by PCG Coach BJ BASHAM
I was working with a team of riders preparing for an important local race, and as I was writing a pep-talk email, I decided to remind them of all the things we’d been learning the hard way; things we all knew already but were not putting into practice. These things seem like common sense when you’re standing on the sidelines but sometimes don’t even come to mind in the heat of the racing action. We can all benefit from these tips when racing, either as a team or even when you’re the only one member of your team or club who shows up.
1. Have a reason for every effort you make in the race. Jumping off the front and hanging twenty yards ahead of the field for a couple of laps is a waste of energy. If you’re going to try a move, give it 100% commitment. If you don’t think it will work, you don’t have a good reason for doing it.
2. Stay in the front half of the field for the whole race. There is nothing to be gained by sitting more than halfway back where you can’t respond to an attack or launch one of your own.
3. Don’t try to chase on the front of the field all alone. If you’re racing with a team, get three or more riders to share the work. Don’t start chasing hard until you have your backup. If you’re racing without a team, try to motivate the other riders in the field to start working. Even if all they do is pull through and off, they’re keeping the speed up.
4. If you get into a break, don’t be the only rider in the break who’s working to establish the gap. If you find that no one else wants to work to get away, they probably will let you work until you die and then flick you in the end. Sit up and try again in another break.
5. Get to the race early enough to talk to the rest of the team about the race and how the team might ride. This is a good chance for the riders on the team to share experiences with the course and other riders in the race. Make a plan for how the team will ride the race and make sure everyone on the team knows the plan.
6. Have a back-up plan for your team if your original plan does not work out. Make sure everyone knows, without discussion, when it’s time to switch to the back-up plan.
7. When going for a team win, it is sometime necessary to sacrifice the results of a few riders on the team. In the truest sense, finishing the race should not be the first concern of anyone on the team. If a rider is worried they might not finish in the field if they work too hard, that rider has essentially limited the amount of work he or she can contribute.
8. Stick around long enough after the race to talk about what happened: what went right and what went wrong. Waiting too long can make it harder to remember, so plan on a team meeting right after the race while you’re cooling down or after everyone has cleaned up.
9. If you get a good result due to the team working for you, remember to let them all know how much you appreciate their efforts. Some teams share in the prizes, but a verbal thank you is usually the reward that most riders truly value.
10. Never give up. The race isn’t over until someone crosses the finish line.
BJ Basham is a USAC Level 1 power certified coach and a PCG master coach. His coaching philosophy is based on flexibility and communications. He believes that every training plan should be written in pencil, as very few people can control everything that may come up in their lives or know exactly how they will respond to a given training load or personal event. He works together with his athletes to do what it takes to help them reach their goals with the time and resources available. BJ’s primary goal is to bring his athletes to the point where they enjoy the time they spend cycling. He teaches the importance of balancing work, training, and rest; how to take care of your equipment; and how to juggle (literally). BJ can be contacted through peakscoachinggroup.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.