Training for your first bike  race can be both daunting and exciting. While it is important to physically train your body and your muscles for the strains of a race, you also need train your mind and your bike. offers 10 suggestions on how to train for your first big bike race, which are summarized below: "Bike race"

  1. Know the course beforehand: If you know what you will be facing on race day, it will be much easier to train for your course beforehand. Livestrong suggests obtaining a map of the course, as well as learning the finish times of previous riders. Study the terrain to know how much is uphill, downhill, urban, rural, etc.
  2. Use a heart rate monitor: Paying attention to your heart can help you know the appropriate pace to keep on race day. Once you know the difficulty and details of the course, you can match your training to the conditions you will face during the real thing.
  3. Ride the course or create a similar ride:  If you are able, ride the actual course before race day. Nothing will give you a better idea of what to expect than actually being there, and you can be prepared for any challenges and avoided “surprises” along the road. If you know how the ride feels and what conditions to anticipate, you can train in a similar fashion.
  4. Use a bike trainer: Livestrong advises always practicing on the bike you will be racing. For best results, you need to train with the same seat, gears, and handlebars that will be used during your race.
  5. Train with the bike in the same position as race day: Make sure your seat is at the correct height, your handlebars are easy to reach, and your tires are filled with air. Get your body used to riding the bike it will be riding during your race, and you will have a much easier time.
  6. Increase your leg muscle: Use squats, deadlifts, and leg presses. Focus on muscular endurance exercises, and use a calendar to chart your training.
  7. Train your legs using an exercise bike or your bike on a trainer: Instead of sprinting, work on your endurance by using aerobic intensities. By training your legs both with weights and your bike, they will be better prepared for your race.
  8. Add sprints to your training: Once your endurance is strong, practice riding hard on your bike for 30 to 90 seconds. Rest between each sprint.
  9. Train outside whenever possible: Training outdoors helps your body prepare for the actual conditions it will face on race day, and it allows you to practice going up and down hills. As race day draws closer, check weather forecasts and practice riding in similar conditions—rain or shine.
  10. Eat right while training: Eat protein while you are building your muscles, and eat complex carbohydrates during your aerobic training. During your race, make sure you have enough sodium, potassium, and electrolytes in your system.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Annis and Creative Commons.