Training Essential Tips – Ryan Hodierne

3 to 2 Months Out

The Right Set-Up It is essential that your bike is set up correctly for you. Whether you’ve had the savvy to fine tune it yourself or have gone for the advice of a professional, this process is a crucial one prior to spending long hours in the saddle. There are a few bicycle retailers that offer this service, however there aren’t many that are certified fitters. Look out for the following names when it comes to bike fit specialists:

  • Egrofit
  • BG Fit
  • Retül

Do understand that bike fitting is a process and that alterations made during the fitting are a starting point for the rider to which minor tweaks may be necessary over the weeks that follow. The changes made will require some adaptation, thus patience and an understanding of the process is vital. However the benefits thereafter truly are worth it. With this all in mind, I do feel that if you are already comfortable with your current set-up and have no discomfort or niggles over long durations – don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.

2 to 1 Months Out

Saddle Time

During multi-stage events or tours such as Nedbank Tour De Tuli, it’s not necessarily the long days in the saddle that the riders find tough to deal with, but rather the requirement of having to wake up the following morning and after a long day having to do it all over again.

With only a few weeks to go, you should be easing off on the high mileage now. Cramming in higher mileage at this stage will in turn be more detrimental than of benefit. If your body isn’t use to long hours in the saddle, you risk the scenario that for every long day you spend in the saddle, you take 4 days to recover – this isn’t regarded as constructive training.

Keeping in mind that stage riding involves consecutive days in the saddle, it is a good idea to plan your training, or make longer single rides, into multiple rides. For example, if you are planning a 5 hour ride this coming weekend, aim to get 2 hours in on Saturday afternoon and then back it up with 3 hours on Sunday morning. Or an alternative could be, 3 hours Saturday morning and 2 hours that same afternoon. By breaking the distance or duration into smaller portions, you are giving the body time to rest and recover, as well as get in vital nutrients in preparation for the next bout. This method of training will still yield the benefits required for stage riding.

Be in your Best Shape on Ride Day

Having taken part in events of all kinds, I always find it shocking to hear of the amount of people who pull out of the event before they even get to the start line. Although the reasons may be a plenty and some unavoidable, I believe there are ways we can better ensure we make it to that start line:

  • Avoid too much too soon/last minute mileage: The trick here is to consider the timeframe you have for training and plan accordingly. Set small and manageable targets in training and go about them in time.
  • Stick to “tried and tested”: We often get caught up in conversation or debate with our biker buddies regarding something new they have tried that worked wonders for them… a new training plan, different diet, the “best” energy drink. Being human, curiosity is ingrained in us and we always feel it is worth a try. If we were to consider this a few months out then so be it, however we always feel the urgency to try such things within weeks to go to event day one. Please avoid this at all costs.
  • Be Confident in your Build-Up: as the big day approaches, so the cold feet set in; we ask ourselves – have I done enough? / is my set-up right? / should I improve my descending skills?… we are all guilty of this. These last minute changes or decisions to do more, are most often the cause of injury or render us over trained.

By taking the above mentioned points into account, you could better ensure you line up on the start line come event day feeling prepared and raring to go.

A Few Weeks Out/Just Prior To the Event/During the Event

The Right Spares

Although there are bike mechanics at each camp, I would recommend you try be as self-sufficient with spares as possible. The primary reason for this is that most of us ride different bikes and have varied preferences, thus the spares one carries are often not compatible for the next. Below are the top spares I suggest you carry with you on route, each day:

  • Tubes x 2
  • Multi-Tool and Chain Break
  • Tyre Levers
  • Tyre Plugs and Patches
  • Pump/Gas Canister x 2
  • Chain Lube
  • Chain Quick-Link
  • Rear Drop-Out/Hanger

Riding Nutrition


  • There is no need to eat more than you usually do, or eat more of one food type in lead up to the day you start.
  • Continue as you have done to date. With the increased training load your nutritional intake has certainly increased in any case. When you feel hungry, it is generally an indication to eat.
  • Try as best you can to eat well and in moderation.
  • The intake of a treat once in a while is not a bad thing at all, however too much of a good thing.


  • The nutrition you choose for the time you are on the bike, should be a personal preference and something that you have tried and know works for you.
  • Hydration is of utmost importance during stage events. It is a good idea to carry both water and a sports drink for electrolyte replacement in one bottle, and plain water in the other or in the bladder. When you are truly thirsty, all you want is water.
  • The tea and bunch stops en route are amazing. There is provision made for whatever your hunger requests. The trick is to not over consume on the good stuff on hand.


  • Following a bout of exercise or day in the saddle through the rugged bush veld, there is a crucial window period for food intake to maximize recovery. Scientific studies have confirmed that the first window of recovery begins within 30 minutes following prolonged exercise.
  • The best nutrients to consume during this 30 minute window period, immediately following prolonged exercise, is a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Within this period one should aim to consume between 100- 300 calories. This combination of carbohydrates to protein helps the body re-synthesis muscle glycogen more efficiently than carbohydrates alone.
  • Proper nutrition during the first 30 minute window immediately following exercise is your first step to having a better ride the next day.

Training Programme


If you have entered the Nedbank Tour de Tuli, and have not ridden a multi-stage mountain bike event before, please do not under estimate the amount of training required prior to the start of the event.

The Tour will cover approx. 70 km – 90 km of off road riding per day over four consecutive days. The back groups could be out on the road for a good 8 hours, therefore preparing for time in the saddle and endurance riding is essential. Due to the fact that the route is predominantly single track, we will not be able to access much of it and therefore sweeping will not be an option for most of the ride route.

Whilst we will accommodate some form of sweep vehicle it will be allocated specifically to those who are sick or injured. If you have entered this event, WE WILL EXPECT YOU TO HAVE TRAINED & BE ABLE TO RIDE THE DISTANCE EACH DAY.

Preparation Overview

  • It is mandatory that you ride at LEAST 1 off road mountain bike event of 70 km & at LEAST 2 long rides where you spend 5 hrs in the saddle at least 9 months before the Tour. This event is not only about distance but also about TIME IN THE SADDLE. There is no substitute for time spent on your bike.
  • Ensure that you have the correct bicycle set up.
  • Ensure that your bike has been recently serviced and in good working order
  • It is MANDATORY to have tubeless conversion for riding this event.
  • Ensure that you have a comfortable saddle – you are going to be spending many hours a day on it.
  • Get to know your bike – you need to be self-sufficient on the road. It is imperative that during your training rides you get to know your bike and familiarize yourself with how to fix minor technical issues.
  • Learn mountain biking skills & techniques to include the following: Basic single track skills; jumps; how to navigate around obstacles; steep descents; riding in rocky terrain; and riding in sand.
  • Experiment with energy supplements to find what works for you and then stick with it. We will send an update on the supplement sponsor once we are able to secure one.

Tips on How to Manage During the Event:

  • Warm up prior to starting your ride – some stretches are always a good idea.
  • Pace yourself; ensure that you are comfortable with the speed of your group. If not chat to your Tour/Support Leader about moving up or down groups.
  • Drink small amounts regularly. It is going to be HOT. Dehydration is possibly your biggest concern; please ensure that you are drinking adequate amounts throughout the day.
  • Eat regularly; we do have a few stops where you can replenish your food and drink stock as needed.
  • Stretch after the days ride. A massage is recommended to get your blood circulating and assist recovery.
  • 12 Week Novice Training Plan


Together with riding professionals, we have developed a comprehensive training guide to assist you in preparing for the best possible Nedbank Tour de Tuli experience.