How do you switch off?

I mean mentally…

I’ve got my first ever crit this evening. The nerves are setting in already. After spending the last few months training, listening to the podcast and watching race videos I now feel like I need a bit of calm for the next few hours in preparation.

I opened up my web browser, and everything is cycle related! Forums, Youtube, Facebook is ALL cycling.

So what do you do when you need a break? Do you have another hobby or activity to distract you from the chaos of training and racing?

I’m currently building a gate. It’s the most ridiculous gate ever. I can’t even lift it by myself :smiley:


It is extremely common to be very nervous, excited, or anxious going into a race, let alone your first race.

Everyone deals with this in different ways.

Some do what you’re searching for and find a distraction.

Others like myself plan and prepare and spend that energy trying to account for every possibly scenario. I used to pack and repack, check my bike and recheck it, charge everything twice, etc. This is the @Nate_Pearson methodology

I’ve outgrown this a bit by simply having enough races done that I no longer get that much nervous energy ahead of a race, but I still do a lot more prep work

I’d recommend you try to figure out why you are nervous and face it head on instead of finding a distraction. Are you nervous because of the pressure you’re putting on yourself to win? Remind yourself that this is your first race and it’s a learning experience. Are you nervous because of the potential of not finishing? Same as above - it is a learning experience.

There are a myriad of reasons people feel these nerves - it helps me to identify which is keeping me up at night and then figure out how I will mitigate them

If that doesn’t work for you - keep busy (mentally if not physically) by watching a TV show, checking some things off your house work list, whatever. Be a shark, never stop or you’ll die :slight_smile:


Thanks. That’s some really good advice.

I’m not a total stranger to racing, I’ve done some TTs and cyclocross seasons before but this will be my first crit. As such, it’s venturing in to the unknown that has me nervous. It’s also the “crashy” nature of cat 4 crits that has me a little uneasy, and this is, for the most part, out of my control However, I know from experience that those nerves will disappear as soon as the whistle blows.

I’m not dissimilar to you in that I spend a lot of time doing prep - packing, thinking, planning etc. But there comes a point where there’s not much more of this to do, or you can’t do it because you’re driving to the race for example.

Fair point. One reason why I prefer to carpool to races - gives me someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of - discuss the latest world tour race or whatever else

If you’ve raced cross its a safe bet that your bike handling is better than most of the rest of the field. Remind yourself of this, be confident in your ability to receive contact and not fall over. Make it a goal to stay in the ‘safe’ part of the field - either in the top 5 or 10 places or tailgunning efficiently


Where are you racing, @onemanpeloton?

I’m racing at the (fairly) new cycle park in Fife, just north of Edinburgh, Scotland

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Ah, I like the look of the layout there!

I did my first crit at Stourport’s circuit last week and - fingers-crossed - can make this evenings’. It was not as scary as I anticipated, and nobody came off. Looks like you’ve got bike-handling experience from the cyclocross events. Do you know how big the field is? There were 20 in the 3/4 race, and there weren’t any bunfights at the slow corners – only whiplash trying to accelerate out. (I thought I’d sit at the back for a bit and see how things went)

Good luck!

As a teenager I was a competitive swimmer. My go to day of mental preparation routine involved laying on the couch for a couple hours with my eyes closed visualizing my races while cranking some rather teenage specific rock and roll. My mom hated it. Especially when the lawn had not been mowed. But being athlete means being able to ignore the world, even your mother, and get your head game on point.

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Heh, my silly analogy to this was how I felt when my wife was in labor and we were at the hospital waiting for my son to be born. The only time I recall feeling that way has been before races, which is really funny to me. My reaction was to fall asleep while waiting for the contractions to get close enough and oddly enough, I fell asleep quite easily even though I didn’t have to wait long. Once again, the delivery process was very much like the first lap of a race! My advice is to take a nap!


There’s 41 of us, it’s an all Cat 4 field. Could be interesting. Thanks for the support, good luck tonight!

That’s a new one! I’ll give it a try :grinning:

I was in that race! Hope you had fun - it was a great night.

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I like cooking or baking a cake to take my mind off whatever is bothering me.

I get out in the garden. Mow the lawn, weed and water the plants. Kind of mindless activities. I totally switch off and the added bonus is fresh air.

how did you get on?

Thanks for all the suggestions, I especially like the cake idea!

I handled the nerves just fine. Once i got to the circuit the nerves disappeared and I just got on with the job.

The race was great fun but I didn’t do very well. I lasted about 10 mins in the pack before I lost touch with them through one corner and found them disappearing up the road!

Just as I did in my first road race last week, I got dropped because my confidence in the corners in a bunch wasn’t very high. Hence, even in the bunch at the beginning of the race I was accelerating out of the corners a bit harder than most others to make up for the lack of entry/mid corner speed.

I managed to ride with a couple of others off the back for most of the race so it was good to have a bit of practice in a “chase group” but we were eventually lapped sadly.

In summary, I think my power should be ok to stick with the bunch, I just need to work on holding my position in the pack, being a bit more aggressive and holding that wheel in to and through the corners.


I struggle with the cornering too, and it didn’t help that last night’s course was held in the opposite direction to usual. People’s lines (including my own) were often less predictable in those first few laps.

I got dropped at about 10mins but made it back on. Then I started focusing on the exit to the corners rather than the wheel in front. Made it round and managed to grab a top 10!

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Yes I imagine it was odd to ride it in the opposite direction if you raced the previous 2 rounds.

Congrats, that’s an awesome result!

I found the same as you, that focusing on the exit of the turn made things a lot easier. Sounds like something so simple but it makes a huge difference. It was made easier for me by the fact that I spent a lot of the race picking my own line.

That just means you’ll be ready to crush it in the next round :slight_smile:

Come and say hi to me if you’re there in 2 weeks. I’m the guy in the green & blue skinsuit.