Blog РReady, Steady Race for Sin̩ad Burke


Sinéad Burke looks back at her first season road racing and starts her ‘how to’ guide for women – ready, steady, race!

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Blog РReady, Steady Race for Sin̩ad Burke

2014_Sinéad Burke_02

NOTE: Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

The Sinéad Burke Blog – Girl Goes Racing

Sinéad started cycling in February 2013 after struggling with persistent running injuries and admits to being hooked on cycling from the start. “In the space of a year, I’ve gone from a leisure cyclist to a member of PH-MAS Cycling women’s team” Sinéad says on her blog.

2014 was her first season racing on the road and after a bit of a break following her last road race of the year, Sinéad says she’s excited about next season and the her team and adds that she has been trying her hand at a bit of cyclo-cross …

Sinéad writes … I’ve spent some time thinking about this time last year and what I was up to back then. If I remember rightly, I’d just got on board with the team and was busy puzzling my way through how everything works. There were times when I wished somebody had written a ‘how to’ guide on the most basic things. Ther are plenty of training guides out there, but very little info on all the other stuff you need to know.

So, one year on, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Welcome to my ‘ready, steady, race’ blog series! A step-by-step guide for any woman in the UK, new to the sport and looking to try their hand at road racing next year. Now we’re in November, the road season is, for the majority of riders, well and truly over.

After a bit of a break, now is the time to start looking forward to the year ahead. It seems a long time away yet, but preparation for racing in March really does start now. In this blog, I’ll talk about what should you be doing now to get ready for next year.


Winter miles
When uyou think of ‘race training’, what comes to mind? Thoughts of riding hard and fast, pushing yourself to the limit and ripping your legs to pieces every ride? It’s easy to fall into the trap of training hard when, in reality, that’s not what you need to be doing at all. You may be riding well in March, but come June and you’ll be tired and burnt out.

At the moment, your training should be all about long, steady miles. Forget your top end and concentrate on building a good endurance base – think of your training as building a house: without strong foundations (your base), everything else will crumble. You need to be enjoying your riding too, so don’t forget a few café stops along the way!

The essential part of any winter ride…
Regular rides of around 3-5 hours or 80-100km, at a pace where you can comfortably have a conversation are spot on. Remember to eat/drink regularly. Riding on your own can be very lonely though, so it’s best to find some friends to keep you company as you rack up those miles. Winter riding is all about socialising and café stops. Which leads me nicely onto… If you aren’t already, now is a great time to join a club and start attending club rides.

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Not only is this an ace way to find buddies for your long rides, it’s also one of the best ways (outside of actual race situations) to learn some invaluable group riding skills. When racing, you need to be able to ride comfortably in close proximity with other riders, hold a wheel, understand hand signals and shouts, ride through-and-off and hold a reliable line.

You could be the strongest rider in the field, but without this valuable skillset, you’ll struggle to make any progress. These kinds of skills can only be learnt through experience. This is where club runs come in. Granted, they’re probably not as fast or as tight as a race group would be, but they’re full of more experienced riders who are usually very happy to show you the ropes.

Eating/drinking on the bike
Another essential skill and one it’s time to start practicing if you’re lacking it. I wasn’t confident at this at the start of the year and really struggled until I got the hang of it. And you have the perfect opportunity to practice, on your training rides.

Practice using both bottle cages, taking sips from your bottle, reaching around to your back pockets, opening bars and gels and eating them on the move. Practice in a range of situations – uphill, downhill (within reason), in the wind and rain.

Have someone pass you bottles and gels as you ride past. Try dropping a bottle safely – trickier than it sounds. This has caused a few incidents for me this year. If you’re feeling brave, try putting on/taking off a rain jacket and arm warmers.

Hopefully that gives you something to be getting on with! Next up, I’ll be looking at the British Cycling system, categories and how that all works. Until next time…

The Sinéad Burke Blog – Girl Goes Racing

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