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Inspired By The Tour de France? Here’s How To Do Your First Bike Race With GTN

September 19, 2019


– Entering your first race can feel like a big deal. So we want to talk you through how you enter your first one from what to do during the race
(bell rings) Better do that a bit later. (energetic rock music) – [Simon] Sorry. As I was saying, doing your first bike race can feel like a big step. So we wanted to take you through the process of entering your first event explaining what to do
immediately before it and during it as well
with me as your domestic. To do that, we needed a willing guinea pig. But finding one in our office that hadn’t already done a bike race seems like a tough ask, until we heard the surprising news that ex pro triathlete Fraser Cartmell, presenter on the Global Triathlon Network had never done a bike race. – No, it’s true. I haven’t ever pinned on a number, raced a bike race as such because well, I was too busy racing triathlon if I’m honest. Was always training for that, and racing with that goal in mind, and if I’m perfectly frank, I didn’t really want
to race any bike races I mean, wasn’t even any
swimming or running involved so there wasn’t that big an appeal. – [Simon] So, not only will we’ll be able to walk you through how to
do your first bike race, we’ll also find the answer
to the age old question: can triathletes actually ride bikes? Firstly you have to find a race. The best way to do that is to search on the website of
your national governing body. In our case in the UK,
it’s British Cycling. Road racing is split into categories based on fitness and ability. And for your first race, you will of course be ranked
in the lowest category. To climb the ranks, you need to earn points which you pick up through
good placings in races. If you then stop getting points, you can drop back down a category
at the end of the season. Which is why I’m now back at the bottom and able to race alongside
our newbie Fraser. – So it’s the morning of my big crit race with GCN this evening. So I’ve just got an email from Si, which is actually a little bit lazy ’cause he’s just sat over there but I know what roadies are like and they don’t like walking too much so I think it’s a little
bit of a kit list. So going to have a look through and see what he says. Hey mate. Looking forward
to our tear up tonight just a quick reminder of your kit list: bike, don’t laugh people
have forgotten them. helmet, shoes, shorts, again don’t laugh, I’ve forgotten them in the past, and a jersey. Gloves, some kind of crash protection. A lot of the roadies
don’t like their gloves, but I’ll take some. Things you might not have thought of, socks, socks, just a little bit of a
joke about us triathletes, we tend to not like racing in socks but I’ll have some of them. Safety pins, bog roll. Guess there’s not many toilets around. Stick plenty of water in your bag, post race snack, and a pre race gel. It’s only a short burn up, so we don’t need to worry
too much about carbs. Good to know. Eat a light meal three
hours before the start, get there an hour before the sign on. Get changed, do a little warm up. See you there. Sounds good. – [Simon] We’re racing in the tenth and final round of the Castle Combe Summer Series here in the UK, a race like many, many
others around the world which for me represents the heart and soul of the sport. It’s on a closed circuit. In this case, a local motor racing track. We’ve raced this each week from the middle of Spring to the middle of Summer. There is a race for faster or more experienced bike riders, and a slightly slower race for lower category riders. And in these cases, men and women race together. There are also youth races before as well. – In terms of tactics and how to approach the race, I’ve watched lots of bike racing on TV so I’m hoping that might
rub off a little bit but in terms of how fast it’s going to be or the quality of riding, it’s all new to me. So yeah,
just a little bit nervous So yeah, just a little bit nervous So yeah, just a little bit nervous or whatever that word. – [Simon] First thing
when you get to the race is of course you go and sign on so you can make sure you can
actually take the start line. – And because I don’t
actually need to have a full racing license for the full year, see I’m just getting a one day license which we’re going to go
get in there right now. (upbeat music) – The key to a good race starts with getting to the line on time. So find out what time the race starts, and then also find out what time you should be on the start line. I tend to begin loitering around about 15 minutes or so
before the gun goes. And then you need to work backwards from that time in order
to give yourself space to actually fit everything in. So you need to sign on, which we’ve done. You need to get your bike out, you need to pin your numbers on, you need to get changed, you inevitably need to go to the loo, and then you also probably
want to go for bit of a spin. Just make sure you also add
a little bit of fat time in because 30 minutes can go by
without you even noticing. And you definitely don’t want to rush. Then the most important thing with pinning a number on is not get
– To yourself. – Well no, even more important than that is you kind of thread it through so you ignore the eyelets, and then you thread it through like that. – Yeah.
– ‘Cause then you can keep it real nice and tight, and real nice and arrow. There’s nothing worse than a flattened number. – I’m with you on that. – Although I have frankly come equipped to win a stage in the Tour de France, you do not need a bike like this to do a road race. In fact, all you do need is drop handle bars, brakes that work, gears that work, and tires that are properly inflated. Because one of the beauties of road racing is that while yes your
bike does have an effect, a far more importance is your fitness and also your tactics. Still, Fraser what have you brought? – I’ve just got this with me Simon, is this going to work? – You will probably be
alright on that I reckon, yeah you’ll probably be alright. You should go for a spin, make sure they work, and then let’s talk tactics. – Perfect. (tranquil music) Right so, I’m a little bit rusty, in fact I’m very rusty on the whole concept of
tactics in a bike race. So where should I sit
in the bunch for starts? I mean I would imagine we’d
want to be close to the front. The golden rule is don’t
be on the front okay. So when you’re on the front, then not only are you
the one doing more work, but also if you then try and attack, everyone is going to be
able to just follow you. There’s no element of surprise. And if you try and respond to moves, again you’ll drag everyone with you. So the key is if you’re on the front, do your turn, so don’t ride like an idiot. You don’t be antisocial. But just gently sort of ease off the gas, and then someone will
eventually come round. So where you do want to ride, is probably in about sort of 10th to 15th wheel. But on a race like today, you don’t really want to get boxed in, you always want to be able
to get out at any point. And then you can attack, or you can respond, or things like that. – Okay, next question. Quite windier tonight, so where should I be sitting
roughly with the wind? Either side of your wheel, or somebody else’s wheel, or directly behind it what? – Okay, great question. So you always want to be sheltered. So if the wind is coming from the right, then you want to be off to someone’s left. So you can feel when you could feel when you get in that kind
of sheltered position. What will be interesting is to see where people are attacking. ‘Cause you don’t tend to want to attack in a head wind. So this finish straight will be a bit grim. So probably most moves
will go over the top where you’ve got slight a cross wind under the tail wind. And then this bit will feel really slow ’cause I think we’re
going to be racing up. – Into the headwinds. – Into the headwinds, yeah. – So final question about rough speeds relative to the lap and how the wind’s going to affect that. Are we going to be stochastic, you know up and down in speed or is it just going to
be fast and full gas? – Well, it depends really. I would expect probably if you’re on the front, it would be quite stochastic. Where as if you’re in the wheel, I think you’ll probably have
quite a nice smooth run of it. And so on flat circle like this, you could probably spend quite a bit of time hiding and have a real nice gentle spin. But then, we want to stuck in, don’t we? We want to do some racing. So at that point, I think you need to look for wheels to follow, and then but just make sure you give yourself enough time to recover. So if you follow too
many moves too quickly, you could get yourself in a bit of a hole. And then you might find that actually at the sharp end of the race, – Nothing left. – No, exactly. But the kind of stuff
that comes with experience is knowing which of the
right moves to follow and which are doomed from the start. So I’ll try and talk you through that when we’re in the race. Not that I’m an absolute expert at that, you really should’ve had Lloydy, but anyway never mind. (bell rings) – [Simon] And just like that, the race is on. (intense music) But now what? Well firstly, we need to contain that
initial adrenaline rush. Let other riders lift the pace, just sit in the wheels, try to relax, and save energy. Because everyone is fresh and motivated, it’s unlikely that any race winning moves will go in these opening minutes. So rather than attack off the front, try to hover between about eighth and 15th wheel. That means that you can respond to something if needed because while unlikely, it’s not completely impossible that something significant could happen in these opening minutes. (biker yelling) – Generally a race will
split at some point and a breakaway will go. Now you should already type rider you are. If you’re a sprinter, you need to save as
much energy as possible, and perhaps gamble on
it coming back together. If you can’t sprint like me and Fraser, you will want to get to the finish with as few other riders as possible. Now if you’re riding a circuit race like this, using the opening few laps to gauge which parts of the course look like they might be the likely places for the race to split. In this case, the start straight has
a really strong headwind so it is definitely not the place to attack. You’ll throw energy away, and struggle to get any
kind of meaningful gap. In contrast though as
the course turns left, the headwind moves to a cross tail which is perfect attacking territory. After that left hand turn it’s crosswind, and so that’s the point where people are going to be struggling to chase. And then it’s tail wind – And then through the way under. – Exactly. Still the time is not yet right. Everyone is too fresh, we need to wait for
little bit more fatigue to start to set in. We are in the final third of the race now and it’s still all together despite a few little attacks including from Fraser and myself. If you do attack, do so from further back in the group to try to get that element of surprise. However, always keep an eye on
what’s going on behind you because if you get chased down, don’t just keep riding on the front, make sure ease off the pedals, and wait for riders to come ’round you. If you are on front, there needs to be a
very good reason for it. Yeah when you put your head down, you got to make it count. ‘Cause you can be the
strongest guy in the race and if you spend all your bullets but. and if you spend all your bullets but. It’s looking good though. With 15 minutes to go, Fraser makes another move at that perfect point in the circuit, and this is the one that sticks. You can tell instantly. One rider goes with him, and the rest of the bunch ease up slightly ‘Cause the riders are now tired enough to think twice about chasing. It’s not going to be
easy out there for him, but he is committed, and he’s got plenty horsepower. (intense music) Five laps to go, and the gap is hovering
at around 20 seconds. This isn’t in the bag yet. Four laps to go now, if they stay away, Fraser needs to really be thinking about he can win this. Don’t lead out into the headwind Fraser, and leave your sprint late. Three, he’s holding steady. Two laps to go. Last lap. Come on, Fraser! (intense music) (Fraser panting) – [Simon] Ah, so cruel! Finishing second in a two up break always feels like a
bitter pill to swallow. But let’s not beat around the bush here, Fraser just got second in
his first ever bike race. in his first ever bike race. Maybe triathletes can ride bikes. Fraser, yes! Fraser, yes! Fraser, yes! Well done, mate. That was fantastic. That was good fun. – Flat out. – Yeah. – Hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. – Fantastic, mate. That is absolutely brilliant. What a fairytale! First bike race, comes in there, gets in the break, just misses out, but still you got to have
something to work up. What’re you doing, mate? – Trainers. Couldn’t run off the bikes. Triathlon never dies. – You are kidding me, right?
– Got to go. Got to go. – Seriously, Fraser. This is when we have beers. This is when we have beers! – In all seriousness mate, how was that? – That was brutal, You told me it was about 15 minutes, and I looked at my watch at 15 minutes after having gotten away at the little break that you nudged me into. And saw the sign on the lap
board that said four laps to go and my heart just sunk
so I’m committed now and I really have to go. – Yeah. Sorry about that. It’s one of those circuits where when you’re off the front it’s savage, but yet you you get so caught up in the energy of the wheels. So I was feeling for you dangling away out there. But oh mate, that was absolutely cracking. I think the thing is just knowing when to attack, isn’t it? And knowing when to use your energy. And then once you’ve got that gap, then you just fully commit, and you’re engine was
enough to pull you clear. – Yeah and that’s the
stark difference from me, ’cause it was your literal nudge saying ‘Look if you can, have a go now.’ And I could so I did, and that was the elastic that broke, and I think my lack of experience wouldn’t have known to go at that point so teamwork. – Yeah man, absolutely. Just whatever you need, don’t
ask to do a triathlon mate, that’s not going to happen. Alright if you’re in the mood
for another video right now, then make sure you check out the toughest triathlon in Scotland which Fraser tackled up in well that’s pretty much been the most case for all your work, isn’t it?
– Yeah, absolutely. Same runs. – But just a lot harder. – Yeah, well I think so. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this video, please hit a thumb up, like button. If you’re here to subscribe, find the globe onscreen to look at all other videos on GCN. And that’s us.

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