You may have heard professional cyclists speak of needing to accumulate “racing miles” or “race days” in order to reach their best form. It may also seem a foreign idea for cyclists used to plugging away on training rides as a way of building form for a race or event.
So what it is about racing that seems to have the potential of lifting cycling performance to a new level and is it something that may work for the average rider? Well the answers can be a little bit complicated of course, so it first may be useful to look at how racing is a little unique in comparison to most other forms of cycling:
Of course, some riders are uniquely capable of simulating most of these characteristics in training. It is also possible to simulate some of these things using group riding sessions. In recent times Team Sky have developed a reputation for dosing in “race-like” training sessions at training camps and Sky riders have been known to say that “racing is easy after being at camp”.
I would encourage all cyclists to try some racing and/or incorporate some “race-like” intensity into their training plans. The key is to know how and when to do it, because although racing can be of enormous benefit, too much emphasis on this type of riding can erode aerobic fitness and endurance, which inevitably leads to a dip in performance over the medium to long term.
So, you may want to try some of the following strategies:
Enjoy the ride (race).