Bike racing is a fantastic activity, and with the constant influx of new racers joining the sport annually, the sector provides plenty of competition and races to participate in. Even if the industry is pretty supportive of newcomers, your first race can feel pretty intimidating, especially if you’re new to this.
Pro racers still remember their first races. Most debut during cyclocross championships at young ages and fall in love with the adrenaline they feel during the races. In the beginning, they aren’t interested in pursuing a career in bike racing, but as they gain aptitudes and improve their skills, they consider becoming full-time bike racers. Why do we tell you this? The first races will most likely intimidate you, but so will everyone practicing this sport for the first time.
So, you shouldn’t throw in the towel if your first experience disappoints you. Every racer has been there at some point. Allow yourself to enjoy this fun and healthy sport and the camaraderie between fellow racers.
This article will help you prepare yourself for your first race.
Buy your first racing bike
Buying your first racing bike can be a daunting experience. There are many options to choose from and complex jargon used to describe their features so sometimes it’s challenging to know what to look for. A racing bike is an investment piece, and purchasing one needs plenty of consideration. One of the critical things to ask yourself is how much you afford.
Also, what do you want the bike for? Do you plan to participate in a triathlon, race on mountain trails, or other competitions? After you figure these aspects, you can search for a racing bike for sale. You can buy the racing bike in-store or online from a reputable provider. Consider their frames, brakes, groupsets, and tires when checking bikes.
Pick a race
In road racing, you can choose from several different types of races. Considering you’re new to the sport, it’s best to pick a single-day event like a criterium, road race, or time trial.
A criterium is a mass start event that implies doing multiple laps over a short internal for a pre-determined amount of time. It allows drafting, but it’s a fast race because it involves short distances and periods.
A road race can last a day and is described as a mass start race because all bikers start together. The average road race is typically 30 or 60 miles and consists of one, two, or three loops. Road races allow drafting to work on a tactic to approach the competition.
Time trials are races against the clock, and you can do it individually or with a partner. Time trials are perfect if you don’t feel comfortable chatting with other racers because the competition doesn’t allow people to draft. Everyone starts on their own and has to prove their fitness level.
Some events also include hill climbing, so you should check the calendar for local races and read their descriptions to find one you can easily navigate.
Making sure you wear equipment up to the rigours of racing is essential when bike racing, and sadly one of the most overlooked areas by beginners. During your first race, the last thing you need to deal with is a mechanical issue because you neglected to check something. In a criterium, you get a free lap if your bike gets a flat tire, but only if you’re in the last 3 or 5 las of the race.
However, you won’t get the free lap if you experience a mechanical issue due to something you could have caught before the event. So, if you trust your local bike shop, ask them to check your bike before the race and fix any issues.
When you pack the gear for the competition, check every item from the cleats on your shoes to your helmet to ensure that you won’t forget something at home. An essential list of things you need for your first bike race are shoes, a helmet, riding clothes, a riding license, full bottles, and a pump.
Before heading to the race, check if the bike tires are pumped to the preferred pressure because they make a great difference when cornering.
If you ask a bike racer their biggest regret, they’ll probably tell you that they waited until they got older to enroll in competitions. They’ve been interested in years but failed to commit to an entire season.
If you feel fit and believe you have the needed skills to do it, don’t wait until you buy a new racing bike or your schedule isn’t so busy. Look for competitions and sign up for the upcoming ones. There’s no time like the present.
Don’t be intimidated
Do you remember your first high-school day? You probably noticed that your hair wasn’t styled as everyone’s else, or you didn’t have clothes or accessories like those around you. And how smart some of your colleagues seemed when they introduced themselves.
But soon, you realised that there’s little correlation between someone’s abilities and their appearance. Therefore, don’t trick yourself into thinking that bike racing is an elitist sport or listen to everyone who talks about this sport. The best recommendations are dispensed quietly from people who have experience in the industry.
Race as much as possible
Skill is a huge factor in bike racing as a sport, especially if you prefer flat races. You’ll discover that this sport isn’t similar to doing a triathlon or running a 10k, but to playing basketball. You don’t have to spend countless hours working out and building muscles to become a pro biker. You need to race more to improve your skills. This implies enrolling in all races available in your area.
Also, try to hang out with other racers to learn more about the sport.
Bike racing is similar to a team sport because the only way to learn the truth about the sport is to join a club and share resources with other people passionate about racing.