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Race Mistakes & How to Avoid Them! [Part 1]

We’ve all been there…

Bell rings ding ding ding, final lap...

...and you’re stuck, boxed in, and in the middle of the race field.

This is THE MOST common mistake of a guaranteed 1 in 10 riders.

Only 1 RIDER can win the race, so how do you make that rider you?

How do you avoid getting caught in places you definitely should not be with a lap to go?

In this blog, we’re going to talk race mistakes, and give you some tips on how to avoid them when you next line up on the start line.

1. Trigger-happy: When you start the sprint far too early.  

The diagram we’ve drawn above highlights what happens when you ‘hit out’ too early as you’re approaching the finish of a race.

The type of rider that you are, will dictate just how far out the most optimal place to sprint or attack will be.

For example, if you’re a really 'explosive' type of rider, suited to very short high intensity sprints, then you’ll be wanting to leave your sprint later i.e. coming into the bell you, or even within the last lap before really switching on full-throttle.

If you’re more of a ‘long running engine’ type of rider, and find that the only way you’re going to beat the sprinters is to go out early and hope you can hold off your opponents to the finish, than you’ll need to consider your timing carefully and look for the right opportunity. 

2. Boxed-in: When you’ve got yourself surrounded by other riders and can’t change your race positioning.

One of the most frustrating places to be in a race, is ‘boxed in’ with a sea of riders around you, all riding close, making it difficult to move out, up, forward or back.

It’s really important to be observant all the time when you’re riding, and plan for early maneuvers so you don’t miss vital opportunities for either points or race podiums.

To avoid getting ‘boxed in’, we recommend the following tips: 

  1. Make sure you have great visual skills, which will include being able to ride around the track looking in different directions (forward, back and to both sides).
  2. Practice being comfortable around close bunches, this will include practicing bike handling skills such as riding shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, knee to knee etc.
  3. Be adaptable to changing your tactics during the race to counteract situations in which you may find yourself getting boxed in.
  4. Position yourself well if you’re riding behind someone, ensuring you have ‘room to move’.  This may mean sitting slightly up and to the right of the rider in front’s wheel and leaving 2 feet distance so you can ‘get out’ of your position when you need to. 

3. Gear choice error: When you’ve selected a gear that doesn’t allow you to keep up with the race pace.

You can make two errors when selecting your gear for a race:

1. Selecting a gear that’s far too big, or

2. Selecting a gear that’s far too small.

One is as costly as the other, particularly early on in the race if the pace is high and you’re a) struggling to push your gear and fatiguing too quickly or b) spinning way too fast and watching the main bunch ride away from you.

Making the right gear selection comes down to experience and training and the old saying ‘what you train for is what you get’.

This saying definitely extends to making the right gear selection.

If you spend your life training efficiency on an 81” inch gear for bunch races, and then decide to straight to a 100” inch gear to ride your targeted bunch race event.

Chances are it’s not going to pan out the way you envisioned, and it works the other way too.

We’d definitely recommend you read our blog on ‘choosing the right gear’ if you’d like to read more on gearing.

Be sure to check out Part 2 on Race Mistakes.

If you enjoyed this, leave us a comment below, we'd love to hear from you!