Biking is something people often enjoy as a hobby and also as a form of transportation. If you’re one of those people, you might also be considering a bike race. A bike race can be exciting, and it’s a good way to push yourself to get into great shape as you prepare.
Along with learning general bicycle safety tips you can check here, there are a lot of things you can do to get yourself ready physically and mentally for your first bike race.
If you’ve never competed in a bike race you have to learn about the more technical elements, and you also need to make sure you’re fully training your cardiovascular system as well as your muscles.
There are criterium races which are focused on pack riding and sprints, and also endurance races that cover long stretches of land that’s diverse in its features.
Map Out Your Course
Before you can start preparing for your first bike race, you need to know what you’re up against. Get a map of the course so that you can learn more about the level of fitness that’ll be required and any technical skills you’ll need.
You should also get a heart rate monitor to use while you’re training so that you can make sure that you’re keeping as close as possible to the cardiovascular demands of the race.
If it’s feasible, try to ride the course at least once before you start training. You don’t have to push yourself to the point you will during the race, but this will give you a good idea of the challenges you’ll be facing so you can tailor your training.
If you already have your heart rate monitor, you can note what your rate is throughout different parts of your practice ride, and you should also note the gears you’re using and how long you stay in each.
Decide On A Race
If you’re not even sure where to start as far as finding a race that’s right for you, gravel races are a good place to start as a beginner. These do require more skills that riding on a paved road, but it’s typically a skillset that’s not so hard to develop.
With road races, you’re riding faster, and they can stretch anywhere from 30 to 200 miles.
Road races are usually broken into different categories ranging from five, which is geared toward new racers to one, which is slightly below the professional level.
Mountain bike races take you onto trails, and again, they can vary a lot in the skills you would need. There are cross-country courses that are fairly smooth and easy to navigate to downhill trails which are incredibly fast and technical.
There’s also something called cyclocross, which is a short race where you do laps on a very challenging course that may see you carrying your bike for portions.
Choosing a Bike
The type of race you opt for may be based on the type of bike you already have. If you don’t already have a bike, you should choose one that’s versatile. Gravel bikes tend to be versatile because they have a design similar to a road bike, but they can also take on rougher terrain.
Hardtail mountain bikes are similarly considered versatile.
Training for Both Skill and Strength
With bike race training, you do need to think about not only skill but also strength. You need to prepare your body for riding for a long time, and you need to feel mentally and physically comfortable with the terrain of your race.
You should aim to spend a minimum of an hour a day on a bike leading up to your race if you’re doing a shorter one, and if you’re doing a longer one, you might ride 15 to 20 hours a week.
You can start with shorter rides and then work your way up to having at least one long ride a week.
If you look at the training schedules of some of the best cyclists, you’ll see they often take a long weekend ride that lasts anywhere from five to six hours.
It’s also advisable to integrate interval workouts for cardiovascular strength. With an interval workout, you’re working very hard for a short burst of time, taking a rest period, and then repeating.
If you want to be able to ride even when the weather’s not great, you might already have or want to invest in an indoor bike.
According to Allaboutpeloton.com, a peloton is a popular option with a sturdy, high-quality frame and a range of training programs that are available live and on-demand.
If you do use Peloton as part of your training it’s easier to get in those interval and tempo workouts because the instructors are giving you cues. Some of the instructors, including Matt Wilpers, are also very technical in their classes and have some programs specifically for people interested in training for races or marathons.
When it’s the day of your race, you want to be rested, and physically ready which means about a week before your actual race you should start reducing how much time you spend training.
You don’t want to stop working out altogether, but you should reduce your mileage and focus more on interval training.
The day before your race think about a short ride to loosen up.
Then, once the day is here, you should check on your bike and make sure it’s ready to go.
Give yourself plenty of time to deal with anything at the registration tent because if you’re too rushed, it’s going to give you more anxiety.
Finally, enjoy it.
Your first cycling race isn’t about being perfect or even close to perfect. It’s about preparing for something, setting goals, and achieving them. Don’t think about other people but instead think about yourself and how you feel.
People often find their first bike race exhilarating, and it can become an addiction to prepare for and participate in these events.