Back to Basics: What to do on Race Day

by Colin Sandberg

Almost everyone gets those pre-race jitters (especially the riders with less experience).  There are ways to get around that or at least diminish those pre-race nerves.  The best way to get over that is experience.  It may take a few years for pre-race routines to become second nature to a cyclist, but everyone can get to that point.  One thing that has always helped me is to remember that there is always more work involved in pre-race routines than you may think, especially if it is a big race that you are preparing for or if the race is far away.

Most racers have a similar routine that usually starts the day before the race. This can include (but not limited to):

Day before

  • Race prep ride
  • Wash bike
  • Dinner
  • Pack bags
  • Check over equipment
  • Sometimes drive to hotel

Morning before race

  • Needless to say, there are countless other things that need to be done and this may stress out a lot of people.  Beginners may want to create a universal checklist of everything that you may need for races.  Experienced riders may not even need to have one because they have done it so many times, but pretty much everyone has that nagging thought in their mind during the drive to the race “I KNOW I forgot something!!!”

Sample Checklist

  • Bike
  • Pump
  • Kit
  • Extra Kit
  • Bottles
  • Drink Mix
  • Shoes
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Race Wheels
  • Tool Box
  • Changing Towel
  • Sweat Towel
  • Recovery Mix
  • Any Supplements
  • Number Pins (some races don’t provide them)


For me, that nagging thought doesn’t leave my head until I get on my bike and start warming up.  The main reason for that is because once I’m on my bike, I know I have everything I need to race.  Even though that thought leaves my head, I still have a feeling of nervousness.  Sometimes that nervousness goes down if I know it’s a longer race that won’t take off from the gun or if the race has a neutral start.  A huge portion of that nervousness goes away as soon as I am clipped in off the start.  I never have been good at clipping in under pressure and I think a big part of that the pressure relief is knowing that when I am clipped in, I am ready to rock and roll.

Ideally, you want to allow yourself 2 hours between the time you arrive to the time your race starts.  When you get to the race, time will fly by quickly.  You will feel like you don’t ever have enough time to get ready to race.  There’s seldom ever time to sit and socialize with others.

Sample Schedule for race that starts at 10 AM

  • 8:00 Arrive/Use Restroom
  • 8:10 Sign in/Register
  • 8:15 Use Restroom
  • 8:25 Pin Numbers
  • 8:30 Put race wheels on and test ride
  • 8:40 Mix Bottles
  • 8:50 Put on kit with pinned number
  • 9:00 Warm-up
  • 9:40 Remove bike from trainer, grab race bottles, use restroom
  • 9:45 Roll up to staging
  • 10:00 Start