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When To Start Racing?(5 posts)

When To Start Racing?JoeSlow
Sep 4, 2001 1:39 PM
Hey all,
I'm kinda new to cycling but I wanted to get started in racing. I used to do bi-athalons and I bought a bike to do some Tris but my bike took over my life and all I wanna do is ride!! forget running and swimming...cycling is where its at. Anways, I usually do 40-60 miles a ride with an average speed of 18-20 mph, give or take a few mph depending on the terrain I am riding. My sprints max out at about 30-35 mph depending on how tired I am. Are these good speeds? A 50 mile ride takes me about 3 hrs, is that an ok time? My only concern is riding in a pack, I have no experince but i figure the only way to learn is by doin. I have only been cycling for about 2 month so i need all the help I can get. Should I ride more and wait till next year?
Thanks for all the help. I know this is a pretty long post stay stoked =)
re: When To Start Racing?Subluxator
Sep 4, 2001 3:30 PM
I say your ready to start racing Joe, I've only been riding seriously for 2-3 months without any endurance training before and recently rode a cat 5 race and had a respectable finish which was in the lower 1/3 of the group but made a huge jump from first race which was a crit that i got dropped after 3 laps and didn't finish. I ride about 125 miles a week, half of which is straight up hill cause i live in the mountains. As far as riding in a pack, just go for it, be careful, you can pick it up quick... I have managed not to kill anyone or get yelled at yet. good luck.
Pack riding!!!!!nestorl
Sep 4, 2001 3:39 PM
Your fitness sounds solid, but there is so much more to racing than that. Some people spend years riding with groups before taking the leap. That does not mean that you have to spend a few years getting ready...most people don't, but you have to put a large number of miles with groups so that you learn the ins and outs of pack riding. Otherwise, you are putting everyone around you in danger, including yourself. When you see cat 5 races, most accidents are caused by people with great fitness levels but little group riding experience. Join your local bike club. They will teach you a lot. Your speeds are Ok for some cat5 races and but I agree with you: you
need more experience with group riding. Then racing will be even more enjoyable than it seems now. Have a great ride. NL.
re: When To Start Racing?JoeSlow
Sep 4, 2001 3:48 PM
Thanks for the input!
I'll find a local club to start riding with and get mah slowbutt into racing speed =)
great replies... a few more thingsTig
Sep 10, 2001 9:55 AM
Your solo speeds are fine to get started. The real trick to surviving a race is how you recover after an intense hill or a fast speed increase of the pack. This takes more specialized training than to just go out and cruise at 20 MPH. There are all kinds of books that cover race training and racing. Intervals are the cornerstone. You have to be able to hang with the up and down pace of a Cat 5 or 4 race and recover quickly and not get dropped. I won't go into exacts of intervals (I forgot too much anyway!), but a good club will structure certain days for intervals and even sprints and not just go out and hammer.

Then there are the strategies of racing. Talk about a whole 'nuther book?! Things like positioning within the field, when to attack, sprint, and a bunch of other how-to's. Most of this can be learned from your mistakes. Learning from others is wiser though!

Most crashes are in the back half of the pack, so beware. You have to constantly work your way up to keep from getting caught back there. Tired riders will drop off without warning back there and you would have to work harder to regain the pack's draft. In a criterium the constant accordion effect due to all the slowing down and speeding up through turns will fling tired riders off the back like bullets. In the front, you get to keep a decent speed through corners and not have to catch up. The accordion effect is so much worse as you go further back.

Check out the finish line stretch of the course before you race. Which way is the wind blowing? If it's a headwind or climb towards the finish, you would want to draft a few riders at the sprint and pull around later than if you had a nice tailwind/downhill. Cross-wind? You will want to stay on the protected side and attack from there so you won't waste your energy. Are there a few corners and a short sprint to the line? Positioning up front is the only way to get a decent placing. These are just a very few examples of strategy.