Pre-Race Rituals

I have a really hard time doing things without a prior commitment. I’ve never successfully attended a race for which I was not already pre-registered. Most times I wouldn’t even leave my house. The days and weeks before I would tell myself I was doing it, go through my regular pre-race taper but then not go and feel like crap. Once I even went ahead and drove all the way to the race venue, saw the huge turnout and after sitting in my car mentally beating myself up I just went home.

There are a few things in my life like this – I really want to do them but it’s so easy to imagine negative outcomes or feel like the small inconveniences are so overwhelming that it’s best to avoid the whole thing and stay home.

Ugh.

So this year I’ve been making a concentrated effort to avoid falling into this trap. I pre-register, I mentally prepare myself to go and I’ve started a day before pre-race ritual that gets me excited to travel and race my bike. It’s so simple but it’s been working pretty great.

I go for a short ride, usually less than an hour – and I always feel like crap. My legs hurt, my position feels awful and I just have a bad time.

When I get home my mind is buzzing about how the race is going to suck and how I need 2.5mm less setback and maybe some saddle height adjustment but I clean up and shower and relax and then spend an hour or two cleaning my bike and sorting all my stuff for the race. I wipe down the frame, the tires, the wheels. Sometimes I clean the chain so it’s shiny. Boing my fork a couple times and wipe it down too.

Make sure not to remove the wheels as they’re set in relation to the brake pads and I don’t want any rubbing on race day – I’m still mostly racing on regular quick-release. No tools allowed for anything else, no messing with my stem or bars or seatpost or anything. The bike is ready to go and I leave it alone, just some cleaning. Maybe fiddle with tire pressure a bit too but that’s it.

I pack up all my stuff and put my bike rack on my car and then putter around my apartment until bedtime. My bike is nice and clean, the paint is shiny and it catches my eye as I wander back and forth to the kitchen for sourdough pretzels. I’m now pretty excited to race and I have no problem getting into my car in the morning and going wherever the race is. Weather, traffic and everything else that stands as a roadblock is just something I’m ready for now.

So I feel pretty good at how this is going, I’ve got a really solid month-and-a-half of racing coming up and this is going to be a big part of getting out there and having fun.

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