What does it take to race the Redbull Sea to Sky? In this post we reveal the secrets of the preparation and physical conditioning of the Sherco pro rider Mario Roman to one of the toughest hard enduro races in Europe.
Watch the video for a sneak peak and read all the details below. Get inspired and learn the tips from the pros for your next race!
Sea to Sky, how is the race?
Tuesday 22, pre-race: the riders and their mechanics take the cable car up to the final part of the race, where they will test the bikes and adjust the mechanics to a very steep rock climb at more than 2300 meters.
Wednesday 23rd, Beach Race: a quick qualifying prologue on the beach, with motos in the morning and in the afternoon.
Thursday 24, Forest Race: a 90 minute enduro with riders starting one at a time every 30 seconds. This is the first test that counts for the total points of the race and consists of a fast enduro through the forest where the objective is to do the shortest possible time.
Friday 25, Canyon Race: approximately two hours racing through spectacular canyons in a test that is half technique, half speed.
Saturday 26, El Olimpo: this last test starts on the beach and takes the riders up to a tough final rocky climb at more than 2300 meters high.
How to prepare for Sea to Sky
Beach Race, a mix of Motocross and Superenduro
For a hard enduro race like Redbull Sea to Sky, you need to prepare the best you can: physical, technical, mental, mechanical… It all adds up and it is not a race where you can go half way.
In this race all kinds of disciplines are mixed and the rider must master many skills: speed, technique, agility, GPS navigation, physical conditioning…
The main difficulty of a race like this is that during the 4 days of the event, things get more and more difficult as the week progresses, culminating in a brutal final climb before the game is over.
We start on a beach where high speed on sand combines with artificial obstacles.
A scenario that seems at first simple, but that forces rider who want to master it to train:
- Speed in sand, similar to motocross.
- Artificial obstacles, similar to superenduro.
What is the key to pass this stage of the race?
The mix of speed, jumps and bumps forces any rider to have great resistance to high intensity and physical explosiveness, to be able to quickly overcome obstacles and recover time on the fast tracks.
In addition, it is not the same to race on firm ground than on sand. The rider’s agility becomes the star to prevent skidding and compensate the continuous unevenness that threatens to swallow the wheels and take the racer to the ground.
As each dirt bike discipline has different physical needs, for this part of the race the rider needs to specifically train some physical skills specific of motocross or superenduro.
In the POWERING App you can choose the type of dirt bike discipline you want to improve (such as motocross or superenduro in this case) and the App configures a training plan where you will improve the most important physical skills for these disciplines.
In this case, you will find a great focus on resistance training with interval sets and HIIT workouts both on the bike and in the gym.
Forest Race, enduro for the win
Two hours of forest trails mixed with faster sections.
Some very rough terrain tracks with many treacherous stones that will try to slow the rider down.
The average speed will be 40-50 km / h, but there are sections in which the rider can easily reach 120 km / h.
What is the key to pass this stage of Sea to Sky?
The ideal preparation for this type of event is enduro timed-sections on terrains with a lot of loose rocks, dry hills and, if possible, high humidity.
In addition, the humid conditions make it vital to bring a well-prepared hydration bladder with all the ingredients and the exact measurements that each rider needs.
If you don’t know how to prepare your hydration pack, in the POWERING App you can get the exact ingredients and quantities for your camelback according to your personal information and the conditions of each race.
Canyon Race, an even better enduro
The setting is the start of a great rock canyon.
Half is water and the other half is stone.
Bringing the track together, some wooden walkways. The ground is unstable, slippery and this stage of the race may take 2 hours long.
The rider’s explosiveness and his ability to overcome obstacles while advancing on the rocky ground are the keys to being able to keep pace in the race.
What is the key to pass this test?
Balance and coordination play a key role in complex terrain, which will force the rider to kiss the ground over and over again, driving him to despair.
Here the rider’s mental endurance will be put into play and his tolerance for frustration measured.
Luckily balance and coordination are two of the easiest skills to train off the bike, especially if using equipment that help us have a better transfer to the bike.
For example, unstable platforms like bosu, fitball …
Or the inclusion of a handlebar in the exercises that helps to reinforce the mind-muscle connections, to better internalize that “brain imprint” with the situations that we find ourselves later on the bike.
In the POWERING App you have many balance exercises and coordination series specifically chosen for their good transfer to the dirt bike.
In addition, in the app’s training sessions you will usually find them at the end of the workout sets, which is when you are most fatigued.
Just like you do on the bike.
The more fatigued you are, the more you have to maintain balance and coordination even when you are at the limit of your strength.
Training this previously with specific exercises is key to endure more riding without failing due to fatigue.
The ascent to the Olimpus, the hardest enduro for the last stage of the Sea to Sky
Tiredness and difficulty have only increased, and the rider arrives on the fourth day to the most difficult test of the entire race: from the start on the beach, all the ascent to more than 2300 meters to the top of Mount Olympus .
In a start worthy of a motocross championship, the riders with the highest speed reaction will be able to benefit from the first positions from the beach; the slowest will swallow dust and start the stage handicapped and behind.
The decisive factor here is the agility of the rider to be at the front of the pack, before the others.
The beach scene quickly gives way to a forest where the riders enter one by one trying to occupy the position that corresponds to them.
The weight of the fatigue becomes more and more hardened and after 1 hour and 30 minutes, approximately, the rider reaches bronze.
For many riders the four days of Sea to Sky will end here.
But for others, the race will continue for 1 more hour until reaching silver, and only the most prosperous racers will be able to continue up the hard rocky climb of 2,300 meters and 30 minutes, until crowning Mount Olympus finishing in gold.
This final climb, the hardest of the entire race, comes with the rider’s fatigue at its peak.
The 2,300 meters take the physical resistance of the rider to its extreme, because the rocky climb and the fatigue are worsened by the lack of oxygen, a significant drop in temperatures and often fog.
In addition, the bike does not perform in height at the same level as on the beach and loses some power. And you must know how to handle all these factors.
What is the key to overcome this stage?
The key to overcoming this climb is once again in the rider: the one who arrives fresher, with better mental clarity and his strength more intact, is the one who has the best chances of conquering Olympus.
In other words, endurance skill is the key.
In this case, it will not count so much the resistance to high intensity, but muscular and mental resistance to prolonged effort.
To improve this, simply change your mode in the POWERING App and choose enduro or rally. This way, the app will adjust your training plan so that you can do resistance sessions that help you last longer on the bike.
How to set the bike for Sea to Sky? Mario Román’s strategy
Setting the carburetor
Mario Román, a regular at Redbull Sea to Sky (and winner), advises to better setting the carburetor of the bike at height.
As a resident of a high altitude country (Andorra, Europe), he has already tested the bike for between 1500 and 2500 meters, so the Olympus of Sea to Sky does not resist him in this regard.
Actually the key with the best dirt bike settings for Sea to Sky is this: the carburetion, although it could be for 2500, Mario sets for 1500 meters.
In this way, it makes it work more or less at sea and more or less at height.
Because if you carbure too high, the bike will be perfect at the top, but all the other race compasses will go very badly.
It also uses a high compression black S3 cylinder head with less gasoline than the original, but that would only be used on the last day.
In terms of suspensions, Mario’s team is playing with toughness and heights.
It is not the same to face the Beach Race with motocross-type sections, than the enduro style of Forest and Canyon or the climb to Olympus, which includes a little of everything.
So the strategy of Mario and his team is to start the week with the hardest suspensions and little by little soften them until the last day is very very soft.
Mario’s favorite sensation, by the way
For the tires. Mario’s bike has Michelin’s medium compound, a very versatile wheel for all terrains, ideal for the first two days of the race.
For the Canyon and Mount Olympus switches to a super soft Michelin compound, which leaves a very soft wheel.
The idea is to keep the tire; It cannot go full throttle, because you may rip it off in the first 20 km and you go desperate the next 70 km.
The idea is to try to go fast but without breaking the wheel and go little by little moving up the mountain.
What to do during race week
If you are reading this it is because you are interested in preparing your races better.
So don’t miss the Ultimate Checklist with everything you have to take to your races.
For Mario, meals play a key role, throughout the season but especially during the race week, to have enough energy to withstand all the tests and not suffer dips that weaken performance.
Due to the weather conditions at Sea to Sky, one of the first things Mario does upon arrival is a light physical training to accustom his body to the humidity and sweating on the beach.
As the stages last around two hours, the rest of the days when he is not racing, Mario maintains a small cardio workout that does not tire him for the race, but helps him to be well acclimatized to the temperature and humidity.
His preferred option is the stationary bike or the long, easy-paced road bike. Why? In addition to acclimatizing the body, after the dirt bike, it helps to move the blood and eliminate waste substances. This will prevent aches, pulls, and stiffness.
Our recommendation is also to include a couple of stretching sessions with adapted yoga exercises that work especially well for rider, as those the POWERING App suggests to you during the race weeks.
Why an amateur rider should also prepare like a PRO
Every time you sign up for a championship, you make a big bet on yourself and this has costs:
- Economically: registration, motorcycle preparation, equipment, travel, accommodation, etc.
- Emotionally: your family does not support you, arguments at home, things you give up to go to the race etc.
- Mentally: stress to prepare everything, stress in solving problems that always arise, nerves from the days before the competition, insecurity and fears because you realize that there is a good chance that you will have a bad time because you are not well prepared.
At POWERING we see many amateur riders competing in races that are getting tougher and tougher.
And when they are not well prepared, they have a hard time: injuries, accidents, bad riding sensations, suffering, they break the bike, etc.
You can avoid all this.
Preparing for the races makes that cost you always pay worth it.
Because it means that you and everything you are investing in that race, is protected.
We will tell you more about how an amateur can prepare to run extreme races in future posts.