Cycling is a great way to keep fit and stay healthy. After all of your rides and hard work, you may want to take part in a cycling race to see just how far you’ve come. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park (so to speak) and you’re going to need to prepare yourself for the challenge ahead. And with the Cape Town Cycle Tour coming up in just six months, now is the ideal time to train.
It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to get ready for a race, regardless if it’s something small or a national competition. Here are a few ways to prepare for a cycling race.
Make sure your bike is in working order
Your bicycle is an extension of yourself and the most crucial part of your riding journey. As long as it is in perfect working order you’ll be able to take part in any race. Much like regular training, there are a few aspects of the bike that need to be perfect.
Make sure that the gears and chain are well oiled and aren’t rusted or degrading in any way. You will also need to be sure that the brakes are perfect and set to your preferred sensitivity. The tyres need to be inflated and can’t have any punctures in them – even slow ones. The bicycle needs to be in pristine working condition to see you through the gruelling challenge.
When you’re out on the course, it’ll be a good idea to have a few tools on hand in case your bike breaks down. You should at least have a puncture repair kit, an air pump, and a small bottle of oil for the gears.
An important part of any physical competition is making sure your body is in peak performance with cycling nutrition. A core part of this training is making sure that you’re eating the right foods and not binging on junk and processed sugars. If you’re not sure what your body needs, speak to a dietitian about your daily intake. They will be able to map out the perfect food plan for your competition needs.
During the race, take along a few energy bars and a bottle of water. You’ll be sweating a lot and exerting an incredible amount of energy and will need to replenish what your body loses.
Ride the course
In order to make sure you can actually do the course, it will be best to ride it a few times before the competition. This way you’ll know of all of the ups and downs and twists and turns that you’ll be facing. This will immediately put you ahead of the competition as you’ll have a better understanding of the different parts of the route and how difficult it may be. By practicing, you’ll also be able to adjust the way your bike rides in order to accommodate the different terrains of the competition course.
Practice makes perfect. It’s a cliche but it’s true. Even though you may think you’re ready for a competition that’s a week or two away and you’re at the top of your game, it doesn’t hurt to practice. Ride the course over and over, join a cycling group to help spur you on, and do whatever you can to prepare yourself.
Don’t forget to also take it easy. There is only so much that you can push your body to achieve each and every day. You’ll want to be well-rested for an upcoming race.
Have protective gear
At some point in your competition career you’re going to fall off of your bike and it’s going to be painful. It’s inevitable whether it be caused by the terrain, other riders, or by your own folly. It doesn’t matter how it happens, as long as you’re protected. Don’t skimp on covering up all of your vulnerable parts even if that sacrifices speed. Be sure to have a strong and sturdy helmet, riding gloves, as well as knee and elbow pads. All of these should safeguard your body when you fall and though they’re not foolproof, they’ll at least minimise the damage you will sustain.