Riding in a pack can have many benefits, such as slipstreaming, but if you struggle to keep up here are a few tips from pro rider and Le Col clothing brand founder Yanto Barker.
1. Snack to stay in the pack
Having enough fuel in the tank is important.
Research training sessions that help you adapt your body to be able to use fat more readily at higher intensity than it would normally be comfortable doing, such as fasted rides or high intensity interval training.
This unlocks a better, more sustainable fuel for endurance exercise, so you use fewer carbs throughout the ride, ensuring you have them stored for the last and most intense part.
It’s impossible to say with a ‘one rule fits all’ how much you should take on board, but it’s important you get to know yourself and what works for you.
2. Dress not to get dropped
Temperature has a big effect on how much fuel you burn because you’ll need to replace fuel that’s lost just keeping warm.
Check the weather before you ride, and always wear a thermal or waterproof jersey for cold or wet weather.
In warmer weather, consider layering to regulate your temperature.
3. Train with the fittest
Doing intervals of short, hard efforts will help you get fitter for longer, but friends and teammates can be a good guide too.
If you know someone is better than you, for example, then trying to keep up with them will really push you. You also need to get comfortable riding in close proximity to other riders, to benefit from being in their slipstream.
You really can’t beat regular road rides with teammates or club mates to perfect your form and pacing.
4. Think positively
Check route profiles and make a note of the big climbs of the day, so you are mentally prepared for the hardest parts of the ride.
Learn to speak positively to yourself when you’re at your maximum because that’s when the negative ‘I can’t do this’, thinking can occur, so you do actually get dropped and it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy.
There may still be times when you struggle to keep up, but if you implement this mental strategy it will be a lot further into the race, if at all.