Warming Up for Race


Warming up for National Hill Climb Champs 2009

I know a top time triallist who says that now he has a power meter he doesn’t have to warm up – so he just rides to the start and goes for it. There’s probably some iffy science behind it. But, it doesn’t feel right to me. I always like to have a good warm up and warm down before straining every muscles in a race. I sometimes will warm up for 45 minutes to an hour. Part of it is not just warming up, but, the opportunity to get a few more miles in.

The ideal warm up would be a steady 15-20 minutes to get the legs loose, with another 10 minutes of steadily increasing effort. As you get close to the start, you would be accustoming yourself to riding just below race effort. Then when you start it is less of shock to the system. You can also reduce risk of injury from straining cold muscles. It’s also a chance to check the bike is in good working condition.

Turbo vs Riding on road

Personally I often end up warming up by riding around the roads. If the race is really important I will bring the turbo along, but usually I don’t. The advantage of a turbo is:

  • Don’t have to worry about traffic
  • Don’t have to worry about getting lost (has happened to me warming up)
  • Don’t have to keep stopping at junctions and road lights which interrupts the warm up.
  • If it it’s raining it’s easier to keep dry (especially if you have someone with big umbrella)
  • You don’t have to worry about puncture just before big race.

The disadvantage of turbo

  • – You may wear down tyres / tubs.
  • – You get hotter on a stationary turbo, especially with no fan. and may sweat extensively on bike
  • – It’s an added hassle to get on and off.

When I list advantages and disadvantages, I probably ought to make greater use of a turbo for warming up.

Warming Down

I often like to warm down for quite a few miles. You feel spinning a high gear helps to loose some lactic acid. Though many riders don’t seem to warm down at all.

Recently, I was so cold after a race, I didn’t warm down. Later I got a slight muscle strain in the night.


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