It won’t be long before spring is here, and the road racing season begins. Are you considering trying a bike race? Maybe you’ve done some group rides, had a few town sign sprints and been bitten by the bug. Your first race can be seem daunting, but with a little preparation, it can be a blast.
Here are five things to consider before your first foray into road racing.
1. Check your bike the night before
It’s good to not only give your bike a clean, and lube the chain, but make sure everything looks good. Make sure everything that should be tight, is tight. Check out your tires–make sure there aren’t any bare spots, holes, or any foreign objects that may have worked their way into them. Be sure to check over your gears, make sure they are all shifting properly.
2. Pack your kit
Look at the weather for the next day and pack accordingly, but have fail safes. Pack some arm and leg warmers, a vest and jacket for the warm-up. Some people make a checklist with all the gear they will need: helmet, shoes, socks, shorts, jersey, bibs, base layer, and so on. It’s good to check that list, and check it again. Although if you forget one item you can always borrow, you never ever want to borrow someone else’s shoes, so it’s not a bad idea to triple check you have your kicks.
3. Water bottles and snacks
Look at the distance and pack enough liquids and food. It’s a good idea to bring an extra bottle for before or after the race, plus a little snack to fill your stomach until you get home. Depending on the distance, you may want a bar or two, or gels–remember that you are burning around 500-600 calories an hour in a race.
4. Plan the drive and be on time
Although most races take place on Sundays, you should always give yourself a buffer zone. It’s better to get there early and sit around than to arrive in panic. Make sure you’re there at least an hour before so it gives you plenty of time to warm-up, use the facilities, and maybe meet some new people.
5. Figure out what to wear based on the others
Check out what your competitors are wearing. If everyone is wearing shorts and arm warmers, you should probably do the same. You don’t want to be over or under dressed, so do a quick onceover of what seems to be the right outfit for the day. It’s a good idea to warm up in a jacket or vest before the race, especially in the spring. You can take it off and leave in the car or with a friend on the start line.