Ready For Your First Cycling Race?
So you signed up for a race, trained really hard for months and the big day is almost here. Congratulations! This is a really big step in your cycling life. Your first race will be nerve-wracking but also exhilarating, and once you’ve completed it you’ll feel proud and want to do it again (not right away, obviously, you’ll also be insanely tired). Are you ready to do this? Take a look at these easy tips to help you set everything in place.
Check Your Bike
This is a no-brainer, you need to check your vehicle. Be thorough about it too. Really check your brakes, wheels, and the overall structure. Make sure it’s on the best condition possible. It helps to take your bike to a trusted bike shop a few days before the race and get it professionally checked.
Now, that’s where it gets tricky. Though you want to make sure there are no critical issues that can put yourself and others at risk during the race, you don’t want many changes to your bike. As in, if you plan to add anything special to the structure or changing anything that will affect the weight, speed, or feel, this is not the time to do it. You want your bike to feel exactly like, well, your bike. This is because you need to feel comfortable and in control during the race.
Is Your Race Bag Ready?
Think of your race bag as an emergency bag. You should have water and a protein bar or two, but that’s not all there is to it. Depending on the weather during your race, you’ll likely need to bring extra layers of clothing or be ready for sudden changes in temperature.
In fact, the day before the race you should check the weather and temperature. If your race is early in the morning is likely that you’ll need to be wearing leg warmers and full gloves, that you’ll later need to take off so leave room for them in your bag. Be equally prepare for rain, you can have a lightweight raincoat, a cap for your hair, shoe covers, and water-resistant gloves in your bag just in case.
Don’t Cut Out Your Warm-Up Time
This is essential when trying to avoid cramps during the race. You’ll need to warm up before the race, which means that you have to get there early. Most experienced racers get there about 2 hours before the race. It seems like a lot of time, but this accounts for time lost trying to find the place, then a parking spot, then signing up, and then finally getting to your warm up. Try to make all this time as active as possible.
Study the Course
You need to study the course, just as you would before a test. This will teach you how you need to ride the race. Get an idea of the places in which you’ll need to go faster, slower, or that will require extra strength. Plan out your race. Of course, it’s likely that you’ll need to deviate from your plan once you’re there, but it will still be useful to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. You could also set some milestones which mentally is pretty useful when you’re starting to get tired.
Always Respect the Yellow Line Rule
Amateur races almost always have this rule. Because bigger roads are not closed when smaller races are happening and cyclists are sometimes riding next to cars, they are always expected to stay far from the yellow line separating them from the car lane. It’s a safety measure that can truly save your life. Even if you decide to wing it and just improvise during your first race, this is the one rule that absolutely must follow no matter what.