It’s time for cyclists to start participating in races and events again. There’ll be plenty of them in our area over the spring and summer months.
You’ve kept up your training and you feel ready and excited to get at it. We’ve put together a few suggestions for you that we think will improve your cycling performance.
Know your route
Don’t make the mistake of not riding the race route before the big day. You’ll learn a lot. You already know your strengths and weaknesses as a rider. That knowledge isn’t worth much unless you know ahead of time when and where you’ll apply your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses.
Divide your ride
Experts say to divide the ride in thirds. What you want to avoid is having no energy for the last third, which is a common rookie mistake. During the first part, take it easy. During the second part, you should be working much harder. You’re pedalling faster, your heart rate is up and you’ll feel those muscles working. For the final segment, you’ll push it with all the energy you have left.
Know the wind
Before the race, determine the wind direction. Crosswinds can completely turn a race upside down on you if you aren’t prepared for them. Position yourself in the front echelon when you know a crosswind is coming. Everyone else will want to do that as well, provided they know the course and the wind direction. Many just aren’t prepared for it when it happens and you can use this to your advantage. When you’re approaching a corner and feel a headwind or tailwind, position yourself because a crosswind is coming.
Water and nutrition
Start the race well hydrated. Sip a few ounces every 15 minutes. You should be draining a bottle of liquid every hour. Eat something after your first hour in the saddle. Nibble every 15 minutes after that. You need to as you’re expending a lot of energy and some of it needs to be replaced.
Minimize aches and pains
You won’t escape the aches and pains but you can minimize them. Shrug your shoulders periodically. Change your hand positions, while keeping your thumbs wrapped around the bar or brake lever. Stand up and drop one pedal so that your knee is straight. Repeat this with your other leg. When the course allows it, usually on a flat stretch, reach one hand up between your shoulders and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
Enjoy the race! Make sure you cool down properly. Give your body the time and nutrients it needs to recover. You likely have another race or event coming up soon and you need to be at your best.