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Noob racing questions(5 posts)

Noob racing questionsDangeruss
Oct 12, 2003 1:41 PM
Apologies in advance if this has been asked a zillion times already.

I'm toying with the idea of getting into racing next season. I'm hoping to find some more leg and lung over the winter and begin in the Spring. So, my questions are manifold right now. I'm hoping the RBR collective can steer me to some good web sites and/or books regarding racing tactics, tips for novices and provide some insight as to what to expect from a Cat5, 40 year old+ class. Typical distances and averages would be of immediate interest to me, as it would allow me to see how bad I'd have my a$$ handed to me :) Presently a 20 mph avg. over 20 miles is doable, after that my avg drops to 17-18-ish (dependant on terrain).

I plan on hooking up with a local LBS group for some schoolin' and humility.

Thanks all!
Just try itbimini
Oct 12, 2003 3:34 PM
Your averages are okay to get started if they are solo (non-paceline) averages. Won't win the race but won't finish last.

Road races for Cat 5 can average 25-30 MPH, but that is with a whole herd of folks blocking the wind for you. You need to get comfortable riding 6" to 2' behind the bike in front of you and with bikes on either side. Find a fast group ride that does some pacelines. It's a good way to get comfortable in a pack.

Over the winter work on intervals. Staying in the Peleton is not hard most of the time, but there are surges and hills and hills with surges to deal with where I have to give it everything I have for 1-5 minutes. Road races are not a constant effort, it is a series of hard efforts for shot periods of time followed by recovery. The interval training gives you the strength to hang on during the tough spots. Most Cat 5 races a relatively short (20-50 miles), so endurance is not a big factor.

Tactics are best learned from watching and doing. My normal tactic in a road race is to hang on for as long as possible, nothing too advanced. Cat 5 racing is not normally a tactical race. I've learned a lot about tactics at a weekly 1/2 oval race in our area. It is a paved track where you get to do 5-6 different types of races in an evening. Each race is 2-7 miles long. You learn in your own races and you learn watching the others race. I've gotten pretty good at sprinting and do okay at these races and a learn a couple of things new at each race. If there are any races like this in your area it is a good place to start. If you make a major blunder or get dropped, no big deal, there is the next race.
Yep - gonna have toDangeruss
Oct 12, 2003 4:01 PM
The speeds sound daunting, but I understand the benefit of the draft (ex motorcycle roadracer). The quoted averages are from solo rides. I've on occasion, ridden with a small group (3) and noticed the speed climbed a few mph. Though I'm not sure if that was due to drafting or my not wanting to get dropped.

I've been doing some interval experiments, but not long enough to learn much (other than they're no fun). I'm hoping my exposure to a faster group and the group riding dynamic will boost my confidence and skills.

My goal starting out, is simply not to embarrass myself by finishing DFL or causing some stoopid pileup.

Thanks for the advice.
Cat 5george_da_trog
Oct 12, 2003 6:51 PM
That's what Cat 5 is for... to learn. To upgrade to Cat 4 only takes 10 races and places don't matter so the whole category is used to learn.
re: Noob racing questionsMShaw
Oct 13, 2003 9:38 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about intervals/sprints till about Jan/Feb if you live anywhere outside the sun belt. Now till about mid Nov to beginning of Dec you should probably take it easy: no real hard rides. Ride easy, have a good time, don't stress too hard about next year just yet.

Average speeds in your solo rides are irrelevent. The race usually stays bunched up and Cat5 races are generally decided in a field sprint. Breakaways generally don't work 'cause the whole field chases everything.

Cat5 (crits) races are usually pretty short. 45-60min at the most.

If you can remember that the first 5 laps are going to be real hard, things are going to settle down, and then the last 5 laps are going to be pretty hard. There's always the sprint to look forward to at the end to make the pain bearable.

If you want to win Cat5 (and usually Cat4) races, ya gotta learn when and where to sprint. The way to do that is to practice town line/speed limit sign sprints with your buddies in Jan/Feb. Once you find out your limits in the sprint, you can use other guys in the race as your leadout train, only coming around them in the last few meters of the race.

After this basic primer on crits, you'll just have to try out different things to see what works for you. Chances are you aren't going to be Lance Armstrong, so take the first few races with a real big grain of salt.

That help?