Preparing for your first race - Part 1 of 3
First of all, why do we want to even race? We have our bikes. We ride as often as we can with our local cycling group. We have friendly competitions every once in a while. Everything good going for us.
So why do we want to enter an event that ups the ante?
I guess that question is also the answer, isn’t it?
We want higher stakes. We want to pit ourselves against other cyclists, not necessarily to win first place, but to prove to ourselves that we have what it takes to compete to begin with. We dare to put ourselves on the chopping block and find out how we stack against our contemporaries.
At least, that’s how I felt about it the first time.
Now, once the idea of joining a race enters your mind, may I suggest that you sign up right away for whatever race is happening in your area or in an area near you. Even if it’s only a week away.
Why? It is counterintuitive isn’t it? To participate in a race only days away.
This is your first race we are talking about. If you can help it, and if you’re not the type to want to really fully prepare for a competition, get it ticked off from your list as soon as you can. Your first race is about experience more than anything else. This saves you from severe heart ache too.
What do I mean?
Imagine preparing for 6 months for this event. You feel the pressure building as it approaches. Then come race day, you discover you didn’t do very good. It’s possible that this might leave you deflated.
So sign up quick. Participate in one or two races, and hang that feather on your cap.
But. If indeed you are the competitive type and you wan to prepare, then stay with me.
Before anything else, let me commend you for wanting more from cycling. And for demanding more from yourself. Preparing for your first race will have a tremendous impact on your health so that alone is already a major win. And for sure, the rigors of training will shape you into a better cyclist.
A warning though. A race isn’t your grandma’s local group weekend rides. If before you signed up for a race, all you’ve competed against is your local group, then your idea of your own performance can be greatly skewed. What’s more, your performance as a rider will likely plateau because you’re only riding against the fastest in your group who, in a race, may actually be the slowest among the riders there.
Does that make sense?
They say the fastest local recreational rider is the slowest racer. I don’t mean to make fun. I am just framing the situation to manage your expectations.
At this point you could be asking yourself, when is this article going to get to the good stuff about the actual preparations for a race???
Patience, young padawan.
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