Ready to Race? A Comprehensive Checklist for Spring Racing

March 23, 2017

Race Day Checklist from BikeParts.com

The Spring Racing Season in Colorado is nearly here! With upcoming events like the Louisville Criterium, Ridgeline Rampage, and The Koppenberg, road and mountain bike racers are ready to ride. But, don’t think that just showing up on the line is enough.  Preparing mentally, physically, and being bike ready will ensure a successful start to the season.  Following is the Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop comprehensive checklist to showing up to the start line fully prepared. 

Bike Prep
While it may seem obvious, give your race bike a once over.   Notice any bike parts that need to be replaced.  As an example, your saddle  may look and feel fine, looks can be deceiving.  Materials and composition deteriorate beyond what is visible.  Consider replacing worn bike parts and purchasing new cycling accessories you plan to use for your A races later in the season.  This gives you a chance to dial in your needs early season and optimize performance in later events. 

Gear Prep
It will take time to nail down the packing system that works best for you. And, there are lots of individual preferences.  However, we’ve compiled a checklist for you. For starters, plan to use a gear bag that opens up wide and allows you to see everything within quickly. Fill it up with these items.

The basics

  • bike
  • helmet
  • shoes
  • socks
  • racing license
  • membership card
  • timing chip
  • road id
  • driver’s license
  • sunglasses 
  • team kit 
  • chamois cream
  • water bottles
  • food (gels, breakfast, coffee, whatever)
  • a bike pump
  • a spare tube

Things that will make you more comfortable, but they aren’t deal breakers:

  • extra safety pins
  • extra zip ties
  • sunscreen/lip balm
  • extra water/recovery drink for after the race or the ride home (in a cooler if it’s hot)
  • extra dry clothes to change into (if it’s cold, pack a LOT of extra clothes, hat and gloves, etc.)
  • extra food for after (especially for long races or races with a long drive home)
  • baby wipes to wipe away the grime; sunscreen, dirt, grit, sweat, pelts of road kill, etc.
  • towel (to clean up with or to lay on your car seat for the filthy ride home)
  • blanket to stretch on
  • music and headphones to block out pre-race jitters 

Race Route Prep
Know the course and the conditions.  Weather can alter race course conditions considerably.  Take into consideration the bike parts you’ll be racing and confirm you have the bike components and gear needed to successfully race the course.  For mountain bike components – consider tire selection carefully when riding wet and muddy trails. Familiarity with the race course and weather conditions aids in having confidence to tackle anything that comes at you during your big event. 

Mental Prep
How are you prepping mentally? What are your thoughts and strategies going into early season races?   Get Your Mental Game On!  Check in with your mental attitude, preparation, and willingness to “get after it.” Develop your mental strategy to overcome pre race jitters, as well as, when race challenges come your way. Your “stick to it” attitude during early season races prepares you for the bigger challenges you will face later in the race year. 

Bike Nutrition Prep
As you approach your first race of the season, you may want to read the post, A Guide to Race Day Nutrition.  Many cyclist have different preferences as to how they prefer to get their fuel – whether that nutrition is in bars, gels, and liquids.   Selecting the right type of fuel depends on many factors such as duration, intensity and what type of activities such as cycling, running or multi sport.” The end result: experimentation during training and early season races will aid in dialing in proper race day nutrition for your “A” races and events.

Whether you’re entering your first event or you’re a seasoned racer, early season races can be tough. However,  now that you have your gear bag ready and a handy checklist, you’re ready for a great 2017 cycling season.  

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How to Master Race Day Jitters  

July 28, 2016
BikeParts.com team rider Joshua Vogt mastered the jitters! #1 at the Rattler Series #3

BikeParts.com team rider Joshua Vogt mastered the jitters! #1 at the Rattler Series #3

Before a race or a big event, do you ever feel overwhelmed? Nervous? Anxious?

For the most part, experiencing those sensations is normal. Yet, oftentimes, negative self talk can exasperate the problem.

Thoughts like, “I haven’t trained enough” or you find yourself caring too much about what other people think.  Maybe looking around the start of an event you take a mental inventory and think other cyclist look more fit or have better bikes. Worst case scenario, you notice the weather and assign its condition as to how you think you will perform. Whatever the case may be, managing your thoughts and creating successful race day routines is well within your scope of control.

At Peak Cycles Bicycle shop, we’ve found that a little preparation can aid in reducing race day jitters.  Here’s what works!

Register for an Event – In order to experience race day jitters, you actually have to be registered for an event!  If you don’t have anything planned, select a road race and / or  MTB race for the upcoming month. Here’s what we have on tap for Colorado racing

Set Goals – Everyone has different goals.  For some, races are just about getting harder efforts in and saddle time.  For others, it’s making the podium. For most cyclist, it’s about achieving personal bests.  The most important aspect of having a goals it that it can help reduce pre race anxiety and also help you better evaluate your performance post race.  Identify what you want to accomplish with this event –  whether it be a targeted heart rate or power zone, a solid nutrition plan, or attacking certain areas on the race course.

Race Route – Know the course and the conditions.  Weather can alter race course conditions considerably.  Take into consideration the bike parts you’ll be racing and confirm you have the bike components and gear needed to successfully race the course.  For mountain bike components – consider tire selection carefully when riding wet and muddy trails.  Familiarity with the race course and weather conditions aids in having confidence to tackle anything that comes at you during your big event. 

Race Day Rituals – Designing and refining a pre-event routine is an important part of building a successful race season.  Does having a checklist of race day activities help structure your preparation to the start line?  Include items such as nutrition, hydration, clothes, gear, extra bike parts and basic bike tools. This way, you won’t forget anything as you prepare for your start.  Maybe visualization, mantras, and breathing exercises are your thing.  Regardless, each event offers you a chance to build on race day rituals that have helped you in the past and also enhance your support for your next race.

Start Line Mental State – Your thoughts, emotions, and pre race behaviors are components of your mental state; with that in mind, take inventory of your mental state and align them with your goals.  It’s easy to compare your training and fitness to others.  Here is where having your race plan and goals specific to this event comes in handy. 

Success Parameters – Evaluate your results based on your goals.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What can you do next race to get a better result?  Be objective and explore how your mental and physical training helped prepare you for this event.  Remember to evaluate your bike and cycling accessory selections.  Did you race the right bike?  Would a different wheel set make a difference?  Did you suffer from mechanicals?  Now is the time to dial in, replace, and buy the bike parts that you need going into your next event.

Whether you’re entering your first event or you’re a seasoned racer, you’re always likely to suffer from some race day nerves. However, with a little planning you can gain confidence.  No matter what your training has been like up until this point, having successful race day strategies in place puts you way ahead of a lot of other people on race day.