Jersey, Shoes, Shorts, Helmet, License

Before I travel to a race, I have a mantra that I've been repeating to myself since I was a junior: "jersey shoes shorts helmet license; jersey shoes shorts helmet license." I say it a few times as I load up my bag, put everything in the car, and again as I'm driving away from home or where ever I’m staying. It's a basic list of all the things I really can't be without at the race. Everything that's not on this list I can likely borrow without difficulty or without negatively affecting my performance, (though the last thing I might want to wear is someone else's shorts.) And while technology means you might carry your phone to registration rather than a paper license, it's still good to ...

The Lantern Rouge: Bus Driving and Stage Race Survival

Stage racing is a unique animal. There are very few sporting events that combine different disciplines or versions of their sport day after day, to award an overall winner. Decathlon comes to mind as one of the few parallels. But that very nature of it's appeal also contains its challenges. For many riders, these races are the peak of their season and their training has revolved around being at their best. For others, the races are primarily training, especially in the early season, or to peak for later events. And of course, some people climb well, some time trial well, and some sprint well, but everyone has to do everything. When you have such a discrepancy of goals and fitness ...

The Card Up Your Sleeve, Part II

In Part 1 of The Card Up Your Sleeve, I wrote about the inevitability of sprint finishes in most Category 3, 4, and 5 races. Regardless of your natural ability, field sprinting is a mandatory skill to acquire if you plan on moving up through the categories. I mentioned two scenarios: when to wait for the sprint if field sprinting is your talent, and how to approach a field sprint if it's not. Here in Part 2, I'll discuss the latter in detail, and outline some approaches useful for a rider in any category.If your skills are time trialing or climbing, or you have a decent sprint but your brain's not wired for the high-speed human pinball that is field sprinting, you're not alone. Everyone has ...

The Card Up Your Sleeve, Part I

For all road racers trying to upgrade from the lower categories, there's one skill that takes precedence above all others: field sprinting. Outside of pro/1/2 races, the dynamic tends to be to such that everyone is willing to chase down attacks, but no one is willing to counter-attack or work with a break they bridge up to. It's a vicious cycle; most races end in field sprints so no one wants to attack or counter-attack for fear of being tired for the field sprint, thus, the race always ends in a field sprint. At the same time, no one wants to let any other riders get away, so the field will typically do just enough to chase down any attackers, put themselves back in contention and on par, ...

Mountain Bike Race Pre-Riding: Inspecting and Opening for Race Day

Author: Serena Bishop GordonThere is a lot of talk these days about marginal gains; incremental improvements that over time add up to more significant increases in performance. These can come from changes in training, diet, equipment, or race preparation, for example. Gains from training and diet can take time to play out, while gains from equipment choices can be expensive. But gains from race preparation are quick to realize, cost nothing, and are often overlooked. If you are a mountain bike racer, part of race preparation is previewing the course. Pre-riding when done effectively and efficiently will give you confidence, leave you fresh, and set you up for a great race.The ...