How to Handle a High Volume of Races: MN Memorial Classic

WHAT IS BIKE RACING? AND WHAT IS THE MN MEMORIAL CLASSIC? 

Kingfield Women's Race team 2016

Kingfield Women's Race team 2016

Bike racing is for those individuals that feel the competitive edge and want to take their group rides to the next level. Bike racing can be divided into three categories: Road Racing, Track Racing, and off-road racing. Minnesota is a great state to start bike racing. Riders can start as young as age 12 and under!!  There are many junior teams that help coach, train, and prepare young riders for the race scene.  However, a rider can start racing at any young or old age!! There is no need for you to acquire a team in order to race.  You really only need a bike and a cycling license.  The skills and strategies that you can obtain and practice by racing with a team are great benefits and reasons to locate a team that is interested in taking new riders. You may have noticed by now that Kingfield has created a Women’s Race Team for the 2016 race season. This team is composed of ladies that range in skill and talent.  This year has been an exciting year for the team as they have been doing well at races and are a very fun and cohesive group of ladies.

The race team's next race is the MN Memorial Classic, which is a race that is held in our neck of the woods. This event is part of a larger Omnium race series, the Midwest Flyover Series. The first race of the series was in LaCrosse, WI. The next stop is Nebraska and then Minnesota hosts the Memorial Classic at the end of the month.

The MN Memorial Classic is a race for cyclist that consists of four races strung together raced over three consecutive days.  This type of racing can be called a stage race or a series race. The MN memorial classic consists of a Circuit race, an Individual Time Trial race, a Road Race, and a Criterium race.

The first two races are held on Saturday in Rockford, MN. There is a Circuit style race first, followed by an Individual Time Trial race. The Circuit race is similar to a Criterium race where riders race on a closed loop course; however, the length of the loop is a few miles longer than a Criterium yet riders still race the loop several times.  The longer loop allows for more time to create group tactics and score more points. At the end of each lap there are points given to those that cross the line in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place.  These sprint points count towards the racers overall points in the race and the series.   

The Individual Time Trial is performed on the closed loop circuit course and is performed after the Circuit race.  Riders are released every 20 seconds and complete one loop of the circuit on their own as fast as possible.

The third race is performed on Sunday in Lester Prairie, MN. This race is a longer Road Race. Riders will start together and be given a neutral roll out to the start line.  Since this is a longer style race it provides multiple opportunities for race teams to work on tactics and techniques. This course favors riders that do not like to hill climb, as the course is quite flat; however, the course is located in the country which allows for lots of different style winds (headwind, crosswind, tailwinds).

girls at crit.jpg

The final race is completed on Monday in New Hope, MN.  This race is a Criterium race.  Like the Circuit race, this race is performed on a closed looped course, but it’s distance per lap does not exceed a mile. Racers have a set time limit that they are asked to complete the race.  The first two laps are timed to determine how many laps can be completed in that time lengthen.  Once the number of laps are determined then a lap timer will begin.  There will also be two pre-determined laps that are worth sprinting points.  Those laps are announced before the race begins or by the presence of a bell. Those riders that cross the line in 1st-4th place on a bell lap receive points towards their overall score.

If you you are interested in trying out your hand at one of the style races you are free to sign up for one of the four races, there is no need to complete all four races in the series.  If you cross paths with one of the KIngfield racers, be sure to wish them good luck on this upcoming race series!

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A HIGH VOLUME OF RACES? 

Navigating through a high volume season can be difficult.  When riders participate in an event such as the MN Memorial Classic, it is important that they focus on three areas when considering their preparation: nutrition, performance, and recovery.

NUTRITION:  When it comes to nutrition, your preparation should begin before the season starts.  Early in the training season, riders should focus on figuring what foods will fuel their performance best.  They should become familiar with things that are easy to digest and will give them fuel for longer events, understand how hydration plays a vital role in race day performance, and also know what they need to eat in order to be successful over a three day event.

In future posts we’ll discuss the details of how to fuel around events and training, what to eat and when to eat to make the most of your training and feel your best on race day.  

PERFORMANCE:  Riders should begin to adopt the mindset of taking each race as it comes.  While race preparation can vary from individual to individual, everyone should include some sort of mental preparation alongside the physical aspect of logging hours in the saddle.  Spending time prior to the race to visualize the event and think about how the performance will go will be a key to success for most athletes.  Visualization will allow riders to get into a successful mindset that will benefit them when a race becomes challenging. Physical preparation for racing comes primarily during training rides.  Training with a team can be very beneficial because it allows riders to simulate race day scenarios, practice riding at higher speeds, within close quarters.  Consistently putting oneself in race day scenarios will only create a more familiar and comfortable setting while racing.

RECOVERY:  Recovery is arguably the most important aspect of preparation during a high volume season. During an event like the upcoming MN Memorial Classic, racers need to be able to recover after each day and ready for the next.  Riders should understand that nutrition as well as focused manual therapy are the best tools they have between races. Focused manual therapy consists of stretching, mobilizing, compression, hot/cold contrast therapy (when available), and massage. Most of these things are readily available even to the most novice racer - use a golfball or lacrosse ball for compression to work on junky tissue or tightness in muscle groups. Don’t have a foam roller? Find a sturdy water bottle, wrap it in a t-shirt and roll your IT bands, hams, and quads. And you don’t need a masseuse to get a massage - use your fingers, elbows or a friend to dig into hard to reach places. Committing to manual therapy is one of the hardest things to do and the easiest to write off. Find a pocket of time, usually 20-30 minutes, after you’re done for the day to take care of yourself. Your body will thank you by performing better the next day. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of a good, restful nights sleep. As best you can, try to create a dark and quiet space to sleep away from TV and computer screens. Get to bed as early as you can so you can wake up rested the next morning.

HOW TO CREATE POST RACE HABITS?

One thing we often neglect more than we should is maintenance and care of our bicycles.  If you've ever had to drop out of a race because of a mechanical issue, you understand how frustrating it can be.  Most times, this frustration can easily be avoided by following a few simple procedures.

Although we are primarily talking about post-race maintenance, it’s also important to think about what you can do pre-race.

LUBE YOUR CHAIN BEFORE YOUR RACE:  When prepping for your race, lube the chain and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  This allows the lube to soak into the inner workings of your chain.   Use this time to rotate the pedals, shift through the gears and make sure that the bike is shifting properly.   Wipe any excess lube from your chain after 10 minutes.  The contact points on the chain are what needs to be lubed, any excess on the outside of the chain is pointless and will just attract more dirt from the road.  

NOW, AFTER THE RACE: 

CLEAN YOUR BIKE:  Even if you are just wiping it down with a wet rag, this gives you the opportunity to ensure there is no structural damage  to the frame or wheels of the bike.  Be careful if you use soap; some soaps have abrasive qualities that can damage the paint on your bike. Here’s one we recommend: http://www.finishlineusa.com/products/frame-care/super-bike-wash

INSPECT YOUR WHEELS:  Make sure the wheel is true, spokes are tight, and that the rim is free of cracks.  Make sure your brake surface is clean and that the brake pads are aligned with the braking surface.  We recommended you use a different rag when wiping down the wheels, as this will help keep the brakes and brake surface free of dirt, and oil from other parts of the bike.  Check your tires for cracks, tears, sharp objects and excessive wear.

INSPECT YOUR CABLES:  Lastly, trace the cables of your bike and make sure that there is no rust, fraying, kinks, or contamination.  This is most important where the cable is exposed near the bottom bracket and where it connects to the derailleurs.  Also, check the cassette and chainrings for excessive wear and tear. 

Follow these easy steps and you will keep your bike running more efficiently, and save yourself the frustration of wasted training from dropping out of an event for mechanical issues.