Preparation is key when training for a competition. It’s important you put in the miles, familiarise yourself with group riding, and set yourself up for success. Here are a few tips to help you prepare:
Be comfortable with group riding
When training, be sure you take part in group rides so you can get used to cycling alongside others at higher speeds and in tight groups. Joining training sessions with a local club will help you build your confidence and prepare you for incidents that can happen along the way.
Be prepared for the course
It’s important to familiarise yourself with the course beforehand. Oftentimes, event organisers will share the route map in advance. It’s advisable to take note of all the potential hazards and danger points on the course so you’re well prepared.
Check your bike
A day before the race give your bike a thorough check. It’s important to make sure nothing is loose and check that your brakes are functioning properly. Give your chain a good cleaning, and check your tyres for any damage.
Pack your gear
Organize and pack everything you’ll need the night before. Having a checklist is useful to ensure you don’t forget anything including your cycling top, shorts, socks, shoes, helmet, gloves, and any additional items based on the weather forecast.
Eat as you would before a training ride
It’s important that you eat plenty of carbohydrates and hydrate the evening before a race. On race day try to eat breakfast at least two hours before your race and avoid unfamiliar foods. Have something containing carbohydrates and some protein.
Bottles and food
Make sure you have plenty of water and food (energy bars and gels) for during the race. The amount you need will depend on the length of your event. Aim for one to two bottles per hour based on the temperature. For longer events, try to eat and drink around 500 calories per hour after the first hour.
Make sure you train sufficiently
Ensure that you are fit and healthy ahead of any race and don’t participate if you’re unwell or injured. Make sure you are physically capable of racing and have done enough training and preparation prior to the event. On the day, make sure you’ve warmed up properly and don’t forget to take the time to cool down afterwards either.
Get there early
Make sure you’re aware of the start times, locations, and maps for the race and arrive early. Register as soon as you arrive, pin your number, and locate the bathrooms. Take a short warm-up to get your legs loose and check out the last kilometre of the race to look for any potential hazards.
For more information on racing and how to compete safely, the British Cycling website has lots of helpful resources as part of their Race Smart campaign which you can read about at britishcycling.org. To learn more about UnitedHealthcare Global and their health and wellbeing plans, click here.
Getting into cycling can seem intimidating if you’re brand new or getting back on your bike for the first time in a few years. However, once you get started, you’ll experience the sense of freedom and adventure that motivates you to keep coming back.
Our team has gathered up a few need-to-know tips on how to start cycling so you can hit the open road with confidence.
Choose the Right Bike
Choosing the bike that best suits you is really important. For beginners, it’s recommended to choose a style of bike that matches the terrain you’ll be riding on. It’s also important to choose the right size bike to help keep you safe and comfortable. Reach out to your local bike shop for assistance.
Get Geared Up
A helmet is the most important piece of equipment. Make sure to choose clothing that is comfortable and meant for exercise, identify which pedal and shoe style you're most comfortable using, and don’t forget items like tire levers, a mini pump, spare tubes, and bottle cages.
Get into a routine
Your first few rides might be tough - your body is adjusting to the stress of a new activity. But like all things, real progress is made when you stick with it. The first step to make cycling a habit is to aim to ride a consistent number of days a week.
Warm-up and cooling down
Remember the importance of warming up and cooling down after a cycling session, this can help you to prevent injury by relaxing your muscles and getting the blood flowing around your body. Take time to cool down too, relaxing and stretching after an intense cycling session, this will help improve your flexibility and slow your heart rate.
Find a Group
Cycling is a very sociable sport and being part of a group can give you that extra push to reach your goals. Tap into your local cycling group and take part in weekly group rides. You’ll meet people of all abilities who can share advice and experience to help you become more confident.
In addition to wearing your helmet, there’s more to staying safe on your bike. Always carry a basic multi-tool, and your phone in case of an emergency. Always follow local traffic laws while cycling - this includes coming to a complete stop at red lights and using appropriate hand signals when making a lane change or turn. Also, don’t assume the car coming up behind you knows you’re there just because you’re in their lane. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the more you can anticipate vehicles and hazards out on the road.
The information on this website does not provide medical advice or other health services and is not a substitute for website users' doctors' or professionals’ care. Website users should talk to their doctor before significantly increasing their level of activity, particularly if users have a medical condition or have been physically inactive.