Okay, I don’t “Hate” racing, but I’m not sure I “Love” it either…
In truth, I find racing my bike stressful, I’m getting better at it all, but I’m still not quite comfortable.
A race will be on my mind all week, I’ll be grouchy, distant and stressy. I’ll be making mental notes of what bike to take, kit to take, tools to take, and what food I’ll need- All of which will change daily- until I’m forced to make the call the night before. I’ll put Michael Fish to shame with my obsessive weather forecast updates. Time to get the excuses ready.
Once I’m at an event I’m nervous as hell, sizing everybody up and glancing over their bikes and kit. I usually faff around not doing anything in particular but telling myself whatever it is, is super important, unpacking and repacking my skinsuit, deliberating at what point to get changed, too soon and I’m waiting around, too late and It’s a rush.
Once signed on and with number pinned, I guess it’s time to “get in the zone”, out come the turbo trainer and headphones. To be honest I don’t really know what I’m doing with a warm up, I spin through the gears for 5 minutes up to 130/140bpm then do a minute at each 10bpm stage, so; 140, 150, 160 etc… once I’ve hit 185-190 then I spin down to 130 and repeat. Like I said, no idea!
(Does everyone find that Metal is the answer when it comes to warm Ups? I love it, be great if someone/anyone could suggest some bands to add the WU-Playlist!)
A quick drink of some sugary isotonic and a Gel and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I like to finish on the Turbo with plenty of time to do a few laps or at least a good effort on the road to check everything is as it should be. By This point, nerves are high, everyone seems to look super cool and slick, I’m getting kit-envy and I start to worry about every eventuality, silly really.
weirdly, once at the start or on the line I’m pretty relaxed; “It’s happening now, get on with it”. The worst bit about a Crit or a Roadrace is after the flag drop, the initial jostle for position. It’s a crazy max-effort to steal a march on those who hesitate, maybe i’m too polite but i always end up being squeezed out of where I wanna be and then have to chase back on twice as hard. Once the first lap is done then sweet, no worries, i’m doing it and by that point the race takes over.
With CX its slightly less crazy, if you’re a ranked rider, you end up getting gridded, so you start in the first 40 riders -seems a lot, but in a race of 150 its a huge advantage. Same huge initial effort with the jostling to the first corner but after that it becomes a game of “Catch the guy in front”. I’m a proper newbie to cross and enjoy it a lot more, so placing well isn’t too much of a drama -funny ey?
And TT is the least frantic of all; you’re held by the starter and counted down from 10,9,8… and away you go, a gut-wrenching 20minutes awaits, it’s just you, the bike and the road. It’s a mega effort but there’s nobody elbowing you out-of-the-way, or wheel spinning through mud. Maybe because I’ve done it for longer that it feels more “normal”.
Finished. Depending on the result I’m usually reasonably happy -sometime a surprise win can happen! A moment of reflection, I can usually tell if It’s been a good ride as soon as I cross the line. The post-race digest is always real fun, chatting to the riders you’ve just been battling with. I’m not sure anybody has ever said anything other than “Yeah it was tough out there” or “Ah, i just couldn’t get going” regardless of how well they’ve done. The standard Tea and cake fuelled Strava upload follows, as does the awkward getting-changed-in-the-carpark after inevitably forgetting a towel!
The weird thing about a TT is that they’re typically on early morning, so you’ve had this huge emotional rollercoaster and its only just 10am!
There is no summary really, I adore riding my bike, It’s so simple and everything just sort of falls into place. Racing seems like the next step up from just riding for ridings sake, (Not that there’s anything wrong with that) buts it’s definitely a stress. I don’t “Hate” racing my bike at all, I just need to learn how to overcome my fear of underacheiving. I love testing myself against others, It’s a great measure of fitness and progress. Don’t be like me and put-off racing year after year, everyone is always encouraging and friendly and you’ll get hooked for sure.
Having written this i can see it’s mostly down to my disorganisation! They’d probably be a breeze if I was half organised!
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Now, Just Go Ride!