Road Bike Race Training Tips For Beginners

If you have been suddenly bitten by the road bike racing bug your first question naturally would be “Where do I start?”The sport is invigorating and most beginners quickly move on from the curiosity phase to the passion level. However, it has to be kept in mind that if you really want to make a mark in this sport, you have to go about it in a systematic way, train hard and above all maintain a high level of fitness.

Here are a few tips for you to get started.

  • Fitness – This is on top of the list because without fitness and an ability to stay on the saddle for 2 to 3 hours at a stretch you cannot really compete at any level. Here you need to draw a line between plain country rides and road racing which is tough and takes a lot of physical stamina. Aerobic fitness is the key here. Work out hours at the gym on the treadmill as this will go a long way to strengthening your muscles too. Talk to an instructor, inform your plans about being a road bike racer and follow the regimen strictly as laid down by the coach.
  • Group rides – This is where you will get down to the basics and start off. Find out about local group rides which can range from local bike club sponsored rides, bike shop hosted rides and guided rides. In all such cases, the riders will usually be segregated by category – beginners and experienced professionals. In the beginner groups there will be a leader who will herd the bikers along and set the pace. You can slowly move on to faster groups as your stamina and techniques get better. It is also possible to structure your training programme in group rides. Go with a fast cluster when you want a vigorous workout and with a slower one when you want to cover long distances.
  • Get a mentor – It is always advisable to find a mentor who can guide you along. This should be done at the initial stages only because right driving skills will be ingrained into you by your mentor from the beginning. It will help you also to considerably lessen the learning period as you will be helped by a professional who can impart the small tips that will get you ahead of the others.

There is another side to it. Being guided by a mentor will help you prevent crashes in the beginning as you will quickly pick up the required skills. Further, you will be guided on where to get your equipment and bike serviced and maintained at specialist centres. For example, if you have a car and is involved in an accident in Melbourne, going to an authorised workshop for smash repairs at Hoppers Crossing should be your preferred option. Similar is the case for your bike where accredited service centre can get it back to perfect shape.

  • Watch professional bike races – With the Internet around you can watch major bike racing to pick up riding skills. Follow the commentators as they go into the technical side of the races and talk about the finer points of bike racing. Most of them have been professional riders in their heydays and are well qualified to comment on driving skills. For subtle and other technical issues that needs further clarification you can go back to the drawing board with your mentor.

Another tactic is to read on racing tactics. These books offer great tips on riding styles and how you can improve yourself.

  • Contact professional organisations – Most countries have Olympic committees that support various sports and cycling is one of them. Check the Internet for clubs that are authorised by the Olympic committees for preservation, development and administration of the sport. When you feel that it is time to get to an advanced level, join one of these clubs for further training.
  • Type of race and category – There are various types of road biking such as time trial, hill climb, circuit race and road race. You have to have an experience in all of them if you have to increase your riding skills. Some types require lightning fast speed over very short distances while for others it is more of stamina over extended periods. After selecting your type, the training schedule should be structured accordingly.

Racers have to choose the category they want to participate in too. For those new to the sport there are “Citizen’s Races” which have a more laidback style. Others are divided by age groups and gender. These events are generally for beginners and non-licensed racers and more of fun events than anything else. However, it is an excellent way to start off on a professional biking career.

These are just a few tips for beginners in road racing that you will do well to follow.

Training for Mountain Bike Racing

Bike Racing

Mountain biking is a much specialised area of activity and should not be clubbed with other forms of road biking or the casual trips of a workout freak. It is definitely a very daunting proposition requiring peak levels of fitness and specific training schedules. A part of mountain biking preparation is rigorous training on the road which prepares you both physically and mentally to go for off road biking. The trick is to plan for each event of mountain biking well before the race and train accordingly. Most importantly, training schedules will vary as per the type of race you want to start off with. Here are a few options for you.

  • Cross country – Held on a mixed terrain of flat and mountain circuit typically of 6 to 8 km. Ideal for preparation for those starting out in this sport.
  • Downhill – It is a time trial event and is held in steep downhill terrain. Hence bikers will be experiencing higher speeds than cross country races. Bikes have to be equipped with long travel suspension and hydraulic disc brakes.
  • Free-ride – It is not a matter of speed but more of skill. A typical free-ride course is spread over obstacles, cliffs and sharp drops. Scoring is dependent on the choice of route, skills and the time taken to complete the course.
  • Marathon – This is the toughest form of mountain bike racing with distances varying between 60km to 100km which has to be completed in one race. Riders have a mass start from one point and have to finish at another point. It can be a very gruelling experience and is generally attempted by seasoned pros of this sport.

Apart from these main types of mountain bike racing there are others like stage races, bike trials, dirt jumping and dual slalom. Your training schedule will be based largely on the category that you want to start off.

Make your training for mountain bike racing systematic and take small steps at a time. Taking your bike to the most challenging terrains initially and trying them out will only leave you susceptible to falls and injury.

Given here are a few tips for training that you will do well to follow.

  • Get a good bike – This can make or break your training programme as a good bike will ensure that you can tackle the rough terrains with ease. A good top of the line mountain bike can be very expensive so you can settle for a second hand one in very good condition. Have it checked by an expert mechanic first before making payment. For cars there are mandatory benchmarks that need to be followed for buying used ones but there is nothing of the sort for bikes. In Australia, if you are buying a used car, say in the State of Victoria, you have to compulsorily get a roadworthy certificate in Melbourne from a certified and accredited garage before the deal can be finalised. But no such specific rules exist for bikes and you have to be very careful in this regard. Incidentally one of the reputed service stations in Melbourne for issuing this certificate is Western Auto Services.
  • Choose the right event – Choose the type of event that you want to participate in and train as per its requirements. It is always preferable to start with cross country racing as these are of shorter duration with a mixture of the plains and the mountains. It is a test of expertise and endurance as well as riding skills. Once you have got the hang of these races, you can slowly graduate to pure mountain biking.
  • Specific training schedule – After you have chosen the event, you have to train accordingly. Is the course mainly climbing or downhill, will a lot of technical skills be required – these are some of the questions that need to be answered. Ride as much off-road as possible to get the feel of the bike. But do not ignore long sprints on tarmac just to build your stamina. A few days before the event, train exclusively on the type of terrain you will encounter.

These are some of the tips for training in mountain biking.