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Have you ever wondered what the cyclocross pros do to get ready for a big race?  Since there were no domestic races for the Donnelly Pro Team to report about this week, we thought we would give you an inside look at what our riders do to get prepped for race day. From what they eat, to their ideal pre-race warm up, here's what Laurel Rathbun, Jamey Driscoll and Lance Haidet do to get ready to rumble.


What type of ride do you typically do the day before a race? 
I try to pre-ride the course if possible. I'll probably do 2-3 laps, practice any tricky sections then spin for a few minutes afterwards. I like going to sleep the night before knowing what the race course is like. 

What do you typically try to eat the night before a race?  I’m not a picky eater at all, but Chipotle is my go-to whenever possible! If not, some kind of rice, meat, veggie combo usually works well. 

From the time you wake up to the time you race, what and when do you typically try to eat and drink? First thing is coffee, coffee, coffee. This is followed up by some oatmeal. I love oatmeal. Peanut butter, oatmeal and banana combo is what makes a happy Laurel on race day. That’s usually followed by a morning spin and about 3-3.5 hours before the race I’ll eat again - usually more oatmeal or rice and eggs. 

What is your ideal pre-race warm-up? I try to be there 3 hours before so I can register, relax, say hi to friends, etc. I’ll ride a lap of the course once or twice, depending on how tricky it is and then warm-up on the trainer for about 20 minutes. I don’t like a long warm-up, I get my body opened up on while riding the pre-riding the course and then just try to keep the muscles warm until the start.

What are your thoughts on the importance of a post-race cool down? I like doing post-race cool downs; I think they help me physically and mentally - especially if it’s a tough race. Cool down time allows me to reflect on the race and text the important people as to how it went. When that’s over, the race is behind me and I’m onto the next one


What type of ride do you typically do the day before a race? 
Usually I ride for 90 minutes, first warming up, then 5-10 minutes of tempo riding. Lastly, I'll do a few 20 second full gas sprints to open up and end it with a cool down spin. I don't usually pre-ride the course because at most U.S. races the lines haven't been worn in.  For races like Nationals, World Cups and World Championships the track is generally worn in, and usually has harder sections that are worthwhile getting more practice on.

What do you typically try to eat the night before a race? I'm fairly lax with this, but nothing greasy, or super carb-loaded like you stereotypically hear. I just try to eat a healthy, well-rounded meal.

From the time you wake up to the time you race, what and when do you typically try to eat and drink?  I eat a normal breakfast soon after I wake up. Typically oatmeal, omelette, fresh fruit and toast.  If the race is at a typical late afternoon time, I can usually make it until my pre-race meal (more oatmeal, or rice) which is 2.5-3 hours before start time.

What is your ideal pre-race warm-up? I'll usually get out on course for 3 laps, then I typically do my pre-race warm-up on the trainer for ease of consistency at any venue, I'll do  about 10 minutes easy, 5-8 minutes of progressive tempo, 2-3 one minute efforts with recovery in between. I typically have very slow starts, so I sweat the most during warm-up on our team!

What are your thoughts on the importance of a post-race cool down? It may be more mental than anything, but I feel like cooling down lets the blood keep flowing and allows your body to flush out all the toxins created in the last hour. In other words, my legs don't feel like garbage the next day if I do a cool down.


What type of ride do you typically do the day before a race? 
I typically shoot for 1.5 hours of riding the day before a race. I don’t have any super specific opener efforts, but I definitely try to get the heart rate up and the legs burning a bit. When travel allows, I like putting in a couple hot laps on the course because I feel it is important to ride it at high speeds. It incorporates a bit of bike handling and running that you wouldn’t normally get by doing openers on the road or on a trainer. For cyclocross, I find it really important to loosen up and work on all aspects of racing the day before a race, especially if you have spent all day traveling. 

What do you typically try to eat the night before a race? As a junior, I used to be all about the pizza legs, but I have since had too many bad experiences! I now go for more of a typical cyclist dinner. It usually consists of chicken or fish, some pasta, rice, or quinoa, and solid salad or other veggies. 

From the time you wake up to the time you race, what and when do you typically try to eat and drink? The first things I do after waking up are drink a bottle of water and start making my coffee. After I’ve gotten the coffee situation taken care of, I move on to breakfast. I am a big fan of the eggs and oatmeal diet, and I try to throw as much good stuff into my oatmeal as possible. Because our races are normally later in the afternoon, Jamey and I will then go on a morning spin. Depending on how hot it is, I either try to finish a bottle of water or Asend Hydration mix over the course of this ride. Once we get back, clean up, and pack for the race, it is normally around 3 hours before race time, which is perfect timing for our pre-race meal. At this point I normally go for either rice with almond butter, bananas, and granola, or a sandwich. Somehow, it always works out that pre-ride is directly after we just stuffed ourselves, so thats always interesting! With about an hour and a half before the start, I like having another coffee fix, and then it is on to the warm-up. Sometimes if I feel like I need more food, I will have a gel or some energy blocks in addition to another bottle of Asend Nutrition while on the trainer. 

What is your ideal pre-race warm-up? With a morning spin and a couple laps of pre-ride, I normally don’t do a huge warm-up. Most of the time, I just spin for 10-15 minutes, do a couple minutes of riding at tempo, and do a few accelerations. When the venue doesn’t have a whole lot of traffic and the weather isn’t too gnarly, I will normally opt for warming up on the roads rather than on a trainer. I just feel that I don’t get as physically or mentally ready to race when warming-up in a static position on a trainer. 

What are your thoughts on the importance of a post-race cool down Personally, I believe a post-race cool down is important, but not totally necessary. I feel that spinning for 10 or so minutes really helps with flushing out the legs and limiting that heavy, bloated legs feeling. Another benefit of a cool down, it that is gives you a few minutes to decompress, reflect on the highs and lows of the race, and move on to the next one.

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Team Schedule

Rochester Cyclocross – Rochester, NY 
Jingle Cross World Cup – Iowa City, IO
CrossVegas – Las Vegas, NV
Trek CXC World Cup – Waterloo, WI

KMC CrossFest – Thompson, CT ( Jamey and Laurel ) 
West Sacramento Grand Prix – Sacramento, CA ( Lance )

Charm City Cross – Baltimore, MD
US Open of Cyclocross – Boulder, CO
Cincy CX Festival - Cincinnati, OH

Derby City Cup – Louisville, KY
Pan Am Championships - Louisville, KY

Los Angeles, CA (Nov 18 + 19)
Ruts N Guts CX – Broken Arrow, OK (Dec 2 + 3)
USA National Championships – Reno, NV
UCI World Championships – Valkenburg-Limburg, NED