So having made the decision to do the event you need to think about who you will do it with. Some would suggest that this is one and the same decision, but many teams complete the event successfully with complete strangers. It is definitely not the recommended option but it happens. In fact some would also argue that doing it with a complete stranger may end in you making a life long friend rather than loosing one. How to choose an epic partner for a stage race is very important and can be the key to an enjoyable successful race or a dismal failure.
How to Choose and Epic Partner
The are no hard and fast rules for choosing a suitable partner, but there are some guidelines that can help you choose the right partner or make sure that your choice of partner turns into a successful partnership. Sometimes you may just land up with a partner because that is how to get an entry, but then these tips can still apply.
The biggest factor is probably having the same goals and objectives. Be aware that this is a moving goal post. It will move during training up to the event and may even move during the event itself. Starting out with the same goals is a good start but it will require a lot of dialogue and discussion to stay on the same path. Having a clear and shared training plan will help keep these goals aligned and having a race plan will also keep things on track at the event.
The next factor must be to have similar fitness levels and mountain biking skill and ability. Having a partner with similar abilities makes everything a lot easier. It will make understanding each others abilities easier and will make riding and racing together less stressful because both riders will experience similar levels of exhaustion and travel at similar speeds. It may be possible for one person to catch up to the other in fitness during training, but this is only advisable if the gap is small. If partners are not equal in a fitness and ability it can work if the less fit person is the more competitive rider, but if it is the other way round then things may not workout well.
Respect and understanding for each other is crucial. This goes for everyone and will be needed no matter how compatible the team is. At some stage during the race there will be one rider stronger than the other. If the stronger rider does not respect and understand the weaker rider then they will end up creating a divide between the two and making things worse. There has to be an understanding that the slowest rider will be going as fast as possible. The slower rider should not feel guilty about holding back the faster one and the faster rider should respect the speed of the slower rider.
Ability to train together and ride together is important to gauge each others fitness and to deal with the issues above. By riding together these issues will hopefully come to the surface and be dealt with. However there are many teams who train independently, but in this situation sharing training programs, information and doing some rides together will keep everything on track.
Don’t let ego, loyalty or other issues complicate your partner choice. There is a task at hand, choose the right person for the job. If you are planning to race, or if you are planning to take in the view, make sure that you partner with the right person because they may be two very different people.
Choosing the right partner is just one part of the preparation, the rest is covered in the Cape Epic Training Epic guide.