by Thomas Spannring – Epic Endurance Racer
It’s the end of February/beginning of March, and for many of us the training program for the upcoming bike season is in full swing. It is widely recommended to set attainable and measurable goals at the beginning of each season, and those goals will differ widely from person to person. My own goals differ from year to year, but one that has remained the same over the last years is to never drop out of a race and quit. (unless I’m dealing with a severe injury or a mechanical that is absolutely race-ending)
I am pretty sure everyone who’s ever done a mountain bike race, whatever the duration, has had thoughts of “throwing in the towel” at one point or another. Often, we set our expectations in a race too high and as a result, we find ourselves in the back of the field struggling. As a result, many racers crack, pull out of said race, and start questioning their fitness etc. If one of your goals is to finish the race no matter what, you will have a fairly “easy” way of reaching at least one of your goals. In the end, it’ll make you stronger for the next race as well.
Most of us are not able to set aside an unlimited amount of time to ride our bikes as we have personal lives to live as well. It can be a struggle to find time between work, family, kids, etc. If you have a race planned for a certain weekend and you cleared your schedule for that day, it’d be a shame to finish your race prematurely and waste precious riding time. I really started to appreciate my bike time more and more the last few years, since it has become harder to juggle riding time with other obligations. I know I’m not the only one who is time-crunched, I would argue that the vast majority of bike racers are in the same boat. Most mountain bike races take place in beautiful venues, and just being able to ride your bike on great trails with incredible views should be enough motivation to finish a race. At the end, a race is also great training and preparation for your next event, and most of us wouldn’t finish a regular workout prematurely just because we didn’t feel it that day.
It takes confidence to finish a race dead last and still feel good about yourself, but at the same time, it will also build your confidence. It takes character to finish a race in the back of the field, and it’ll make you tougher for other upcoming challenges. Certainly there are many things you can do to boost your confidence before the race season in order to start every single race with the right mindset. One of the biggest confidence boosters is having a somewhat structured training program that you follow. I started using Training Peaks software this year in order to keep track of my rides and workouts. It’s nice to see my weekly and monthly training loads with one click and keep track of my improvements throughout the year.
You also have to have full confidence in your equipment before you even start your race. Here at Epic Endurance Cycling, we are fortunate to ride Cannondale Bicycles, the best equipment that’s available today. Additionally, making sure everything is functional and comfortable on your bike before each race will give you confidence for the upcoming challenge.
On of the biggest confidence builders, I found, comes back to reaching your goal of finishing each one of your races. You can take great pride in your accomplishment of finishing each race, no matter how good or bad you felt that day. And for most of us, 10 or more years down the road, no one will really care whether we finished 3rd or 15th in a certain age category, but we will all remember the good times and fitness we had when we were racing our bikes! Most of all, remember the smile on your face when you cross the finish line.
Get on your bike, have fun and finish … you’ll be better for it!