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How to Survive Your First Cycling Race

I participated in my very first cycling race this weekend- the Liotto Gran Fondo in Vicenza, Italy. The Liotto brand began with Gino Liotto repairing bikes in Vicenza in 1922.

The race has two options- the granfondo, with 2300m of climbing over 130km, and the Media fondo, which was 1400m over 95km. I chose to ride the media distance.

Here are my tips for surviving your first bike race:

  1. Do not participate in a “Vino Fondo” the day before the actual bike race. I spent Saturday riding around the countryside tasting wines with about 25 people. Let’s just say that although wine is technically a carbohydrate, it is not really the appropriate pre race fuel in large quantities.
  2. Refer to number 1. Eat a real dinner the night before, and maybe wake up in time to eat two breakfasts if you are hungry.
  3. Even if it is scary, start with the pack. The whole point of cycling is to draft off of others, and if you are too chicken to be in the scrum then you will have to ride those windy roads all alone. Not fun!
  4. In case of number 3, find any random cyclist and feel free to hop on the back. Mountain bikers are especially friendly and think it is hilarious when they are pulling a road biker in a line.
  5. Feel free to yell naughty words out loud if you are feeling down- it makes you feel much better.
  6. As my BFF MG says, you need a mantra to get through a race. Today’s was ” 1, 2, 3, 4- push it up these hills some more!”
  7. Find the old dudes on $10,000 bikes and be sure to blast by them on the hills. It will make you feel great!
  8. Practice taking off your arm sleeves while in motion. It can be tricky and if you do not want to stop your bike (since you may be scared that you won’t get back on), you might end up riding the race with one arm sleeve on. Which might be a new fashion trend? Or maybe will just give you a really silly tan line. Can’t wait to see those race pics. 🙂
  9. Be sure to do the race with friends- if everyone had the same post wine ride suck-fest, it makes for a fun post granfondo catch up!
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    My ride group at one of the wineries. 
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    Some of the cyclists at one of the wineries (Costalunga, in Castegnero)
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    Just follow the yellow signed road! 

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    65k in. 30k to go. Feed me now. 
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    We made it! 
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    The boys did the big race. 

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    Prost! Well earned.