Whether it’s your very first cycling race experience or your 100th, it is still important that you adequately prepare for it so that you are entering the race with your best foot (or pedal) forward.
Of course, if this isn’t your first rodeo there is no doubt that you know how to prepare to adequately equip yourself for the big race ahead. For those that have never embarked or quite a journey or adventure, here are some tips to help you get started and prepared so you can pedal to the metal (or chain) and get going with confidence.
Train, train, train
The first and most vital step to take when preparing for a cycling race is making sure to train your body to keep up with the physical demands of putting it through a long-distance race. If your body isn’t prepared or used to such physical exercise, then it won’t be able to endure the race and you risk seriously injuring and damaging your muscles.
Invest in beneficial work-out and training equipment such as a portable trainer so that you can prepare your body whenever and wherever you are throughout the week. You can find out more information on feedbacksports.com.
Get accustomed to group riding
Whilst training for an upcoming cycling race, make sure to include multiple group rides into your training program. This will get you accustomed to riding among other riders in a tight-packed group and at various higher or slower speeds. This is important to learn and get used to before a cycling race so that you are familiar with cycling etiquette, especially when overtaking or maneuvering between other cyclists without annoying or distracting them.
Familiarize yourself with the course
It’s very good practice to familiarize yourself with the course you’ll be cycling to prepare yourself fully for what’s to come. Very often race organizers will share and distribute out a map of the route well in advance of the race, to give you a chance to check out the riding route and various sections of the race.
Keep your eye out for any potential hills or uphill roads that may be on the route so that you can specifically train and prepare for such areas. Also, make note of any potential danger points or hazardous areas on the course so you can be fully prepared.
Check your bike over
Make sure that you give your bike a thorough look at and checking over at least a day before the race. Don’t go into the race without leaving anything on the bike untested or unchecked. Make sure there are no loose ends orbits on the bike and that everything is working smoothly, such as the shifting of gears, bell, and lights, as well as your brakes functioning properly. Clean and lubricate the chain and double-check your tires for any deep cuts or tears.
Pack your gear and fuel for the road
Go to your race prepared. It’s a good idea to spend the night before your race packing everything you will need so that you’re not left panicking or in need of anything on the day. Create a checklist of things such as helmet, gloves, socks, cycling top etc. as well as an overcoat or cape depending on the upcoming weather conditions. As well as your essential equipment, remember to pack enough water and energy bars as fuel for the road and to keep your energy levels up during the duration of your race.
Go for a pre-race gentle ride
After fine-tuning and checking over your bike, take it for a gentle stroll around the block the day before the race. Make sure not to overdo it or overexert yourself, just a gentle ride to keep your body ticked over and get your muscles fired up for the upcoming race. This in no way should be the extent of your training, but just a final spin to end the weeks or month of training prior.
It’s good to get fuelled up before the race so try to eat breakfast at least two hours before the race is meant to commence. Keep it well balanced with some carbohydrates and some protein for extra energy and make sure it’s something you would usually eat before a training session. Oatmeals, bananas, and peanut butter on toast are usually good options. It’s important to stay well hydrated too.
With so many people participating in one cycling race it can sometimes take some time (longer than expected) to find the exact location of your starting position, especially if this is your first ever experience. This can result in people starting their race in a bit of a fluster, or even worse, starting it late.
That’s why it is good to get down there early so you have time to find where you’re exactly meant to be, register yourself, get your race number pinned on, and have time to take a final toilet break before you set off. You may even have enough time left to have a quick warm-up and get your legs a bit loose and prepared for the race ahead.
Set your own expectations and personal target
Setting up your own personal goals and targets is a good motivator to keep you going throughout the race. If this is your first race then you shouldn’t really expect to win, or even be one of the runners up. Your aim should be to get around the course, gain that experience or being in a race situation, and enjoy it the most you can.
Set yourself a certain time frame that you hope to meet and challenge yourself to get there, without straining or pushing yourself too hard – it’s ok if you don’t quite meet it, especially if this is your first ever race. You should be mainly watching and learning those more experienced riders around you, and gaining the experience that you can carry into the future to lead you to that hopeful eventual win.