Racing in your hometown is always special. You don’t have to deal with travelling with your bike, you get to wake up in your bed, ride a course you know every inch of and have plenty of friends and family out screaming at you to Get Ugly! It sounds like nothing can wrong! In my experience however, it is not that simple. Everyone wants to have a great hometown race but in order to make that happen, you need to prepare for these problems.
Pressure is what sports are all about. Can you perform well under pressure? Knowing that more friends and family will be out watching and following the race can lead to extra stress and nervousness. Always remember that you honour the commitment of your friends, family and supporters in training. You don’t need to have a great race to impress or inspire them. They will be inspired by the courage you had to sign up and the commitment you put into the race in the months or years leading up. Getting to bed early, eating well, and making sacrifices are the kind of things that you do to honour their commitment. It is great to think of your friends and family to motivate you through hard points in the race, just always remember that no matter what they will think you are awesome.
Settling into a training pace
Being able to ride a course in training is a huge advantage for hometown racers. But there is a potential to get stuck in the training mindset when you are out on a course. In the two weeks before a race I try and get out and ride sections of the course at race intensity or above to really dial in the racing mindset. This will help to keep you sharp and help you to notice the subtle differences when you ride a course hard.
Equipment is not ready
When you travel to a race you have an automatic early deadline; you need to have everything prepared before you travel to the event. With a hometown race you just need to have everything ready to go race morning. This can lead to a ridiculously busy and stressful day or night before the race getting things sorted. I try to avoid this by using the same day I would normally travel to a race as the deadline for having everything ready for my hometown race (try being the key word…hey, no one is perfect). For me that day is usually a Wednesday. No matter what, I am going to have all my nutrition and equipment ready to go for that day.
This is similar to the previous post, but because it is so common and stressful it needs it’s own mention. Make sure you put your race wheels on early and get your mechanic to check your bike over. Do not put your race wheels on the day or night before the race. I always put my race wheels on Wednesday night. That way I can ride Thursday and if my bike isn’t 100 per cent awesome I have three days to get it dealt with.
Make a clear decision before the event what you want your priorities to be. Whether you want to have an enjoyable weekend with a race thrown in or a personal best, decide before hand. If you don’t make a clear decision it is easy to find yourself trying to do both and achieving neither.
This is probably the biggest pitfall and my biggest problem area that I am still trying to navigate. When you are racing in your hometown, time can be extremely short. Don’t plan or commit to anything race week.
Everything takes longer race week. If you make super tight schedules, things will not get done. Plan for plenty of free time. I once thought I could work at the bike shop the morning before a 4:00 pm duathlon. As long as I leave by 2:00 p.m, I’ll be fine I thought. Well 1:30 became 2:00 and I pinch flatted half way to the race course. I arrived at the race totally stressed with less than 30 minutes until start. The race was a disaster.
It also helps to discussing things with your significant other. Talk to them about how important the race is to you and how although you might be a bit lazy around the house race week you will make up for it by helping out more either before or after race week.