2 Humps to Go: How To Line Up At The Start Line On Race Day

Ted Willard – G2 Altitude Training and Coaching

Chapter 5: Ready, Set, GO!

 In Chapter 1 we talked about how to improve your overall aerobic fitness. In Chapter 2 we took a look at workouts that will improve you anaerobic efforts and race performance. Chapter 3 was all about fueling and dispelling some nutrition myths. In Chapter 4 we touched on your bike setup and gave a few suggestions to improve performance.

Pre-Race Nerves

Everyone’s pre-race anxiety varies. No matter how many races I do I get nervous and anxious before the start. Here’s a couple simple things you can do to take you mind off the nerves while you are sitting at the start.

Breathe. Concentrate on the natural metronome of your body. Breathe in and breathe out. Count your breaths. Be calm and focus on something simple.

Remember that everyone else is starting a race too! Look around. Are you the most nervous? I doubt it. Inventory the whole group and take it all in. Who’s fidgeting and who’s joking around. Sometimes putting up blinders to what’s going on around you just makes the pre-race nerves more intense.

 How can I start better?

This is a common question. Some people feel like lining up early and jockeying for better position at the start line is rude or a waste of time. Next time you go ride with your friends. Wait for 15 seconds at the bottom of your ride’s big climb. Let your friends ride away. Then clip in and try to catch your buddies. Yeah, you can catch them, but you spent a lot of unnecessary energy in the process. The same principles apply to any race. The further back you start, the harder the race is for you. While its impressive to ride from the back of the pack to the front group, take a look around when you get there, the rest of the group isn’t as spent as you are!

How else can you improve your starts? Practice! When you ride or when you do drills like the 30/30s from Chapter 2. Come to a complete stop and without scaring the local hikers, clip in and do your all out effort from a dead stop. This is the best way to make the quick start of mountain bike race second nature and instinctual.

Race Goals

What is your goal? It is very difficult to come away from an event with a sense of accomplishment without a goal. We touched on this in Chapter 1. Even some the best professional level racers lack this skill. Set a goal! Any goal! If you don’t reach that goal, set a different goal. Do you want to finish in the top ten? Just finish the race? Wear a skirt and sing a song on course? Goals come in all shapes and sizes just like racers. One thing is certain, if you don’t establish what success is before you clip into your pedals, it isn’t going to get clearer when you are breathing heavy and sweating in a sea of dirt and mountain bikers!

 The Task at Hand

A great strategy to focus on during the race is to mentally pace yourself. This does not necessarily mean pacing your effort or your speed but rather focus on the milestones that will get you through the race and closer to your “Race Goal”. Is your goal on the first lap to make it to the top of the first climb 1st? To hang on to the lead group? Not to get dropped?

Break the race up into smaller sections. First uphill, back to the Start/Finish, second climb, etc. Over The Hump isn’t a 5 hour race but for some of us, racing for an hour can be intimidating. So hit you reset button often. When you cross that Start/Finish line pick your head up and shake your legs out and SMILE! You are having fun on a Tuesday night at Over The Hump mtb race series Presented by Audi and HDX Drink Mix.

 

About the author:

Ted is a USA Cycling Certified Coach and avid mountain biker. He cut his teeth on the US Cup MTB Series in 2011 taking the Series overall and landing on the top podium step at 3 US Cup XC events last year in Cat 1 30-34. He is an owner of G2 Bike in Aliso Viejo. G2 Bike is a full service bike shop and also offers all types of athlete coaching programs and compliments many of its athletes training with G2 Altitude Training.

More info at www.g2bike.com

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