By Florent Balsez
The new Tour de Bloc Season 9 is coming and as you are training hard to get your name down in history for Canada’s greatest climbing comp, here are 9 modest tips that may help you to achieve the ultimate goal: Qualifying for the Finals.
There are a lot of different theories about training and resting before a comp and I will focus on that in a future article. But to make it short, I do not need to explain why resting at least 2 days before the Day is preferable for your skin, forearms, and even your motivation. Personally, I like to take 3 days off and run 2 days before the Comp. The morning of the comp, it is good to wake up earlier to have your body awake and ready to climb. The day before, drink at least 4 liters of water to regenerate your cells. Do not stretch too hard, especially in the last hours before starting to climb.
2- BE STRATEGIC
Be patient and look at other people around you and see how they crush (or not) the problem you want to attempt, try not to be the first one, especially when they are the hardest problems you will be trying.
Also, keep in mind that the routesetters set the problems to be doable. That includes being able to do them without being 6 feet tall or having an orangutan’s reach. Therefore, if you have to dislocate your shoulder in order to send a problem it is most likely that you have the wrong beta.
You must know that only 6 problems will be taken into account for the Finals. That means, focus only on the ones you have the best chance to complete.
3- MANAGE YOUR TIME
Time matters: For 2 reasons. First, you want to make sure that you will do your 6 problems within the given time (generally 3 -4 hours), and secondly because the sooner you are done the more recovery time you will benefit from for the finals.
Because time matters, try to avoid crowds. Take a look at the overall comp, and see which problems are not covered with people.
4- FORGET PEOPLE WATCHING YOU
Do not pay attention to people around you when you climb. Sometimes, you will kill yourself trying some crazy beta just to impress the people watching and forget your initial objective: to qualify. Style does not matter in a comp. What counts are the results.
One other thing: make sure everybody is aware BEFORE climbing, especially when it is a dynamic and potentially dangerous movement. But once you start climbing, forget about everything else and focus on getting to the top.
5- MAKE FRIENDS
Yes, rock climbing can be a team sport! And it is often more efficient to climb in small groups of 2-4 climbers than by yourself. This way you can rely on them to give you a spot, feedback on your performance, you can also cheer each other on and sign your scorecards to gain some precious time.
6- SAVE ALL THE ENERGY YOU CAN
The Tour de Bloc format, with a minimum of 3 hours for the Qualifs and 4-5 problems in Finals, is more an endurance competition, even if each problem is no longer than 12 movements (in theory). Sometimes, the barrier between success and failure holds in the one-try-too-many in the previous problem. Same problem while you climb: if you realize that you have completely failed to read the sequence and that you are struggling to send it anyway, sometimes, it is more worthy just to give up and save your energy for the next try, with the good beta, even if you could have done it the wrong way, the energy spent could cost your ticket for the Finals.
7- DRINK AND EAT APPROPRIATELY
Cliff Bars and other sweet stuff are okay for delivering energy in a short time but they will have the opposite effect if you eat too much of them or if you are taking them right before the Qualifs. After hitting your max of energy, you will suddenly feel as tired as if you did not sleep the night before…
8- MANAGE YOUR LOGISTICS
Or if you are not the best for that, hire your girlfriend (or mommy) to help you with all the material aspects of the competition like the transportation, accommodation, food before and during the comp, registration, carriage of your gears, etc. Sometimes, you have so much to think about that you miss the purpose of the comp (it happened to me!) By the way, you are exempt from doing the dishes the night before the comp…
9- HAVE FUN
Finally, and the most important advice I could give is to have fun, because rock climbing is the best and most fun sport on the planet! And if you do not qualify this time, do not worry as you can still crush on the Dance Floor at the Post Comp Party. But here again, I may have some tips… (Next time)…