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Common Cycle Racing Mistakes By Novice Road Racers And How To Avoid Them.

Updated on February 7, 2013

Riding In A Bunch Takes Skill

Germany at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Germany at the London 2012 Olympic Games | Source

The thrill of riding in a group

Road races can range from a few kilometres for youth riders to triple figure numbers of kilometres for competitive and professional riders. Many cyclists see it as the main competitive element of their sport however it is also a complicated sport. The general premise is the fastest person crosses the line first and is the winner. In reality it's a lot more complicated than that and combines sheltering within a group, forming breakaways, solo riding, attacking and defensive tactics. Therefore it can be daunting to a beginner wanting to exercise the buzz and riders often make mistakes that they need to learn from.

Common mistakes and how to correct them.

Sometimes you have to make a mistake to learn from it. Keep an eye out for the below at your next race and you'll be able to tell the novices.

1. Riding at the front

When you see photographs of a Pro Peloton it's always at the front. It looks good however this is where the riders are doing their job and working for their team leader and acting on team orders. The people at the front of the bunch are facing the wind. Novices would be better suited to sitting in just behind the front initially and getting pulled along by the bunch. The best advice I've ever been given is to sit in the first ten riders but spend as little time as possible on the front. At lower competition levels riders are happy to let others sit on the front and waste energy.

2. Not training specifically for Road Racing

Cycling is a great sport and long steady rides with your friends to a cafe are a great social and endurance building aspect of it. However those rides do not prepare you for the sensation of sitting on someone’s wheel on your limit trying to breathe through your ears and the physical distress you put your body through. Therefore beginners need to integrate more race specific intensity training into their routine like Sprint efforts and VO2 max efforts.

3. Training too hard after having a bad race

Everyone will have a bad race day in the same way they might have a bad day in the office at work. However it is often a sign that your body is tired from racing and training. Therefore you have not recovered sufficiently- working harder will likely make your future performance even worse as you become more fatigued.

4. Nervous Tension

If you cast your eyes on a Pro Peloton they look relaxed while racing- even while racing hard. Contrast that with your local lower level evening criterium and many of the novice riders look rigid with shoulders hunched up and elbows locked out. This tension may hinder performance and potentially cause crashes as riders may not be able to swiftly react to obstacles or problems with other riders. Usually when faced with danger we tense up and this leads to difficulty reacting.

Road racing takes time to adapt to and for you to feel at ease in the middle of a bunch of riders. Many riders quit after their first race. However if you persevere you will reap the rewards.

Enjoy your riding.

For further reading try Basic Fitness Training for Cyclists


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