Race Day Checklist
- Appropriate jersey
- Underlayer in cool weather
- Padded shorts
- Shoes (something you can’t borrow at the last minute)
- Socks (Tall socks or thermal socks for cool weather)
- Sunglasses (real easy to forget when you leave home for a race in pre-dawn darkness)
- Gloves (fingerless for warm weather, full for cool)
- Frame pump
- Spare tube
Nutrition and Hydration
- Full water bottle(s)
- Food; gels, bars, or whatever suits you — you should know by now what works for you
- Drivers license
- Racing license or rider release print-out from website
- Membership card (if applicable)
- Race flyer and directions
- Money, cash, or check (many races don’t use credit cards that you can swipe)
- Prescription medications
- Antacids and/ or over the counter acid blockers such as Ranitidine (add to your underseat pack if you feel you might need them on the ride)
- Ibuprofen, aspirin or your choice of over the counter pain meds (you never know what’s going to happen out there)
- Medical/First Aid kit (bandages, ointment)
Not Deal breakers, But Advisable
- Safety pins (for your race number)
- Floor pump (to top off your tires before a race)
- Sunscreen/lip balm depending on conditions
- Weather-resistant shell (this should be in your race gear if weather is threatening)
- Clean clothes for after the race
- Baby wipes — get rid of race gunk (sunscreen, dirt, grit, sweat) before getting back in your car
- Extra water or sports drink in cooler
- Snacks or food such as sandwiches if you have a long drive home
- Camera — you’ll be glad you snapped some photos
- Toilet paper — you never know, especially if you’re racing mountain bikes and Porta-Johns often run out.
Some races aren’t sanctioned and may or may not require a license, but most races are governed by organizations such as USA Cycling. To enter these races you’re required to purchase a racing license. You can purchase a one-day license at some events. If you plan to race regularly, it can benefit you to purchase an annual license, which costs less per race, permits you to race year-round, and supports the sport of cycling. Whatever the type of race, registering early helps you avoid late fees and long registration lines the day of the race.
Reserve accommodations months ahead of time if you’re spending the night particularly if it’s a big event. Lodging close to the race site can often get you a special rate. Don’t forget to verify your reservations at least two weeks ahead of time.
The Week Before
One week before your scheduled event, go through the race day checklist and figure out if there is anything you don’t have that needs to be purchased. Things like tubes, sunscreen, gels, or foods. By doing this in advance, you alleviate the last minute panic of rushing around and trying to find an item before the race.
Mechanicals Shouldn’t Happen
Get There Early
Arrive early at races to be able to relax and acclimate to the atmosphere. Most racers try to arrive at the race site one or even two hours before the start of the race. This gives you enough time to sign in or register, change clothes, pin your race number on, warm-up and use the bathroom. It also allows time for fixing any minor mechanical issues that need attention. (It’s easy to knock something out of whack on your bike when transporting it to the race.)
For shorter, more technical courses, you may want to arrive the day before to pre-ride the course. For endurance events with lots of miles, let the opening miles of the race serve as your warm up.
Remember that pre-race jitters is common and if you don’t get them you’re not normal. But knowing that you have all the bases covered helps to relive pre-race jitters and when you do get them, focus on converting them into adrenaline when the gun goes off. Have fun out there. Bike racing is like nothing else. When it gets in your blood, you’re in for the ride of your life.