How to handle a mid-ride or race crisis: top ten tips for getting back on track

We’ve all been there. You went all-in early doors but now you’re barely hanging on. Don’t panic! Here’s how to bounce back…

Male cyclist riding up a hill
(Image credit: Future)

When GB sprinter Sophie Capewell lost her bronze medal sprint race in last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the thought of getting back on the track for her remaining events was overwhelming. “I was getting extremely fatigued throughout the day. I was feeling emotional and tired but psychologically you just have to pretend that it hasn’t happened because we still had two more days of racing. I had to pick myself up again and focus.” The next day, the 24-year-old had to put the disappointment behind her. “For the 500-metre TT, we stripped everything back to the really simple processes. I came away with the bronze medal that day. The following day we did something very similar with the keirin and came away with the silver. I managed to turn it around halfway through a competition where I really wasn’t feeling my best.” 

Capewell is not unusual in having had a mid-event crisis. We’ve all experienced something similar: a moment when something goes wrong, our plans fall through and we have a crisis of confidence. “Every single rider I have ever worked with has had a crisis mid-race,” says James Spragg, coach at Intercept Performance Consultancy. “It is just part of cycling.

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Josephine Perry

Dr Josephine Perry is a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist whose purpose is to help people discover the metrics which matter most to them so they are able to accomplish more than they had previously believed possible. She integrates expertise in sport psychology and communications to support athletes, stage performers and business leaders to develop the approaches, mental skills and strategies which will help them achieve their ambitions. Josephine has written five books including Performing Under Pressure, The 10 Pillars of Success and I Can: The Teenage Athlete’s Guide to Mental Fitness. For Cycling Weekly she tends to write about the psychological side of training and racing and how to manage mental health issues which may prevent brilliant performance. At last count she owned eight bikes and so is a passionate advocate of the idea that the ideal number of bikes to own is N+1.