How to Train to Bike Race

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Even for those who have done it before, competing in a bike race is a daunting experience. Bike races range from short prologues of two miles or less to marathon road races, which can be over 100 miles and take several hours. Bike races are intense and require a high degree of fitness, skill and training. Preparation is the key to effectively competing in a race.

  • Join a Saturday morning ride, which normally is organized by your local bike shop. Saturday morning rides are group rides, and part of group-riding etiquette involves working in a pace line, which is a fundamental skill for any aspiring racer. Pace lines involve riding single file and alternating taking "pulls" at the front of the line.

  • Seek out local racers and ride with them.The best way to get faster is to ride with people faster than you. This may hurt the first few times, and you may even get "dropped," or left behind. This is normal. Making efforts greater than your ability can only increase your skills. The best way to find racers is to check with your local bike shop.

  • Practice various racing techniques, such as sprinting and climbing. Depending on the course profile, races are typically won by mastering one of these techniques. Rene Wenzel, U.S. national cycling coach and author of "Bike Racing 101," recommends mastering the "jump," which is the first 10 or so pedal strokes of a sprint.

  • Study the course map or profile. The map and profile of the race will indicate any hills, corners or other features that may play a vital role. Increased knowledge is an advantage over the competition.

  • Eat a proper diet and stay hydrated. Wenzel defines a proper cycling diet as one that is low in saturated fats and sugar, and includes protein to aid in the recovery from training efforts. Abstain from alcohol and replace soda with water.

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