Race day can be a little stressful. Certain stressors; pre- hot date, pre-roller coaster ride and certainly pre-race jitters, can be a good thing.  These are referred to as “eustress”.  They’ll hone your senses via hormonal and heart rate changes.  After racing bicycles of many forms for a long darned time, along with looking at heart rate files from many people competing in all disciplines of cyclosport, I’ve found that a lack of nervousness on the line normally translates to a lackluster performance.

As mentioned in this article though, even too much of this positive stress can take away from performance. A good speech teacher will tell you that the best way to combat the fear of public speaking is to show up completely prepared.  Racing a bike is the same, so have your routine down.

An important part of this, especially for the violent effort right out of the gate that cyclocross requires, is the pre-race warm up.  Arrive with enough time to be able to casually ride the course when officials allow it, and do this 37 minute session on a stationary trainer leading up to staging:

15 minutes in zones 1-2 heart rate/power, nice casual spin with increased cadence as you progress.

Do two 30 second intervals at maximum effort with 5 minutes recovery between them

Take 3 minutes recovery after the last 30 second interval

Begin an 8 minute interval at 30 – 35% below FTP. Slowly increase power so that you are at FTP by the fifth minute.  Hold that pace for the final 3 minutes of the 8 minute interval.  As example; if your FTP is 300 watts start at 200 and slowly bring it up to 300 over the first 5 minutes.  Peg it at 300 for the final 3.

Spin in zone 1-2 for 5 minutes and then go to staging.

Give this a try during training on a day when you’re planning to do some hard work on the bike. You may want to tweak it a bit to suit you and best to try new things prior to race day. A good warm up before a crazy interval session will also improve your results.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelley