Bike racing is different than most sports in that training is merely a prerequisite for getting results. We always start our race school and clinics with the statement, "Just because you train hard doesn't give you the right to win bike races." Learning how to compete and what it takes to be successful is a whole different animal than the physical training required to potentially do well in the sport.
Here are five important tips to help improve your racing IQ and achieve better results for you and your team.
We rarely if ever have an opportunity to watch our local races on video or DVD, especially the key moments of those races. If someone takes a video of most local races, it's the last sprint taken from well beyond the finish line. It really doesn't do much good as a learning tool. So what can you do? Simply go online or buy DVDs of the professionals and get your team together and pick apart the tactics. Single day races offer hours of good video, taken from a variety of locations like motorbikes and helicopters. Grand Tour videos offer great views of the final sprints from above. It's a good opportunity to watch the tactics that take place by the best riders in the world. And it sure is motivating to watch!
Take a Clinic by a Qualified Coach
Race skills and tactics clinics are everywhere these days. It seems like most districts have plenty of opportunities to enroll and take these clinics. Here in Northern California, as an added bonus, upgrade points are offered for taking part in one of these clinics. And if your district doesn't offer them, there are plenty of coaches (including this one) that are more than willing to fly to you and give a great weekend clinic that can really help your riders learn how to be more competitive in their races. Basic skills, race strategies, and mock racing can all be utilized over a weekend that can carry momentum and motivation into the race season.
The Red Carpet and Aggressiveness
If anything can come out of how to become a better bike racer and competitor, it's that you have to be aggressive. You have to realize that, to be successful, you have to make it happen, as the red carpet to victory doesn't just roll out for you. It's a fight and a struggle.
Good things come to those who are aggressive. Aggressiveness (versus just sitting there in the group) accomplishes two positive things:
- It makes you fitter. Training hard can only get you so fit. Nothing seems to substitute for good racing.
- It gets you into the race and puts you in situations that teach you what it takes to win.
I would rather have an athlete that is overly aggressive versus super passive in races. It can be easier to tone down that enthusiasm versus the opposite. Bottom line, being "smart" aggressive can have many benefits, especially early in the season.