So, you are getting faster on your bike. When you started maybe you were averaging 8-10 mph on your longer rides, but now that that you have been training for STP, RSVP, Flying Wheels and similar events your average speed is getting closer to 15+ mph on longer rides and you are wondering what the next step is?
I finished STP in one day in 1985 with 10 friends from the UW and after that I was so hooked I started hanging out at bike shops and reading every bike article I could find. Racing seemed risky and way beyond my ability, so I was happy to just study it.
When I moved to Colorado after College, I began working at the Moots bike shop and they began taking me out after work to show me how to *really* ride. I learned how to race from those guys, and when the Steamboat Stage race came to town that Summer I was ready to try my first race.
In the NW there are many races, but these 3 are the best choices for new riders :
2. Pacific Raceways or Seward Park weekly races, SBRP*
3. Jerry Baker Velodrome
*Sprint Triathlon and Mountain Biking are other common ways people start racing, but they require a Mountain Bike or you have to like swimming and running.
Beginning racer clinic at Pacific Raceways
Here is how to tell which is best for you:
-Do you ride with racer types or HPC on the road and keep pace with them? (#2 or 3 above)
-Do you have a mountain or cyclocross bike and like the dirt? (#1, the safest and best intro to racing that will also make you a better rider on the road)
I’m addicted to my own training indoors, and I love it! Cyclocross Review
I learned a lot this cross reason I learned that I can race really well on an average of three hours of riding a week. I learned that mental preparation and a clear race day routine including the two days prior are critical in performing at my peak. Hydration and nutrition are paramount in finishing the body’s energy and metabolic preparation to unleash what the training has prepared you to do.
I also told some of you that I’m operating on a bank of fitness that I’ve built over the last 30 years and once you build it it is there is an account for you to make withdrawals on. There is a limit though, if I had to guess it feels that the strength and technique you build up is there at about the level you last trained hard minus 30%. The endurance and the real race fitness has to be rebuilt
Part 2: OK, you now can survive a race, hopefully you learned to draft and conserve so you can see the finish line with the rest of the herd. If you came into racing with a strong cycling background, it is possible that you won races, went right to the front of the pack, towed everyone around and still won. This is good and bad, good cause it is fun, bad cause you probably didn’t learn much so you might still be the same skill level as when you started. This can come back to bite you now that you are riding up at the next level.
For normal people, you spend time getting strong enough to survive, now you want to try to go for a mid race prime (prize) or see if you can finish in the top 1/3 of the results. You have enough strength and skill to survive, now you just need to use it smartly to best the others in your group. This is where reading the pack really comes to the fore. Here are some basics to live by:
1. Only move up when it is slow and try to find a wheel to get you up the pack instead of doing it yourself.
School of fish. Pack of wolves. Flock of birds. Surfer on a wave. When you decide to race your bike, you are assigning yourself to this kind of obedience and lack of control. Group think, primitive reflexive response to the flow and changes of the herd and conditions. You know what I am talking about? Then maybe you haven’t raced, cause when you decide to ride with a group of riders without the formality of pacelines or ride leaders, chaos ensues and the rules of how you thought you should ride your bike are out the window, and you need to become “subject to the herd”.
The good news is that once you learn the subtle art of riding with the pack, you will enjoy it and find much satisfaction from being able to fly along at twice your normal speed for hours on end, rocketing over the hills and dales of the country until the next climb starts. You will be able to take advantage of the turbo speeds, and launch yourself to the stratosphere of bike speed and performance, there is no other way to fly. The bad news is that not everyone makes the jump to good pack riding, and some of you will give up long before you ever accumulate enough skills and experience to truly enjoy the experience. There is always racing Time Trials, Triathlon, Mountain bike and Cyclocross, so don’t worry.
This Saturday May 2nd we do our Fix a Flat, lube your chain and basic maintenance clinic at West Seattle store 11-11:45am. We then lead a free shop ride at noon of about 20 miles with Head Coach Craig Undem. Learn to paceline and ride correctly along with finding a new route!
Sand Point shop there is a free ride at 11am, going to Seward Park and back from the shop. This is a classic “bread and butter” route that everyone needs to know, from here you can launch to Mercer Island, South end of Lake Washington or anything on the East Side. We don’t want to see anyone riding up through the Arboretum (down or North is OK if you are going fast) because there is no shoulder. Learn the right way to navigate through the North end to South Lake Washington by bicycle.
Our 11th anniversary sale also continues with everything in both stores on sale 20-60% through this weekend.
Ride with Cycle U
Other upcomming free events in May:
How to Fix a Flat and Lube your Chain, basic maintenance.
-Saturday May 2nd 11-11:30am West Seattle shop.
Try Road Racing! Clinic at Pacific Raceways. info at Budu Racing the race promoter website
-Tuesday May 5th 5:55pm AT Pacific Raceways
How to Commute by Bicycle or use it as basic transportation.
-Wednesday May 6th 6:30-7:15pm West Seattle shop.
Get Ready to Ride! safety, mechanical and fitting check on your bicycle
-Saturday May 9th 11-11:30am West Seattle AND Sand Point shops, same times at each.
Winning Cyclocross, the secrets to a winning season by Head Coach Craig Undem
-Tuesday May 12th 7:30-8:30pm Sand Point shop. Link to sign up, limited seating