How To Commit To Being A Bike Racer

When I first had dreams of becoming a bike racer, I had no idea how hard it would be to get started.

The first steps were simply to become fit. The next steps would make me work on my weaknesses, and build on my strengths - whatever those were, I really didn't know. I hadn't done any of this before!

After finding my way through a couple of months of what I thought was "training", I tried my first bike race at a club level.

It was very low-key, low-stakes. I was racing in a "C" group against riders who were just starting out like me. And my results were dismal!

We were maybe 10 minutes into the race, a basic criterium, and the corners were crushing me. I was dropping places going in, and coming out of each one... until I was off the back in a reverse breakaway of one! It didn't take too many more minutes for the field to approach lapping me. My race was over.

A Big Goal Will Put Discouragement In Its Place

Some riders might have thrown the towel in right there. Not me. I had already taken the first big step to becoming a bike racer. I had a Big Goal - a goal outside the realm of anything I had done before.

I had decided I would succeed at becoming a real bike racer. It wasn't a professional aspiration. It was amateur. And in my mind that was fine, because I had lots of opportunities to race at an amateur level. And besides, I already had a profession - engineering - and it was fun and paid me well too.

And still, I decided to become a bike racer. You can make the same firm decision yourself.

The next steps I took kept me on the path to my Big Goal. And it's what you can do too, to make your own commitment to becoming a bike racer...

One Workout At A Time

The key is consistency. You've got to keep coming back to your bike and do your workouts - whatever you've scheduled. If you miss one planned workout, that's okay. Get back on the bike the next day. But be careful, because a missed workout might make it easier for you to miss the next, and then the next... and before you know it you'll be completely off the plan that you carefully put together - just like I was off the back of my first race.

So here are 3 ways to approach your workouts that will help you stick to your training plan...

1 - Show-Up Workout

Consistent riding is the first key to becoming a bike racer. In the beginning, you serve yourself best by developing the habit of getting on your bike every day - even if that happens to be only for 5 to 10 minutes. If you consistently Show-Up, soon you'll find yourself moving to the next level.

And after you have progressed for a few weeks, you'll still have days when you feel like dumping a  workout. Don't. Tell yourself all you need to do today is Show-Up for 5 minutes. You may find that 5 minutes was all you needed to get going, and the workout actually turns into a big breakthrough, like when a technique finally clicks...

You'll need some simple Recovery rides too. Nothing very long, like maybe 20 or 30 minutes. Those are Show-Up days too.

2 - Regular Workout

Endurance and technique are the fundamental building blocks for cyclists. Your Regular Workouts will cover development of these blocks. On these rides you'll develop your consistency and discover confidence in the basic power and efficiency of your endurance engine.

3- Big Rock Workout

These are the high intensity interval workouts. For these workouts, you set your mind to performing at your absolute best. You are trying to breakthrough to your next level of power. But these are the workouts that burn your matches - even seasoned veterans can usually only handle 2 days of Big Rock Workouts in a row. You will need to drop back to Show-Up and Regular Workouts to prevent flame-out.

The Simple Strength of Habit

The worst thing you can do is blow-off your workouts. If you've seriously decided to become a bike racer, getting on your bike before work - after work - after supper - whatever time works best, your mind will serve you best when it has fallen into the habit of getting on the bike at that time of day. Committing to at least a Show-Up Workout will move you a long ways to reaching the needed level of persistent riding. It only takes about 3 consistent weeks to develop a new habit.

Focus Like a True Pro Today

You've declared your intention to become a bike racer, and you've developed the consistency to work at it. Together these form your ongoing Focus. And you'll find yourself entering races, finishing races, placing in races... and yes, even winning races much sooner than you ever thought!

Bring your Focus to shine the light on this season by answering these simple questions:
  1. What big, scary race event do you want to enter?
  2. When does it happen?
  3. How many weeks do you have for your workouts before the event?
  4. How many weeks have you been consistent with your riding up to today?
  5. Decide what it means for you in each workout: Show-Up; Regular; Big Rock.

Pick a workout, and get on your bike. You'll feel so much better for taking one small step today.

By the start of my second season of racing, I won my first race. It was almost a second place finish, until I heard a small voice in my head say, "You've trained all this time and have come this far. Don't let those 2 little meters ahead defeat you!" And with that I stomped just a little harder on the pedals and hit the finish line first.

Keep consistent. Keep training.  Keep entering races. You will finish. You will podium. You will win. And before you know it, you'll be progressing up through the ability ranks of categorized racing - 5, 4, 3, 2... and who knows, maybe 1/Pro?

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