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I there any hope????(14 posts)

I there any hope????jayz
Jul 15, 2001 3:02 PM
this is my first year road racing..i raced novice mnt last year and sport this year...and was a little surprised to take such a beating in a cat5 race....anyways, i did enough races and got my cat 4 upgrade....
today i dropped (with others) from the main pack, and then pulled...sooo frustrating.
this was my first cat4 race. well, actually i did a 4/5 race and placed 12th, so i had alot higher hopes for today.

i have been working with a coach and training around 9-11 hours a week..this past week was a recovery week, so it wasnt like i was tired...i just wasnt fast enough overall.

i know this is my first year, and i cant expect that call from Saturn Cycling over night, but am i expecting too much?
how do the rest of you do, when you upgraded to cat 4???
boy, cat 3 seems like a few light years away at this point !!!!!!

Take heartlonefrontranger
Jul 16, 2001 10:37 AM
This may come as a shock to you, but you've picked a sport that you need to be in for the long haul to gain positive results at. Cycling is a lifetime sport, and my best advice is to try not to repeat any really dumb mistakes, learn something from every event, and most of all have fun at it. Get a buddy to practice pack skills with you (bumping, pushing, sprinting, touching wheels, cornering) in a soccer field or quiet parking lot. Do this often, not just once a month. I spent most of my third season OTB after a bad crash when I overlapped wheels, simply out of fear. I sat at the back, let gaps form, and pretty soon there I was in the endless chase to nowhere.

You say you suck, I'm still a Cat 4 (bottom rung woman) after 10 seasons of racing. Sure, I have the experience to go forward, but I have neither the fitness nor the desire to race Pro 1/2/3 in Colorado fields which contain the likes of Mari Holden, Jeannie Longo and Clara Hughes. Add to that the fact that the Cat 4 women out here kick my ass, and you see why I haven't bothered. It's been a struggle and a triumph just to make top 5 in my last few events.

My boyfriend DNF'ed every race his first season, he was so far out of contention, and it took him four seasons to post a Cat IV win. When we left Cincinnati last year, he was one of the better sprinters in the region, with a reputation for taking most of the money primes in the crits he raced. It will take him a bit to find his legs in the extremely competitive fields out here, but he's on his way.

Another teammate of mine crashed out of every single race his first year, and took three seasons to cat from 5 to 4, breaking the same collarbone four times along the way. He has an unbelivable collection of backless / buttless skinsuits, shorts, etc... hanging on his wall - about two dozen in all. He's now a skilled Expert MTB racer (took up the MTB to improve his handling skills!) and Cat III Master who's won districts several times over - so interspersed with the ragged remnants of his team clothing are quite a few well-deserved medals.

It takes an average of five years to bring a typical roadie to full potential as a racer. Don't blink, that's not a typo. It really does take that long to build the depth, power, experience, skills, tenacity, and knowhow to succeed. Yeah, sure there are prodigies who cat up and become elite racers within two seasons, and I'm sure I'll get bombarded by examples, but they are in reality only a fraction of a percentage, and often a little background research will discover that they were elite level athletes (marathoners, MTB racers, triathletes, etc...) previously.

I've said this before, and I'll repeat it here: Posting a win in a road race is a tricky and elusive combination of form, fitness, luck, skill, opportunism, and mechanical good karma.

During the Tour coverage, Paul Sherwen mentioned that Eddy Merckx won five hundred something races of 1500 career starts. The greatest, most dominant racer of any generation previous, and possibly ever, "batted" about .333 lifetime. Obviously, we of the unwashed masses cannot ever hope to come close to that record - winning a solid 1 in 10 would be pretty exceptional. If the greatest racer of all time can only win one out of three, and most modern riders specialize to target their season for one or two events, then I'm sure you can see how low the actual percentage of "success" (in it's absolute definition) really is.

Besides, all bike racing stories are fun, regardless of the result, when you're sitting around in the parking lot shooting the bull afterwards. We all recognize names like Claudio Chiappucci and Jacky Durand with their endless suicidal attacks. And even though they rarely won we still respect their courage, tenacity and sheer bloodymindness. That's the soul and essence of bike racing, right there.
Jul 16, 2001 11:21 AM
so you are saying i have to suck for another 4 1/2 years??
seriously though, it helped to put things in perspective...
now i gotta go try to buy back my bike....just kiddin :)
Beautifully saidBipedZed
Jul 16, 2001 11:38 AM
There's a 14 year old junior racer that pretty much dominates the Senior Men 4 field here in Colorado. He trains hard, races a whole lot, and will probably have a great time with racing in the future as he gets older. He's one out of about 200 4s in Colorado.

I, on the other hand, am a 30 year old ex-smoker SM4 that occasionally gets a top 10 finish when the fields are small, but is thrilled to get BAR points (top 20) in a weekend race near Boulder. I've been racing seriously for 2 years, consistently train 10-15 hours a week with a coach, never drink alcohol and rarely do anything other than ride a bike, work, eat, and spend any remaining time with my spouse. Earlier this season I fractured my shoulder blade in a crash and still get dropped with more frequency than I'd like to admit. But I keep racing. Why? Because when it all comes down to it, I'm pushing myself and doing the best I can, week after week, doing something that most people don't have the will to do.

To paraphrase a cliche - "The satisfaction is in the journey, not the destination."

I LIKE being a bike racer.
additional thoughtlonefrontranger
Jul 16, 2001 10:41 AM
You say you're working with a coach - he or she should be helping you with the mental aspect of racing as much as the physical fitness - since about 25% of success at racing is all about confidence. A really good coach will tell you this stuff, and be compassionate enough to help you through the hard part. But they can't help you if you don't tell them how you feel. Don't be shy or embarrassed to ask your coach for moral support - that's what you pay them for.
well said lonefrontranger...speedmaestro
Jul 16, 2001 9:32 PM
a visit to "" will be beneficial for the mental aspects of the game...a different sport... but still an education...

I am new to this... but who was it at the tour last year that said,... and i paraphrase..."attacking is 90 percent confidence." ?
In the same boat...bud.Canidraftyou
Jul 18, 2001 2:52 AM
You'll find that most of us are in the same position, but we all arent going to end up in the same place, "The strong and proud prevail." Only owned a Road bike since July 1st of last year (13 months). I started racing this spring after my 36th birthday. Im trying a sport where the young and lite weights are the "cock of the walks" Been classified as a muscle head and carry 185 lbs. at 5'10". It hurts my pride to have Jr's kick my ass each race, I did not say event, I said race, becasue that is what it is. Events are for for fun and entertainment. Racing for me is about growing and pushing myself. Its all in the mind set. I have done several sports (Football, Softball, Soccer, wieght lifting and even Horse shoes, and have done well. Im here to tell yeah, Cycling is the hardest sport I have ever participated in. It requires devotion, strong cardio, strong legs and most of all, a strong mind. If you have all of the above then alittle experience can go along ways. Im going to quote, "Im no better than the next man, only try like hell to be". That dont only apply to racing, it applies to life in general.

Oh yeah, I have just completed my 10th race of the year. And have yet finished with the pack, I have not been pulled and have not retired myself. Each time I go out, the only thing that matters, is that I have fun and that I give 110%, and so far, I have. At the end of each race, its natural for one to hang their head. I have always been told the weak hang their head. Like the weak deer in the field walking with its head down as the Lion moves in for the kill, "The strong and proud prevail." Keep your head up.

Peace out,
In the same boat 2...bud.CarbonRide
Jul 18, 2001 2:28 PM
This is a really good message thread and much needed for my constitution. Much like CanIdraftU, I will have been riding a year mid August. I am 27 yrs old and started riding to enjoy my new cardiovascular capabilities after I had quit my 12 year smoking habit. Before I started smoking I was a very successful cross country runner in Jr. High and High School. Endurance and leg strength came easy for me, twelve years ago. Having that as my last endurance sport memory, I have been amazed at how long it takes to build up the strength and endurance necessary to just keep from getting dropped in a race. I have raced four organized road races earlier this year and have come in dead last (I avoid the crits since I am still better at distance). I ride two weekly races that masquerade as "social rides" and have been improving to finish within a couple of minutes behind the really fast group. Lately I have made significant gains in my training by completing a 100 mile ride in 6:10 and a 40k TT in 1:09:11. Yet I have still been hesitant about entering organized events due to my previous failures. But now to see that I am not alone and that many of you are in exactly the same boat is encouraging. Encouraging enough to try a criterium this week that I had intended to avoid because of fear and a self bruised ego.
Good 4 U CarbonRideCanidraftyou
Jul 18, 2001 3:26 PM
Hang tuff and let us know how U did. Its a rythem I have been told...and I cant dance, LOL. If you got the will power to stop smoking your mind is strong enough.

Peace out,
Thanks LFRJon Billheimer
Jul 19, 2001 8:11 AM
As with the others, this is a big morale booster. As a lot of you know, I'm an "old guy" (late 50s), and a surviving world class smoker of 23 yrs. When I started to reform after a collapsed lung, I could only jog from my driveway to my next door neighbour's. After running several marathons a few years later, I took up cycling. Wow! Was it ever tough. This is now my 3rd year riding with a Masters racing club. I still get dropped by the fast group (some ex-Jr. national champions, etc.), but can hang in almost until the end, and can even attack on some hills occasionally. When I started TT'ing, my 40k time was 1:13 and change, 20k, around 35 min . The other day I broke 1:10,on a windy course, for the first time. The 20k time is approaching 32min+. However, most of the guys in my age group do 40k in 1:00 to 1:03. This is a hard, hard sport. The learning and training curve is long, but so is the progress curve. It's amazing what the body can do when led my a committed mind. So for some of you younger guys, hang in there. Believe me, you'll get a LOT better.
Old guys rule, BTWlonefrontranger
Jul 19, 2001 1:51 PM
Did I ever mention who my biggest role model is on the bike? No, not LA (he was an absolute jackass when he was younger, has a better PR director now), nor any of the Eurotrash pros for that matter, tho I have a soft spot for Tchmil 'cause he's tougher than an old boot.

My all-time racing hero is a Cat IV Vet who lives WAY up the 'holler in Central KY. He road races with a full graying beard, hairy legs, Coke-bottle glasses and a Camelbak - a self-described poster boy for Fredhood. He's got a 'down yonder' twang, tips his hat to ladies old-school style, carries every bike tool known to God in the back of his pickup, and looks every inch the fluffy bunny until he attacks on the climbs or on a run-up and rips the legs off guys half his age.

I have undying admiration for this guy, 'cause he jumped in with both feet racing both road and cyclocross, had truckloads of fun even getting hammered, and wasn't put off by fast guys with attitudes - instead he asked intelligent questions, learned right off the bat how to mech like a pro, and earned some serious respect.

He started back in '97 (on his 46th birthday!) by showing up out of the blue at a spring crit with an old beatup Schwinn and a golf suit (it was cold). I have a pic from that race of another gal and me off the front in a combined Women's/Men 4/5 field, with this guy just in the edge of the frame, getting lapped for about the sixtieth time. He actually came up and congratulated Jen and me afterwards, and I admit, I was both flattered AND intrigued. We chatted for a while, but I couldn't help thinking "well, there's another cool guy who'll get discouraged by this sport and quit".

Wouldn't you know it, he just kept on showing up, week after week, got his head handed to him, bought better equipment, showed up at every clinic he could find, and trained like a madman (he even took a bushhog to his 'back 40' on the farm, made a set of dirt doubletrack and rides most days out there, can you believe it!). Pretty soon he was getting faster, and faster... Now he owns four or five really sweet Cannondales, and is a local terror in Cat IV 'cross and hilly road races. He even does all the crits although that's not really his forte, because he "really enjoys going fast". And you'd better believe the roadies around there don't ever call him "Fred".
Great story, lonefrontranger...Canidraftyou
Jul 19, 2001 3:30 PM
Thanks Ranger, that was a great stroy. That even gives a head strong person like myself more fuel. I hope it helps some of those that are thinking of getting out. We need to all band together and make this sport as great as we can. Stories like that should keep every man, women and child on edge, foaming out the mouth waiting with anticipation for the next chance to get on their bike. Be that a Cannondale, Huffy and yes even a Trek...LMAO. Just funnin, I almost got a trek myself. I give my trainng partner all kinds of hell pertaining to his trek. They are nice bikes.

"A strong Mind is better than Strong Legs"

Peace out
Great role model...Len J
Jul 20, 2001 4:05 AM
Does he know that you respect what he has done & why? Too often we never tell people that have inspired us how important they have been to us until ......

Thanks for giving me a role model.
role models part deuxlonefrontranger
Jul 20, 2001 9:48 AM
Yes, in fact at the Cincinnati spring series last year (my SO and I used to promote it), we put together some of the photos we'd collected over the years and gave Harry a little impromptu birthday celebration for his "4th anniversary" of bike racing. We explained how much we enjoyed watching him improve over the years, and I told him then and there how much I respected his efforts and looked up to his dedication. He's a humble guy - he was pretty much embarrassed by it all.

Another guy who's a good role model is Kirk Albers, an Ohio pro who rides for Jelly Belly, and has been racing since he was a tadpole. He's given me more good 'cross advice than I can remember, and has unbelievable tenacity as well. He got 4th at road Nats in '98 with ACRES of road rash after a wicked crash on a 40mph descent - the guys in the break said they waited for him out of pure respect because he had the cajones to get up and chase back on! My favorite quote of his is "how can I NOT love this sport - I get paid to act like a kid all day!"

A few years back at the 'cross series we promoted, he gave us a huge Belgian shopping bag full of old team kit from his days of racing across the pond - most of it awesome Euro winter stuff that's super quality, very expensive and impossible to find, like those fitted polypro winter jackets they don't seem to make anymore. He knew we had started a Jr. development program that year, so he wanted us to give it all away to kids who couldn't afford good clothes. One of the beneficiaries placed top-ten at the Chicago SuperCup last year, plans to do the whole series this year, and still uses the jacket he scored out of Kirk's grab bag.

This is what I love about this sport - you will meet some really inspiring folks when you take the time to hang out and socialize a bit.