Cycling is a wonderful sport that can challenge you both physically and mentally. If you are just beginning to get into the sport of cycling, you should know that there is a lot more to doing this activity than just climbing on a bicycle and riding from point A to point B. As a sport, cycling requires that you prepare for the event mentally, physically, and emotionally. A road race is not just another ride through the park; it is a competition between some of the finest athletes.
When you start to get into road racing, your first priority is to obtain the right equipment. You know that you need a bike that you are comfortable with, which fits your body and your style of riding. You will want to customize your bike with a seat that you are comfortable sitting on, and with accessories that are going to benefit you.
One of the main accessories that you need for this sport is a proper helmet. You should never attempt to ride sans helmet. This piece of safety equipment will protect you in the event of an accident, and they also protect you from some of the effects of sun exposure and of debris that may fly up from the road while you are riding.
You need to have clothing that fits properly. For long road races, you will want to get bicycle shorts that have the extra padding in them. You want your shorts to be long enough that they stop your thighs from rubbing and becoming irritated. They should be made of the tight fitting spandex materials so that you are more aerodynamic, and so that you do not have loose clothing that could be potentially dangerous to you. It is also advisable that the clothing be made in the brightest colors possible. The bright colors will help to make you more visible to other traffic when you are in a road race.
You must have a method of carrying a water bottle with you while you race. Dehydration is a critical condition that can not only cause you to lose the race, but can cause you to lose your life. If that sounds dramatic and drastic, it was meant to. Keeping your body properly hydrated is the most critical part of participation in this sport. You must keep a water bottle with you so that you have access to fluids while you are racing, because while you are competing your body is losing fluids through sweat. Keeping the fluids replenished will help keep your muscles from cramping, keep your mind clear and focused,and have more strength throughout the race. Remember the golden rule of hydration: “by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated”.
Train, Train, Train!
Training is a major part of any physical activity. Riding a bike may seem like child’s play to some, but you cannot simply hop on a bike today and compete in a vigorous road race without proper training. You must condition your body to withstand the pressures that cycling for long distances places on your body and mind. You have to start off small and work your way up to the long distances of the road races. Most cyclists get out every day and ride, slowly increasing the distance that they go over a period of time. Cyclists train for their competitions, just like runners train for marathon races.
Feeding your body
You have to learn to feed your body properly so that it can give you the best it has to offer. There are reasons to choose specific foods to eat when training for a race, during a race, and immediately following a race. You will need to learn how to properly eat carbohydrates to provide your muscles the fuel that they need for the strenuous activity.
Carbohydrates are the energy boosting fuel you need to make a long ride, but your body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates at one time. The body will only be able to store around 400 grams of carbohydrates, and that is not enough to fuel your muscles through a long road race. The result of eating a lot of carbohydrate rich foods before a race is that you have energy in the beginning of the race, but your muscles will become increasingly fatiguedas the race goes on, and you will have to burn fat to keep moving. Burning fat is great for losing weight, but it is not ideal for racing.
You will need to carry carbohydrate rich gels, bars, or drinks with you during the race. You will need to consume some of these high carbohydrate items throughout the event so that your energy level remains steady. You have heard the old adage that slow and steady wins the race; well, keeping your carbohydrate levels steady will really help you to win the race by making you stronger, faster, and more energetic.