Advice for newbie racer

Looking for advice from experienced racers. I’m doing my first race this weekend, Giro Della Sicilia. I suspect there will be riders half my age. Not looking or expecting to win. Mainly looking to challenge myself. What advice would you give to a new racer like myself? TIA


#1: Have fun.
#2: Have FUN

That race looks like a LOT of mileage and a LOT of elevation so my only advice is to not go out so hot on day 1 that you’ve got nothing left for the remaining stages.

Find your pace, (and hopefully pace group) early and stick to it.

Good luck. Also, I’m very jealous!


Big advise take it easy, don’t sprint out with the experienced bikers and get sucked in with the testosterone you will come unstuck, if you hear a bike come down DON’T look back keep going. Ride within your limitations but MOST important enjoy, it’s your first good luck


How many days of this are you doing? That will determine how hard you can go on any given stage. Recovery (hydration, nutrition, rest, stretching, massage) will be key if you’re doing multiple stages.

And as others have said, don’t blow yourself up trying to hang with other people. Find your pace, and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away with the energy of the event and then find yourself an hour in totally blown up!

Most of us are never racing to win these events - your race is with yourself.

I have three rules going into any race or event:

  1. Don’t get hurt (i.e., be able to ride tomorrow)
  2. Finish
  3. Have fun

If I follow all three of those (in that order of priority, although 2. and 3. are almost interchangeable), it will have been a good day, irrespective of the time or the result.


@Glen.Coutts Don’t be too jealous, Mt. Etna is erupting, doing its best imitation of Mt. Sufferlandia. And I hope there is a pace group for me.

@Graham1 I’m really looking forward to this. Great advice, especially on looking back!

@way9e0 Yup, this race is about seeing what I can do. Finishing and having fun is what I am striving for. Sound advice.

Thanks all for the advice. The forum here is great. Looking forward to this.


Forgot to say i am only doing the first two days. Didn’t want to push myself, but if after the first two days I feel good ….



“Didn’t want to push myself” the man says…

:joy: :rofl: :joy:

(go get 'em @Jeffrey!)


Well, the race is over (at least for me). Good learning experience. Biggest learning experience is how poorly prepared I was for the first day. A 37km, 1600m elevation ride. I completed it but did not leave myself in glory. So question i have for the experienced riders. The gears I have are the Shimano 105s with ratios 50/34 and 28/11. Was I crazy to attempt such a ride with these gear ratios? Should I look to change my cassette and chainring? I would like to attempt a ride like that again. Thanks in advance.

@Jeffrey Wow - that is a lot of elevation in a short distance. So my guess is you spent a lot of time in 34/28. Maybe change gearing but really for that sort of ride I would think it is more about getting your legs ready for low cadence grinding by doing workouts like GOAT, Power Station and the Big Gear MAP workouts.


@Jeffrey I won’t provide my psychiatric diagnosis without at least a little more information :wink:

As to your gear choices my advice to EVERYBODY is that you will never regret having more gears. You might not use them all but just knowing you can, can be the difference between enjoying a ride and just surviving it.

Depending on your particular bike and the clearance available you might be able to swap your cassette for an 11/34. That still gives you all the big gears you need while allowing you lots of room for climbing. If you dont have the clearance, you can either go to an 11/32 or 11/30 but if it were me, and I was going to do climbs like the one you just did I would want the 34/34 option and if that’s also the case for you, you might need a derailleur extender. You might wanna talk to your LBS and see what they can do for you.

Edit: also, congrats! That’s a BIG ride you just did!!!


@JSampson Thanks. My idea is to do the climbing plan in SYSTM so appreciate you identifying the workouts that’ll help me. Assume level mode is the proper mode to do them in?

@Glen.Coutts Thanks. My psychiatrist has stated that clearly l am beyond help so refuses to take my money!

Oh and for your entertainment, not mine, the bastards had a time trial for the last 12km! GVA would be proud of them.


Great job getting your feet wet!

Ideally you could get your hands on the elevation profile of a race/ride, especially if you know there’s a significant amount of climbing.

Then look for the steepest sections. There’s plenty of cycling wattage and gearing calculators on the internet. From there you can get a pretty decent idea if your gearing is adequate.

Take your lowest gear and your most comfortable cadence and calculate your lowest sustainable speed. With your current lowest gear and an example cadence of 85 rpm you‘d go ~12.5 kph and you‘d need to push something like 4.3 Watts/kg to go up 10%. Those calculations are not perfect, but should give you a good idea if you‘ll be okay.

Especially look for ramps inside a longer climb. Powering over a short 12% hill in the middle of a flat ride is a different beast than the same ramp if you’ve been riding around threshold for quite a while, be it because it’s at the end of a climb or because it’s in a race where a group dictates the pace.

The most important thing is: if the results look like you should barely be able to pull it off on a good day, go buy carbon wheels.


@Jeffrey Actually I would probably do those in ERG mode but you could certainly do level as well.

Is your next race the same distance and elevation gain? If so you might want to look at either all purpose road which will have some climbing workouts as well as a lot of FTP work which will be helpful or look at one of the mountain bike plans.

Riding on RGT might be helpful as well. There are a few really good climbs - Passo Dello Stelvio comes to mind.


Thanks @JSampson. Not sure when I’ll race again but I wasn’t discouraged by this one.