Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

Train together: This may sound obvious, but make sure you do a couple of long, hard rides with your partner - ideally on a mountain bike. It helps to know in advance who is the stronger climber, who pulls well on the flats, and which of you is likely to be faster on a technical section. It doesn’t help when the stronger climber waits at the top of climb only to drop back on the descent. If you have ridden together a couple of times you will be able to capitalise on each partner’s strengths and shield the weaker partner better. This approach will make the event more enjoyable for both of you.

Communicate: Make sure you are both on the same page regarding your goals for the event. Will it be a social ride with stops at all the water points, and lots of beer afterwards, or are you gunning for a top ten spot? You don’t want to be in that awkward situation where one of you is shooting off with the A-batch boys while the other is stopping to take selfies at the top of every climb.

Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

Be honest: It is important to be able to let your partner know when you are going too hard or the pace is too much. It is better to slow down than blow on the first day and struggle for the rest of the race. Going into the event, try and be upfront if you are underprepared or feeling unwell so that the stronger partner can then let the weaker partner set the pace, or pull if need be.

Equipment: This has less to do with team dynamic and more to do with overall enjoyment of an event. Make sure your bike is in good working order, and is set up correctly for you, so that it is comfortable and less like to cause you injury. Decent tyres with sidewall protection are a really worthwhile investment. To me, the time loss and stress of a sidewall cut while running super lightweight tyres cannot be justified by the weight savings.

Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

Wines2Whales specific preparation: The portage climb on the first day is not a joke. If you are lucky enough to own grippy, comfortable riding shoes, this is their day. If you don’t, be prepared for a slippery climb. If you have not had to carry your bike for any length of time before it is worth practising, or at least just finding a technique for carrying that works for you. That said, I have never managed to make peace with portages. I fall apart every time I have to pick my bike up, push it or generally do anything that does not involve pedalling, so it is probably time to follow my own advice and get practising.

Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

Finally, as with all stage races, enjoy the opportunity to ride your bike in new and exciting places. It is such a privilege to be able to experience the countryside by bicycle in this way. Don’t litter. Be polite and friendly to fellow riders: pull over for faster riders, and overtake slower riders safely. Can’t wait to get out there!