Most experienced bike racers are creatures of habit. We wear a pattern into the concrete like the guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Each step is worn smooth by years of repetition. Everything we do in the days and hours leading up to a race is designed to propel us into the race fully prepared. Few of us wing it.
Where did your routine come from? Is it the result of trial and error? Or do you continue to do things the way you were taught by your mentor?
Aside from taking care of all the pre-race details, the most important thing is that your routine should never leak energy.
Stress burns energy. Socializing burns time. Walking burns calories. Sunlight just wears you down.
Here are some tips to consider to conserve energy during your pre-race routine:
1. Travel with bikes inside the vehicle rather than on a roof rack. It takes longer to pack, but you're not wasting energy climbing and lifting. And you'll never worry about low overhangs or outside forces.
2. Avoid a last minute rush. Arrive in plenty of time to get everything ready. Stay on task.
3. Drink water. Over the course of an hour, you're sweating out the hydration that you'll need when the race gets underway. It's easy to overlook.
4. Park the car in a shady spot. Stay out of the sun. Take a lawn chair and stay off your feet. If you're going to watch another race before your race starts, sit in the shade and enjoy the show.
5. Park someplace away from the masses. Sequestering yourself prevents interruptions and time-burning chitchat: Do you guys have a pump I can borrow? How's your team look for next year? Who designed your kit? Have you ridden the course? Do you have any ice? Are you guys going to Superweek? Which race are you signed up for? Where were you last week? You missed a great race. Here, I'll recite it back for you in real time...
6. Park close to the announcer. You'll want to hear pertinent information, such as the day's schedule or your call to the start line. Park far enough away so that he/she doesn't drive you crazy.
7. Ride your bike to registration and to the port-o-lets. Consider it part of your warm-up. Don't walk anywhere.
Again, the race starts when the starter's pistol is fired. Until then, it's a game of conservation that will ensure that you roll up to the starting line with a full tank of gas.
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