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New Female Cat 4 Raceer(20 posts)

New Female Cat 4 Raceerjbird
Feb 15, 2002 7:58 PM
Hey guys and Gals,
I will be doing my first road race next weekend. I live in an area that is predominately flat, but can "hang" with the Cat 2 and 3's on rides a.k.a. draft when they are attacking etc. The courses on the first few races contain several false flats and various climbing grades with rapid descents. The women I will be racing against are accustomed to training in the hills. Do you guys have any advice on overcoming these women accustomed to training on the hills?
too late nowshirt
Feb 15, 2002 8:47 PM
First of all, OH MY GOD, A WOMAN IS READING OUR LIST. I, uh, hey you guys get that crap off the table in the living room. Somebody take down that poster too, she'll think it's sexist. Okay, okay. Act normal. Chicks are just like us only they're chicks. Be cool.

Okay, with that off my chest, I'd say there's nothing you can do to 'get ready' for this if it's next week. Just try to hang in like you have before. If there are any _steep_ hills that you're genuinely afraid you'll get dropped on, make sure you're at the front of the pack when you start ascending; this way you'll build in a peloton-length cushion if it moves faster than you.

Next, do a little fake hill work before your next meet. (Did I say 'meet'?) E.g., do hill-length intervals in a gear that keeps you in the 60-80 rpm range; you're going for a hill-like burn here.

Finally (you'll soon hear others disagreeing with me) you may want to spend some time in the gym putting some strength into your legs if you really can't find any hills to train on.

Good luck sister-woman!


ps: I'm excited to see you looking for ways to "overcome" your competitors who have superior skills. If even half of the guys I raced with were half that aggressive, I'd never win anything.
too late nowRayBan
Feb 16, 2002 8:00 AM
WHOA! If she has not been in the gym in a while her legs will be EXTREMELY sore the first few times back in the gym, and that will really be a deteriment to a race next week. Other than that the advice is good :)
Like I said at the beginning:shirt
Feb 16, 2002 4:39 PM
There's nothing she can do now. My advice was for how she could improve her hill skills training in a flat area.

Feb 16, 2002 11:54 PM
What are you talking about - I've been reading youall for months. BTW that poster on the wall, her boobs are fake.

As I mentioned in my reply to her, there's nothing she can do to train her strength. However, a smart racer can and will out-race a strong racer about 70% of the time. I've given up a few secrets out of the LFR bag of wily old master tricks.
lonefrontranger I'm topicmikebikr
Feb 26, 2002 1:00 PM
I read one of your other posts about your eating program. You mentioned how happy your boyfriend was about it. I just thought you were gay not a woman. How twisted is that???. I'm sure this skews me either as a sexist or a bigot.just don't know which one. I thought I was so open minded. It's great to have all riders contributing to this forum.
neither, it's the Internet - we could all be somebody elselonefrontranger
Mar 5, 2002 9:55 PM
actually, that's pretty funny when I start thinking about it. What you would think of as 'traditional' gender roles are completely reversed in our relationship anyway. I'm the competitive one, the motivated breadwinner (when I'm not laid off...) worth roughly twice what he is on the career market, hate kids, refuse to shop or do housework, am an indifferent cook, love to drive fast, tell crude stories, watch sports on TV (hockey, not football), action-style "guy flicks" are some of my faves, I've rescued him from spiders, and even once chased a (harmless) snake out of the road for his peace of mind on a ride. I'm about the closest thing to a straight dyke there is, as one of my friends succinctly put it, although I've no problem with using my feminine wiles when I need them.

He on the other hand is a designer (which I'm certain just screams 'gay male' to anyone), an artist, a sensitive individual who loves kids, holidays, going to the mall, baking cookies, open houses, and he was the one who designed and sewed all the drapes in our current house. If he ever convinces me to go through the sheer hell of bearing and raising kids, he will be the stay-at-home parent.

I was raised on a farm as an only child, and lived most of my waking hours at the neighbors' farm (latchkey kid) with their 5 boys. My boyfriend was raised in a house full of women.
Hi there,lonefrontranger
Feb 16, 2002 11:51 PM
Good to see another lady racer in the forum. I'm 33 and have been racing for 10 years, and coaching for 4. When I started out in Ohio, there WERE no women's races, so I had to tough it out with the 4/5 men. It gets better, trust me. Is this an open field, or do they split the women's cats? Here in Colorado, we're lucky enough to have enough ladies to split cats, but elsewhere in the nation you're lucky to have 8 to a dozen gals, and there are always 1 or 2 who are light-years ahead of everyone else in terms of ability.

Training wise, there is nothing you can do at this point. Tactics and goal-wise, there are many things you can do to maximize your return.

The best advice I can give you is that racing is nothing like training. Go with the idea that your first ten to a dozen races are all going to be learning experiences. Your goal should be to finish with the field, and you'll be surprised at how hard that is.

There will be a LOT of accelerations, and all of the hills / rollers will be an excuse to attack. Your goal is to survive the attacks, conserve your energy and recover whenever the pace lets up (it will, just hang in there). Stay sheltered in the pack, out of the wimd, and don't go to the front, ever. Fourth or fifth position is about perfect - not close enough to the front that you garner attention, and not so far back that the weaker riders will open gaps in front of you that you'll be forced to cross. If you are good at drafting and group riding, that's half the battle. Letting gaps open up is at least 50% of the reason novice racers get dropped.

You will be nervous and jumpy, and will want to rush to the front. Don't do it. Nope, nada, no way. Don't worry if folks yell at you to pull, it's not your job. You don't have a teammate there, so you have no obligation to anyone. Harsh? Yes, that's bike racing. Your whole goal is to disappear from their radar and stay out of trouble. If you feel good in the early going, don't get flaky and take off up the hills - the more experienced riders are probably holding the pace down specifically to watch for this sort of thing. When you take off because the pace feels "too slow", they'll wait until you blow up at the top of the next climb. When you do, then is when the counterattacks start, and there you are - off the back. We call this "blowing out the chaff".

Old wily crit racers like me will use any corners or technical sections on the course to set up gaps, and/or launch a teammate. A favorite tactic of mine in road racing is to attack into a hard corner with a teammate on my wheel. We blitz through the corner and ta da! there's a 50 meter gap, cause everyone else slammed on the brakes. Now I've got a teammate and a gap, and we start the 2-up team time trial to the finish line. I'm always amazed at how well this works, and how often I've been able to pull it on the same people every year. Not to say that someone will do this in your race, but be on the lookout. Know that riders like me have years of experience at closing people out of the paceline, shutting down gaps, and putting rookies up into the wind, so try to stay on a wheel, no matter what.

Watch for riders in the same team kit / outfit. Follow the smooth ones. If there's a rider there that you're friends with and/or you trust, work with her, even if you're not on the same team. These sorts of impromptu alliances are a big part of women's racing, and can be very rewarding. Oh, yeah - if you don't like the wheel you're on (squirrelly, gapping you, whatever), then get OFF it, immediately.

Coming into the sprint, if you're still with the field, things will get hairy, squirrelly and fast. If you're not a sprinter, now is not the time to learn. Stay out of trouble, and look for the teammates leading each other out (hint: 2 or more riders in the same kit winding it up in single file) Try to jump on the train, but be aware that others will have the same idea. If you're not brave enough, don't worry - yoru day will come.

There's about a million other things, but that's the basics. Good luck!


The aboveCARBON110
Feb 17, 2002 6:10 AM
Nice! Bravo! They should Perma-post that :)
LFR--Quite the Jedi! Great wisdom!BryanJL
Feb 17, 2002 2:38 PM
All of the essentials, distilled in an easy to read, inspriing, exciting (it's raining as I write this and that post makes me wanna ride in a baaaaad way!) form.

Thanks for sharing all of that--I agree--it should be perma posted. Man, it's everything about racing...especially the strategy has such a mental/tactical dimension that following training programs simply doesn't cover.

By the way---have you thought about doing installments???Just a thought...

Ride on!!

thanks guys...lonefrontranger
Feb 18, 2002 10:34 AM
Tho if you decide to perma-post, do I get the option to go in and fix the spelling?! Yeesh, guess that's what I get for posting at midnight.

<< "it's raining as I write this...">> Sorry to hear that - that's one of the thousand and one reasons we moved to Boulder. 300 sunny days a year. It's 60 degrees out right now.
Feb 19, 2002 8:19 AM
I, too, live in the Boulder area and will be turning pro this season in MTB, however have not raced on the road. How is the Roubaix for my first road race? I have gotten permission to race CAT3 - I really want the extra lap and many of my competitors in MTB are 2s and 3s. Hints above were great - especially about not taking the lead or pulling too much. About sprint finishes, how far out do people typically start sprinting for a 51mi race? Should I just try to hang on someone's wheel til the last 20ft and then try to pass? Thanks in advance.
great RR for MTB'ers (long)lonefrontranger
Feb 19, 2002 12:27 PM
I believe it would be a phenomenal first road race for you, especially at the level you are at. B-R oftentimes doesn't come down to a sprint finish simply because things get so strung out due to the conditions. If you are truly strong, you may be able to just hammer away from your rivals in the last half-lap, as I've seen many strong MTB'ers do. The trick is to pick your spot, and know when the other guys are suffering. Sprinting takes a lot of work on timing, but if you're in a group with 100-200 meters to go to the line, pick a good gear you can spin up, take the sheltered side out of the wind and go for it.

The finish at B-R will utterly favor you, since right at the 500-meters to go mark you come around a tight, downhill / uphill pair of gravel hairpins, and the top of the loose climb comes out across a deep pea gravel parking lot before switching back to pavement. I saw a lot of roadies having massive trouble with the deep gravel in the parking lot, especially if they let their momentum get killed by the climb. A good bike handler will go to the front before the hairpins, and come out over the climb with sufficent speed to float thru the pea gravel and build an astonishing gap - at that point all you have to do is motor hard to the line.

The warning I'd have for you is that the speeds the 3's will be riding for the entire race will astonish you - they'll be hammer bugnuts, although there will be times you're going only 18mph and wondering why - 30 seconds later you'll be hanging on for dear life at 35. In my observation, there will be a number of MTB types there who will try to blow off the start line just because it's a habit. The stronger roadies know this, and simply use them as "Pack Diesels" (sit on their wheels for a free ride), letting the pace blow out the chaff. The best Boulder Roubaix advice I ever got was "you will not win this race in the first lap". It is totally a race of attrition, and the gravel corners cause lots of crashes. If nothing else, keep away from the back of the field - gaps are magnified like an accordion, and the further you get back, the more riders are in front of you, hence the more chances there are that someone's going to screw up and leave you literally standing behind a crash that goes completely across the road, with the leaders disappearing like jackrabbits over the horizon.

Stay towards, but not at the front, and wait for the pack to thin out. This is a very easy course to get gapped on - all it takes is one knob who freaks out, slides a wheel or just doesn't have the nads to take fast corners on gravel. Therefore, if you get stuck on a wheel that doesn't have superb handling skills, move up, and/or get away from them.

The last lap is the crucial one. If you are still in the front group, this is when the really hard attacks come, and things get shucked apart to single riders, and groups of two and three at best. Get with some roadie buddies in the next few weeks and work on rotating paceline skills, because you'll need them - once you're down to two or three riders in a breakaway, you can't take the luxury of skipping pulls or sitting on the back anymore, although if you've got a sprinter sitting on, they'll do their damndest to try - they'll cry wolf, skip pulls, do an Oscar-winning act that it's killing them just to ride hard enough to sit on at the back, take short pulls, whatever. In the final 200 meters, this formerly knackered rider will astonishingly spring back to life and leave you wondering in his dust.

This is where 'flicking' comes in. There are about 27 or 30 ways to flick a rider who won't take a pull or is generally putting your knickers in a twist. Probably the two easiest for a beginner roadie are to gap them in the line (coast a bit, then speed up leaving a hole in front of them) or 'half-wheel' them when they do come around to pull. This means you gradually and imperceptibly ramp the pace up just as their front tire gets to your front hub, making them ride out in the wind that little extra bit longer and harder than they should. Another way is to put them 'in the gutter', meaning if there's a crosswind that forces you to ride in a diagonal eschelon, you ride as far over as possible to make them take the unfavorable lines to stay out of the wind - walking the tightrope next to the ditch or the yellow line, thru thick gravel, the washboard line, etc... If you notice they're having trouble with certain parts of the course (short climbs, tough corners, whatever), then attack them there. You can only survive so much of this sort of thing at someone else's hands - you essentially force them to ride off-tempo and that gets very uncomfortable when you're not in the driver's seat.

The sprint will go depending on what type of riders are in your group, and because you're new to road racing, there's no way you're going to know who the sprinters are, unless they tried sandbagging and you already flicked them. The skinny guys who tend to be better climbers will attempt to break away anywhere from 2 to 1/2 lap, and may continue attempting to do so, because these are the guys who don't have any sprint speed. My advice would be to jump in with the climbers / breakaway riders. If you have blocky muscled-up guys in your group with bigger thighs than your torso, look out- they'll have an astonishing turn of speed in the last 250 meters. At Cat III level and above, I'd say there is practically no hope of a rookie roadie beating an experienced sprinter if they're still hanging on in the final few kilometers.

Remember, (almost) all is fair in war and bike racing, and you should know about these sorts of tactics, because sure as heck they'll use them on you. Feel free to e-mail me: if you'd like more info, as I'll be doing recon laps of the course over the next few weeks.


I bow to the god(des) of tacticsbrider
Feb 19, 2002 12:42 PM
Lonie -- That was by far the best post I've seen not only on the specifics of this race (which I've never done), but on general tactics. Ever. Period. You should write a book.
Frankie Andreu, George Mount and racing wit da boyzlonefrontranger
Feb 20, 2002 10:20 PM
Thanks mucho for the compliment, but I cannot take full credit. You are receiving a lot of this secondhand through me from my various mentors over the years. If you REALLY want the ins and outs of cycling tactics, read Frankie Andreu's diaries. I read them religiously. My favorite Frankie anecdote comes from the '99 Tour:


Back when I was just starting out in racing, I subscribed to the Compuserve cycling forum. George Mount ('72 Olympian and first credible U.S. cyclist to race in Europe) was a regular contributor to that board. He gave me the best racing advice I'd seen then or since especially when it came down to tactics and preparation.

The biggest thing that made an impression on me though, was racing with the men for my first three seasons. My coach told me from the get-go that there was no way I was ever going to outgun the guys. The only way I was going to survive at racing was to be way smarter.
Feb 20, 2002 8:07 AM
Thanks a lot for your amazingly detailed answer. You have helped me much more than I could have expected since I have no clue as to road racing tactics. I must say that I HATE the transition from cruising to hammering (which is a good reason to do more road rides/races) but I will try to stay with the front group and not to pull too much. I can't think of any more questions just now (you covered pretty much everything) but maybe Ill see you out there in the coming weeks - I probably should get a look at the course, especially the gravel turns you mention. Thanks again!
Outstanding post, a must read for new racers! -- nmrhall32
Feb 18, 2002 1:27 PM
I'm going to try racing this year, and I read every LFR postbill
Feb 20, 2002 11:08 AM
there is. Even though I don't REALLY know everything she's talking about, her knowledge, experience, and plain thoughtfulness, both for the sport and for li'l babies (yah, me, a baby, at the tender age of 43), shines through. A grateful nation thanks her.
I worship at the altar of LFR. I'm not kidding.
Thanks, and good luck racing!lonefrontranger
Feb 20, 2002 10:21 PM
Feb 21, 2002 7:03 PM
Thanks for the nice concise and informative comments. I'll try to incorporate them into my "racing" plans.

I especially like your comments re your experience in the mens races. I think that will be the only way I'll survive.

Hope your season goes well.