Keys to Racing Success: Pre-Riding the Course and Mental Preparation
I hope the first race went well! With one down and three more to go, I wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of doing a pre-ride lab before your race, and also the importance of mental preparation.
First prepare your body and bike
If you can get to the race venue on Saturday, it is very helpful to be able to do one or two pre-ride laps on the course before racing on Sunday. Pre-riding gives you the opportunity to see the course in advance and allows you to work on any tricky sections.
I recommend two pre-ride laps the day before the race. Lap one should be a very slow-paced lap, allowing you to stop and session difficult sections until you find your lines and are comfortable. Then lap two can be a little bit faster, riding obstacles and tricky sections of the course to simulate what it will be like when you’re riding at race pace. This also gives you time to get your bike dialed in for the course. It’s great to set your tire pressures where you want them, make sure shifting is smooth, check that brakes are working correctly and work out any other bike mechanical issues before race day.
Even if you can’t get to the venue the day prior to racing, it’s still a great idea to pre-ride before your race on race day. Just do one lap instead of two so you don’t take too much energy out of your legs. You can still session sections slowly and then go back and ride through at speed, just combine it all into one lap.
Then prepare your mind
After your pre-ride laps, you should be able to visualize the course fairly clearly. This is a great time to work on some mental preparation. Take some time the night before or the morning of your race to close your eyes in a quiet place and picture yourself riding on the race course. Picture yourself riding through any tricky sections with confidence and ease. Picture yourself having the best race you’ve ever had. See yourself at the end of the race coming through the finish line knowing that you raced your best, and focus on what this feels like. Capture that feeling and take it to the start line with you! By doing these simple mental practices before your race, you harness the power of your mind and set yourself up for a more successful race day!
Coach Kristi Berg has been racing bicycles in various disciplines since 1994: Road (Cat 2), Cyclocross (Elite), BMX (expert in 20″) and MTB (professional downhill, crosscountry, and dual slalom). She enjoys coaching and sharing all she has learned through riding and racing, and is committed to giving back to her cycling community. Kristi is a Level 2 USAC Cycling Coach and owner of Berg’s Coaching Services. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.