..... what did you do during the week leading up to the race at Downieville. Reflecting back, I remember usually being busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest rebuilding forks, installing tires, building wheels and otherwise prepping bikes for guys that were going to be toeing the line with me at the race the next weekend. Of course, I'd be trying to work on my bike as well, usually at some "wee hours of the night" situation. I'd usually follow this up with a couple of "adult beverages" before going to bed. How's THAT for pre-race strategy!
However, I realize that the advise folks are probably looking for is in regards to having their best day at what may likely be the only race they do the entire summer. Now, I'm going to give some advise here and tell you what I would do/have done, but it should be known that my theory on what I do in the days leading into the race may (probably will) differ from what a "coach" or "trainer" would recommend.
First and foremost, I'd have my bike prepped early in the week and get a "shakedown ride" on it so I know it's good to go for the weekend. The afore mentioned ride would be on trails I knew well and would usually be an hour at the longest. The main thing to keep in mind on this ride is to have fun and feel the flow with the bike. After the ride, I'd give it a wash, lube the chain and hang it up till the weekend. I'd usually try and get this handled by Tuesday for two reasons. One, if I needed an unexpected part, I'd have plenty of time to get it handled. Two, I won't be riding the mountain bike again until the weekend.
By this point in the season, I'm as fit as I'm going to be. No amount of hard rides or interval training this week is going to help gain any fitness. You can't get fit the week before the race, but you can damn sure burn yourself out if you do too much. Be careful! I'd do some easy road rides, two hours max! I'd try and stay away from big climbs and keep the heart rate down for the most part. I might "give 'er" a little bit on Thursday, just so my body doesn't get lazy, but not too much. By Friday I'm usually itchin' to be riding trails but the emphasis will instead be on drinking lots of water and eating a slightly more than average amount of good food.
Saturday morning, I'm up early. I haven't ridden the mountain bike in almost a week so I'm completely joensin'. I'll drink lots of coffee and a good breakfast consisting of eggs and veggies. Since I've loaded up the car Friday night, all I have to do is hop in, crank the tunes and get to the start with plenty of time to mingle with friends, warm up and get a good position on the line.
Regardless of what YOU do, remember the most important thing... have fun out there.
And don't flat!