We all have done it. We get ourselves a bike and out of sheer excitement, we start to ride it too hard only to pay for it later. Riding too hard at the beginning can be detrimental to your overall fitness and performance in races. That is why it’s so important to be disciplined when it comes to pacing.
So, what is pacing actually? Pacing is riding according to your ability. Pacing is imperative if you want to sustain your endurance for an extended period of time and finish the race.
This may sound easy, but to be honest, it is nowhere close to easy. During races, you feel motivated and surrounded by enthusiastic cyclists, which gets your adrenaline pumping. This can put a dent in your efforts, and you might unknowingly go beyond your sustainable pace too early in the race.
Consequently, you’ve cramps, dehydration sets in, and you find yourself completely pushed against the wall. The whole thing feels like a carnage – literally.
Here are four pacing strategies that may help you stay away from that carnage:
#1 Be aware of your limits
Knowing your limits is key to pacing. Train yourself to understand your body and sort out how you can deal with thirst, fatigue, and hunger when riding.
Try to be aware of what you can sustain for long periods of time and most importantly, be realistic and accept when you’re no longer able to go on.
#2 Measure yourself
A lot of us get too excited and smash ourselves at the start. If you are susceptible to it, then set yourself a limit to a tangible number with regards to your power, speed, or heart rate. Keep track of these measurements units during the ride.
It may feel slow knowing that there’s a certain amount of distance left to go. But it will help you to pace yourself and prevent you from pushing yourself too hard at the beginning.
#3 Follow experienced pacers/riders
Most of us ride with those of similar pace. However, looking ahead at experienced pacers can give you the confidence to push on. This will let you know what speed you need to maintain throughout those different sectors in order to make it at the finishing line within your target time.
#4 Monitor yourself
Monitoring yourself is another way to improve your pacing. If you ride with other cyclists, meter your efforts constantly. We assume this will be hard. Abiding by your own pacing is advantageous than following a routine drafted for everybody else.
This is particularly apparent in bigger groups as micro accelerations could add up and tire your legs. Sure, there are many perks of riding in a group, but we don’t see the point of it at all if you’ve no energy left and have to climb the last 30km of the 200 km by yourself.