My first race is in 3 days! Any advice for me?

Hey everyone, I’ve just signed up for my first race. It’s in three days!

I’ve been riding on my own for a couple of years, been on a few group rides, and have been doing base TR workouts for a couple of months (just finished my first base phase, actually). I’m 45, 6’1", 200 lbs, FTP of 225.

The race is just 25 miles (4 x 6.2 mile loops), and with my stats and relative lack of experience, I’m just looking to breathe hard, have fun, and finish - all while not making some stupid mistake that causes problems for me or the other riders.

I got my USA Cycling License today, and signed up for the Male Masters 35+ Cat 4,5 group.

On race day, I figure I’ll bring a tube, CO2, and tire levers. Unless I shouldn’t?

The route is pretty close to me, so I’m going to go ride few laps tomorrow on my lunch hour.

Any advice for a newbie?

Don’t chase breaks, but don’t let gaps in your own group tail you off the back. The front 1/3 is usually easier than the back third, all things considered. Stay efficient, and choose your wheels carefully and intentionally. Move up when it’s easy to, like staying on the same power another second as the group slows for a turn.Protect your front wheel, especially in 5.

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I wouldn’t bother - you should have officials and marshals on the course - they can get you back to your car if something goes wrong

Focus on familiarizing yourself with riding within a group. Don’t do anything unpredictable and watch the riders around you to see what they are doing. Most of all - have fun and don’t stress about your fitness


Thanks! “Protect my front wheel” - does that mean to watch out for people crossing in front of me?

Yes, but more specifically, don’t put yourself in a position where them moving over will crash you. “Half wheeling” is technically a different thing, but you can also think about that term to mean don’t put half of your front wheel over half of their rear wheel. If they slide over, you’re going down. Don’t get too far up someone and stay aggressive in your line. Either move UP or stay back (not a long way, just so that you’re wheels aren’t crossing.)

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Just enjoy yourself and take in the experience…

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  1. Don’t stress about it. It’s fun. That’s why you are doing it!!
  2. It’ll be rowdy!! People will shout at you. Don’t stress about it! As soon as you cross the finish line it’s all forgotten!!!
  3. No harm in putting a tube/CO2/multi-tool in your jersey pocket. Won’t slow you down and may prevent a long walk back to HQ.
  4. If you don’t get a good result, don’t stress about it. More than a likely it’ll be experience/race craft that’ll win the race rather than fitness.
  5. If you’ve got the opportunity to recce the course, definately do it!! Makes a big difference knowing what’s coming!
  6. GOOD LUCK!!
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Enjoy the race, thats why you entered to begin with. You will learn a lot about yourself and racing. Even tell the people its your first race, yes some riders wont give you an inch while others usually will give you some assistance. “sit here, stay protected, roll through smoothly etc”
Sure put spares in your pocket, I roll a tube and a c02 with tape in a tight bundle and don’t notice it
As its said above don’t think about a result. Just to finish is an accomplishment.
If you can drive or ride the course then do it. Is there anywhere that you could be in trouble being dropped. “get to the front and sag climb”
Also look at the weather which want the wind is coming.

And good luck, you’ve already accomplished something by entering and when you pin on a number.

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Since it sounds like you have the opportunity check out the course. See the good lines through the corners, the ok lines through the corners and the lines that you definitely don’t want to take. Practice them a couple times at race ish speed if you can.

Don’t overlap wheels. If you’re in a position where the guy in front of you could move laterally and sweep your front wheel then you probably shouldn’t be there - move up or drop back.

(Try to) Stay relaxed.

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This will be a blast. Realistically, you may have trouble riding with the front 1/3 but try not to be on the back as you may not have the fitness to close gaps and if the group splits no one may be able to help you. As someone else said, don’t chase breaks - let more experiences riders close them down. If you are able to hang with the main group for most of the race, that will be a huge success.

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The advice about ignoring those vocal (sometimes a-holes) in the bunch shouting at people to chase, move up, correcting their cornering, etc, ignore them 100%. Practice getting out of the saddle without your bike shooting backwards, and watch out for those in front of you who do not know how to do this as they’re one of the reasons a lot of crashes happen. Hold your line in corners, and back to my first point, if someone is shouting at you to move or go wide, ignore them, if you are in front, you dictate the position, not them.

Race hard and have fun!