Even if you’ve built a base the size of Mount Everest, trained religiously on the turbo and endlessly studied WorldTour tactics on the television, your first races are likely to be a very steep learning curve. The key, Spragg says, is to enjoy the experience.
“There are so many elements to think about that it’s almost a little bit too much to take in,” he says, “so the main thing is that you need to enjoy it, otherwise you won’t come back and do it again.”
He also believes it’s important to set achievable goals to measure progress.
“It’s important to have some goals but non-result related goals,” he says. “That might be, for example: get comfortable in the bunch, get to the front of the bunch, or to not ride at the back.
“Results are going to be difficult to come by in your first races but there are so many elements involved, so it’s good to have something to focus on other than where you finish.”
Ultimately, however, a race is about pushing yourself and finding your limits and, chances are, if you’ve got this far then you’re willing to do that. For many riders that might see you spat out of the back of the bunch in your first race but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, says Spragg.
“You should never be afraid to go really hard in a race,” says Spragg, “and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
“Sometimes I see that my clients who race with a power meter produce less power in racing than they do in training and I think it’s because they’re worried about making a mistake.
“Don’t be afraid to get stuck in and give it everything. The worst that can happen is you get dropped. Lots of people get dropped in their first race. I got dropped in my first road race, I’ve got dropped in many a race, and again it’s a learning experience. It’s not something to be ashamed of and if you go in with the right mentality then you will learn from it.”