Eliminate the risk of a race day mechanical by getting your bike race ready today.
Be it a local triathlon or criterium, an interstate stage mountain bike stage race, or even a grand tour, everyone can benefit from having their bike well set-up for a race. These principles can be applied to a hardtail mountain bike, a sleek TT machine, a downhill rig and everything in between.
1. Get it serviced and cleaned!
You want everything running smoothly and efficiently before a race. Worn parts like tyres, chains, cassettes, cables and bearings are not only vulnerable to failing on you, they create drag and friction which slows you down! If you are not sure what may need replacing, an experienced bike mechanic can quickly identify any issues worth your while sorting out. Check your tyre pressure is suitable for the course and for the day of the event. And last but not least, clean bike is a fast bike!
These tyres are worn and slow – time for some new rubber
2. Trim the weight down
I’m not talking about expensive part upgrades here, although that can certainly help. There are a number of small things that can make a difference in dropping your bikes weight, making it more efficient, and potentially more aerodynamic. Perhaps the cabling could be shortened and neatened up. Are you carrying a massive saddle bag? Do you need to pack a sandwich in it? If not, consider getting a smaller one, or taping spares to your frame, or maybe you can get through the race without any spares. This should not be at the expense of durability – I’ll often top up sealant levels in my tyres if I know the course is particularly rough – but you would be amazed at how much unnecessary stuff we carry on our bikes on a daily basis.
Only need the big chain ring for a time trial? Consider removing the front derailleur as pictured. Removing the small chain ring would further reduce weight
3. Use a bike computer
Froomey looking at his stem is an extreme example, but we can all benefit by training with a bike computer and using it effectively in a race situation. Sometimes you need to race to whatever sensations you are having, be it feeling really good on a climb, or reacting to an attack in a peloton. But with the range of cycling computers now available, and a myriad of sensors to pair to them, like power meters and heart rate monitors, a lot of guess work can be taken out of your efforts. We can run you through how to effectively set up a bike computer in another article, but in short, use one for training in a way it you will use it in a race, and place it somewhere visible on your bike!
This might look like a strange mounting position, but it’s all about having a clear view. That light mount has got to go before racing though!
4. Ride your bike!
It probably goes without saying, but if you know your bike, you will ride it faster. Get comfortable on it in training. Know how it responds through corners and how long it takes to slow it down. You may need to get more weight over your front wheel, for instance. Or it could be that on your TT bike, tucking into a very aerodynamic position only works for you for short periods of time – perhaps it is faster for you to be in a more relaxed position for longer races. Take the time to understand how you bike performs and you will gain a free competitive edge.
The Short and Sweet of It
Don't risk it, get your wheels in for a service to ensure it's in tip top shape. Trim off any excess fat to help you get up any hills. Use all tech available to your. Last but not least, pull your finger out and get the km's done.