With the racing season just around the corner, a little over a month away in Ireland, there’s a list of ‘to do’s’ that every rider should complete before beginning their season. All those winter miles in the rain, hail and snow, all those dark nights and earlier mornings on the turbo trainer could be undone by an avoidable mishap. Unfortunately these to do’s are generally those things that are put on the back burner as the real world tends to come first. With a clear guide of what to do and plenty of time to get your to do’s done before the season, it should mean that you don’t have your target event ruined by an avoidable episode.
Some of you may be lucky enough to receive new kit for the season. As appealing as it is to break out a fresh set of kit for a race or target event, it should really be avoided. The likely hood is that it may take some time for you to break in the kit before it becomes comfortable. An uncomfortable pair of shorts or jersey can ruin your event as your performance is hindered by being side tract by poor fitting kit.
Having the right kit for the event is also essential. Know what the conditions have been like in previous editions of the race and make sure you’re prepared for any type of weather. Don’t be that person running around bike shops the day before a race looking for a rain jacket because you only checked the weather the day before the race.
A few weeks in advance of the season make sure your bike gets a full service. New brake and gear cables, new tyres, brake pads and chain are essential. Also give them time to break in e.g allow time for the cables to stretch before the event. These are little things that are forgotten about but most likely to fail in a race and all your hard work over the winter months would be wasted over a broken gear cable that costs just a couple of euro.
In addition, try out your race bike set up shortly before your event. For example use your carbon race wheels and their specific brake pads before the race. It is especially important to try them out in different conditions too. Trust me you wouldn’t want to try out carbon braking surfaces in the rain for the first time in a race!
Similar rules apply for race food. Make sure to have tried and tested foods that you plan on using during your event. A perfect example of this is gels. People will rarely use them out training and when they use them for the first time in a race their digestive system is not used to digesting such a high concentration of sugars while the body is under serious physical strain. The same applies to sports drinks and bars.
Pre-race meals should also be experimented with. Eating your last meal 3 hours before you race is something you may not have experienced before until race day. Know what snacks your stomach can handle close to the event.
Choose your race
Spend time to find a race that will suit you. Pick a realistic goal that suits your characteristics. Research the route, the time of the year it’s on etc. You are more likely to get a result in a race that you have specifically prepared for rather than taking a shot in the dark and doing a whole pile of races that you aren’t 100% prepared for.
After you have decided on a race, your training should mimic the demands of the race i.e short sharp efforts for a rolly circuit or sprints for a flat race. Your training should have your body in the best condition possible to suit the demands of that specific circuit.
Come race day, ideally the aim is to have as little unknowns as possible. Everything that you have control over needs to flawless. Avoidable mishaps can put a dampener on your whole season. Obviously bad luck can occur but after putting in all the effort in over the winter months make your own luck and prevent as many mishaps as possible.
Hup the road!