Are You Ready For A Cycle Event?

Cycling Events

Are You Ready For A Cycle Event?

Your first cycle event may be just around the corner, so how do you know if you are ready for a competitive challenge on your bike?

Your first cycle event may be just around the corner, so how do you know if you are ready for a competitive challenge on your bike?

The fact that you are even considering this question means that mentally you must feel ready for an event, even if physically you may not quite be up to it. Let’s face it, very few people will ever feel like they are totally ready for their first race.

Judging whether you are ready or not often depends on your expectations. For your first event you are not going to be expecting to be at the head of the peloton leading a sprint for glory. For many their first event is just about getting round in a respectable (for them) time.

What event?

The event and the distance you choose will have a bearing on your readiness for it. The longer the distance, and more importantly the greater the elevation climbed during it, will make your event more challenging and thus you will need to have to put in a greater degree of training.

Ask yourself if you have already covered as near to your event distance (with a similar elevation climbed) on at least one occasion? Ask your clubmates for advice on picking an event and they’ll be able to guide you and direct you to the right one for your current level of cycling fitness.

Have you ridden in a group before?

Ideally you do not want to turn up for an event never having ridden with a group before, especially when you could well find yourself in a mass field of cyclists for the first time. Join a club and get out with your clubmates and this will prove to be invaluable experience.

Club mates will be excellent training partners and you’ll even have had the opportunity to learn all the basics such as group riding, drafting, and cycling etiquette which will take you closer to being ready for your event.

Are you planning on riding with a group?

Just by riding with other riders or clubmates in a group instantly make you more ready for your ride. There are massive benefits to be had by riding with a group of people and drafting behind riders can save you as much a third in energy terms.

By planning on riding with others, you can lift share and take away some of the stress of getting to your event. By committing to going to others you will also no longer have the option of backing out. Your teammates will also provide valuable support when you do your event.

Is your bike ready for this event?

Being ready for your event also involves consideration of whether your bike is ready. Has your bike been serviced in readiness for participation in your event? A poorly maintained bike could well let you down on the day and your training will count for nothing. Inspect your bike for any other issues like worn tyres or brakes and of course make sure that you have the necessary spares and tools to deal with any roadside repairs or punctures on the day.

While the bike may be in good shape, it is always worth having a bike fit, well in advance of your event, to make sure that you are set up correctly so that your comfort on the bike is optimized, allowing you to perform to your best.

Have you tried fuelling strategies on your long rides?

On your training rides you should have experimented with various fuelling strategies so that you avoid the dreaded bonk - that period were you totally run out of energy. By eating properly in the days up to your ride and replenishing your glycogen stores (mainly from carbohydrates) you’ll be primed and ready to go on race day.

In addition, you’ll have tried various foods for breakfast to provide you with a good combination of carbs and protein, and you’ll have also found which drinks, gels, energy bars work well for you. Your event is not the day to be trying something for the first time.

Are you nervous?

Nerves are an inevitable part of an event. If you are not nervous to some degree then there is a suggestion that maybe you’re not quite ready for it, or at least overconfident! When you roll up to the starting line with your race number pinned on you will be anxious to some extent, but you’ll feel a lot better once the event gets underway.

You may not be used to a mass start so ensure you stay out of trouble, hold back if need be so you don’t get caught up in the nonsense of riders vying for position near the front. If it’s your first event then realistically you are not going to be ready for the cut and thrust at the head of the peloton.

Are you physically ready?

The biggest question of all, of course, is whether you are physically ready for your event. Have you done enough training? Have you ridden as close to your event distance as possible. If it’s a hilly course, has your training focused enough on climbing? A rider who has clocked up the distance on training on the flat will easily be caught out by a course with lots of elevated sections.

If you’ve been out on plenty of club rides and your fellow club members have told you that you are capable of tackling the event, then it will be fair to assume they are right, after all they don’t want to be riding with someone who is really going to struggle and overly slow them up. Add to this some work on your core strength and flexibility and you should be in good shape for your event.

Are you technically ready?

You might have done plenty of training where hopefully you been honing your bike handling and descending skills. If the first sight of steep descent has you grabbing heavily for the brakes then perhaps you aren’t ready to be speedily descending while surrounded by countless other riders.

You should be fully aware of how to handling descents and corners so that those following up behind are not being forced to brake heavily in response to your heavy handed braking techniques. Equally on the ascents you should be well are of how to reasonably pace your climbs so that you don’t buckle half way up a climb.

If you’ve answered positively to all the above questions then you should more than be ready to tackle your event. Only through thorough preparation and training will you truly be ready for your event. It is worth remembering though, that not all events are race situations and that finishing can often be the aim, so you can take some of the pressure off by just reining back your expectations a touch and being satisfied with getting round or posting a reasonable finishing time.

Picture credit: Settawat Udom /