Being the Best Spectator

Hi all,

My husband uses TrainerRoad, and this Spring will mark the start of his second season of bike racing. I am a runner, and he’s supported me for years in my races. I’d like to return the favor.

I feel like I know what I’m doing cheering him on in long events where his primary goal is to complete the distance, but I’d love some advice about how our 7-year-old daughter and I can best cheer him on in circuit races and time trials.

Do you have any suggestions about cheering locations? What should we cheer? Is it helpful to pass along information about relative performance? When do I start yelling to have some hope of his actually hearing me? Are signs ever appropriate?

And separately, what should I be watching for as a race progresses so that I can appreciate the tactics as they unfold?

Thanks a lot. I only dabble in cycling in my running off seasons, but I love the podcast and find a lot of the topics and advise are easily translated to running.


Find the slowest part of the course, usually a hill.

Something motivational. Maybe his mantra word(s) or “looking strong”, “ride smart”, short phrases. Keep an eye on time gaps between the break group and the field. Sometimes a predetermined hand signal can suffice for the time gap, a thumbs up for the gap is getting bigger and thumbs down for gap getting smaller or just yelling the seconds ahead/behind. Start yelling as they approach as once they pass the wind noise makes hearing behind you much harder. The slowest spots, often a hill on the course are the best for communicating and in the case of longer races will probably also be the feed zone.

And just a pet peeve of mine: I often hear “move up” being yelled at novice riders by novice spectators. In most cases, “move up” is either bad advice or would mean burning unnecessary matches at that point of a race.

“Allez! Allez!”

For the complete the Tour de France atmosphere, maybe dress as the devil and run alongside the riders!


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I’ll bite with a different look on the situation. Talk to him and ask what HE prefers you do. We each react different and you’ll get 100 different answers here.

And here’s my answer… I rather not see my family! Seriously. They are way to close to my heart and lose focus and momentum if I see them. I mean who wants to suffer when you can spend time with family, right?! Perhaps I, personally, have to work on this and how it relates to mental focus.



Cowbell. Or make your own. Old wheel rim minus spokes…and a stick. Makes a hell of a noise (kid might need ear plugs). But he’ll know its you! :grinning:

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Circuit races - just cheer and be supportive. Posters are good too.

For a TT - waste of time - I always tell my family to stay away as might see me for all of about 15 seconds and I’ll be in a blur of pain. Also another thing for me to worry about before race - is wife and kids ok, will kid be bored etc.

That reminds me of my days as a rock climber. “Looking strong” was banned because as soon as someone shouted that all remaining strength would disappear and you’d be off and hanging on the rope!

In the Scottish Cross scene it’s customery to shout “Dig in” and “Hup, hup, hup”.


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In running, this is one of the standard, accepted lies, along with “looking good.” I think the idea is that saying it will somehow make it true.

I have races where I’d rather not worry about my family. And I have races where knowing that I will eventually see them is what keeps me working my hardest. I have blasted up several hills just in case friends or family were there to see me.

So I don’t think it’s necessarily anything you need to work on.

I’d take that over “looking like crap” any day… even when I do look like crap, :wink:


For circuit races, the best places to watch are the start finish line and the corners. If you can walk around a bit during the race and sample the viewing. Also, if there are such people, talk to his teammates who hanging out, they’ll be happy to tell you what is going on in the race and I know i always like it when my wife gets to know the folks I ride with.

But don’t get so engrossed in conversation that you miss the race. My wife was at my first bike race victory. I was in a 2 man break for the last 15 minutes and out sprinted my breakmate. You’d think that would be hard to miss but after the race she asked me how I did. She missed the whole thing because she was chatting!

“Move up” is great advice for a crit. If you’re not actively moving up, you are moving back.

I agree if the rider is at the back of the pack on a tight course or in the later stages of the race. However. If they are sitting top 10 there is often no reason to move up. And in the context of this thread; I’ve observed uninformed spectators yelling “move up” to riders that are already in the optimal position to react to attacks, get through turns quickly, and launch their own attacks.

Another way to be involved is to volunteer. Your daughter would likely love being part of the whole experience. As others have said, it may not be that important to your husband that you actually see him for a few seconds of the race.
I love your interest in each other!

That is very thoughtful of you. I hope he appeeciates it.