It will not be long before it's time to head to the races. In fact, racing has already started in some areas. These early-season races need to serve a training purpose, and results need to be looked at objectively.
Unless you're planning a very early-season peak, these events should be low priority and you'll be "training through" them. Ride to the best of your abilities, but you'll likely be fatigued from training during the week.
Take care not to put too much pressure on yourself or emphasis on the results of these races. Be realistic about where you are in the annual training plan and realize that more than likely the first peak of the season is still several training blocks away.
Try to make an honest evaluation of where your fitness stands. You can learn a lot about how your training is progressing by testing yourself during these events. Try some tactics that you wouldn't be likely to risk later in the season.
Also be aware of how these races will impact the training schedule. Most early-season events are short. If you have limited training time during the week and rely on weekend time to get endurance riding in, consider skipping some of the very early events in favor of training. If there are two races available per weekend, a good approach might be to race one day and do your endurance workout the other.
Andy Applegate heads a2 coaching and is an elite-level road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike racer. He's also a USA Cycling and Ultrafit-certified coach. He may be reached at email@example.com. For more information check out www.a2coaching.com.