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Race Tactics – Get Your Race Brain On Before Race Day


By Columnist Genevieve Whitson – Professional Cyclist 



Photo Credit: Ethan Lofton – Iron Horse Bicycle Race – 2010


A lot of cyclists I meet often say on the start line of races, ‘I hope this goes okay…’ followed by a nervous smile. But, racing doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking experience. Not if you prepare yourself.

Often, these cyclists are new to racing and just getting into the swing of things, but as they say, ‘knowledge is power’, so why not get yourself as acquainted as much as you can BEFORE you enter the race with what could unfold and prepare for it.

Whether you love to climb, sprint or time trial you can minimise the risk of a race going pear shaped by doing some homework on the course you are going to embark on, some common traits of a bunch and get your mental state dialled so you have every chance of success on the day.

Here are some tips to ensure you feel confident on race day:

Tip #1 – Figure out what sort of rider you are – If you hate flat circuit races, don’t expend too much of your time on them, unless you want to work on your weaknesses. Find out the nature of a course before you enter and then do some research on it. Strava is an excellent way to get information on a lap, including length, metres of climbing, average speeds and so forth.

Tip #2 – Understand the general protocol of bunch riding – Make sure you know how to lap around in a bunch, as sitting behind a rider can save you 30% and spending all day near the front of the peloton is probably not going to land you on the podium! Do some bunch rides before the big day and practice positioning, especially in the last 2-5kms. Get comfortable with moving through the peloton safely and riding close to other riders. I would highly recommend track riding as a great way to become familiar with riding in close proximity to others; it will also help your leg speed and give you a great short, snappy anaerobic session.

Tip # 3 – Research your fellow competitors – What sort of riders are they? What are their past results? Who’s in form and who is great at maneuvering their way through a bunch – find that wheel on race day and stick to it!

Tip #4 – Have a chilled-out, non-stress week building up to the race  This one isn’t easy, as everyone has differing commitments building up to a race. But, if you can find a way to cut out some stress in the week leading up to the race, do what you can to make this happen. I am personally a massive fan of yoga one to two days out from crucial races. It calms my brain, opens up my hips for blood flow and stretches out the legs.

Tip #5 Give yourself plenty of time on race day – In my early race days, I had a couple of close calls where I almost missed races due to arriving late. I hate to think how much energy I wasted stressing and worrying that I’d miss the race. Don’t risk ruining the race due to poor planning!

Thanks to my sponsors at www.genwhitson.com. You can now find me on Twitter @GenWhitson https://twitter.com/GenWhitson.

About Our Cycling News and Review Columnist

Jarlath-Cross-20131-960x576_GenevieveGenevieve Whitson is a NZ born, British/Scottish cyclist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Gen has a raced at the highest level for Road, Cyclocross and Mountain biking, have competed in four World Championships, multiple World Cups as well as riding professionally on the road. Gen has raced all around the globe on the road bike and is currently riding for a Belgium team, Isorex competing in all the major spring classics.

Highlights of her career include gaining a top 30 finish at the World Cyclocross Championships, a stage win in a major USA road tour, and winning the 2015 Scottish National Hill Climb Champs. Gen also loves to ride a rickshaw in Edinburgh for strength training on the side and is heavily involved in supporting/mentoring up and coming female/male athletes to ride to their potential. Her mantra on the bike is: Eat the pain…

Disclaimer: The information published in this column is the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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