Service your bike beforehand. The routes at the Glacier Storms River Traverse can, and probably will, be very muddy. So make sure your drivetrain is shifting smoothly, that your brake pads have enough wear left in them to last the entire event and that all the bearings and pivot points on your bike are greased and rolling smoothly.
Pack for wet-weather riding. The mornings are chilly in the Tsitsikamma Forest, despite the leisurely 9am start, so pack for three chilly mornings on the bike and the possibility of rain. Base layers are a must, as are gilets and three buffs. You might also need arm and leg warmers and you’ll definitely need a waterproof riding jacket for if it rains.
Beware the puddles. The Glacier Storms River Traverse makes use of many farm and forestry roads which are used by in large, outside of the event, by heavy machinery. This means not all puddles are as shallow or as even below the murky surface as you might think. Racing through them while fun can end in a crash so don’t race into the bigger unavoidable puddles, rather ease off the pace and coast through them.
Tricks for conquering the mud. When riding into any section of variable grip, like mud or sand, the key is to coast into it; taking the weight first off the front wheel and then the back as your tyres roll onto the new surface. Get into the attack position, with your weight centred over the bottom bracket and your feet at the 9 & 3 positions as you approach the muddy section. As your front wheel is about to enter the mud shift you weight back lightening the front wheel. Then shift it slightly forward as your rear tyre enters the mud too. Once both tyres are in the mud resume pedaling at steady cadence, avoiding spinning or locking out the tyres as you need to focus on maintaining constant traction.
Rolling tyres have more grip. Braking and locking out or powering down hard and spinning the tyres reduces grip. Braking in mud is likely to cause you to fall, either as your front tyre slides out from underneath you or your back tyre fishtails wildly. Spinning out can cause you to lose traction completely and stall in the mud, forcing you to put a foot down – which will leave you with wet shoes and muddy socks.
Have fun. Ride slower than usual, chat to your friends and make new friends on the bike. Stop to take photos. Stop at every water point and enjoy the amazing snacks and supplements on offer. We rush through so many mountain bike races and don’t enjoy the experience enough while we’re having it, it would be a tragedy to do so at the Glacier Storms River Traverse.