How I Prepared For A Multi-Day Cross Country MTB Race

Just last week, Ken and his teammate, Kevin crossed the finish line in the gruelling XCO MTB race in the South Island of New Zealand called ‘The Pioneer’.


Photo credit: Ken Cheng


In a span of 6 days (25 to 30 November 2018), they have covered 454 kilometres and over a whopping 15,000 metres of climbing. How did they prepare physically and logistically for the race? Let’s hear from Ken:



On weekdays when I had to go to work, I mainly used the indoor training platform at home, focussing on speed and interval trainings.

When preparing for such long-distance races, the tempo and sweet spot sections are crucial, however when the terrain gets rocky, that’s when interval training becomes important.


Climbing up Tai Mo Shan, the tallest mountain in Hong Kong (957m).


During the weekends when I do not have to go to work, I will head outside for endurance training that lasts for 4 to 6 hours, such as starting from Fo Tan, riding to Tai Mo Shan (tallest peak in Hong Kong) or Sheung Shui Ping Ping Shan, practising on different off-road routes


Equipment Preparation 

While racing in New Zealand, we needed to prepare more equipment to cope with the sudden change in weather and lack of access in remote areas. 

Here are the mandatory basic equipments that we must have for the race. If we are caught by the race committee not to have any of these during their random daily inspections, we will be dealt with. 

  • Helmet
  • Warm Hat
  • Windbreaker
  • Maintenance Tools – Each team must include two inner tubes (even if you use tubeless tires, you must bring one for emergency use), pump, multi-tool, tire levers, tire puncture patches, chain, chain link. 
  • First Aid Kit – A set per team, including bandages, plasters, tape, gauze, whistle and two survival blankets. We also recommend taking paraceutamols, sunscreens and electrolyte powders or medications to relieve cramps, as well as other medications you might need (such as prescription drugs or hay fever).


In this competition, my teammate and I will be using the Osprey Viper 9 bagpack Photo credit: Ken Cheng


Additional mandatory equipment (severe weather):

In the case of severe weather conditions, the race committee will make recommendations a day prior to that stage’s race, and additional equipment will be required. Weather changes or other reasons will be determined by the competition. In addition to basic mandatory equipment, i needed to carry:

  • Long sleeve thermal wear/ base layer
  • Warm tights 
  • Full finger gloves
  • Waterproof trench coat


Photo credit: The Pioneer



It is recommended to have your sports nutrition before, during, and after exercise, particularly during training to avoid stomach discomfort during the competition.

I do not recommend that you try out new sports nutrition products on competition day. 


Muscle Recovery

With my teammate Photo credit: Ken Cheng


To relieve my muscle aches, I use a muscle painkiller product called Perskindol. The Swiss brand uses peppermint oil and a variety of pure and natural herbal essential oils.

This product produces dual effects of cold and heat, which helps to relieve pain and accelerate blood circulation. It is suitable to use for warm up, preventing muscle cramps, and relieving muscle fatigue after exercise. 

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