Training and Rest
Start training months in advance. Increase your distance gradually and participate in several longer races. Spend some time trying out different food or liquid options while riding your bike. While training, eat a snack or meal in the middle of pedaling to get your stomach accustomed to digesting while riding.
Get plenty of rest before race day. Though you will have been training intensively, cut back a bit the week of the race, even though you may be tempted to train even harder as the race gets closer. Over-training can cause last-minute injuries or muscle pain. Get plenty of sleep the entire week, eat well and drink lots of water to ensure that you are fully hydrated for the race.
Gear and Lodging
Put all of your gear together early on. Make a list of all the things you need to bring to the race. If you are traveling to the race from out of town, bring everything you need; you may find that the local stores run out of energy gels, tubes or other necessities.
You will want to bring plenty of high-nutrient snacks and several spare water bottles. Some racers complete the entire race on a liquid diet of energy gels and drinks. Others prefer more substantial fare.
You will need a repair kit and a small first aid kit. Reflective tape and lights will be necessary for riding during nighttime hours. Include spare batteries in your kit.
Wear clothing that allows for unexpected changes in the weather. Before the race, check the forecast. Make sure you have rain gear or cold weather gear if there is even the slightest possibility of bad weather.
Find lodging near the start line. You don't want to have to wake up early in order to drive an hour before you start to race.
During the Race
Pace yourself. There will be several riders who take off hard and blast through the first several hours, but you will find that some of them burn themselves out early. Don't be tempted to push yourself harder than your skill level.
Early on, decide on your goals for the race. Are you hoping to be a contender at the finish line, or ride a more leisurely pace and just enjoy yourself? Regardless of your goals, be prepared to be flexible. If you develop a few blisters or your bike chain breaks, you may find yourself adjusting your goals. The most important thing is to have fun.
Pay attention to the maintenance needs of your bike and attend to any problems as soon as possible.
Article Written By Cate Rushton
Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.