Junior racing tips
- Rollout before AND after each race. Even if nobody reminds you. Immediately. Don't go back to the car first.
- When it's cold bring extra layers, and USE THEM. Kneewarmers / legwarmers / booties / gloves / jackets / vests / ears etc.
- sub-tip: wear the heavy jacket and pants when you first get on the bike to warm up.. then take them off as you get warmer.
- When it's hot bring extra ice and water - twice as much as you think you'll need, so you can share with a friend who didn't read this.
- When racing with older age groups, don't let bossy riders intimidate you.. you may be younger but you have just as much right to be in that race as they do. And just because a rider is older does not make him/her your coach.
- Are you in high school? Ask your principal about joining a league like this: http://www.texashighschoolcycling.org/about
- It's not about the bike. Equipment doesn't make you fast. Spend the money on race entry fees and (maybe) coaching.
- But. You can't win a race you don't finish. So make sure your bike is in perfect working order before every race. Learn how to do basic maintenance yourself. It's easy.
One big tip would be to try and get some track work in, or high cadence if you can't get track time. You will eventually hit the top of your junior gears while the adults are just getting going, and spinning is all that will keep you in the race.
well i might be qualified enough to help out here.
step #1 ride and race as much as you can. **** we're kids, we adapt so fast it would make your head spin. gained 50 watts on my ftp, over 300 watts on my max power, and a bunch of other things after riding non-stop. just do it! you have the time (at most times of the year). go out there and do 4 hour rides, go out there and race 3 races a day. it will py off in the long run
step #2 race for a team that semi-kind of cares about you. i was a domestique for most of last year in races where our official team leader was there, but i was also the protected rider for every race he wasn't at (alot of race btw). It helps to have support, but if u aren't strong enough to be the protected, be willing to work for other people. no reason to be a dick.
step #3 if its a race, race smart and go to win (you learn from winning). if it's a training ride/race work your ass off. training aggressively, race conservatively (think i'm joking? go race a crit where you're otf the entire time, while pushing the pace in the break. You might be fine for an hour and a half but by an hour and 59 minutes you're toast and u lose contact with the break. instant 5th place, should have sat in the pack and not wasted your time (if you can win the field sprint).
step #4. love the sport, and be willing to get through rough patches. life gets in the way but who cares?
step #5: practice your high cadence sprints. i don't generally train on junior gears (for obvious reasons), but at all training races im on a junior cassette. 150+ rpm sprints are hard to do well (read beat the punk ass 1's who have 53/11's)
step #6. don't get lured into a sponsorship **** hole. i know guys who race for teams that suck, yet all they can talk about is their free bike. guess what? the junior who isnt wasting his time looking for a free lunch is winning a race (also dont expect a free lunch if you're a brand new racer who hasn't done anything, it annoys people, and doesnt reflect a good image).
step #7 while in other sport trash talking is fun and accepted, in bike racing it isn't (at first). bike racers are pretty uptight (especially cat 4evers). once you have a large group of friends in the cycling community you can push bottons, but dont walk up to our first crit cocky, or annoying.
step# 8 get a coach, trust me it will help. you have no lcue what you're doing, and a coach can help (even a cheap local one. this is a lot more important than a fancy set of wheels, hell mine sit in my garage most weekends).
step #9 don't be sketchy, this isn't normally a problem with juniors (we're generally pretty good at this type of stuff), but if you are you hurt the image of yourself, and other juniors (in the eyes of racers, you're now just some stupid punk who can't ride a bike). example time, today on a race there was a junior who couldn't ride in a straight line, kept bumping into people, and lost his frame pump, all people could talk about is how stupid juniors can be, to which i pointed out that he was just a stupid kid, versus me who is a stupid kid who doesn't run people over.
step #10 (i'm getting sleepy so this will be the last one). JUST RIDE AND RACE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!!!!
sorry if im a bit tough, but i think tough love is the best type of love. you have someone tell you that you need to win or else, and you win. if you have someone who says "you tried hard good job" as you were shot otb, and you get stuck in a rut of "i'm doing just fine". (i believe this is true for all aspects of life. You ain't doing your job right? Somebody should chew you out for it. and by job i just mean duty, not an actual occupation).
Oh man, everybody's making lists? geez. Here's mine:
.5 It's not about the gear. Get one solid bike. A Cyclocross bike is a great first bike, because it works for road, cyclocross, and you can easily fit fenders on in the winter. After you get one bike, you don't need fancy race wheels, or a trick road bike with Di2. Spend the money on race entry, and maybe traveling to a big race.
1. Race lots. This cannot be overstated. There is no better way to learn what the heck is going on in the group.
2. Stay safe. You have a whole lot of years left to win races. Don't jeopardize the ones you have left, or the ones other people have.
3. Don't put yourself in a box. Just because you're naturally good at sprinting, or time trialling, or track, doesn't mean that's all you're good at, or even what you could be best at. I spent two years convinced that I was a sprinter, but I spent a long time working on my weaknesses, and I'm doing waaay better at time trials/times track events.
4. Get a coach, but not too fast. For the first year or so, just ride your bike. Don't get too wrapped up in the details at first, just spend time on the bike. After a while, a coach will be able to give you more specific training to work on.
5. Make sure you're having fun! If you hate it, re-evaluate why you're riding. Is it because you want to, or because someone else wants you to?
6. Be respectful. Most of the time, especially as you start, most people will know more than you. Accept that, and move on. Eventually you will be dropping pearls of wisdom, but not yet.
7. Find a team that you fit in to. Just because it's the closest team geographically doesn't mean that it's the right fit. Try and find one with a junior/new rider program if you can.
8. Try and race some junior-only events if you can. Up here, we've got the Rapha NW Classic junior stage race, as well as two races/clinics put on by Axel Merckx himself. It's a blast, as well as a fantastic networking opportunity.
9. Get some track work in, or high cadence if you can't get track time. You will eventually hit the top of your junior gears while the adults are just getting going, and spinning is all that will keep you in the race.
10. Volunteer. Spend some time marshaling, or handing out race packets, or recording results. As important as it is to race lots, you can't race every single one. This helps build goodwill towards yourself and juniors. As well, you get to see parts of races you would never get to see otherwise.
11. If you desperately want to spend money on cycling, your first thing should be a professional bike fit. Will keep you going more comfortably and more sustainably for longer.
12. If you do start time-trialling, get aero bars. That's all at first. You do not need a TT Bike, or a disc, or a skinsuit, or an aero helmet. If you continue wanting to spend money, get a separate bike fit for a TT Position. This list is subjective, but IMO, order of priority would be Aero Bars>Fit>Aero helm>skinsuit>aero front wheel>Disc>tt Bike.
Gawd, I wish I had these lists before I got started.
thanks for posting guys (: don't be shy,keep them coming~
step # 10000somethingorother: Don't train on junior gears when rolling around solo. there's no reason especially if you are working on getting stronger. doing all out sprints in the 53/15 is great for your spinning abiliy, but it;s far to small a gear to work on say 30 second intervals where you're focusing on building power. same goes for threshold and vo2max on non-flat terrain. if i have to hold 350 watts for 30 minutes as a workout, i want to be able to ride at 350, not hit a small descent get up to 34 mph and be spinning at 125 rpms putting out 230 watts.
DO RIDE JUNIOR GEARS IN ALL TRAINING RACES AND RACES (it's the rule stupid butts). Training races are the time to work on high speed high cadence work (along with other non-power oriented training rides). i love doing my local weekly training crit on junior gears. each lap is a hair over 2 miles long, dead flat, and windy as hell (aka your going from 26 mph to 37 mph great work for high cadence spinning).
that is all for now slow pokes