Tonight is the first full race night of the Department of Cycling Thursday Night Race series and being the first for the season also means it’s a first race for a lot of riders. (Last season was my first racing in a bunch ever)
Here are some tips that I got from last season.
1. Be safe.
Like the Rules of Cycling, tip number 1 is the one to rule them all.
If you don’t think a pass is safe for you or another person then don’t make the pass. If you need to cross the centre line to make a pass, find find another option (riders will be disqualified for crossing centre line)
Let riders around you know what you are doing, if you need to pull over or slow down shout out what you are doing, if everyone knows there will be no issues.
Normal bunch riding signals apply so if you are on the front it is your responsibility to point dangers out to the rest, if you are at the back of the bunch call out cars or cyclists passing. If you are in the middle it is your responsibility to pass the message forward or back.
2. Enjoy the ride
Yes, it is a race but it’s also meant to be a fun race. Enjoy the experience. I found riding in the bunch exhilarating as we were all working as a team and the noise coming from a group of bikes riding at speed was was amazing. A little nerving to begin with but once you are used to it you will love it
3. Call out to slower riders
If you are lucky enough to be flying along in a bunch and happen to be on the front as you are catching slower riders on the course call out and let them know. Thiings like “On your right” or “rider up” and please be loud. There is nothing more frightening (especially to a young inexperienced rider) than a massive group of cyclists rushing passed and being caught off guard.
4. Listen to instruction
Listen to Marshall’s and organizers. They are all volunteers and there to make it a good, safe nights cycling. If they give you a group to go in there is a reason for it so go in that group. (There will be opportunity to fill in a request for the next race to change groups). If a Marshall tells you to stop….. you STOP. They are there for yours and others safety.
5. Watch and learn how the bunch works
After about 30 seconds of riding the bunch normally ‘gets organised’. This means the start of a pace-line. Click here for some great pace-line tips
Normally there is at least one experienced person in the bunch who will voice some direction. Here are a few terms to listen out for
“Roll off the front” – pull off the front into the slower side of the pace line. This will only be directed to front of the line so if you are struggling and need to
“Hold your line” – if you are in the bunch swerving or moving off line without signalling this is directed at you. Remember if riders are coming past you at pace there could be more behind so look before you shift.
“Keep it steady” if you have just been to the front and you hear this it meant you may have pushed a little too hard on the front. The aim of the bunch is to work together to stay away from the bunch behind and hopefully catch the bunch in front and working together well will make this happen. Boosting off the front starts to string your bunch out and therefore not work well together.
Last season I learned to stay with the bunch and work hard until the last quarter of the race then put pressure in to try and get a smaller group working faster to the end.
6. Go to the pub!
Stop in at the Fireplace afterwards to discuss your race. Not only will you enjoy bragging to everyone about your amazing race but you will get some great advice from some really experienced riders. This will really help for your next race.
As I said before, last year was my first racing on a bike and I loved every second of it. This is all thanks to the organisers and competitors in this fantastic event. Looking forward to race 1 of 2013/2014 season!