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Bethesda/Snow Valley Cat 5/4 pace: unusually fast?(9 posts)

Bethesda/Snow Valley Cat 5/4 pace: unusually fast?commuterguy
Jun 17, 2002 4:40 AM
I attended this race as a spectator, although I had considerd entering it. Since Cat 5 is the beginner category (it's where you have to start, right?) I thought I, as regular commuter (120 miles/week av.) and sometime weekend group rider (18-22 mph in flats) should have been able to hang in.

Good thing I didn't: large numbers of riders were lapped early on, and the finishing field was heavily populated with very skilled-looking cyclists (shaved legs, $3-4K bikes, and very little apparent body fat). Lap times averaged 90 sec. on the 0.7 mile circuit (28 mph), which has 3 pretty tight turns.

WTF? Is this how it generally works? Where does one go to really break into road racing? I would have felt pretty dumb dropping ~$30 for the privilege of getting yanked out of the race after a handful of laps.
No, A wake up call!Wayne
Jun 17, 2002 5:18 AM
Yes 4/5 races are fast too! Look for 5 races only and they're still probably going to be faster than you think. You point out why they're fast, even in the low categories if you can't hang who's going to keep paying to get yanked or ride by themselves? So already you have a "natural selection" for the relatively strong riders. I do cat. 4 races and have started doing a 30+ race here and there in that same area. The latter generally being the second fastest race after the 1/2/3, I was surprised to find that it wasn't that much faster (24.6 vs. 25.3 mph) but seemed alot harder.
Nope, some of those 4/5's are pretty strongGregory Taylor
Jun 17, 2002 5:27 AM
I've done a couple of 4/5 races in the DC area this year and, yes, the riders are strong. You see a lot of guys with good legs. The reason that they are riding 4/5 isn't because they aren't fit, it is because they don't have the experience (as in number of races) to move up.

If you want to give it a try, a crit over a short circuit (like Bethesda) isn't your best bet. Try a "circuit" race or a road race. Here's a link for races in the DC area -- come out and give it a try!
No not reallygrandemamou
Jun 17, 2002 6:19 AM
Racing is hard and fast. Cat 5's around here generaly have quite a few multi sporters and expert class mtn bikers. The speeds are pretty fast. There isn't much diff. in speed between 4-5's the biggest diff. is that 4's have more experience.

We had several sport class mtn bikers in our club try road racing last year and they all bailed after a couple of races. Here at least, there are lots of people racing 5 that based on strength should be 3's or 4's. I think it keeps alot of people from giving it a shot.
average vs. peakDougSloan
Jun 17, 2002 6:50 AM
The difference between riding fast alone and riding fast in a road race or crit is average vs. peak power. Lots of people can have high average power and suck at peak power. Doing 18-22 mph all the time will make you good at riding 18-22 mph, but won't do much for riding at 32 mph when the group turns up the heat in a crit. So, you have to mix in intervals and really hard group rides to get ready for that.

Lots of guys I ride with can blow me away when the hammer drops repeatedly, but one on one over a long distance I can readily out-do them. We train differently. It makes big diffence.

can't disagreecyclopathic
Jun 17, 2002 10:20 AM
I towed a guy for 70mi (he didn't even bother to fake a pull) and he beat me at the finish sprint. Turned out he was Cat 2. No you can't outdo them, they will suck your wheel as long as they can ;)
re: Bethesda/Snow Valley Cat 5/4 pace: unusually fast?NeedSpeed
Jun 17, 2002 8:41 AM
I'll have to agree with the first poster. The race was unusually fast for a CAT 5, but the put the 4s and 5s together at that race and there may have been a sandbagger or two racing as well. I guess it's true that there are a lot of talented area riders who are really CAT 4s (or even on CAT 3 level), who just don't have the number of needed points to move up a level. It can get discouraging for someone just starting out racing because the competition level is distorted.

Just over a month ago, the supposed "CAT 5/Citizen" race in Patteron Park in Baltimore was the same way. Sandbaggers galore and an avg. speed around 27-28 mph.
re: Bethesda/Snow Valley Cat 5/4 pace: unusually fast?NeedSpeed
Jun 17, 2002 8:42 AM
That's Patterson Park. Not "Patteron Park."
Another theory...Wayne
Jun 17, 2002 9:25 AM
might also be that races in this area, at least the 4 or 4/5 races almost always come down to a sprint with an oppurtunistic break working every once in a while. Consequently you can be plenty strong but if your not willing to take the chances in a big field sprint and/or don't have a sprint it's hard to get results to move up. Not to mention some time your just in the wrong place at the end. Given that all of these races pretty much fill up early, there are just alot of guys gunning for those top 10 places and it coming down to a sprint almost everytime means it may take awhile for alot of strong riders to get upgrade points.