5. Watch for Erratic Riders
Look out for riders who are dangerous, and steer clear of them. A rider who is not holding a straight line, who is taking his hands off the bars all the time, whose bike isn't in good shape, or who isn't looking ahead is someone to keep away from.
6. Look Ahead
Always keep your eyes on the road ahead of you and not only the rider in front of you. Watch out for corners, potholes, etc. It is a bad idea to put blind faith in the rider in front of you. Keep your head up and be aware.
7. Make Allies
Be respectful of other riders in the group. An adversary may quickly become an ally when you're in a breakaway with him or her. Nobody likes a loud-mouth or a dangerous, inconsiderate rider. Being in a peloton is like driving in traffic—be respectful of others and don't get road rage. Make friends in the peloton. If people like you, they are more likely to cooperate in the breakaways and let you into the line to get a draft.
8. Get Fueled Early
Fuel up in the early kilometers of the race with both liquids and solids and this will pay endurance dividends. When you're cruising along in the bunch, try to eat around 350 calories an hour, and stay hydrated by drinking one to two bottles each hour, even though the pace may not be high and the race stressful. A bonk comes down on a rider like an axe on a piece of wood. It will come by surprise, rip you in two and will end your race. Stay fueled.
9. Sprint Smart
Sprinting success requires more than just power and speed. You must position yourself well, keeping your nose out of the wind until the final meters of the race without getting boxed in by other riders. You want a clear shot at the line and don't want to be impeded by another rider.
It is an art that requires intelligence, guts, risk and aggression. A good sprint also requires as much saved energy as possible. Be smart, stay out of the wind, stay up front in the first 10 and race to the line with every ounce of power left in your body.
10. The Curse of the Wheelsuck
Don't be a wheelsuck in a breakaway. Nobody likes a rider who doesn't do any work and then races to the victory. Doing so is like stealing candy from a kid—dishonest and lame.
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Michael Barry is the author of two popular cycling books, Inside the Postal Bus and Fitness Cycling, and lives with his wife, former cycling star Dede Barry, and their son in Girona, Spain. To keep track of Michael's racing and writing go to MichaelBarry.ca.
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