Blog post

Getting Ready To Race



Written by Johann Wykerd

23 August 2018

Its race day and you are ready to have the race of your life!

The start line is where many of us get it totally wrong.

The 2 main problems I have identified are:
  1. Incorrect warm-up
  2. Self-doubt

Both of these are equally important and cannot be ignored if you want the race of your life.


A good warmup is critical for a good result. Part of your process must therefore include your preparation for a quality warmup.

Often, we race at a venue that makes warm-up difficult, or its very cold or very hot … all of this will impact our final preparation before the gun goes.

Equipment? – I like rollers for the warm-up. Its controlled and can be used in very cold, rainy conditions as well as when it is very hot. It is also the easiest to use to time your warm-up to finish as close as possible to the start time or call-up. You can also setup the rollers in a protected area if it’s raining or very hot. (For those who have not mastered the art of balancing on rollers we have a solution for you as well … a tri-pod to hold your fork while you rear wheel is on rollers).

If you don’t have rollers you would need to warmup on a quiet road or trail and you can do the same exercises as I will be describing below. Just make sure you have a watch with you to know when you need to be back for your call-up … I have seen to many people missing their call-up because they were still out there warming up … and this is totally unnecessary.

When to warm-up? – The idea is to get to the start line as warm as possible. So, the warm-up needs to be timed to finish just before your call-up to the line.

How long and how hard? – The harder and shorter the race, the harder and longer the warm-up and for longer races the warm-up can be shorter and less intense. For example, Cross Country and Criterium require an out-of-the-block full effort and your body needs to be very prepared for this effort, while a 100 km road race often starts a bit slower.

Warmup for XCO & Crit

(I am only mentioning Watts or RPE … your heart rate is going to be higher because of race excitement already and won’t be a good gauge)

Warmup for Road Race / MTB Marathon

(I am only mentioning Watts or RPE … your heart rate is going to be higher because of race excitement already and won’t be a good gauge)

Mental Preparedness

The process to get your mind ready for the race starts days before the race already. I am not a Sport-Psychologist and my thoughts are just what I have observed as things that work …

  • Ignore the competition!

I have traveled across the world with great athletes and it is amazing how well they do when they don’t know their competition. So, don’t think about your competition! Don’t ask yourself if you are going to beat so-and-so! And ask your family not to even mention them. Racing is about you and your bike … this is the only part you can control. You can’t control your competition… so ignore them.

  • Visualize yourself doing well!

Imagine yourself going over the finish line with a big smile, hand in the air feeling great! You can lie in bed for a minute every morning for the week before the race with your eyes closed and just seeing yourself crossing the line in your mind’s eye. The same applies to going through a technical section on the course. You need to see yourself doing it every morning for a week before the race. And if your dream is to be on the podium then see yourself on the podium with your hands in the air looking out over friends and family. The best example I have of this was when my wife, Allegra, competed in the XCO Masters World Champs in Canada in 2003. The morning of the race she asked me what I think she should wear on the podium … by this time there was no doubt in her mind that she will be on the podium … and this was her very 1st international race. Yes, Allegra was on the podium, because she believed herself to be there without any doubt. If the podium is where you want to be, pack your podium kit every time.

  • On your way to the race and while warming up

Stay away from your competition! You don’t want to hear their opinion on the technical part of an XCO course, or how well they have prepared for the race, etc. This is your day and it’s about you! Some guys and girls like to listen to music and/or motivational messages while they warmup. This is a good idea. But please choose your playlist or message well. To listen to Eminem telling how bad life is will not help. Or a guy shouting at you that you need to get you’re A into G or you are a looser … Choosing something that will encourage and uplift is important. I favour Christian Rock …

Please feel free to drop me a line for any questions and comments.

Johann – Head Coach @ Absolute Motion


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