Race-Day: The Final Countdown

Upon signing up for a cycling event, questions are bound to creep up your spine. Questions like: What on Earth was I thinking? Will I be able to step up to the challenge? Will I have enough time to train up? What? Why? How? If you’re nodding in agreement to any of these, congratulations, you are human. Questions like these go through the heads of even the pros! Fret not, here’s a rough guide on how to get up to speed as the clock ticks towards flag-off, making race day an enjoyable one and not a day you wish would never come.

Months to race-day
Check out the race map once it is made available, take note of the length of the course and features such as climbs, refuelling points and terrain. If possible, make the effort to go to the actual location to assess the course.

Two months to race-day
Start planning your training schedule and more importantly, stick to it. Don’t have the habit of letting work/gatherings/weddings/funerals/nights out, to be an excuse of skipping a slot in your routine. Even if it means riding alone. Take your bike to a bike shop for a full servicing; this makes sure you sort out any potential problems at an early stage. Start riding, gradually increasing the amount of time spent in the saddle.

One month to race-day
Visualise the route, breathing and pedalling techniques while riding. This ensures you’ll be able to ride efficiently when you start getting tired as ‘hitting the wall’ while training can be very demoralising. Make final adjustments to your bike and stick to it, letting your body get used to the positioning and geometry.

Two weeks to race-day
Time to start prepping your equipment for the race. List down the things to bring along: bottles, spare tubes, tyre levers, pump, embrocation, multi-tool, gels. This gives you ample time to buy stuff you’re lacking of. Continue to stay focused on your training, the last thing you want at this stage it to burnout.

A week to race-day
If you’ve been religiously following your training schedule, kudos to you. By now you should be confident of having a comfortable race, both mentally and physically. Do two or three rides, shorter than your usual training duration, so your body can find time and energy to recover, while not losing that ‘muscle memory’ it has become accustomed to. Clean up your bike, lube the chains and cables, inspect tyres and cleats for debris and do some final tweaking.

One day to race-day
Prepare and lay out all the items you need to bring for the race, including tights, jerseys, socks, gloves, number tags and helmet. Don’t forget to pack your clothes bag with spare items if you are bringing one along. Spare cash would also definitely come in handy.

Rest up the night before and get out of bed early. Eat well and keep hydrated before the race. It is also a good idea to bring along a couple of food bars besides gels if you are using them. Check your tyre pressure and give a wheels a few spins to make sure there’s no rubbing with the brake pads. Some have a habit of bringing a raincoat, just in case. Flag off is in five minutes. Now go out and have a blast!