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Duration of peak fitness for first-year Cat 5 racer?(12 posts)

Duration of peak fitness for first-year Cat 5 racer?WrigleyRoadie
Jan 13, 2004 12:30 PM
Hey all. Working on a race calender for 2004 and want to set some concrete goals. Rather than just aim for one big race, I want to pick a few that are close to each other and aim to reach the podium in all three.

As a first year Cat 5, is it realistic to hope to be at peak fitness for a whole month, as there's an empty weekend between the second two target races? Is it more realistic to aim for two races, or three on consecutive weekends? I racked up about 6,000 miles this past year, but they were just miles miles, not intense miles. This will be my first year of race trainging, although I feel that I've got some potential at 29, 5-10, 145 and a collegiate distance running background.

Not a big deal, but I want to set some serious, attainable goals.
I was very similar to you when I started racing too.stinkyhelmet
Jan 13, 2004 1:17 PM
WrigleyRoadie,

I started riding/racing at age 30, 5'9" and 145 and had an extensive running background with my specialty being 1500 m to 5k. I also had 3-4 years of weekend warrior soccer as either right wing or right mid fielder.

Based on my experience, peaking is not something a cat 5 (is cat 5 still a category or is it cat 4 now?) usually encounters. The level of fitness required, especially by someone with an established aerobic/anaerobic base as yourself, is not high enough to warrant peaking. After you upgrade to cat 3 or so, I suspect you will need to focus more on peaking as your initial quick gains start leveling out.

I had lungs galore as a cat 5, but not much power. I was always in 1 or 2 gears easier than most other riders. You might encounter the same.

I suggest, worth 2 cents, that you just race as much as possible this season and gain, gain, and gain race experience. This will be your weakness, lack of experience.

If it matters, I race in Colorado and upgraded to cat 3 by the end of my 1st season and cat 2 by the end of my 2nd season. So, either I was very lucky or my running background helped immensely. I tend to believe my running helped.

Good luck with your racing.

-stinkyhelmet
I was very similar to you when I started racing too.WrigleyRoadie
Jan 13, 2004 1:40 PM
Encouraging words... thanks, Stinky. Wish there were more hills around here to shake off the power riders, but I'm working the low-cadence, high-resistance trainer angle right now. I'll do some training in Boulder in June as well.

Our coach has encouraged us to put goals on paper and live up to them, so I wanted to pick out a few races, but variety of experience is definitely one of my long-term aims. I want to try a TT, RR, several Crits obviously, and a Cross race this year and make it to Cat 4 in late August, so that I can race a few times in the 4's in order to know where I stand for '05 and the 30+ groups.
I was very similar to you when I started racing too.sievers11
Jan 13, 2004 2:07 PM
I think you will find that an upgrade to cat 4 is almost nothing. Around here (midwest) the 5's and 4's race all the road events and some crits together. So an upgrade is somthing you do asap so you can start getting some $$.

I agree with the "you don't need to peak" attitude about cat 5 training. You just need to get out and learn racing, race all that you can and focus on getting faster and stronger...don't worry so much about miles, because it is irrelvant. You will need to race for 45 mins to 2 hours and for the most part races won't be more than 40 miles. So you don't really need to put in the 120 mile training days.

I worked in phases last season...my first road racing season (I came from MTB racing)
1) Get pace up to an acceptable level to ride and train with local racers. This way I could learn from them and have a captive audience to ask 101 questions of.
2) Start racing, racing, racing...this is the only place you will really learn how to race is in them.
3) Start placing...you will not be able to use team tactics that much in cat 5 so just start to learn how to "handle" yourself in the thick of it.
4) Learn how you win, strong TT?, strong sprint? use that to win and then upgrade.

This is more of a mental list, here is the physical.
1) put on base miles, a month at least.
2) start interval and climbing work.
3) start speed work, hard long climbs and skills practice.

Being your first season you should be able to see an ever increasing fitness and performance level. You will have somewhat of a let up, more than likely you will over train and or get hurt. Take a brake and then get back into it.

Remember you get stronger during recovery, so get lots of sleep and eat well.

It is almost pointless to put together a training schedule for your first season because you will be much better off after your first few races to sit back down and figure out you next move with your trainer/coach.

That said, goals are important and make sure the are quatitative. "get better at tt." is a bad goal..."get sub 30 min TT at state 20k" is a good one.

My first year I got all of my goal in the first 2 weeks of the season, and came up with new one asap. I upgraded right away and then won the state road race in my first cat 4 race. I then upgraded again once I got enough points. I am a cat 3 now.

The moral of the story is...I did know I could possibly upgrade to a cat 3 in my first season and have a shelf full of medals. Set your goals reasonably...then see how fast you can reach them...then do it again.
Thank you!Rich_Racer
Jan 13, 2004 3:07 PM
I'm in almost exactly the same position and those replies were very very helpful. I'm 27, have a history of college rowing and cycled a lot last year but "just miles miles."

How much do you think joining a team would help with those first cat5 experiences? Or just from a training aspect?
Thank you!WrigleyRoadie
Jan 13, 2004 3:16 PM
Rich - from my brief experience, I'll say that it helps a lot.

At the very least, you'll gain a dozen riding partners, which is helpful no matter what your level. How much more motivated will you be to roll out of bed at 7AM to ride with a team than you would on your own?

In the best case, which I feel like I've found, you'll benefit from the experience of those around you - hopefully learning from some of their mistakes so you don't have to make them too. I also gained a legitimate coach for help with training schedules, and then there's the tangibles: Team van transport and SAG wagon, sponsor discounts, maintenance advice, race fee discounts, cool uniforms, you name it.
These are great replies.WrigleyRoadie
Jan 13, 2004 3:11 PM
sievers11 - Thanks for taking the time to break this stuff down for me. If your intention was to make me wish the season could get underway this weekend, than you've succeeded.

I'm not anticipating any trouble with base miles, and I'm comfortable riding with 3s, 4s and 5s when it comes to training. I'm really going to focus on handling and sprinting... hopefully honing the former at the Parkside and Monster of the Midway crits.

These replies are uplifting, because I don't feel like I'm going to have to limit myself to focusing on two or three races, just on gaining experience. I'm not going to hesitate to add Snake Alley and some Superweek events to my calender either.

Thanks much!
Ouch - Snake Alley - Tough Course! nmbimini
Jan 13, 2004 3:23 PM
Ouch - Snake Alley - Tough Course! nmWrigleyRoadie
Jan 13, 2004 3:29 PM
I really want to go and take photos, but you can't think I'm driving six hours and not going to race.

Bring on the cobbles!
Ouch - Snake Alley - Tough Course! nmbimini
Jan 14, 2004 7:36 AM
I rode the Wapalo to Burlington road race the day before Snake alley after finishing that race a few of us rode up snake alley afterwards. I still had my 21 tooth rear cluster on from the flat road race. It took everything I had to muscle my way up the hill and when I got to the top I was panting like a fish out of water. One of my friends had to get off his bike half way up and hoof it (oh the shame). After one trip up I had no desire to ride the crit the next day (hills are not my thing).

If you do it, most people use a triple. There are even a lot of cyclocross bikes and a few mountain bikes used in the crit.

There is a series of 4 races in that area that weekend. One each day. One road race and 3 crits.

I got to watch the finish of the PRO road race last year. Flat course with a slight downhill finish. They were packed up at the finish and the wining 7up rider was clocked at 55 MPH during the final sprint at the finish line. Neat to watch.
and, have some fun, too.bill
Jan 13, 2004 3:32 PM
I'm 45, entering my second season of racing. My goals are more about having fun than any real benchmarks, although I think that in the process of just enjoying the hell out of it I have exceeded some who have set more concrete goals.
Cat 5 is about staying out of trouble, learning to love racing, and learning. You will see very quickly whose wheels you should be following to learn the most and to finish best.
While it is true in Cat 5 that some guys just ride away with it at the end (nobody EVER gets away in 4/5 races before the last 3-400 meters) on strength, the race rarely goes to the swift. It's about smarts, conserving your energy until you need it, and positioning. These truths pay no attention to peaks.
I also go along with Joe Friel that placings aren't the best goals. You can't control who else is in your race, punctures, or who crashes you out.
Don't forget the Velodromes...TFerguson
Jan 13, 2004 7:07 PM
With Kenosha and Northbrook, you can race track all five weeknights from the end of May through the middle of August and at least two nights with just a road bike. There's nothing like getting two, three or more pack finishes a night to hone your skills.

Who do you ride for?

TF