Honing Your Victory Salute

It’s midway through your racing season and you are in top form. You are accelerating effortlessly through the downtown streets of your hometown criterium. Friends and family have come to watch and cheer you on. Coming out of the last corner you accelerate past your last opponents and put them a few bike lengths behind you. Now there is only pavement between you and the finish line. You are chewing it up with every stroke of the pedals as you rocket to the finish.

Now what?

If you have to ask this question, you have not fully prepared for you race. You put in a lot of time preparing to get to the finish line first, but have you prepared to actually win a race, and win with style? Celebrating a race win is a big part of cycling, and hopefully a part that you will get to enjoy. So be prepared for it.

Celebrating a bike race win always starts with a victory salute. You should always have one in mind when you start a race. (Remember, it’s not arrogant to think you will win; winning is a big reason why most show up, and believing you can win is essential to actually doing it.) Talk with your teammates about ideas. Or think of someone or something you would want to honor with a victory, like your newborn child or a loved one who passed away.

He are some things to remember about a victory salute:

First and most important, make sure it is safe to take your hands off the bars. If you can’t ride without both hands on the bars, or if it is a tight sprint, then a hands off the bars salute might not be best. Try a one handed salute where you can keep one of your hands on the bars. Also, some districts consider a one or both hands-off salute to be dangerous riding, and cause for relegation, so check the local rules before you win your next race.

Remember your sponsors when you win races. They pay money to have their name on your kit. So take off the rain jacket and zip up you jersey before the line if you can. That way the cameras will capture your sponsor’s name along with your up-raised arms as you sail across the line. Someday you might find your winning portrait hanging on someone’s wall.

Hold that pose! You never know when the camera might capture that perfect, in-focus shot of your win. So don’t move around too much or the photographer might catch you when you look like you are doing the hokey poky instead of shooting your imaginary pistol. That would be a tragic way to show your co-workers what you did last weekend.

Lastly don’t salute too early! This can lead to bad consequences, just ask Erik Zabel.