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A great way to learn good pace is finding someone early in the race that's about your level, and sticking with him. If he disappears up the trail or road, find someone else, or better, a group. Sit in at the back and enjoy the ride. You're sheltered from the wind back there so you can rest and recover. When you feel good enough, or if the group slows, you may want to pick it up and attempt to catch some people ahead. Just remember that it's always best to tuck in behind someone when possible, because you expend much more energy riding alone. Ride smart climbing and descending, too. If you climb too hard, you'll blow up and lose lots of time. And, speeding downhill when you're tired is dangerous. Don't risk it.