Racing: I’m on the Fence

From the moment we first learned to ride a bike without training wheels, our first impulse was to go faster.

Regardless of your age, regardless of whatever bike you own, if you can ride a bike, and you are reading this page right now, it's clear to me that you have some level of desire for bike racing.

However, I assume you're also reading this particular page because — for some reason, you are not racing your bike.

My challenge is — in order to get you over this intellectual or perhaps "emotional" hump, is to define exactly why you are not racing – and decide what to do with it.

In other words, once you understand exactly why you're not racing, you may be perfectly good with that reason and decide not to pursue this fantasy any longer.

And that too is OK.

There are several reasons why people don't race:

  • Fear of crashing
  • Worried that they aren't strong enough, or fast enough, or don't have enough endurance
  • Financial concerns: worried that their bike isn't good enough, or that their "kit," that is, the clothes they ride in our not good enough to race in
  • Simply overwhelmed by all there is to know and learn
  • You may have one of these reasons or something holding you back that I have it listed here. But I challenge you to come to grips with specifically what keeps you from racing.

If it is one of the reasons listed above, I can give you a few pieces of advice.

One: Gather some experienced testimonials.

In other words, have conversations with other people that you know who have raced, or who race their bikes presently. Find out what it's really like.

Two: If fear is your primary impediment

Check out my multipart series here on the fear of crashing. Recognizing that it’s a very real possibility, and then crafting a plan to deal with that possibility is your best approach.

Three: Actually gather the skills you need — and race.

Find a coach that offers skills training. Spend the hour or two, either one-on-one or in a group skills clinic learning how to ride your bike in ways that are much more advanced than you do now. It will absolutely bolster your confidence.

Four: Take advantage of my Six Laps training course.

It's completely free, and there are no sales pitches in it, anywhere. It gives you an in-depth understanding of how you would need to prepare yourself if you would like to enter the world of bike racing.

Five: Find and enter a local time trial.

It's just you against the clock out on the course. You're not riding in close proximity to any other racers, you can "come as you are," (meaning, many time trials have a separate division for “standard” bikes if you don’t have a dedicated time trial bike) and it's true racing. Your adrenaline will surge and you will actually have results that you can compare to others.

Six: Invest in the minimum commitment

…required by a local USA cycling accredited coach. Some coaches will allow you to go month-to-month. Others, like myself, require a three month minimum commitment. Invest in that minimum commitment and get one-on-one personal guidance. This is a surefire way to know for certain what you're capable of and what it's like to prepare to race your bike.

Good luck out there, and I would love to see you at a start line somewhere, soon.

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Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

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