Ythan Cycle Club - Race Day Routines
Tips from Bob Hill - Club Coach


These are intended to reduce anxiety, keeping you as relaxed as possible prior to the race and will assist in minimising some of the random distractions, which may run through your mind during the ride. Performing these routines, before every event, is a positive action, which can help to make you more focused and boost confidence.

Race Checklist

If you get to the race and then find out that you’ve forgotten something (shoes, helmet), it could ruin your race entirely. At the very least it may be a source of distraction throughout the race, with your mind going back to it over and over again.

One way to avoid this problem is to make yourself a checklist of everything that you want to take to the race with you. Keep it in the bag that you always pack for the race and use the checklist every time.

Get your bag packed early the day before the race. Make a habit of doing it about 6pm or earlier and use the checklist, which should include everything to go into your bag and into your car (spare wheels, pump, helmet etc). In fact, everything you will need to take with you.

Equipment Check

Check your bike out the day before the race. Ensure that the wheels are sound and secure, that the gears and brakes are operating perfectly and that nothing is loose or rattling. Pay particular attention to the saddle and the pedals and the handlebar arrangement. We have all experienced things working loose during a ride and probably put it down to bad luck, but this can be avoided by simply checking things over for faults.

Make sure that the bike is set up correctly for the particular race distance in which you are competing that day. Remember, for a short distance you can concentrate on aerodynamics, but for the longer distances comfort is paramount, so you may wish to raise your Tri Bars.

These very simple routines will assist in reducing stress during the evening before the race. You know that you have everything you need packed so it is one less thing to be concerned about. It is part of good preparation that is so easy to do and so simple, but is omitted by many people.


When we get to the few days before the race you can do nothing more to improve your physical ability, apart from ensuring that you have adequate rest. Give yourself two “easy days” before the race and rely on what training and preparation you have completed in the weeks and months prior.

Use the routines mentioned concerning checking the bike and your travel bag, and do what you can to develop a relaxed condition, possibly using the techniques previously indicated.

Food And Drink

Think about what you eat and drink prior to the race. Your last meal should be a fairly light snack about 3 hours prior to the event as you cannot perform well with a heavy stomach of food to digest. Tea and toast or cereals are ideal. If it is a very early start in a local race you should probably ride “empty”, unless you want to get up really early to have a breakfast. It is easier to just have a drink of juice or some carbohydrate drink. If it is a '100' you must have something to eat.

The energy that your body uses for the race mainly comes from what you have eaten at least 5 or 6 hours previously or the evening before. For a ‘10’ or a ‘25’ you don’t really need any more energy than that which is already in your body. For the longer distances you should have a carbohydrate drink to help to top up the energy levels that you are depleting. For a ‘50’ one bottle is enough but for a ‘100’ take at least one bottle every hour with the recommended concentration of energy fuel (or a concentration that you are comfortable with). Always make sure you have tried out the energy drink prior to the event at race pace to make sure you are comfortable with it.


Your correct mental attitude and application of effort is totally essential on Race Day. Your mind is now in control of what you do. Hopefully you have the training and preparation correct and are committed to doing your very best. Adopt the approach that it will be your best and that you can do no more. This is as good as it gets, for today!!!

If others are still faster than you, then so be it. You know that you will do the very best that you can on that day. You can do no more than your best. Try to be relaxed with this knowledge and your commitment to it.

If it is at all possible, approach the race with NO EXCUSES. Accept that you possess no genuine reason of any kind for failure. Confirm to yourself that you have no injuries or recent illnesses which may affect your performance. If you do have, then you really shouldn’t be there or you need to consider it as a 'training' race.

The Warm Up

Get to the event at least one hour before your start time, obtain your number and pin it on to your top, then get your bike ready. Now try to have a short relaxation period to settle you down and focus your mind on the event. If it works for you, then include some visualisation of starting the event and settling into a rhythm.

You can now start the physical warm up, either out on the road or on a turbo. Start out slowly for the first few minutes then gradually wind it up into a good steady hard pace. The length of the warm up should be at least 15 minutes and you must make sure that you have got your heart rate up close to that which is your target in the event. This makes it easier to get up there sooner after starting the race. This helps to lessen the shock to your body in transforming from a state of rest, to a very high level of effort in a short space of time.

For the shorter length of events, your racing heart rate will be higher and you need to try to get up to this effort as quickly as possible, so that you do not lose any time. It is therefore very important that you reach at least within 10 beats of your target, for a minimum of 3 minutes during the warm up.

During this warm up, concentrate on the round pedalling technique and perform the breathing routine. This prepares you specifically for what you will need to do during the ride.

My preference is to warm up on the turbo. It is easier to concentrate on technique and heart rate if you do not have the distractions of traffic, u-turns and how far you are away from the start line. On the turbo you are likely to build up some sweat and may wish to change your top before going to the line.

Always make sure that your shoes are very secure and that you have your helmet and number on before proceeding to the line. Take a good few swallows of carbohydrate drink during the warm-up and before going to the start. Try to arrive at the start with just 2 or 3 minutes to spare so that you have not cooled down too much.

During the Race

To achieve your best performance in a Time Trial you must control two areas;



To Control both of these Physical Outputs takes a tremendous Mental Effort.

This is when all the practice in training must be brought into effect. You have practiced many different aspects of cycle performance during your training, some of which should come to you almost automatically.

Now, more than ever, you must concentrate on what you can control and ignore what you cannot control.

In the previous sections I have detailed the various areas which you can work on to enhance the effectiveness of your efforts in the race. The following list summarises these;

  • POSITION - Stay down on the Tri Bars
  • ROUND PEDALLING - Concentrate on ‘Pulling Round’ all of the time
  • BREATHING - Do the ‘Breathing Routine’
  • LEVEL OF EFFORT - Get to your target heart rate and stay there
  • VISUALISE - Think of your Pedalling Machine cutting through the air
  • PAIN - Anticipate the pain and welcome it as absolutely necessary

This may sound like too much to concentrate on and far too complicated but once you have mastered each area you will not find it to difficult.

Your position is fixed and takes care of itself. The other aspects all involve concentration. If you just concentrate fully on the breathing routine then the others will come naturally. Counting breaths keeps you aware of what you are doing and avoids your mind from drifting. When you are aware you keep your focus.


Physical Performance

Mental Performance

Race Day Preparation






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