In next month, chances are you will be lining up for your first race of the season. The closest thing it can be compared to is your first day of school after the summer holidays. All the same faces but everyone is unaware of what is to come in the coming months.
Just like your first day back to school, the first race is a similar experience. You feel awkward and out of place and your nerves are overwhelming.
This doesn’t just happen to amateur cyclists. Dan Lloyd an ex professional recently recalled on twitter lining up for the first race of the season in Qatar and looking across to see Tom Boonen. Boonen’s heart rate was 121bpm.
Boonen couldn’t have explained it better when he turned to Lloyd and said “It’s the only race of the year were you feel like a junior again”.
There’s no doubt about, there’s not much to love about the first race of the season. The weather tends to be poor, you feel sick with the nerves and chances are you’re about to experience a whole lot of pain in the coming hours, as your legs burn with lactate and your lungs sting as you gasp in the crisp air.
You just can’t recreate that type of pain in training.
Unfortunately, chances are your first race won’t go to plan. The dream of starting the season with your hands in the air will more than likely remain a dream.
You might get dropped, puncture, suffer like a dog or on a more positive note you might get a solid result.
Regardless of what happens, it’s important to note the negatives and address them. Did you struggle on the climbs and possibly have some weight to lose or have you been neglecting those types of efforts in training?
The beauty of the first race is there are plenty more races to come and even more time to address your weaknesses.
More important than looking at what wrong, is looking at what went right. Look at what went well during the race. Did you finish the race strong or was your positioning good in the bunch. Take note of the positives and recognise why you did well in those departments and keep up what makes these aspects positives.
The best way to approach your first is to get stuck in. In saying that don’t completely blow your lights by trying to ride beyond your capabilities. Realistically you’re not going to ride the whole race solo and take the victory, unfortunately.
Get involved and test yourself. Think of every race before your goal as a preparation race. Making mistakes isn’t a problem. This is the time to make them. Make them now so you won’t make them come your target event.
The best thing you can do is go into the season relaxed, give it a lash and enjoy it.
If your head is good, your legs will follow!
Get stuck in
Not too much
Don’t over think