Nothing quite compares to racing. If you’re getting ready to line up again after a long off-season, you might be wondering how you can best prepare to race. What can you do to mimic some of those race sensations? Of course, you could always register for a “training race” and practice your technique there. Training races or “C” Races are excellent for getting the cobwebs off and remembering what it feels like to tow the line. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time or sometimes a race isn’t available. So, create your own race simulation. Here’s how:
Pre-Race Routine: The whole point in a race simulation is to practice your ability to race. Practice your warm up exactly the way you plan to on race day. Eat what you plan to eat before a race. Prepare your bike as if it’s race day. The more you can do just like race day, the more you will take away from this race simulation.
Plan Ahead: Don’t just go out and ride hard for the designated time. Plan a route. If possible, pre-ride the route and select your lines. Even if you are doing your race simulation in a place that you always ride, try to see the trail differently. Plan your distance so that you aren’t tempted to stop early.
Challenge Yourself: Show up to your race simulation prepared to work hard! Mentally prepare. If you are breathing hard and your muscles are burning then you’re doing it right! Bonus points if you can bring a fast friend to push you even further.
Create Goals: How will you know if your race simulation was a success? A lot of the success might ride on an intangible such as how hard you push yourself, but it’s important to have some tangible goals as well. Your goals might be Strava segments, power numbers, a time on the loop, or even keeping your times consistent if you are doing multiple loops of your own course.
Mountain Bike Race Simulation:
Pick Your Route: For mountain bike race simulations, you can usually let the terrain dictate your effort. Pick a course that has good climbs and descents so that you can practice putting in big power up the climbs, and descending fast and smooth while fatigued. Consider making your route multiple laps so that you can focus on different things each lap and see what strategies produce the fastest times.
Race Start: Most mountain bike races start fast! So try doing the same. Practice going into that red zone and see how quickly you can recover and find your rhythm again.
Attacks: Most races aren’t just a consistent pace. Execute a few “attacks” during your race simulation. Imagine yourself dropping the competition or sprinting for the win!
Road Race Simulation:
Plan the Effort: On the road, the terrain may not determine the pace as easily since your climbs and descents will likely be much longer or consistent. You probably don’t just want to aim for your highest power for XX amount of time since that effort will not reflect the demands of a race (unless you’re a time trialist).Before you start your race simulation, write out your efforts according to wattage or heart rate. Think about how a race goes. Maybe you start with high wattages, settle into a rhythm, have a few attacks, a break away, and a sprint finish. It’s really up to you. Have fun with it!
Never Stop Racing: Keep in mind that even on the road, races go up and downhill. Think about attacking up and over climbs and getting in a good aero position on the descents. That said, always, always yield to cars and watch for traffic!
Racing is fun! That’s why we do it! Make sure your race simulation is fun too!