Every cyclist has, at one time or another, fantasized about partaking in one of the biggest cycling events, like Tour de France. The road to success is not only steep, but it is also full of obstacles. Eager cyclists sometimes lose races not because they are not good at what they do, but simply due to them not preparing adequately for the race at hand. Here are a few tips on how to prepare yourself for your next cycling event.
If it is possible, try to ride the track before the race. This will get you acquainted with the terrain, the twists and turns, as well as show you the amount of effort certain portions of the course might demand of you. If this is not possible, however, you still need to study the map of the course and find a similar track you can practice on. Knowing what lies ahead is an advantage over other riders you can’t afford to miss out on.
Depending on the race, you may need to focus your training on either speed or endurance. If the race in question is the combination of the two, try a routine with a standard pace with short bursts of speed to keep your leg muscles from falling asleep and hitting the plateau. In order to get the most out of your training sessions, make sure you are training at, approximately, the same time of day. This allows your body to prepare for exertion.
Another thing you may need to work on is cycling within a group. If you are a part of a team, this is essential, as you may benefit from drafting. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, drafting is riding or driving behind another participant who is taking the most of the wind resistance. With proper drafting, it is easy to stay in the front without burning out too soon. You can easily overtake the leader further along in the race.
Apart from your bike, outfit and water bottle, which are essential for competing, you should also consider getting a stopwatch and a heart monitor. A stopwatch is a great tool for letting you know where you stand in the race. Try to synchronize your watch with that of the timekeeper.
The heart rate monitor is needed in order to avoid fatigue and over-exertion. During the base parts of the course, your heart rate should be at about 70% of its maximum.
All the training you are doing and all the equipment that you get mean nothing when you neglect to eat and sleep right. Load up on carbs the day before and eat nothing three hours before the race. In terms of resting, try to get solid 7-9 hours of sleep every night. When training, make sure you take one or two days a week to rest and give your body a chance to recover.
If it’s possible, try to canvas the track one more time before the race begins. Follow the weather forecast and adjust your wardrobe accordingly. Show up to the venue early. Warm up and stretch both before and after the race to get the most of your body and to get rid of excess lactate.
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