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Questions finding/joining a racing club.(17 posts)

Questions finding/joining a racing club.WrigleyRoadie
Sep 26, 2003 6:24 AM
I just completed my first full season of riding. After buying my bike last September, I averaged 1,000 miles a month in June, July and August and jumped in my first Crit at the end of August, taking ninth of 40 in a Cat 5/Citizen field.

Should I compete unattached next season until I have more miles under my belt or what? I definitely want to race crits and road races next year, and if there's benefits above not paying the unattached rider fee, than I want them.

I'm not chronically shy, so I do chat with these guys in the group rides, but I haven't broached the subject of joining a team.

How did any of you go about hooking up with a squad that was a good match for your riding and racing?
easyDougSloan
Sep 26, 2003 6:42 AM
Just about any team will take someone on. Now, you may not start with any perks, and may have to buy your own uniform and pay your own entry fees, but you'll have the opportunity to train and race with a team to see how you do and how you like it.

Just go up to a team member and ask if they are looking for any more team mates. Pretty simple. Tell them you'd like to give it a try. Now is a good time, because it will probably be a while before sponsors are nailed down for next year and uniforms are ordered, so you can ride with them a while before you even get to that.

If it turns out they are a bunch or a-holes or ride unsafely, they look for another group. Don't be surprised if you get dropped a lot at first, though. There's a tall learning and training curve.

Ask lots of questions, particularly on easy rides or when warming up, etc. Don't bother on fast pacelines or when climbing.

Go to a skills clinic put on by a team or USCF coaches.

If you can't locate any of the above, ask around at local bike shops and check the internet.

Doug
easyWrigleyRoadie
Sep 26, 2003 6:59 AM
Thanks, D. That's what my intentions are with the timing - I know there's a few teams that have membership meetings in December and actually travel for a training camp in February (I'm sure that's more for the Cat1/2s).

I know there's a few clubs where you can just mail in your dues, buy a uniform and presto, you're on a team, but I do want to actually get better. The USCF skills thing is something I didn't know about - I'll look that up. There must be one in an area as populated as Chitown.

Thanks!
What do you want?bimini
Sep 26, 2003 6:52 AM
There are two teams around here and each has it's own personality. One team is a strong team with a couple of nationally ranked Cat 1 riders. It is a racing club with an "attitude" even though a lot of the members don't actively race. I run into the real racing member sof that club all the time at the local races and they are a nice bunch of guys and gals to talk to and race with, but the the group / training rides seem to have an "attitude". I'm not sure I want to a part of that scene, I'm too Fred for that.

There is another club that is stricktly race, but they don't have the high end talent and backing like the other club. I like all the folks in that group. If I join a club it will probably be that one even though it is farther away.

Point is, get to know the members of the clubs at races and during the group/training rides. If they are folks you like, then join, if you don't - don't.

At the Cat 5 level team stratagy and such rarely come into play. Staying solo is always an option unless get into the races with the advance riders. Most of the CAT 1,2& 3 guys know how to work together and aginst everyone else. So as you progress being a part of a team becomes more important.
Ask around at the races...biknben
Sep 26, 2003 7:18 AM
Pay attention to the teams in your races and start asking around. Most clubs are always looking for fresh meat. Try to hook up with a few training rides or visit the shop that represents the club. IMO, that is the easier part.

The challenge comes when you start to look at the make-up of the club. You want to find a club that consists of racers of your ability but also those who can offer some mentoring/coaching. If your a cat. 5 and everyone else is a cat. 3 you will still be racing by yourself. If everyone is a cat. 5 it will be highly unorganized. Then you start mixing in the age groups and find that a bunch of the guys are racing the 35+. You may be in the same cat. but your not 35+ and are still racing by yourself. You may have to dig a little to find a club that fits your needs.

It took me a while to sift through some of this stuff. I recently got on a club that has a honest value in team racing. Everyone wants to do well and cat. up but they also want to do it together. We have 3s, 4s, 5s and 35+s but try to organize ourselves to race together whenever possible. It's more fun to race with 6 team mates than it is to be pack fodder by yourself.
keep us posted!Chicago_Steve
Sep 26, 2003 8:03 AM
I'd be curious to see how your experience with joining a local team goes. Peteslist.com has a pretty good listing of local teams but gives you little insight into the make-up of the team, race schedule, training schedule, etc...

I'm a daily commuter and usually do 1-2 MTB races a year. I'd like to expand that into a few cat5/citizen races to get a taste of road riding. The team thing has made me curious as well...

Another alternative might be to hook up with some of the local recreational clubs on their training rides. I know that Chicago Cycling Club has Wed. night "fast" rides and several other shops and clubs have higher paced training rides.

FWIW.... I did a century last weekend and chatted it with a few members of the Project 5 team. They seemed pretty friendly with no attitude...
keep us posted!WrigleyRoadie
Sep 26, 2003 8:53 AM
I'm a bit familiar with some of the rides you've mentioned actually.

I did a couple of the CCC Wednesday rides and didn't like the routes so much. There was one guy there who pushed the pace a lot, but it was just individuals going silly - we never got a nice paceline together. I switched over to the Higher Gear Wednesday rides, about 10-20 people. Those were better, and I talked a bit with Higher Gear, XXX and Active Endeavours.

Saturdays and Sundays have been the 65-mile Judson Ride with Judson and 2CC. Much larger pack and more sprints, but not really an organized training ride (although I've heard it's more competitive at the onset of the season). Good pacelines though. I actually saw Pete of Peteslist (I'm pretty sure) get taken out in a bloodly pile up on Waukegan road in July. I'm not sure, I think he broke his elbow.

To get specific, XXX seems low-key and attractive. I like their website and the race reports, and they have their own rides as well as guys that jump into other weekly groups.

2CC is pretty intimidating - I haven't seen many guys riding for them in their 20s, but maybe their off on their own instead of the Judson ride. Most of them seem pretty experienced. There's also a 7:30 am 2CC ride that I haven't been on, as well as the Harper College and Mafia rides.

Other options include ABD - highly successful but far away, and maybe Project 5. I need to explore them a bit. The ABD people seem very forthcoming - I got a few general questions answered within an hour of sending them to the website.
One other question if you don't mind...Chicago_Steve
Sep 26, 2003 9:03 AM
Just curious what kind of speeds you've seen on some of these rides? Average? Sprints?

I live off Irving Park and usually ride up Sheridan Road to Highland Park then west on some of the VCR routes...

Another source of info might be Alex-in-Evanston? I seem to remember that he rides with Albertos...

Steve (trying to get a feel for what it takes to hang with the pack and not get dropped)
One other question if you don't mind...WrigleyRoadie
Sep 26, 2003 9:12 AM
That's pretty much the core route of every ride around here, it seems.

On the shorter Higher Gear rides, we paceline anywere between 24 and 27 mph from the Plaza to Highland Park. The wind can play a big factor, as you know. Sprints on Sheridan on the way back are usually betwen 34 and 36 mph. I really like this ride, but there's also a big fast group that leaves from Turin in Evanston around 5:30 I think.

On the Judson rides, it varies a lot from week to week. There's a little bit of everything. Sometimes we cruise at 22 mph for miles, or there's 25-26 mph pacelines, 35 mph sprints, you name it. It's such a big group that people split up and ride at different paces all the time.
Thanks for the feedback!Chicago_Steve
Sep 26, 2003 9:37 AM
appreciate the local knowledge... If you ever see a guy zipping around town on an orange Kelly CX bike... That'd be me...
Thanks for the feedback!WrigleyRoadie
Sep 27, 2003 11:21 AM
Do you ever cross Irving Park on Ravenswood? I was checking an orange Kelly that a guy was riding last month. If not, sorry that someone else has your bike ;-)
What 'burb do you live in ? Or do you live in the city?MR_GRUMPY
Sep 26, 2003 8:19 AM
Lots of teams in N. Illinois.
What 'burb do you live in ? Or do you live in the city?WrigleyRoadie
Sep 26, 2003 9:00 AM
Yeah, it's just a matter of finding a match. I'm in... Wrigelyville. Astros suck!
Here..MR_GRUMPY
Sep 26, 2003 8:33 AM
http://www.usacycling.org/cgi-local/Database_manager/db_manager.cgi

and another

http://ambikerace.com/clubs.htm
Just from observations...TFerguson
Sep 26, 2003 8:51 AM
while doing about 20 events as Cat4/5 and/or Masters this year, plus several nights at the velodrome:

The teams that seem to have the most organization at races would be XXX, ABD, Hinckley, North Branch and Mack.

Teams usually well represented, but more as independent riders, would be OFF!, Project 5, 2CC, Albertos and Redline.

Again, these are just the impressions of another beginner. Also, there are excellent WI teams that are always present.

TF
Off the top of my head...Alex-in-Evanston
Sep 26, 2003 10:52 AM
I'd say XXX Racing meets all of your needs. All of the XXX guys that I know are good people. They show up for basically every race in the midwest - normally in a van, together, which is very cool. Rides leave from Wicker Park, which is a lot closer to you than Judson or Mafia (Higher Gear might be closer).

Check out their website. They have their sh!t together.

Alex

P.S. - I ride for Alberto's. We're basically good guys too, but a bit further north and less organized. Robbie Ventura's coaching service has siphoned off lots of our better riders from the weekend rides, and participation definitely fell off when the shop relocated 5 miles north.

If you like the track, we've got a great training program all summer long. We do road rides all summer, cross rides on the Des Plaines River Trail all winter. Plyometrics in the fall.
Off the top of my head...WrigleyRoadie
Sep 27, 2003 11:24 AM
Thanks for the info, Alex. I like the fact that the XXX guys also kind of join up with all of the other rides around town in addition to their own, while you won't see many Higher Gear on 2CC's Judson ride, or vice versa. Thanks!