By Francine Haas
What’s one of the best things about being a bike racer? It never seems to get old! Being a great bike racer doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re new to the sport, try to remain patient and not rush the process. It takes time to become a proficient bike racer. A little respect for the sport and a mind open to learning can go a long way in helping you to become a skilled racer. If you’re willing to make the commitment, here are a few key components to guide you on your journey.
Goals – Set obtainable and concrete goals for what you want to accomplish in a racing season. Having goals will help provide a guiding purpose for the next step, which is training.
Training – Once you have established your goals, you can prepare an outline for your season, including when should you be training hard, and when should you be resting. Be prepared to put in the time and effort your goals require.
Skills - Take the time to learn the basics. Master skills such as shifting, braking and cornering and make a commitment to revisit these skills over and over in your cycling career. You can always get better! Being proficient in these skills will help you ride and race more efficiently. Better bike handling skills can also give you confidence, which may be just the advantage you need to achieve more in your racing.
Experience – Set out to be a sponge and soak up everything you see and experience on your bike; good or bad. What happens when the field slows down? What happens when it goes really fast? Do you see any common traits in your competitors? Pay attention and build on your knowledge to become a smarter racer.
Build on your Athleticism – Just because your goals are in one discipline doesn’t mean you should limit yourself from other opportunities. During the off-season or when you’re taking a little break, try something else. You may think mountain biking has nothing to do with road racing, but every experience builds on what you know and understand when riding on two wheels.
Enjoy the ride and prepare to have fun for the long road ahead!