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I did my first race(s) last weekend. In response to your post, if you do crash or cause someone to crash, don't think its the end. Apologize, but keep on going. It happens, crashes happen. sometimes they aren't your fault, sometimes they are. Try your best not to cause one, but hey, they happen. (obviously if you cause one and someone gets seriously injured thats a different story)

Here's some of the more usefull advice I recieved before it from this board, teammates, and friends, hope this helps.
1 a. Turn yourself inside out to stay with the pack - Just do it, give everything you have to stay on the pack. You will be amazed if you get dropped (hopefully not) how much harder it is to ride, let alone form a chase group and catch up. If you do get dropped, sit up, get some water, grab a wheel, and get in a paceline to start catching up.
1 b. Be prepared for unexpexted slow downs, followed by sprints. At lower level's this seams to happen (at least my mens D collegiate race) every now and then as someone in front gets tired, they slow, so everyone slows, and then someone else takes over and the pace gets sprinted up again. If things stat to slow, shift down, and be ready to take off.
2. Make sure you warm up - bring a trainer, warm up so you are lightly sweating when you leave for the start. Make sure you stay hyrdated on the trainer. Some people use this time to grab a clif bar or something as well
3. Bring a clif shot (or energy gel of your choice) - its nice to have that little extra something for the big hill or whatever, stick it on your thigh (between short and leg), not in your back. a. its easier to get b. your back pockets may be pinned over with numbers and such.
4. Relax at the start, but be ready to go, and I mean, go.....fast.
5. Enjoy it, and Good luck.
 
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