Individual Time Trial Stages of the Giro D’Italia

 
To coincide with the early mountain stages, Multipower Sportsfood, the sports nutrition partner of the Giro d’Italia, have provided Cycling Shorts with a series of  four technical, nutritional and physiological infographics depicting the challenges undertaken when competing in the mountains.
This is the third in the series of four.
 

Multipower Time Trial InfographicThe last five editions of the Giro have ended with a final day time trial, although only in 2012 did the race leadership change hands, as Ryder Hesjedal took the maglia rosa away from Joaquim Rodriguez to become the first Canadian Grand Tour winner. The 2013 Giro breaks away from the recent tradition and will end with a road stage from Riese Pio X to the old Roman city of Brescia.

The 2013 Giro features 75.4 kilometres of individual time trialling, which is more than the 2011 and 2012 races combined. 2008 was the last time the race included more kilometres against the clock (80.7km).

Five-time Giro champion Alfredo Binda was the winner of the first time trial in the Giro in 1933. The Italian won the 62-kilometre stage from Bologna to Ferrara en route to the last of his overall wins in the race.

Ever wondered why some riders have energy gels hanging out of their shorts during time trials? Because of the intensity of time trials, the top riders will not have time to take any food from their team cars during the stage. Also, the skinsuits they wear for improved aerodynamic performance will not have any pockets, so putting them under their lyrca is the most convenient place.

 

Throughout the three weeks of competition (3-26 May) Multipower Sportsfood, is also offering cycle fans the chance to get their hands on a variety of prizes in an easy to enter daily prediction competition. Prizes include signed race jerseys, Giro d’Italia drinks bottles and the ultimate prize of a Cannondale Pro Cycling Super Six EVO Team Edition professional race bike worth £6,499.
To take part in the competition entrants simply need to visit the Multipower website, www.multipower.com/uk/giro , and vote for their stage favourite before the 10km to go marker.
 
 
 

The Challenge of the Giro D’Italia Mountain Stages

 
To coincide with the early mountain stages, Multipower Sportsfood, the sports nutrition partner of the Giro d’Italia, have provided Cycling Shorts with a series of  four technical, nutritional and physiological infographics depicting the challenges undertaken when competing in the mountains.
This is the second in the series of four.
 

Giro Mountain Stage InfographicOnly 43 riders completed the gruelling stage 18 in the 1956 Giro that finished on the Dolomite climb of Monte Bondone. Temperatures were well below freezing (with some estimates saying it was as cold as -10°C), and after heavy snow began to fall, race leader Pasquale Fornara abandoned the race and found refuge in a farmhouse. Luxembourger Charly Gaul won the stage, but it is claimed that he stopped during the stage for a coffee and had to have his clothes cut from his body afterwards.

The 1987 Giro famously came down to a battle between two team-mates: Ireland’s Stephen Roche and Italian Roberto Visentini. The latter lead on stage 15, but Roche disobeyed team orders and attacked on the descent of the Forcella di Monte Rest climb. Visentini got the remainder of his team to try and chase him down and team manager Davide Boifava even pleaded to Roche to end his attack. Nonetheless, to the dismay of the Visentini, Boifava and thetifosi, the Irishman went on to win the race.

Hydration plays an important role in cycling, and if it is ignored, it could lead to a number of problems such as severe fatigue and even heat exhaustion.Domestiques will have the job of fetching water bottles for their team leaders throughout the Giro, and normally they will do this by picking the drinks up from their team cars. However, the roads on a handful of mountain stages in this year’s race (most notably stages 14, 15, 19 and 20) are so narrow that a neutral motorbike will be on hand to supply them with bottles.

 

Throughout the three weeks of competition (3-26 May) Multipower Sportsfood, is also offering cycle fans the chance to get their hands on a variety of prizes in an easy to enter daily prediction competition. Prizes include signed race jerseys, Giro d’Italia drinks bottles and the ultimate prize of a Cannondale Pro Cycling Super Six EVO Team Edition professional race bike worth £6,499.
To take part in the competition entrants simply need to visit the Multipower website, www.multipower.com/uk/giro , and vote for their stage favourite before the 10km to go marker.
 
 
 

Nutrition for Better Recovery

Mash TOC09 Recovery

Nutrition for Better Recovery

* ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSION/MEDICAL HELP BEFORE STARTING OR CHANGING ANY EXERCISE REGIME.

 

The more you train the more important it is to recover quickly. But this is also true for those who work out just once or twice a week. Whether it’s a long steady ride or a hard short training session, you’re muscle fibres are going to take a battering. Whenever you do something different (gardening, DIY, a longer or faster ride) you will break more fibres (and be more sore the next few days too).

 

The Anatomy

Muscles are made of two types of protein, myosin and actin, these proteins literally pull on each to get closer and this causes contractions. These are microscopic and there are millions upon millions of them doing this at the same time. When you work hard (or do something different) some of these fibres are damaged and need repair.

 

The process is called protein synthesis and it happens every day whether you train or not.  New fibres are created to replace old damaged one, the debris is then removed and you can start training again. If your body does not have protein then it cannot itself.

 

What does your body need after a hard ride?

In simple terms protein! But your body will also be low on carbs (assuming it wasn’t a leisure ride), so it’s essential to throw some of them in too.

The aim of recovery fuel/food is to;

1) Get protein into the body

2) Replenish carbohydrate stores

3) Replace any vitamins and minerals used up during exercise (your salts are the main minerals that need replacing, as you lose them when you sweat)

 

 

Foods That Aid Recovery1) Sources of Protein

Meat Meat Meat, it’s the best source of protein. You can also get protein shakes designed for recovery. Although I still prefer the old fashioned cooking option, but if you are in a rush or do not feel hungry after, shakes are a good way to get protein (and carbs) into you.

 

2/3) Sources of Carbs & Minerals

Although pasta, rice and potatoes are great for replenishing carbohydrate stores, they aren’t exactly high in vitamins and minerals. A better meal replacement would be a mix of vegetables alongside your meat.

 

 

Vegetarian / Vegan?

What if you’re a vegetarian or vegan? Well it gets very hard to get your protein intake. However there are chicken style pieces you can buy from your local supermarket which are high in protein. Again add veg to increase carb, vitamins and minerals consumed.

 

Nick Wachter

PhysiKcal Fitness

Cycling Shorts Resident Personal Trainer & Conditioning Coach
 
 
 

The Annie Simpson Guide to Get Fit Quick!

Cyclocross Season

For me the Cyclocross season ended in January. With my road form, of which I had desperately been trying to cling on to, long gone and little time to train around racing I finished the season a detrained, demoralised poor excuse of a bike racer. After a few days (or could of been a week) of eating every bit of cake, chocolate, biscuit or any variation of baked goods I could get my hands on, I gave myself a metaphoric slap and decided to buck my ideas up and look ahead to the 2013 road/mtb season. After perusing the Racing Calendar I had put together a tidy competition plan for the year, gave myself a pat on the back, had some celebratory cake, then looked at the dates….Panic immediately set in. My first race was NOT that far away and with new shiny kit and even shinier bikes I really did need to pull my finger out and get fit quick. Like most people I have limited time as I am in Uni 5 days a week, but sadly it’s not doss (undergraduate) Uni anymore I have been there done that, no now it’s a time consuming Masters degree with an added 20 hour per week Nutrition Internship.

And so here I bring you the Annie Simpson Guide to get Fit Quick! It is none scientific, not wholly sensible and at times very painful but as I sit here a week out from my first race of the season…I think/hope it worked.

1)      There are no 2- ways about it, you need to tolerate the Turbo! Even if you don’t want to turbo, you should probably just man up and get on the turbo. I found even grabbing as little as 45 minutes here and there is better than nothing. But NEVER just ride, because a) that’s boring and b) it needs to feel worthwhile i.e Hurt. So just come up with some crazy pyramid session that requires a lot of clock watching, so much that you start willing time to slow down for the recovery sections. I never really have any rhyme or reason to what session I do, I just do what I feel like to increase the odds of actually getting on the dreaded thing.

Dani King- Current Olympic & World Champ!

2)      When you do have time to ride outside for a decent period of time, ride with people who are infinitely better than you. This will give you the harsh wake up call/ kick up the bum you need to just get better!! My personal example of this comes in the form of one day me deciding it was a good idea to go for a long ride with current Olympic and World Champion Miss Dani King. Needless to say, I got an absolute kicking. And just for good measure, Laura Trott also made an appearance on said ride and proceeded to drop me as she rode easily up a climb. To cut a long and torturous story short, I blew so bad, so so bad that Dani had to physically push me home! No word of lie, I had blown so bad I had lost my sight and my legs would no longer turn, I even threatened to end our friendship! Thankfully she took me out for a posh burger in Hale and huge serving of Fro Yo and we can now remain friends. Moral of that story: It was a rude awakening and actually gave me a whole load of motivation to continue to get fit quick, in a sadistic kind of way.

Night Riding!

3) Do not be afraid of riding in the Dark! It actually is surprisingly motivating as it gives you the sensation that you are riding very fast, that is until you look down at your speedo and see your not, therefore remove said speedo and morale will be considerably higher as you still think you are riding very fast! Good lights help, it’s worth the investment (Shameless plug: Hope Tech lights are the best). Especially if you are going MTBing in the dark, I have found you end up hurling yourself down stuff that if you could fully assess in the daylight then you might not attempt, therefore it doubles up as technical training too, Bonus!

4)  I don’t have the time or the money to go get all buff in a gym, or also known as S&C. Don’t get me wrong I would like too, but it just doesn’t fit. So I have developed the Living room Gym! Ever get the urge to break into a lunge or squat? No me either, but if you just force yourself to do it 2-3 times a week I have found its better than nothing. Just using your own bodyweight is a good place to start, but then as you progress start holding household objects such as big books, bags of sugar or the less weird option of mini dumbbells. Do planks & push ups and if you’re really getting into it do some stretching at the end and there you have a little step into being a little bit better. It’s a bit like that Tesco advert ‘Every Little Helps’ a budget workout!

5) During this cold weather we have been having… then not having… then having again, I have made some huge kit misjudgments which I now believe may have worked to my advantage. For example, wearing less kit makes you cold and therefore to warm up you must ride faster. When you get 70km from home on the club run, you are frozen, you reach into your back pocket to put on your cape, the cape zip does not work, you remain frozen! The club run sets off back at a blistering pace, due to having less kit on I found I was more inclined to chew my stem, dig in and not get dropped as a) I was actually starting to warm up & b) I would get home and out of this god awful weather a hell of a lot faster.

There you have it! I must stress these are by no means recommendations, if I had the a bit more free time I would do things a lot differently, but you have to play the cards you are dealt. It remains to be seen what my season holds off the back of ‘that’, but thankfully I have an up and coming training camp in Majorca to do some proper training. I will let you know how it all goes.

Happy Pedalling!

Annie (@LittleSimo)

A Woman’s Guide to Racing (Part 5) – Are you ready to race?

 

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 5

Are you ready to race?

 

So, you’ve done the training, entered the races, got your licence (if required) and your first race is fast approaching.  But how do you prepare for your first event?  Here is my survival guide to getting ready for racing…

1) “No Licence, No Helmet, NO RIDE!”

Those words never fail to fill me with fear – I go into a massive panic and start searching through my bag about five times to check I’ve got both of them.  It’s a bit like going on holiday when you’re rushing around at the last minute looking for your passport and tickets.  Take it from me – do as I say, not as I do – and get a list together (see below).

Obviously, if you’re riding a time trial you won’t need your British Cycling licence (unless it’s the National Championships), but I keep everything together so that they go everywhere with me – I get too confused otherwise!

2) Packing your bag

So, we’ve got two essential items for your list already – helmet and licence – but what else should you take?  Here’s a few more items that you should always have with you when turning up for a race:

  • Helmet
  • Licence
  • Cycling kit for racing (if you’re going to get changed when you arrive)
  • Long sleeve jersey to warm up in (sometimes called “track tops”)yc
  • Leg warmers
  • Arm warmers
  • Rain cape (or jacket) – these three items are to help you in inclement weather – I’ve seen far too many people turn up to races in short sleeves and shorts when it is freezing – look after yourself and invest in some arm warmers – you’re worth it!
  • “Start sheet” – if there is one available – print it out off the internet if the organiser doesn’t send you one in the post so that you know where the headquarters are (it does help!)
  • Cycling shoes and socks
  • Track mitts or full gloves (depending on the weather) – you want to ensure your hands are protected in case you come off
  • Safety pins – for the race number that you will be given (trust me, you can never have enough safety pins!)
  • Food for during the race – whether this be energy gels, energy bars or sweets!
  • Drink for during the race
  • Drink and food for AFTER the race – remember you will need to rehydrate and refuel before starting the journey home
  • Sunglasses
  • Hair bobble and a brush (if you have long hair)
  • Towel and toiletries for getting changed post-event
  • Plastic bag for your used kit
  • Clothes for post-race (can be forgotten if you’ve travelled in your cycling kit!)
  • Change for donation box for post-race cake and tea

Whilst I am at it, you may want to have a think about the bag you’re going to use for your kit.  I spent 18 months lugging a 90 litre cargo bag to races with me, but I could never find anything as it was all dumped in the one compartment and it was also pretty heavy.  In the end, I swapped it for a holdall with wheels (I couldn’t afford a posh one) but it has loads of pockets and now I can find everything!

3) Check out the Race Headquarters in advance

The beauty of living in the 21st century is that you can look at where the race HQ is in advance, using the internet.  Some headquarters are better than others and unfortunately, some can be somewhat lacking in space to get changed.  So, it can sometimes be worth being at least half ready before you set off to the event, depending on how far you have to travel.  Otherwise, be prepared mentally for the concept of having to get changed in a toilet cubicle, or in the car under a towel.  Luckily, some places have really good facilities nowadays where that isn’t a problem, but there are still some village halls that are a bit worse for wear.

In addition, if you plan your trip in advance, so that you know where you’re going and how long it will take, that will take a lot of anxiety away so that you can concentrate on getting totally psyched up for the event in question instead.

Finally on this point, and this is especially important if you are riding a time trial – check out how far the HQ is from the circuit!  The general rule of thumb is that you must sign on at least an hour before you are due to ride, but if there is a 20 to 30 minute ride from the HQ to the circuit (which can happen a lot in time trials), make sure you factor in that time in addition to the time it will take you to get ready – the last thing you want to do is set off too late and miss your start time (yes, I learn from my mistakes)!

4) Check your equipment in advance

The last thing you want to do is travel all the way to a race, only to find that your gears don’t work/you’ve got a flat tyre, etc.  So check your bike works properly in advance.  Either pump your tyres up in advance (one of the last jobs before putting the bike in/on the car) or take the track pump with you if you have room in the car and pump them up when you arrive (make sure you have enough time to do this).  If you’re using a computer or heart rate monitor which needs to be charged, make sure you charge it in advance and don’t forget your heart rate monitor belt if you are going to use one.  Make sure all the lids are on your bottles properly (you do not want half a litre of energy drink spilling over the back of your car, trust me).

5) Are you mentally prepared?

Good question.  You may think that you are, or you may be absolutely bricking it.  In any case, I have drafted in Huw Williams of lafuga.cc to give you some advice on how to prepare yourself mentally for the race:

Where’s your head at?

“Psychology has long been known to be a key factor in athletic performance but recent successes by our cyclists at elite level in the Olympics has fired it into the forefront of our thinking. High profile wins by riders like Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton have highlighted personal mental issues overcome on the way to hitherto unconquerable targets and British Cycling’s chief sports psychiatrist Steve Peters has received almost celebrity author status for his work with metaphorically mental chimpanzees that all too readily pop out of their cages when you least need them too and scupper your best laid plans.

“At more modest grass-roots racing level, psychology is more often overlooked, but along with the other key demands of racing, physiological, technical and tactical conditioning, Developing riders’ confidence so that they can manage performance states successfully is an important objective.

“When it comes to a race you can be the most skilled tactician, best bike handler and the fittest rider on the grid, but if you’re a quivering, nervous wreck when the gun goes, and can’t implement any of your skills in the race, you aren’t going to perform. So whatever level you race at, psychology should play an important part of your training.  In the same way that your climbing technique or your power or your tactical awareness needs to be trained, so does your mental state. Think of it as developing ‘mental toughness.’

To help you do this here are a few basic truths:

1)      Sports Psychology is not Witchcraft or some new-age magic

2)      Mental skills, like physical skills have to be mastered over time

3)      Mental skills, like physical skills need to practiced in training before being implemented into competition

4)      Mental skills, like technical skills are an integral part of training and preparation

“As stated at the start of this article, there is a much greater awareness of the role that sports psychology plays in sporting achievement these days but success is not exclusively the preserve of riders with a strong mindset. Many other factors, some listed above, might contribute to the fact that even the most mentally tough rider might not win a race on a given day. What we concern ourselves with when looking at mental toughness is our own ability to perform at the highest level we are capable of and to do it consistently. Much else is beyond our control and not worth worrying about (and that in itself is a concept that many riders find it hard to get their heads around). For this reason, developing control of the emotional state in order to be able to perform optimally is often of more value than setting specific event goals. “I am going to win this race” is a positive mindset but any number of factors beyond your control might make this unachievable, whereas “I am going to perform the best I can” is completely within your control.

“Sports psychology is a vast area of study. As an example, pride of place on my bookshelf at home are two excellent industry standard textbooks published by Human Kinetics. The first is ‘The Physiology of Sport and Exercise’ and the second is ‘Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology.’ The psychology text is three times the thickness of the physiology text and also has an extensive online ‘further study guide’. I mention this as an example of how understanding the human mind and how to train it is a vastly more complex issue than understanding the human body and how to train it. There are no quick fixes here and given the individual character traits that differ widely from rider to rider, you’ll understand the complexity and scale of trying to cover the subject in great depth here is next to impossible. Instead we’ll look at a couple of areas most likely to be of benefit to the novice racer and how you can improve your mental state. The first is preparation and the second is performance.

1) Preparation.

“Observing the pre-race ritual of a road race is a coaches’ dream. You get to witness a myriad of different responses to what is about to take place indicating the different emotional states of the riders. At a recent race in Kent there were girls staring fixedly down the track lost in their thoughts while others were laughing and chattering away at high speed to anyone who would listen. One girl was nervously sipping form a bottle every 5 seconds barely returning it to the cage long enough before taking it out again for another drink. Some were even doing last minute stretches while straddling the bike, waiting for the off. Clearly the emotional states of these riders was hugely varied, each had their own ways of preparing and coping with the anxiety of what was about to come. So what’s right?

“The key to consistently performing well is preparation. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ a number of times and although it’s something of a cliché its certainly a reasonable mantra for a novice racer. And although we’re talking primarily about mental development in this feature, ‘mental toughness’ isn’t just mental. It’s also being physically prepared and emotionally in control. If you’re on the line knowing that you are in peak physical condition and you’ve practiced all your technical skills then you know you are in a position to perform at your highest level. You can use this knowledge to control your emotional state in a number of ways.

Imagery

“Firstly is the use of imagery or ‘visualization’. Imagery is a highly powerful tool in developing confidence and you can use it boost your performance.  Let’s say you’re working on your bike handling by doing cornering drills. You work at it by repeatedly cornering at increasing speeds until you develop the ability to do it well over and over again. Before each pass, stop and take a few moments to ‘see’ yourself doing it properly. What’s your perfect road positioning and line through the bend? What’s your ideal bodyweight distribution like through the corner? Where are your optimal braking and acceleration points? Are you looking ahead through the bend. Ingrain this image of what you, doing the perfect corner looks like, and visualize yourself doing it perfectly before each time you practice a corner.

Self Talk:

“Let’s face it if you see somebody on the start line of a race staring fixedly down the track and talking to themselves you’re probably thinking they’re a bit nuts and one to avoid when the gun goes. But far from being the first sign of madness, whether you do it out loud, under your breath or in your head, talking to yourself can be a great way to focus the mind. Negative thoughts, distractions and Steve Peter’s chimps invariably start to infiltrate your thoughts at times of high stress like before a race, but self talk can be a great way to turn your thoughts back to positives. So you might look apprehensively at the rider with full aero-wheelset and tanned legs next to you and instead of the negative thought that “she looks a bit good” tell yourself “I’m looking forward to the challenge of competing against this rider as I have prepared well and if I concentrate on doing what I need to do I will be fine.” Or another example, we all have a particular section of road (usually a hill) or element of a training session that we struggle with, so instead of saying to yourself “I’m coming up to the part of the ride that always defeats me” say to yourself “I look forward to another chance of beating that hill/interval whatever.” Self talk is a highly valuable method of turning negative thoughts that can undermine your emotional state into a very positive mindset.

 

2: Performance

“Both Imagery and self talk are great techniques to get into a positive mindset pre-race, but even if you are the best rider at controlling your emotional state and getting your mind attuned to what is about to take place, if everything falls apart when the action starts all those pre-race coping strategies count for nothing. Racing, especially in the grass-roots categories is a very chaotic affair. To the inexperienced rider, the constantly changing shape of the peleton due to random attacks, riders getting dropped and high intensity surges, is highly confusing. The lack of any recognisable pattern often leaves those unprepared for it unable to make any conscious decision as to how to react to any given situation until its too late – they’ve missed a break or are in totally the wrong position and unable to contest the final sprint. It’s option paralysis, a state where when faced with so many choices you are so confused that you make none.

“There is a lot of very fast decision-making to be done in road racing so remaining calm amidst this chaos is essential if you are going to be able to make the correct calls and this is something that needs to be learned. Force yourself to look at yourself when you are racing and examine your emotional state. Are you so tense that you’re bending the handlebars in a white-knuckle death grip in anticipation of the next attack – or are you so laid back rolling along in the middle of the pack that you wouldn’t even notice if a break went let alone be able to respond to it. Your mental state is key to how well you perform and the decisions you make during the race and if you’re overwhelmed by the chaos around you, you won’t perform at your best.

“One coping strategy is implementing the classic “if, then” strategy, a simple but effective means of pre-identifying certain scenarios (the problem) which you then react to in a pre-determined way (the solution). So you might have identified a strong rider in the early laps of a race or from previous events and your strategy would be “if that rider attacks, then I will go with her” decision made, no confusion. Likewise if you know you are going well on a certain day your strategy might be “If I am in the lead group with 5 laps to go, then I will launch a solo attack at the top of the climb.” Again, all confusion about if and when you should attack removed. Having a few of these pre-ingrained strategies in place can greatly reduce your state of anxiety during the race. The chances are that some completely unexpected scenario will occur to scupper your intention and make you revise the plan but that in itself could be part of your “if, then” coping strategy; “If something happens that I am not prepared for, then I will not panic but remain calm and quickly re-evaluate my race plan.”

“Practice the above techniques in the areas of preparation and performance and instead of worrying about what the race might hold and underperforming you now have a preparation strategy whereby you visualise yourself doing the right things and can talk your mind into the correct place, as well a good basic race-plan that anticipates certain scenarios and how you will react to them, your first small steps to improving your mental toughness.”

Thanks to Huw Williams for the above, it is useful for every racer – male or female.

Finally, my thanks to Ed Rollason of Ed Rollason Photography www.edrollasonphotography.co.uk   for the photos.

Next week will be my final article in the series – Race Day!  In the meantime, enjoy riding your bike and stay safe.

Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

A Woman’s Guide to Racing (Part 4) – Practice! Practice! Practice!

 

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 4

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Last week’s article was all about training – general advice and more specific tips about women’s racing and how best to prepare for it.  I know that at the end of last week’s article, I said that this week would be about race preparation, but unfortunately, you’ll have to wait another week for that as I thought I would concentrate on something that often gets forgotten about – things to practice for when you are racing.  So without further ado, here we go:

1) Drinking from your bottle

Ask yourself a question – when you decide that you want a drink whilst out on your bike, what do you do?  Do you stop, unclip and then reach down and grab your bottle?  If so, the first thing you need to practise is reaching for your bottle whilst on the move, taking a drink and then putting it back, whilst still moving.

This may seem really simple to some people, but the point is that if you don’t put your bottle back in the cage correctly and you subsequently hit a pot hole, I have seen so many bottles take flight, which then means that you have either

2011 Bedford Stage 4 ©www.VeloUK.net (Larry Hickmott)

2011 Bedford Stage 4 ©www.VeloUK.net (Larry Hickmott)

inadvertently caused a crash behind you, as people swerve to avoid your bottle, or you have to complete the race without any drink – not the best idea!

Whilst I am on bottles, please do not throw your bottle away unless you need to in order to take another bottle on board.  And if you absolutely have to throw your bottle, be careful where you throw it as again it could end up in the middle of the bunch, with possible crashes as a result.  Carrying an empty bottle won’t make that much difference to the weight of your bike, and unless you are lucky enough to get an unlimited supply of free bottles, if you lose a bottle every race, the cost of replacing them soon adds up, AND you become a litter lout too, so don’t do it.

2) “Clipping in”

So you are on the start line, and the flag is waved to start the race.  You look down, check where your feet are and push off, again looking down to clip your other foot in.  When you look up again, the rest of the riders have already entered the first bend and you face a chase to get back in contention.  And it’s only the first lap.

Again, this might seem simple, but a race can be won or lost, or points gained or lost, on your ability to “clip in” to your pedals quickly. It is easy to practise, and your riding will benefit from it as you will get used to clipping in and out easily, so there’s no more worries then about stopping at junctions, etc.  Plus, why use extra energy chasing to get back in the race when you could be up there from the start?  It’s a no-brainer for me.

3) Eating on the move

Joaquim Rodriguez having a snack on his bike. ©William Perugini/Shutterstock

This doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) be a problem if you are doing a 30 or 40 minute circuit race as you should be able to survive on a gel just before the start and a bottle with energy drink in it, however, for anybody looking at doing road races, you need to be able to take food on board in order to replenish your energy reserves BEFORE they get depleted.

There are many ways to do this, and you should try different types of food to see what suits you best – some people will tell you to use energy gels, other people will say bananas, others will say sweets or chocolate.  I will give you some alternatives, but remember that energy foods can prove quite expensive and sometimes just toast and jam will do (that’s what I used to use in the 1990s!):

My advice would be to shop around, try different things and stick with what works for you, which may not be what your mates tell you!  Practice taking them out of your pocket, eating them and putting the wrapper back in your pocket – again no litter bug antics please!

4) Cornering

Hmm, now this is something I can tell you about from experience!  This can be a bone of contention at ANY race – circuit or road!  The first thing you need to practise is adjusting your speed going into the bend/corner – far too many people go into a bend at full pelt, only to realise on the apex of the bend that they have totally miscalculated their speed and brake

Image ©Huw Williams

to avoid going completely out of control. Not at all helpful for the people who are unfortunate enough to be following that person’s wheel.

When approaching the corner, look beyond the bend to see where you are going – do NOT look down at the ground.  If you look at where you are going, this will help you to hold your line (which I will explain in a minute).

If you lean in to go around the corner, this helps with fluidity and momentum, make sure you keep your inside pedal (in the UK this will mainly be your left pedal) up, which means that your opposite foot should be at the bottom, with your outside leg straight and your inside leg bent.  Also, keep relaxed to help you “flow” around the corner.

When you approach the bend, look first to see where you are going to exit the corner, brake as you approach the bend to reduce your speed, and keep your head up to see where you are going.  As you come out of the bend, do not drift to the other side (for example if you are going around a left hand bend do not drift to the right) – this is called “holding your line” – you must bear in mind that you will hopefully be in the middle of a group of riders at this point and any movements that riders to either side of you or behind you aren’t expecting could potentially cause a collision.  Even if you think you are on your own, hold your line as there may be other riders coming up behind you.

I think the key to cornering in a group is respect other riders – give them space (not too much though!) and keep an eye on what is ahead.

5) Mutual Respect

One thing you will notice in a race is that people can get a bit annoyed if you do something that they don’t agree with – rightly or wrongly – and it will also get on your nerves if somebody does something to annoy you.  But that is a part of racing – it is emotional whether you like it or not, and you are competing for the win essentially.  Respect your fellow riders, give them the space that you would expect but don’t let them walk all over you!  So, if somebody else who is nothing to do with you, shouts at you to do some work, think about whether it would be of benefit to YOU to work  – if you are in a bunch, and your strength lies in sprinting at the end of the race, why would you do any work to help other people who aren’t on your team (you wouldn’t see Mark Cavendish riding at the head of the pro peloton on the last stage of the Tour de France if he thinks he is going to win, would you?)?  On the other hand, if you are not a sprinter but would prefer to get in a break and win that way, then it might work in your favour to put the hammer down.  Far too often I have seen riders do what their rivals (on a different team) tell them to.  But why would you do that?  Remember that you are competing – don’t be overwhelmed by riders who are supposedly better than you on paper – you have entered the race for a reason.

Next week, I will be covering race preparation and the final instalment will be what to expect on race day.

In the meantime, keep riding and stay safe!

 

Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

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