Your first race can be a scary experience & preparation is key.
I have put together some tips from various sources to help guide you through your race day journey.
Don't get caught out by not having what you need for race day by prepping your race bag the day before, I have seen people show up for races having forgotten their helmets, socks, nutrition and even showing up with only one cycling shoe. Being prepared is key to having a successful day on the bike
Try to set up a checklist to make sure you don't forget anything.
As a general rule, an average adult should drink 500ml of fluid per hour of cycling in moderate to cooler temperatures. For more intense rides in warmer weather, you may need to consume two to four 500ml bottles per hour
Eat as you normally would before a training ride
If a mountain of pasta is not the norm for you before a training ride the night before a race is not the time for that either. Always try to stick to what your body is accustomed to, Also don’t forget to hydrate the evening before your race.
The majority of the ride should be easy enough to hold a conversation with your riding partner (or yourself). Use easy gears, and spin your legs at 85+ rpm, thus avoiding any unnecessary muscle fatigue.
Overall Ride Time: 1-2 hours
After an easy warm-up, throw in the following efforts:
Once again try to stick to what feels good to you and try to stay away from foods you wouldn’t normally eat
My Race day breakfast: favourite is eggs, avocado, toast. And maybe a pork banger or two
Riding in a bunch can be a daunting experience if you are untrained, it's always best to get a few group rides in before a race
Depending on the group, the leader may take the front or choose to form an alternating pace line. It’s important to take personal responsibility when you’re in front to keep those around you safe.
Yes, there will be a time when you’ll need to clear your throat or do an air hanky. However, doing this in the middle of a group will not be appreciated. A more polite way to go about this is to wait until you’re in the back or pull to the left when it’s safe to do so. As always, make sure you let others know your intentions to pull over and be careful when re-entering the group.
Hitting the brakes unexpectedly, standing up out of the saddle when it isn’t necessary or safe to do so and decreasing speed without alerting others can all lead to a crash when riding in a group.
A big mistake cyclists who are new to group rides make is overlapping the wheel in front of them. When this occurs, any adjustments made by the rider in front could cause their rear wheel and your front wheel to touch, which could lead to an accident.
To keep this from happening, always ride directly behind the rider in front of you. When utilizing a double paceline, a good rule of thumb is to keep your handlebars even with the handlebars of the rider you’re beside. This will help the pace of the group and keep an orderly paceline.
When it’s your turn to pull at the front, it’s easy to go a bit harder than you realize. Any bump in pace could put others in the group into difficulty, which can fracture morale. The bump in effort could also cause you to fatigue later in the ride.
Keeping a group together on a climb can be tough. Because of this, you should avoid racing up long climbs unless it’s been agreed upon that the group plans to reform at the top.
If you’re new to a group, an easy way to make friends is to pull off and help any other rider who has a mechanical issue. A single rider should never be left alone on the road for safety reasons, and showing others your consideration will be met with appreciation.
Lending a hand will also help the stranded rider rejoin the group a bit quicker and ensure everyone has a good day on the bike.
Sharing your love for cycling with others is part of what makes a group rides so much fun. While a little friendly competition is OK, it’s more important to have a good attitude, encourage others and keep the mood light.
Group rides are a great time to learn from others, make friends and enjoy the comradery that can only be shared with other cyclists.
This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t know the exact location of their race start and then end up starting the race in a fluster, or even worse, late. Showing up early helps not only for easy parking but will also allow you to get a warm-up in, get your race number pinned on, and take your final toilet break
For your first race, your goal should not really be to win, or even be among the front runners. Instead, just aim to get to round, gain experience of being in a race situation, and most importantly, have fun. Really though, your first race should be about watching and learning and gaining that experience that in future you’ll hopefully be able to use to enable you to win.
The cyclist’s week begins when others end.
Day of the big ride, solo, club or friends. Normally this 2-hour ride turns into 3 or 4 with a 2-hour coffee shop break, Getting up earlier than your body is designed to do on a Sunday,
So early that you might see a few party animals returning home wobbly legged after the night out. That’ll probably be you later.
The Sunday ride causes pain in the usual pattern, You either start to question your fitness or its a good day and you are the one dishing out the pain, you know you’re going to feel it later but it’s worth it in the end.
You eventually get home, the clock is ticking on your twenty-minute recovery window. Quick! Or is it 40 minutes? You lay on the couch for an hour checking your Strava data to see how you did on beating the segments. Then you get to the classic crossroads,
“Do I go take a shower or plummet into the fridge?”
One look at the protein power recipe for the latest super trend food is enough to send you headfirst into the fridge, the balance of quality over quantity tipping heavily towards the latter.
You whip together a meal most people would be afraid of, and that is fine, you don’t need to justify yourself. You’ve just ridden further than the majority of the population today.
You then eventually take a long shower before tending to the rest of the day, resulting in the usual “ I’m just going to rest my eyes for a bit” You wake up a couple of hours later, groggy, hungry. Well, the day is almost over now so there is no point in doing anything now is there?
You realize that you might have gone too hard on those strava segments, not to mention the other 90km. It hurts, Everywhere. You want to take a nap every twenty minutes. You need a butler. And new muscles. You try and stretch as much as possible, Mostly in the form of yawns. Walking around with your compression gear might look and feel odd but your body will thank you later.
Nothing much going on. You have entered peak recovery mode. Attempting stretches you half-remember from poorly illustrated diagrams that didn’t quite explain how to stretch your whatdoyoucallit muscle.
Time for a recovery shake. You’ve earned it.
Better clean the bike, it looks like it has been on a safari. You take a bath. No bubbles. Some sort of weird crystals that promise miraculous muscle recovery
Back to the fridge for the painkillers. Surely a beer will numb the ache, right?
Things are looking up
Legs a little better. Time for another ride. A gentle one, you know the one when you ride too far and too fast aka the active recovery ride.
Then you get to the club strava segment, This is the race everyone knows about but it is never spoken of. The victor never celebrates because to do so would show how hard they were trying to win the imaginary yet very real race.
Time to plan the weekend ride.
A little sore still. You’re already thinking about jersey and sock combinations. Mentally cataloguing the food cupboard for your preferred carbohydrate and protein blend. Must get some Carbs “beer” in.
Planning the route it’s difficult to leave out that extra climb which is not too far from that lovely climb,
which leads to that little beast. Before you know it a gentle 60km spin has developed into a 90km monster with more climbing than anything else, Shit, 90 km you think. Just ten more for the century. Why not? Everyone likes a round number
Some half-assed core strength exercises first thing. Porridge or Shake?. Your own special mix though. 75% honey, 20% blueberry, 5% oats. You can’t understand why people don’t like porridge.
Take it easy at work. Limiting the number of trips to the printer. Email everyone, including the colleagues sitting next to you.
Keep hydrated downing glasses of water one after the other while mixing some electrolytes in between.
Return home and begin to worry about your lack of Strava activity. Post a non-cycling activity, just to prove you’re still alive and get the mileage up. Intervals cutting the grass.
Friday night. Carb loading at the bar. A beer has 18g of carbohydrates. Another five should just about do it.
With a hangover that suggests your carb-loading programme was a success. A huge success.
You’re grouchy, Guess it's probably time to get to that front derailleur that seems to be catching just enough to be irritating. Three hours and a whole vocabulary that you didn't know you had later, the noise seems to be worse. You head to your local bike shop admitting defeat, while they work on trying to fix your bike you walk around contemplating if you need a new one anyway.
You check the weather. Every hour. Rain threatens your ride. You check the club Whatsapp group as Excuses start to flow. Kids. Family. Injuries. But no mention of the real reason. The weather.
You’re super keen but of course, will pull out at the first sign of drizzle. You’re pretty sure you can feel the early signs of a hamstring twinge, the pain heightened whenever the clouds darken.
Kit laid out, ready for the morning. It’s only lunchtime. Counting down the hours. Being nice around the house and helping with the chores before you mutter something about a short ride tomorrow, just the seven hours.
No cycle racing on the TV you turn to the internet and begin inadvertently browsing the sales in the cycle shops.
Bicycle maintenance is one of the most important aspects of cycling. Whether you're a commuter, a racing snake, or just a weekend warrior out on the trails a couple of times a month, you always need to stay on top of basic maintenance to prevent unsafe conditions and costly surprises down the road which will ultimately end up becoming a frustration. Bike maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult or cost you an arm and a leg either.
You can keep your bike riding smoothly by following these simple bicycle maintenance tips.
Keeping your bike clean will extend the life of your components. Cleaning your bike on a regular basis will help to prevent dirt and grease buildup from eating through your bike’s mechanical parts. All you need is a bucket, water, biodegradable soap, a large sponge, a towel, and an old toothbrush or other small brush to get everything clean: the bike frame, chain, chainrings, pedals, brakes, seat, etc.
Recycle your dish sponges. You’ll get another couple of months out of them on bike-wash duty.
Floss with a clean rag between chainrings, cogs, and other hard-to-reach places.
Be committed. A clean bike rides better and lasts longer.
Mix your buckets, tools, and rags. You don’t want to cover your frame with drivetrain grease.
Use an abrasive sponge or brush on your frame.
Blast your bike with a high-pressure hose. Water will get into and degrade your bearings.
Always try to wipe off, clean and re-lubricate your chain after a ride. This will allow the lube to properly sink in before your next adventure. Some riders like to lube their chains just before a ride but this can attract quite a bit of dirt and dust as it does not give enough time for the lube to sink in. When lubricating your chain, add just a tiny amount and wipe off any excess. Using too much lube can attract more dirt and negatively impact shifting.
There are few things more annoying than having to stop during a group ride or training session to change a tube. Always inspect your tires and check the pressure using a floor pump. After checking the pressure, check the tyre for and damage cracks or objects that could end up causing a puncture,
The average pressure you should ride with is as follows: This may be different according to the tyres you are running, rider weight, terrain etc,
Having your bike fall apart while you ride can be detrimental to your health both mentally and physically, Ensuring that everything on your bike is tightened correctly will prevent any surprises during a ride, like that annoying rattling noise, or your handlebars suddenly pointing in an opposite direction,
As you are probably known, good brakes are essential. Brake pads wear over time, so be sure to check your brake pads between bike services. All you need to do is take a quick ride in the driveway and pump your brakes. If you can feel that your brakes are soft, your brake pads probably need to be replaced.
Brake alignment is also crucial nothing can be more devastating than your valuable energy being absorbed by your brakes rubbing during a ride.
If you’re out riding alone and you get a flat tire, what will you do?
Make sure you don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere and avoid that call “can you come to pick me up” by learning some roadside fixes such as changing & patching a tube, fixing a broken chain and other roadside mishaps that could occur during your adventure. YouTube is a cyclists best friend and has some helpful videos on the subject. You could even go as far as going for a class that teaches you the basics.
It’s important to get your bike serviced by a skilled mechanic, they might spot something you normally would not.
Prevention is key to keeping your bike in tip-top shape and also keeping your wallet happy. If certain things are left too long you might end up having to replace not just the worn-out part but also the parts that work in conjunction with them, such as a worn chain will end up wearing out the rest of your drivetrain much quicker than normal.
Interval training is tough but it’s the quickest and most effective way of training to become a faster rider. Coach to the pros Alan Milway explains how.
Whether you're just trying to get your fitness up from the ground or aiming for another podium, or you simply want to give a challenge to the guys on your Saturday coffee ride which always seems to end up being a race, even though everyone agreed on the WhatsApp group that it would be a relaxed one.
Interval training is a great and effective method that can significantly improve fitness, it especially works well for mountain bikers — not only do mountain bikers need high levels of fitness to simply complete the climbs, mountain bikers also need a burst of sustained acceleration on every ride to tackle changes in terrain and gradient.
Intervals don’t need to be all-out maximum but sustained and paced. If they are 3-5 minutes long they work well as hill repeats.
Completing the full workout is much more important than giving it everything you have for the first two intervals and then collapsing and calling your misses for a lift home.
Heart rate monitors and power meters are ideal tools to monitor effort and gauge pacing. However, if you are out on the bike, use one piece of trail and time your effort up it. This will set the pace for further efforts.
Interval sessions are shorter than your average rides — don’t worry if you have only exercised for 45-55 minutes and the session is over. Quality over quantity.
Vary the duration of effort and duration of rest for best benefit — but only after you have completed a few weeks of one session, don’t jump from one to another.
Alan is the best mountain bike coach in the business. He’s steered riders like the Athertons and Brendog to success and helps regular riders like us get the most out of our riding.
When doing indoor training nothing makes more sense than a smart trainer, Smart trainers are equipped with built-in power meters, allowing riders to target specific training goals with much greater precision.
“Smart trainers and smart bikes are now so powerful they are essentially a lab-standard bike at home,” says Dr Dave Nichols, cycle training consultant for Wattbike.
“The fact you have the ability to control power, to give targeted intervals and the bike will hold that wattage target for you, is pretty much as good as any laboratory setting,” adds Nichols.
We suggest some of the following products to help you get the most out of your precious training time.
No posts found