Tips for Your First Road Bike Race!

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Nicole Novembre

Nicole Novembre, Tough Girl Cycling

If you’ve been road riding for a while and are considering entering a bike race, there are a few things to think about. The first is to choose a race to enter. There are three main types of road race: a time trial, a road race, and a criterium. In a time trial, racers start one at a time and ride a course against the clock. A road race is a mass start event that might do one or two loops around a course for a total distance of 30 – 50 miles for a beginner race. A criterium is on a short course (less than a mile long) and is run for a set amount of time, usually 30 to 40 minutes for a beginner category. You start out not knowing how many laps you’ll end up doing. At some point in the race the officials will calculate how many laps you have left to do to make the race approximately as long as advertised. At that point, they’ll put up a “lap board” showing how many laps are remaining.

Training for a Gran Fondo

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Ainslie MacEachran is the owner and head coach of and the co-owner of Orchards Athletic Club. If you have a grand fondo coming up and you’d like help preparing, visit

Gran Fondos are a great addition to the American cycling scene. They provide great exposure to the sport and an opportunity for both competitive AND recreational athletes to be challenged by the same course. Here are some ideas to help you prepare.

Fits like a glove:
Basic prep for a Gran Fondo starts with trying to make sure your positioning on the bike is dialed in. If you’re back or butt are hurting, you’re going to have a hard time enjoying the event. Your local bike shop or a professional cycling coach can help you with get your bike set up. Correct position will allow you to be more comfortable AND more efficient on the bike.

Creatures of habit:

New SW4 team designed to help women who ride, become women who RACE!!

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"" SW4 team was developed for brand new road and track cyclists who have never raced before and who want to learn the fundamentals in a team environment. Team size will be limited to 20 ladies, with a waiting list created for additional women who want to join. The philosophy behind this team is that beginner female cyclists deserve a supportive and educational team where they can learn about racing, training, nutrition and tactics in a fun atmosphere.

Rides, clinics, meetings, races and more will be held primarily in the Denver and Boulder areas. The topics will range from training to nutrition to racing to pre-race strategy, both as an individual racer and also as a member of a team.

The team will be led by Megan Hottman, professional road and track cyclist, and sponsored by her law firm, Hottman Law Office. Treads Bicycle Outfitters will be the team shop and will provide a meeting location and discounts to team members. Founder Hottman says, "The goal for these women is to help them earn sufficient upgrade points in one or two seasons, to move up to SW3, and to join other locally-competitive teams. The underlying purpose in this is to keep the sport growing by bringing in new women at the beginner level, and then helping them move up. This keeps local racing exciting by keeping field sizes large, local teams fed with new riders, and also helps identify new up-and-coming talent for the professional ranks."

How to Join?

Email Megan at She’ll ask you a few questions by email to be sure you are a good fit with this group and if so, then she’ll send you instructions on how to get started.

Training in the Post Season for Endurance Athletes

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Coach Curt Wilhelm

This is the first article in a series, directed towards the changing seasons – off season through race season. They are meant to provide some general guidelines, thoughts, and tips to help you toe the start line in your best shape.
I like to think of the transition period between the end of the race season and the start of the next training season as the “postseason.” It’s an essential period that allows the athlete to fully recover mentally and physically and to allow time to reflect on the previous season.? Once all the racing over, it’s a good time to let the body and mind heal. By the end of the season, you’ve put your body through enough stress preparing for and traveling to races, while maintaining a balance of career and family, that I recommend taking an entire week or two off the bike completely.  Instead, you may want to try some other activities, such as some short hikes, gym workouts, or treadmill or elliptical trainer sessions. It’s important to stay active with short, easy sessions to keep your body moving, and keep your mind clear and ready to come back stronger, fresher, and enthusiastic to train your butt off.

After the postseason break, I use the good weather for a period of two weeks to two months to simply enjoy the time on the bike. It's important to emphasize enjoyment of riding and being outside. You may want to leave the power meter and heart rate monitor at home and don’t worry about getting in your intervals or sprints - only fun riding! You can even ride hard and chase your friends around if you’re feeling up to it. The rides are not about training because you'll have plenty of time to do that later. 

Base training should start about six months before your first “A” race and generally lasts about twelve weeks. For some riders, it works to hang their bike up over the winter. Just keep in mind that if you are one of those that hangs up your bike, that you will likely lose a great deal of fitness and gain unwanted pounds.  If you do hang up the bike during the winter months, focus on cross training, including running, cross country skiing, weight training, or other cardio work, such as elliptical machines.  It's much easier to start the base period with some fitness and within 5-8 pounds of your race weight than having to work your way back and try to lose 10-15 pounds.? The following are some tips to help you get through the postseason and be ready for the base period:

Cross'n it up at night in Denver

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By avid reader, John Philips
Cyclocross is alive and kicking in the South Denver Suburbs! At BikeSource in Highlands Ranch we have a Wednesday night cyclocross ride that starts at 6pm. Hans, our store manager, begins by loading up his Surly Big Dummy cargo bike with portable barriers, his cyclocross bike and snacks from Whole Foods in Highlands Ranch (one of our awesome sponsors). We cruise over to one of several local parks and set-up a mini cross course. Once the course is ready, we do a slow lap so everyone knows the course. Then we’ll do 2-3 fast laps. To catch our breath, we relax for a few minutes and enjoy the snacks—this week it was hot apple cider and ginger snaps! After snacktime, we usually do some skill work. Hopping barriers, cornering, and transitions are commonly addressed. Some nights we’ll run another set of hot laps. We then pack up and ride casually back to the shop.
Anyone is welcome—we ride mostly cyclocross bikes but also some folks ride mtn bikes. Dress warmly, as it is getting chilly once the sun goes down. Good front and rear lights are important to see the course.

Cyclocross Strength and Stretching Clinic

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Any one who has competed in this first month of cyclocross season is probably feeling the affects. A little stretching and strengthening would be good for all of us. Ann Trombley will be hosting a clinic this Wednesday, October 20th. We asked her a few questions about the clinic.

[303Cycling] Give us the basics
When: Wed Oct 20th at 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Where: Fascat Performance Cycling Center 4550 Broadway unit C-3B
How Much: It is FREE!

[303Cycling] Are there any requirements to participate?
[Ann] Yes, you must be prepared to be active or perform stretching and strengthening activities, provided you don't have any serious injuries. So, wear clothes that you can work out in.

[303Cycling] Will you be offering on-going strength and stretching clases?
[Ann] If there is an interest, I would definitely be willing to do more stretching and strengthening classes.


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