Have you ever taken part in a bike race? It’s an incredible experience – from the adrenaline pumping through your body to the thrill of passing other riders and knowing you’re in the lead. And, of course, the big celebration as you cross the finish line. Loud cheers just for you and your big accomplishment. If you’ve never had the pleasure of racing, here’s everything you need to know.

How to Get Into Racing

1. Find a race. Know your skill level and what you can achieve, but don’t limit yourself. Gravel riding is more technical, but you can pick it up with a little training on dirt. Road is a chance to ride fast, typically from 30 to 200 miles. Be ready for tight corners, bunched packs, and all-out efforts. Mountain has many events, from smooth cross-country courses to technical, fast downhills.

2. Find a support system. Reach out to other racers in your area. Find them through friends and family, word of mouth, or social media. They’ll know the ins and outs of what’s happening near you. They can also ride with you and help you reach your goals.

3. Buy the right gear. You need a helmet, jersey, shorts or pants, and a jacket. Clipless or non-clipless shoes and eye protection. Body armor for mountain bike events. And a change of clothes for after the race. Also pay attention the weather and dress appropriately.

4. Build your strength and skillset. Train your muscles and cardiovascular system for the race. You need to be comfortable enough to handle the terrain and conditions. Spend at least an hour on your bike everyday. Ideally more. Ride as long as you can. Throw in tempo and interval workouts. And, if possible, do some of the training on the same terrain you’ll be racing on.

Tips for Your First Race

1. Reduce your training. Cut back about a week before the race. Then your body has enough time to rest up for the big day.

2. Inspect your bike. Make sure your chain is in good shape, your tires are properly inflated, and everything is working as it should.

3. Pack your gear. You want to bring snacks, water, and tools. Maybe extra clothing if it’s a multi-day race, or the weather is expected to change.

4. Eat well. Have a meal with carbs and lean protein at least two hours before the event. Stop eating an hour before.

5. Show up early. You need time to register and warm up. And maybe meet the other cyclists, because who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?

6. Check what others are wearing. Experienced racers will know what to wear based on the conditions. Take their lead and dress accordingly.

7. Find the right position. Starting in front uses up too much energy. Instead, draft behind others. Always be respectful and use proper signals during the race.

8. Set a goal. You shouldn’t aim to win your first time. Focus on getting experience in a race situation, and most importantly, have fun. There are plenty more chances for first place.

Cyclists in a Race