Is your first bike race coming up? You need to get ready! Yes, you can have the track down and have your ideal speed in your head, but there are so many more things to having a successful race. From the techniques you use, to your breakfast, your preparation is the key to your success. Below are the best tips for starting – and finishing – your first cycling race.

Ride First – Race Later

Before attempting to ride in your first race, be sure you have a good dozen group rides under your belt.  The more the better.  This will accustom you to riding along side dozens of other cyclists at high speeds. You will become familiar with drafting and positioning in the pack. and you do not have to ride a ton of long treks, either – local, small rides on varying terrain can help you prepare just as well.

Too Much Focus Makes You Bored

Focus is good – but like studying for a test in school too much focus on one certain thing can bore you. Having fun should be your first priority during a race.

Clean Your Bike

Make sure your bike maintenance is complete the day before your race and don’t leave anything untested. Clean your chain and wipe your bike down with baby wipes. A clean bike is a happy bike.

Eat Normally

Eat normal – for you – the day before the race. Changing anything up too much could result in a stomach issue – which could totally derail your racing dreams.

Fill ‘Er Up!

Make sure you have all your water bottles filled, your energy foods organized and your equipment laid out, etc.  Get absolutely everything ready the night before so that you’re not stressing about it on race day.

Protein-Fueled Breakfast

Have a good breakfast about 3hrs before the race start if possible. Eat either some toast, oatmeal or muesli along with some fruit, and juice and coffee.  Also have a small amount of protein (maybe an egg, yogurt,  or some peanut butter on your toast).  The protein will slow down the absorption of sugars into your bloodstream.  Nothing too massive or out of your ordinary routine.

Know Your Place – And You Will Succeed

Its not a good idea to be at the back of the bunch nor directly at the front. If you’re not a strong climber, make sure you’re one of the first people to start the climb so that you can slowly drift back and still be in the bunch by the time you’ve hit the top. If you’re not good at accelerating, don’t be at the back of the bunch in a criterium.