Written by ALP Cycles Coach, Jennifer Sharp

As winter becomes a distant memory and spring arrives with a bang - you can look back and reflect on the dozens of intervals, hours of gym workouts, and mental preparation you've devoted to the dark winter months. Race season is here! 

Whether you've been racing for several weeks (or months!) or just getting started, below is a checklist of important things to do before you toe to the line.  

1. Clean your bike. My husband told me when he ran the USA Cycling Junior National team showing up to a race with a dirty bike, especially when traveling abroad, was forbidden. 

Think about it - you're about to push your limits on your equipment (and in their case, representing the United States; and in your case, representing your sponsors) - whether that be cornering, descending, climbing, etc. You want to ensure your bike is in excellent working condition and by cleaning it you may stave off disaster before it strikes. A thorough inspection could reveal a worn out tire, rubbing brake, mis-firing shifter, loose headset, etc. While you may not know how to fix everything you encounter, being aware of any problem and then taking your bike to a mechanic can you save you a lot of time, money, not to mention skin. 

But how do I wash my bike? Good question! Here's a good place to start. 

And while you're at it - don't forget to charge your DI2!

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Join our ALP Cycles Coaching community. 3 Coaches and 2 Coaching levels to choose from. We ride with our athletes, spend quality time with each athlete (in person, on the phone, over email), and really take the care needed to develop each person into the best cyclist they can be. 

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2. Pack your race bag. It's nice to know that everything you could need is packed and good to go the night before you race. Early mornings make it challenging to make sure you grab everything. And even though you're likely to forget something at some point, the list below should help you eliminate any last minute scrambles. 

Race Bag:

  • Helmet
  • Jersey and Shorts or Skinsuit (used for time trials, crits and track)
  • Socks
  • Cycling shoes
  • Base layer
  • Arm warmers 
  • Leg warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • A trainer or rollers
  • Embrocation
  • Heart rate monitor 
  • Garmin
  • Lube
  • Spare tubes
  • Pump
  • Water bottles
  • Nutrition
  • Allen key
  • Safety pins
  • Sunscreen
  • Recovery drink

Once you get back home from the race, un-pin your number from your jersey, throw it in the wash and then once clean and dry, put your race jersey, shorts and/or skin suit back in your bag.

3. Create a race plan. "Failing to plan is a plan to fail." 

Whether you're showing up at a local race, nationals or world championships - you should have a plan. Talk to your coach about coming up with an appropriate race strategy.  Race plans could include being the first person into a technical section, positioning yourself in the final few laps of a race, going for a breakaway, etc. Have a plan, stick to it and enjoy the process. If that plan doesn't work, then reflect on why and what you could do better next time. Every single race is an opportunity to be better - write down what worked and what didn't so you can learn from it. 

Got any tips you'd like to share on being prepared for a race? Please leave them in the comments below. 

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