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first race?(7 posts)

first race?JS Haiku Shop
Jun 4, 2002 10:56 AM
not many races 'round here. one or two crits per year, a single tt, and--recently--a road race or two. oh, and a handful of mtb races. i've never done any.

this one: "B" race, including cat 4/5, masters, & women. 45-50 mile route consisting of 9 laps of a ~5 mile course, rolling.

me: i'm averaging 17-20 mph on 30-70 mile training rides, mostly hilly, with approximately 2000 miles in for the year. fair group riding skills, still learning when to pull off the front without getting blown off the back. my highest averages are after being blown off the back of the fast ride (early) and struggling to catch them--an impossible goal--for 20+ miles.

questions: what should i expect an event like this to average, speed-wise? isn't this a bit long for a cat 5 race? would there be a "feed zone" (for liquids) in a 45-miler? are people pulled from a 5-mile circuit, like they are in crits? with all these classes being in the same race, aren't multiple groups expected in the last few laps (like a splintered field)? what other questions am i forgetting to ask?

i'm thinking this would likely be a baptism by fire, concluding with a very low amount of oxygen above the neck and possibly intermittent nausea. what do you guys think?
re: first race?brider
Jun 4, 2002 12:07 PM
Well, with the masters mixed in there (is this a masters 4/5 or all masters?) it could be very fast. Say in the 25+ mph range. You say your group skills are good? Then stay in the front few lines of riders. Don't go to the front unless you're CERTAIN you can create a breakaway. Distance isn't too far out there for a cat 5 race (I remember most cat 4 events being in the neighborhood of 40-50 miles for a road race, before cat 5 even existed). There may be a feed zone, but you'd need some one there to give you anything you needed -- it ain't neutral. And you might only be able to feed on certain laps. 45 miles on two bottles should be fine, unless it's blazing hot out. Multiple groups may be expected, but they're not in contention -- they're just out there to finish the distance. You may be pulled if you're in danger of being lapped (not too likely with a 5 mile loop). You may elect to pull yourself. If you do, let the ref know (do it at the line on one of the laps, don't just take off and go home).
pretty much agreeDougSloan
Jun 4, 2002 12:45 PM
The primary objective I'd say is to preserve energy at all costs. No doubt there will some sporadic breaks, but 99 times out of 100 they fizzle out and are reabsorbed, with the breakers having expended lots of extra energy in the process.

I'd stay near the front but never pull, at least this first race until you have a feel for how you compare. You may feel perfectly fine for 45 miles of a 50 mile race, and then blow up in the next mile when things heat up. You may even feel like it's way too slow at 25 miles and want to pick it up a bit. I'd not do that. The more experienced riders lurk in the pack, watching others use up their energy, and then come charging by late in the race.

Better to keep up than catch up; better to catch up than ride alone. Remember that. It may hurt like hell to stay with the group at times, but I guarantee you it will hurt far more to try to catch the group from off the back. Never, ever let a gap form in front of you. But, if it does, catch up RIGHT NOW! Don't wait even a second or two to catch your breath. You may not be able to catch up. Time trialing the last half of a road race is very lonely, too. It sucks to see that pack pulling away every so slowly as you desparately try in vain to catch. It's torture.

Get two large bottles and don't worry about feeding on a 50 mile or less race, unless it's really muggy. If the race is in the morning, it shouldn't be too bad. Drink the better part of a bottle at the start line and ditch the bottle, if you think you need more. Or, carry an extra bottle in your jersey pocket. You can always ditch it.

Don't count on feed zones, is my point. Things can go wrong, like blowing a hand off. I've seen lots of very good riders and helpers blow hand offs, then ride a while with no water.

I'd carry one gel flask, but you shouldn't really need it. I'd down it around 3/4 of the way into the race to ensure energy for the finish.

Ride safe; watch other riders; avoid the spastic ones; catch a good wheel and sit in.

Sprint as late as possible. While you might try to win, I'd treat the first race as a workout and learning experience.

Jun 5, 2002 9:11 AM
Hey there haiku-baby, what did you decide on frames? Did you get my e-mail?

As far as racing goes, well - recalling your experiences at the duathlon, I think you have the right kind of mentality for racing.

Errr, basically your final paragraph is right on target... :)

Average speed doesn't have much bearing on racing, sorry to say, because the last thing road racing is about is steady tempo. It's the schizophrenic pace that will crack you in the end. At points the field will go so slow you'll think you're practically trackstanding. Five seconds later they'll attack (usually out of a corner or up some kind of hill) and you'll be clinging for dear life onto the back while guys are getting gapped and shelled all around you. You *must* be able to convince yourself at this point that they WILL slow down, because they always do, and bleed out your eyeballs if necessary to keep up for the minute or two of lactic hell that ensues. This feature of racing is why we do insane hurtful things to ourselves in training, such as VO2MAX intervals. Trust me, nothing's more frustrating than getting "popped", then realizing 2 minutes later that the field has sat up and you're now out in the wind desperately TT'ing to catch up.

The event length and format looks about normal for a "B" race as I see it. No, I doubt anyone will get pulled, so if you do get dropped, hang tough and keep a weather eye out for other dropees to work with (including checking behind you to see if someone's catching up). I'm betting that with this demographic, the field will definitely splinter. Some of the ladies, ultra-rookies and older Masters will no doubt be shelled early, some will hang in, and some will provide great chase partners for you if you do lose contact with the main field. As far as feed zone, don't expect it. Take 1 long bottle of water, and one long bottle of your preferred energy drink, along with a gel flask, 2 packets of GU or similar.

Agree with the other posters who recommend you to hide in the field as much as possible. Take it from a notorious wheelsuck, in a race (as opposed to a training ride) there is no honor in pulling till ya die, especially in a men's field where there's so many dudes to hide behind! Do NOT under any circumstances let yourself become a Pack Diesel. The field will be only too happy to follow you around until some hill, windy section or the final sprint, where they will drop your sorry cooked ass like a load of dirty laundry. This is very tempting for a rookie racer, especially the big strong guys who are used to fast touring, ultra rides, etc...

Good luck and PLEASE post a race report (haiku?)
re: first race?No_sprint
Jun 5, 2002 11:30 AM
Well, everything has been pretty nailed. We are right in the prime of racing season, so you can bet it will be fast and hard.

Agreed. Baptism by fire. A smoother entry would have been the early season crits.

Just go out there and have a good time. I got shelled my first race ever.
thanks, all...JS Haiku Shop
Jun 6, 2002 10:33 AM
ok, i'm doing it. expect a race report.

i'm serious, LFR: you should write a book.
thanks, all...Mr Good
Jun 8, 2002 3:41 PM
True, LFR is right on.
I was going to respond to your query, but then I saw that LFR said all the important stuff (and said it well!) Read her post again!

Most Important: average speed is not important. At times the pace will seem so slow that you want to go to the front and pull...DON'T do it! Before long the pack will go so fast that you'll be struggling to hang on, and maybe feel like you want to quit. You have to make it through those tough surges to stay in the race. If you do get dropped don't be too hard on yourself. Happened to the best of us (and still does, from time to time!) Your first races are learning experiences. Be safe and enjoy.