Most of us continue to ride over winter, but dust off our competitive edge in the summer. With the high majority of sportives, organised rides, time trials, races and audaxes all taking place between April and September, even if your primary competition is yourself, it's the summer months where you want to shine.
After a long autumn and winter break, sometimes it's easy to forget... well - everything about 'how to perform' - here are 10 things that happen at every 'first event of the season'...
The 'Information Pack' arrives and it all becomes very real
Details on parking, toilets, GPX routes, or your race number, and who you'll be up against, land in your inbox like a ticking bomb. That you can't disconnect.
The panic training vs over-resting
There's a week until your event. The perfect preparation, if this is an event you're quite serious about, is to continue training as normal until a few days before, then back off the volume, doing just some short rides with a couple of high intensity bursts to keep your legs in 'ready to go' mode.
The temptation is to absolutely obliterate yourself, in an attempt to get super fit in seven days, or to back off completely, so you reach the start line feeling - well - a bit sluggish.
Your bike isn't ready
You've either spent your winter riding a different bike, with the 'race machine' in hiding, or you've spent your winter riding the winter mule and it's now covered in grime and making an odd 'ticking' sound.
Either way - you suddenly realise, a couple of days before your event, that the bike is either seized from under use, or seized from overuse. Either way - a begging trip to your nearest mechanic is due.
The pre event niggle
Up until now, you've been completely fine, no niggles, pains or odd sensations. Then suddenly, you find that your knee is tingly, or your calf feels tight. Very often, this is just your nerves playing tricks on you, and it will probably disappear on the start line.
If you're really worried, try incorporating some of these anti-inflammatory foods in the lead up...
The can't sleep moment
Your bag is packed with various clothing options for every weather eventuality, your bike is prepped and ready to go, you may even have breakfast prepared and sitting in the fridge.
You lay your head down, and you know what's coming - several hours of tossing and turning.
If you suffer from pre-event nerves, give yourself a good chance of sleep by having an early dinner, a warm bubble bath, and avoiding screens (computers, TVs, PHONES) for about two hours before you plan to sleep. And try this...
The 'I Have Arrived' moment
You wake up, chow down your carefully calculated breakfast (4 hours before, good mix of low GI carbs and protein), and get to the event HQ.
The car park is bustling, there are people attaching numbers to bikes, helmets, jerseys, a few girls in the corner looking pro and warming up on the rollers. And WOW - someone has gone crazy with the warm-up oil in the toilet. Which you notice because you go to pee about 6 times in an hour.
The start line
You're at the start line - ready to go! Try not to set off before the whistle/flag/other.
For the first couple of minutes your heart is pumping super hard, harder than it really should be for the amount of effort you're actually putting in. However, it's not long before you settle into a rhythm...
The half-way mark
The miles are ticking by - and you've reached the half way point, meaning you'll (probably) start to loop back the the HQ.
Hopefully you're either super proud of the distance you've got under your belt, or happy with the pace you've set so far. Now, go get em on the second half!
The unexpected hill
You were not expecting that. Your legs are screaming and all you wanted was a nice, easy run in...
Never fear - you're nearly there, you've come so far - you can conquer anything (especially with these tips).
You did it! Well done!
You smile with your fellow competitors or riders, drink in the atmosphere, and remember why it is you put yourself through every mile traveled.
Now, go and get yourself a good piece of recovery cake, and enjoy the intense feeling of total satisfaction.
Want all of these feelings? Check out...