Warm ups are for winners?

We all know how important it is to warm up before you ride or race, but how many people do it right?

Not me.

The more I race and ride, the more I continue to learn about racing and riding – and about how I work.  I usually try to warm up at least a little before most group rides (time permitting).  When I ride alone, I never just get on the bike and hammer (unless I’m late for the monthly Networking ride…).  But at races, apparently I am out-to-lunch when it comes to warming up.

I always warm up before a race – but my warm-ups usually consist of heading out on whatever the closest road is and doing a few laps.  Without fail, the first lap of any race leaves me wanting to die.  I have a habit of going out hard and paying for it later.  But on the second lap I can always recover and find my rhythm and by the 3rd lap I’m golden.

Why am I always so miserable on that first lap?  First of all I’m old.  Not really old, but I’m not 20, I’m 41.  The older I get, the longer it takes me to find the groove when I ride.  I usually don’t feel truly warmed up until about 45 minutes in.  Second – my warm-ups are usually 30 minutes at the very most.  They are never tough, and usually include a stop or two to take care of any last-minute business.  I might as well wake up and walk to the start line cold.  I really noticed this at the last 2 WORS races – we go balls out at the start, and I’m sucking wind half a mile into it.  I know that the start of WORS races are one of the toughest sections, but if I had warmed up adequately, I think I’d be feeling a lot better coming off the line.

Maybe I’m way off base.  I’m certainly not looking for excuses to explain my slow-ocity, I’m really trying to make myself a better rider.  Last year I pounded my weakness (hills) and I made big gains.  This off-season, it’s recovery I need help with.  I’m just wondering how much better I could be if I was as diligent about the warm-up as the rest of the race?

What do YOU think?

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