Competitive bike racing; what are 7 rookie errors to avoid?

Robert Gaggini Lakers Rider
Victoria Park Criterium Race

If you have that natural competitive edge, forcing the pace when riding with your mates, comparing Strava times, keeping appearances on that pace line.

Then I can recommend that competitive bike racing is great fun and a perfect extension in your cycling experience.

There are multiple opportunities to explore, Road Racing, Criterium Racing, Mountain Bike, Cyclo-Cross and Track Racing. In Adelaide we are spoilt for choices with various organisations and clubs.

This article provides some for the new racing cyclist, with encouragement from your mates, you have your license, you have signed up for your first race; what are 7 rookie errors to avoid?

Inadequate Warm Up Routine

An appropriate warm up is specific to the event you are competing in.  There must be some minutes of race intensity, there should be a gradual progression to that race intensity and strangely enough a "warm down". As a general rule I have a 30min warm up protocol that would start 45 minutes before race time, this allows a generous time to ensure all the last minute details are not rushed.


Hydration Requirements

Adequate hydration starts several days before race day. Drinking a litre of water during your warm up will only be eliminated before your race start. Small but consistent intake over 48hours is the key to maximise absorption.

Attaching your Race Number in the Correct Place


If you are racing for the first time, do not put your number on your back as if you are going out to play a game of football!

Riding too fast too early

With very few exceptions, cycle racing is a game of endurance and strategy. Take time to observe your competitors, do not "go from the gun". If you are able to do this and win,  you need to immediately sign up for a tougher race.

Positioning in the Bunch

Presuming that you are not riding on your own from having attacked the bunch from the start, your position when riding within your group can be critical for your chances of success.  Stay out of the wind!

Respecting the Race

There are multiple unwritten codes of behavior in a bike race. It is impossible to be an expert from day 1, however try and pick up as many as you can as quickly as possible.

Training Program

I have a saying "You are what you train", and that matches very well with "Racing is the best form of Training". Success in bike racing comes with riding with speed. A training program with an imbalance of many kilometres at a slower speed is not the best.



There is an element of danger that must be considered at all times when riding a bike and more so in a competitive bke race. At the end of the day, bike racing is fun!

Robert Gaggini
Mt Gambier Winner 2005



Robert Gaggini is founder of Adelaide Cycling Academy and owner of Infuga Retreat. As a cycling coach Robert brings  years of experience to a wide range of Cycling Activities.


Winner of multiple cycle races including Mt Gambier 100mile classic 2005, and Alphutte 2003, (4th in 2012). Participant in multiple endurance events including Paris-Brest-Paris, and is a 40km per day commuter for over 20years.


If you require any assistance with training plans, coaching or if you just want to ride faster, Robert is happy to assist.


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