Blog by Kevin Barclay
The bike race.
I spent my Saturday night as I always do the night before a race, cleaning my bike, putting my race wheels on and making sure everything works. Which, of course, has been more fun than a night out. I now find myself at the start of my race. I’ve checked the course, which doesn’t particularly suit my strengths but now I know this I’ll race it cleverly and stick to my race plan. I know the weather forecast and it should be a good day, a little dull but not too windy.
Now I find my first problem, parking. When 60 guys turn up to a village hall and try to fit in a car park made for 10 cars it doesn’t quite work out.
After finding a space down some side street I go and sign on and get given my number. This has rustier pins in than an old tin can. Luckily I extra pins tucked away in my bag and stick these in my number after stretching it out to make it as aero as possible.
Next decision, what kit to wear? Hopefully the weather gets better but I’ll stick my arm warmers on, just in case. Someone has just got out their embrocation and filled the room with that familiar pre bike race smell.
After making my clothing choice I head off to get a warm up. It’s a long race so I’ll just spin my legs and double check my gears, which I’ll do about 4 times just to make sure. I’ll check out the other riders too, who’s looking like they don’t want to be here or who’s got the allen keys out to fix their bike last minute.
We’ve all been called for the riders briefing, why do I suddenly need to go to the toilet so much? I hate my bladder. After listening to the commissaries talk I’m ready to go, I hope. Do I have enough food? Does my feeder know where the feed zone is? Will I survive the hills? I need to stick to my plan. After a short neutralised zone, the flag drops. And my plan?
It went out the window a long time ago.
Even through my plan went out the window I had one which helped me get through the race, here’s advice for riders racing, to help to get organised.
The day before
Find out the location of the start & the course. Google street view is good for looking at points on the course. Have a look at the distance of the race and decide on food for the race. Don’t try anything new on race day.
Pack your kit, wash your bike and check it over. It’s better to find a problem and get it fixed than find out your pedals are loose with 5mins until the start. Take some essentials with you, such as extra safety pins and toilet roll that may not be available at the race HQ. Get at least a small spin before the race, the shorter the race is the longer the warm up should be.
Race smart, try to stay near the front of the race and be aware of other riders. Remember to keep eating and drinking if the race is long as it’s easy to forget during the excitement of competition. Try to stay relaxed during the race and think clearly.
The important thing after a race is to get some food and a recovery drink. It’s also important to change out your chamois and have a shower after the race. If these aren’t available then secret training do an excellent range of post race washes to clean yourself.
Now all that’s to be done is to collect your winnings