Here is a quick Q&A with the Team Manager Susannah Gordon on the basics of how to start. If you have any questions about racing or about training feel free to email us at email@example.com.
1. What do I need to start racing? A bike and a competitive attitude.
2. Where do I get my license? There are several different organizations in racing. USA Cycling is the main vein for most of the racing in the United States. Some states also offer smaller organizations. In Colorado there is the American Cycling Association. www.usacycling.org and www.americancycling.org are the two websites you can visit.
3. Is there a resource to find teams in my area? USA Cycling has a ton of information on its webpage and can help hook you up with teams in your area.
4. Can I race without a team? You can definitely race without a team. The term for this is the “unattached” rider. However, cycling is definitely a “team” sport. At the amateur level of racing, this is sometimes hard to understand or even to execute, usually because the riders abilities vary so much. One of the benefits to racing with a team is the relationships you make with your teammates. Most of us are in the sport because we are competitive, but also to meet people and share our common interest.
5. What should I do to get ready for the race season? Nothing is worse than showing up for your first race of the season and watch the peloton ride away from you because you lack adequate fitness. Winter is usually thought of as ski season and a time for long and slow endurance rides. While this makes sense to most, your better athletes really never stop training. For most of us, the race season starts around April or May. A training program of riding 5-6 days a week is no unusual. Inside of your rides, doing some aerobic and anaerobic efforts are a must. 1 to 2 days a week doing 3 X 10 min. efforts in your LT Heart rate zone (zone 4) and 1 day a week of some anaerobic work. 8 X 30 second all out sprints with 30 recovery between each one. The other days can be used as recovery or endurance rides (2-3 hours rides). Recovery is key. You never want to over train. For athletes over the age of 40 they suggest 3 weeks on and 1 week off. Under 40 and you can do 4 weeks of training and take 1 week of recovery. Your recovery weeks might consist of walks, 1 hour recovery rides or just doing nothing.
6. What level of fitness do I need to be at to compete? It depends on what category you are racing. If your just starting out, it’s not quite as important to be as fit as if you are racing in the higher/tougher categories. Having said this, your success at bike racing will be directly affected by how fit you are. There are cat 4 racers who take their training and fitness very seriously, you will most likely see these individuals cross the finish line first. You get out of it, what you put in to it. It’s pretty simple.
7. What is the best advice for someone just starting out? First of all, get a bike that fits you well. Most bike shops will do a good job of making sure of this. A good bike fit is like a good pair of running shoes. The better the fit, the less injury you will have and the better your performance will be. Find a team to join. As I mentioned earlier, most of us appreciate and enjoy the relationships we make by joining a bike team. Nothing is better at race than pulling up to the line and having some friendly faces with you. Learn how bike racing works. It is a team sport, nothing is better than helping a teammate win a race or being on the reciprocating end. Some of my best friends are fellow bike racers and some of my most treasured friends are my teammates. We share a passion for the sport. It takes a lot of time, energy and effort. You want to make sure you are having fun while you do it!