If you have been cycling for a while and have developed a passion for it, you may be seeking new challenges. Entering a bike race or bike tour could be just the thing you’re looking for. While entering a bike race can seem intimidating, it can be a fun way to challenge yourself and become an even greater cyclist. However, it’s important to properly prepare before a bike race. Little to no preparation can lead to an injury or accident that could keep you from riding. Here’s how you can prepare for your first bike race:

Practice Group Riding

It won’t just be you out there in the race, so it’s essential to know how to cycle with others around you. Cycling in a group (bunch, peloton…), especially if you’ve never done it before, can be a little scary at first. If you’re not used to riding in groups, you could seriously injure yourself and others by entering into a race. This is why it’s important to get some experience beforehand.

Practice group riding by having your training sessions with a local riding club. There are very many of them around, ask some mates who they ride with. This will help you get used to riding around other cyclists. Observe and listen to how the others in the bunch ride in a group – how they call out danger (like parked cars and obstacles), how they ride handle-bar-to-handle-bar (side by side) and where they position themselves on their bikes. In time you’ll know how to safely pass, turn, slow down, or stop without bumping into anyone or causing an incident in the bunch. 

While experienced cyclists will ride 1-2 feet behind the wheel in front of them, when you are starting in bunch rides, perhaps give 1-2 metres to the person in front of you. You may find it less stressful to start on the back of the bunch – that way there is nobody behind you, and you can hang off a little as you develop your instincts in a bunch. Practice getting your water bottle while riding, so that it becomes second nature.

Get Fit 

To have a successful race, your body will need to be in shape. Bike races can be intense and especially hard on your body. This is why proper training will do you wonders of good before hitting the race. Each type of race will require different types of physical demands. For example, a 30-minute criterium will require high-intensity efforts like sprinting. If this is the type of race you’re going for, you’ll need to train your body to handle sprint sessions by doing interval training. If the race is much longer, then training should focus on endurance capacity.

Be sure to do your research on the physical demands your race will require. It’s important to tailor your training to each race so you’ll be better prepared and ready to take on the new challenge.