How to race at your best

‘Know thyself,’ Plato said. ‘And know thy course,’ Coach Allie says. 

With years of professional racing around the globe under her belt plus years of working with all levels of athletes, Coach Allie Legg knows what it takes to have a successful race. Here are her top 5 tips for having your best race.


1: Know the course!

This is a gamechanger. You don’t ever want to go into a test without reviewing your study guide, and the same goes for a bike race! Most races have a “race bible” or a website, which tells you most everything you need to know, but not all of it. 

Besides reading all the race materials, there are a few things you can do to know the course. 

First, ride it! This may be hard if you don’t have the time, but if you do, go preview it! First-hand experience is key, and you’ll see all the cracks, false flats, and opportunities to attack! Some races have a shake out; at the Belgian Waffle Ride events you can ride with a FasCat coach leading the way and sharing some tips! 

Whenever you have a chance to preview, do it, even if it’s just a small section of the course.

Second, look at all the maps possible - Strava, RideWithGPS, Epic Ride Weather, and even Google Earth! (I’ve done it.) Look at inclines and descents and gradients. The more you know, the better you’ll understand when and where positioning is most crucial. Same for flat areas; have you ever turned the corner into cross-wind? It’s brutal. This fine little detail can make or break your suffering and give you a better chance to do your job in the bike race.

Third, rely on friends and teammates to tell you about the course, especially if they have raced the same course before.

The details matter - if the pavement is heavy, if there are a lot of potholes, narrowness and wideness, turns and how sharp they are, and so on. The better prepared you are for the course, the easier time you’ll have navigating the race day task!

2: Make a race-bag checklist

Have everything you need packed up and ready to go, whether it’s the night before or morning of, but make sure you have everything. There is nothing like driving to the race start and forgetting your shoes, helmet or bike computer with no time to go back. 

It’s easy to forget things, BUT it is also easy to make a checklist! Shoes, helmet, kit, glasses, race number, bike, bottles, nutrition… those are the basics. You can go deeper, with things like chamois cream, post-race nutrition and so on, but make sure you have the basics to get you through the race.

3: Have your nutrition dialed ahead of time

This seems so simple but it’s easy to mess up. Haveyour race nutrition ready the night before. Measure out hydration mixes and put them in empty bottles, which you can fill up with water in the morning. Have your food laid out and calories needed. I recommend 60-100g of carbohydrate per hour between hydration and food of choice that will fuel you for the demands of the race. 

If you’re eating bars or blocks, cut the wrappers open. It’s one less task to do while racing. I even put bars in my pockets without the wrappers. Yep, sort of gross because they can get sweaty, but easy access can be a game changer if you’re between covering moves or making the move. 

4: Be smart with your efforts!

Depending on your role in the race, be careful of going into the red zone too much. You only have so many matches to burn before you’re stuck in the hurt locker. If you’re able to sit in the peloton and use fewer watts due to drafting and positioning, the better off your chances are for having maximal energy for the end of the race or making it into the winning move. Being efficient is something you can practice on the group ride.

I see it all the time, the difference in watts sitting on the front vs sitting towards the front can be anywhere between a 200- and a 600-calorie difference per hour. If you’re saving and sitting in, you will have more energy to use later.

5: Take a chance!

I am talking about Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez against the Beast type chance in The Sandlot. Sometimes you just have to go after the opportunity. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But you will definitely learn from taking a chance. You’ll learn about timing and catching people off guard and you’ll learn how much more you can actually suffer! You will also learn sometimes that it won’t work out. 

But you know what you stand to learn or gain by not trying? Nothing. So go for it!

Or, as Wayne Gretzky famously said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." 


Allie Legg is eager to pass the knowledge of training and racing on to people who want to be well rounded athletes. She raced professionally for six years, and she coaches road, cyclocross, NICA, mountain bike, gravel, and fondo cyclists.

To get started working with Allie to achieve your cycling goals, please fill out our New Athlete Questionnaire.

About Allie Legg

Allie raced road bikes professionally for 6 years for SHO-AIR TWENTY20. She has a background in BMX, Mountain Bike, Track racing, Cyclocross, and Road. She graduated from Marian University in Indianapolis and is very passionate about helping individuals reach their goals.Allie was on the US National Team for 4 years between 2014 – 2018, competed in the World Championship Team Time Trial in 2015, World Championship Road Race and Team Time Trial in 2016 and won stages in Europe, Valley of the Sun, Tour of Utah, Cascade Cycling Classic and the Boise Twilight to name a few. With her professional experience, Allie is eager to pass the knowledge of training and racing on to people who want to be well rounded athletes.

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