Rookie Training Tips That Will Get You Through Your First Cycling Race

Race day’s not that far off!


Women's Health |

It’s less than two months to go to the legendary Cape Town Cycle Tour. Whether you lost a bet around a braai, or the cycling bug just bit you, prepping for your first race can be daunting. Well, don’t panic. These tips from six-time veteran and 2015 bronze medallist, Maroesjka Matthee of Team BestMed ASG, will see you across the finish line.

Give yourself enough time to train

If you’re still off work or slowly easing back into things with flexi hours, use this time to put in those kays. “Let your body adapt to the hours you’ll spend in the saddle on race day,” says Matthee. “It’s not only your legs and lungs that need the fitness – your sitting bones also need training. If you’re a runner or fitness junkie and think you’ll be fine, keep in mind those hours you’re going to spend sitting on that bike saddle. It can get a little uncomfortable!”

Get familiar with the route

“See what elevation (climbing) you’re up against, because let’s face it, that’s most of the hard work,” says Matthee. “Websites like Strava.com can give you a good indication of hills to tackle near you that are similar to those on the Cape Town Cycle Tour.” If you’re able to cycle the route itself, that’s obviously first prize.

READ MORE: 5 Things You Need To Know Before Riding The Cape Town Cycle Tour

Avoid riding alone

Newbies often get overwhelmed by the number of people around them, so learn the dos and don’ts of riding in a big bunch. Plus you’ll have help at hand in case of an emergency. “Entering fun rides is the perfect environment to develop skills and expose you to real-time race conditions. While indoor cycling is a great way to train for nervous first-timers, it’s imperative to practise riding among other cyclists.”

Join a club

“Your local cycling club provides an instant supply of riding buddies, as well as a fun and safe environment in which to hone your skills.”  Visit Cyclelab.com and Pedalpower.org.za.

Test your nutrition plan

Will you drink an energy drink or water? Some people can’t handle the sweet drinks, so make sure you know what your body responds to best. Determine beforehand whether or not you’ll eat during the race and how you’ll manage that. Are you comfortable reaching into your pocket and eating while you ride, or do you need to stop? “Remember to open the wrapper of an energy bar or snack before you go, so they’re easy to get to,” suggests Matthee. “You can also peel the first part of a banana to make it easier to handle with one hand when you want to eat it.”

READ MORE: “5 Things I’ve Learnt Since I Started Cycling — Like How To Go Pantyless”

Train four times a week

Get at least four training sessions in a week and make one of them a long ride. With the increased training you’ll feel hungry all the time, so eat regular balanced meals. Your muscles need protein to recover, so eat a good protein-based meal for lunch after hard/long rides.

Don’t change your bike too close to race day

As if the festive spending spree left you with extra cash for a bicycle! But if you do happen to be planning an upgrade, do it now. You’ll need at least two or three weeks to get used to it. You have to be confidant on your bike – knowing what it can and can’t do is very important.

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