking about trying to find a late dinner, driving thirty minutes to our crash pad, and getting enough sleep to be able to race at 8AM the next day (****ssake, only a few hours away!), I see Bobby Lea calmly walking out of the track: his stuff is all neatly packed into a little handtruck (cooler, rollers, gear bags, wheel bags all nicely tetrised together) and he's carrying his bike. My imagination did the rest - I was sure he was staying in a hotel five minutes away and had all the food he needed for both dinner and breakfast in his room.

But the lesson was clear: if you're racing for a long weekend or a week or something like that, try to maximize the amount of time you spend caring for yourself and minimize "administration" time (driving, shopping, etc). Plan to get there early enough to go grocery shopping for yourself. Stay close to the venue - it is absolutely worth a few extra bucks a night or whatever. Don't leave your coffee situation (which for some of us correlates to bowel movement situation, which correlates to performance) up to chance.
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Old 05-12-18, 11:18 AM
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Jeez. Coffee. YES.

Figure it out before you leave. Hotel coffee is generally on par with truck stop coffee. You aren't guaranteed a good local coffee shop.

I've done this at hotels:
[me] What kind of beans do you guys use?
[staff] ?
[me] What kind of coffee beans do you use for your coffee?
[staff] Sir, they are coffee beans.
[me] :-/



Bring your own coffee. Grind it ahead of time. Figure out your brewing method.

In the past, I've used the Aeropress when traveling for work or pleasure/racing.


I've also used Hario pour-over system. Pretty simple.


French press as well:


All just require you to obtain hot water on site. You can see if the coffee maker in the room will make hot water, or you can probably get it in the hotel breakfast area.

Of all 3, the Aeropress travels the best. It's small and made of plastic, so no risk of breaking.


Also:

Camping chair.

You aren't guaranteed a seat in the infield. With your own chair, you are.

Last edited by carleton; 05-12-18 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 05-12-18, 11:29 AM
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@queerpunk 's post reminds me.

Figure out a way to make it from your car to the infield (and vice-versa) in one trip. This is one way to make setup and breakdown a little easier. Nothing like being tapped and having to make 2 long trips to the car just to start the journey home.

I use a military spec backpack that has huge compartments and MOLLE attachments on the outside and is strong and rigid enough to handle 50 lbs of crap and not degrade over time. I've used this same pack for 5 years now...got it 2nd hand!

Inside of pack:
- Track sack
- Race clothing
- Shoes
- Snacks
- Fluids
- Misc

Outside of pack:
- Normal helmet clipped to MOLLE using carabiner
- Casco case clipped to MOLLE using carabiner
- Wet clothing on carabiner
- Camping chair

On shoulder:
- Double wheel back with race wheels
- Bike

In hand:
- Rollers (rollers can go on shoulder if you attach a basic rope.)


If I have a cooler, it would require a second trip.

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Old 05-12-18, 07:06 PM
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I would add: Stay cool and out of the sun. If you don't race that day, don't go to the track. Do an easy roller warm up in your hotel if possible, take naps, stay off your feet and relax as much as possible. Being at the track all day in the sun is taxing.
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Old 05-12-18, 07:27 PM
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re: coffee

i know how this sounds.

i really do.

but starbucks sells decent instant coffee packets.

shut up! i know how it sounds.

it's decent. which makes it VERY good for traveling.
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Old 05-13-18, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
re: coffee

i know how this sounds.

i really do.

but starbucks sells decent instant coffee packets.

shut up! i know how it sounds.

it's decent. which makes it VERY good for traveling.
hahahaha

I tried that stuff when it was first introduced back in maybe 2010, and it gave me headaches. I think the caffeine was too potent or something. I'm sure it's better now.

I'll do you one better, though.




McDonalds coffee isn't bad and it's easier to find. They actually grind beans on site. They kicked up their coffee game maybe 6 years ago.

http://thecoffeekitty.com/mcdonalds-...coffee-review/

The key is to ask for it black. They will look at you like you are an alien for not getting any cream and sugar. DO NOT ask for cream and/or sugar. If you do, it will come out tasting and looking like vanilla cake batter. They have no sense of what a moderate amount of cream and sugar are. Seriously. Also, I think their "cream" is already premixed with sugar.

I once asked for, "iced coffee, black".

She's like, "What do you mean?"
[me] "Black. No cream. No sugar."
"WUT?"
"[me] Yes."
"WHY would you want that??"
[me] :-/

She stood there incredulously as I accepted the drink. The look on her face when I took a sip was at though I were drinking pure iced vinegar. Tasted no better or worse than Starbucks or Caribou iced coffee.

So, if you are on the highway or whatever. McDonald's is better than truck stop coffee and similar to some Starbucks coffees.


BTW, I feel so guilty when I eat at McDonalds (like 2x/year)...I pay in cash. Never card.

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Old 05-14-18, 11:06 AM
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You mean I'm the only one that's got a suitcase specifically for my espresso maker?


Priorities
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Old 05-14-18, 04:39 PM
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Coffee, essential. I will say no more on that subject!

Okay, rollers. I'm shipping my bike (BikeFlights), but my rollers? I'm going to have to ship them too, I guess. I can't carry them on the airplane.

How about wheels? Do you bring your race wheels with you on your flight (if you fly out), or do you somehow fit them in the box with the bike and your warmup wheels, or do you just bring one (compromise) set of wheels?
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Old 05-14-18, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
re: coffee

i know how this sounds.

i really do.

but starbucks sells decent instant coffee packets.

shut up! i know how it sounds.

it's decent. which makes it VERY good for traveling.

A little OT, but which instant coffee would you recommend for someone who like strong/dark coffee. I'm doing a 60 mile hike in July and am looking into coffee options to bring with me.
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Old 05-15-18, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by sarals View Post
Coffee, essential. I will say no more on that subject!

Okay, rollers. I'm shipping my bike (BikeFlights), but my rollers? I'm going to have to ship them too, I guess. I can't carry them on the airplane.

How about wheels? Do you bring your race wheels with you on your flight (if you fly out), or do you somehow fit them in the box with the bike and your warmup wheels, or do you just bring one (compromise) set of wheels?
I solved the roller dilemma by getting one of the Feedback Track set ups. You can carry it on the airplane and it fits in the overhead bin. Wheels are always a problem. When my wife was also racing, we had two Trico double cases, essentially one for the two bikes, and the other for the eight wheels, trainer, pump and helmets. This set up survived many trips to the UK for worlds at Manchester. Now I use just one trico case, and get one bike, four wheels, pump, helmets and assorted stuff into it.. I weigh it a head of time to make sure it makes the weight at the airport. Find a Walmart or the equivalent to buy a cheap cooler if you need one, and a couple of camp chairs that you can donate to the velodrome when you leave. One year at Rock Hill they had a sale at Big 5 (or something like it) for camp chairs at $6.00 each. Remember to bring your own water or other drinks to the track. I will refill water from the local supply, but will never borrow anything from anybody else unless it still is sealed with the original cap unopened. Paranoid, yes. I train to hard to get popped for someone else's supplement mis-use.
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Old 05-15-18, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rensho3 View Post
I solved the roller dilemma by getting one of the Feedback Track set ups. You can carry it on the airplane and it fits in the overhead bin. Wheels are always a problem. When my wife was also racing, we had two Trico double cases, essentially one for the two bikes, and the other for the eight wheels, trainer, pump and helmets. This set up survived many trips to the UK for worlds at Manchester. Now I use just one trico case, and get one bike, four wheels, pump, helmets and assorted stuff into it.. I weigh it a head of time to make sure it makes the weight at the airport. Find a Walmart or the equivalent to buy a cheap cooler if you need one, and a couple of camp chairs that you can donate to the velodrome when you leave. One year at Rock Hill they had a sale at Big 5 (or something like it) for camp chairs at $6.00 each. Remember to bring your own water or other drinks to the track. I will refill water from the local supply, but will never borrow anything from anybody else unless it still is sealed with the original cap unopened. Paranoid, yes. I train to hard to get popped for someone else's supplement mis-use.
Be sure to ASK the track if you can leave your chair. Rock Hill did NOT appreciate how many leftover chairs there were...I heard.
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Old 05-15-18, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
re: coffee

i know how this sounds.

i really do.

but starbucks sells decent instant coffee packets.

shut up! i know how it sounds.

it's decent. which makes it VERY good for traveling.
When I travel I take along individual coffee packets with me (currently Folgers decaff) along with Carnation instant non-fat dry milk and a few plastic tea-spoons.

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Old 05-15-18, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by taras0000 View Post
A little OT, but which instant coffee would you recommend for someone who like strong/dark coffee. I'm doing a 60 mile hike in July and am looking into coffee options to bring with me.
Try the Starbucks stuff. You can buy some single packets at the register .They have light, medium, and dark roast. I took some camping this winter.
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Old 05-15-18, 10:24 PM
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I swipe packets of coffee from work. Don't tell them, or I'll be in trouble...
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Old 05-16-18, 03:33 AM
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How practical is a little cart at TTown? Does it even make a difference because of the walkway stairs??
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Old 05-16-18, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by southernfox View Post
How practical is a little cart at TTown? Does it even make a difference because of the walkway stairs??
Before and after racing, most racers load in and out via the track door instead if via the walkway.
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Old 05-16-18, 10:52 AM
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Thanks. That door was closed + locked the weekend I was there training
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Old 05-17-18, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by spartanKid View Post
Just leaving a chair you bought at the velodrome when you leave seems like a HUGE a**hole move.
Since I originated this thought, note that I said "donate" the chair, not "leave" the chair. Those who think before they type probably recognize that implies actually speaking to someone at the velodrome. As one who is usually among the last to leave on the last day, I know the difference between giving something to the velodrome, and just leaving my garbage for others to clean up. I will say that tossing an unwanted chair in a dumpster sure beats some of the other items and liquids people leave behind. So moral of this rant is, if you go to Natz, clean up after yourselves when you leave.
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Old 05-17-18, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rensho3 View Post
I will say that tossing an unwanted chair in a dumpster sure beats some of the other items and liquids people leave behind.
Ugh. I'm still angry at finding pee bottles in the little infield "changing rooms" at LA during elite nats in 2015.
and at SEEING someone pee in a bottle in the infield of another big race.

dudes: don't do this.
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Old 05-19-18, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rensho3 View Post
Since I originated this thought, note that I said "donate" the chair, not "leave" the chair. Those who think before they type probably recognize that implies actually speaking to someone at the velodrome. As one who is usually among the last to leave on the last day, I know the difference between giving something to the velodrome, and just leaving my garbage for others to clean up. I will say that tossing an unwanted chair in a dumpster sure beats some of the other items and liquids people leave behind. So moral of this rant is, if you go to Natz, clean up after yourselves when you leave.
No one said you said otherwise. Chill out, dude. Wow.
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