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What's a gal to do?(8 posts)

What's a gal to do?ciclista
Jun 27, 2002 8:38 AM
I just started road racing somewhat late this season, my goal has been to finish with the field and not crash which I've been able to do sucessfully only once on a flat crit. I thought I had been training long and hard enough for the other races-hilly road and crits-but apparently not. Is it always so discouraging the first year/season? I do a fair amount of hills and flats. I try to ride with others when ever possible but due to schedules etc. it's not often enough. My question is what kind of training rides should I being doing/how often? I've tried reading Friel's racing bible but a lot of it is still a mysterey to me. Would an online coach be of benefit at this point? Thanks
re: What's a gal to do?brider
Jun 27, 2002 10:03 AM
If you're finishing with the pack in a crit, it's not a matter of strength (endurance maybe), but more of position knowledge and responding to changes in speed. If you're not a particularly strong climber, it behooves you to get near the front of the pack BEFORE the hill, so you can drift back in the pack ON the hill and not get dropped. If you start at the back and drift, then...

If you're doing all your riding (outside of races) alone, then you're not going to develop that knowledge as quickly as some one who rides with a team. If you're not already riding with a group (that's geared towards racing), then I suggest that you do so ASAP. I know in the Seattle area there's a racing mentor program that works pretty well. There might something similar in your area.
Stick with itmtber
Jun 27, 2002 10:18 AM
Congratulations on getting out and racing and accomplishing your goal. The 1st year is tough, esp for road racing where it is not as simple as giving it all you've got. There is a lot of 'acquired knowledge' in road racing.

Definitley find some other racers to do group rides with. Many good local shops have weekly group rides, sometimes specific women's rides. It is kind of late in the season to be putting together a training plan but basically (very basically) a week should consist of one long, slow distance ride (2-3hr for a new racer), one or two interval sessions, and the rest EASY recovery rides.

I would not recomend coaching for a beginner unless you really can afford it. You will learn a lot just from riding/racing with a group. The money would be more wisely spent a few yrs down the road when/if you hit a training plateau. Good luck with the rest of the season. Keep reading Friel and put together a solid plan for yourself for nest year.
questions and some answerslonefrontranger
Jun 27, 2002 1:19 PM
First of all, what region are you in? Depending on your answer to this question there are folks in many regions (and far more lurkers) on this board who may be able to point you in the direction of good mentoring and a local club to join group rides / training races.

Friel is pretty complex for a first-year rider. A lot of that stuff won't even make sense to you until you've been racing for at least a season or two.

I recommend that you work on finding experienced racers willing to mentor you, and it may have to be the local racer dudes if you get along with them. My original mentor was an elite level Cat I guy who liked bringing new people into the sport and was a great teacher. He worked at the LBS and encouraged me to join the local racing club, which he co-captained. My second season he assigned me as "den-mother" for the 2 junior boys on the team, both too young to leave on their own in the group ride dynamic. The 3 of us were comparable in strength, and learned a lot from each other, so we'd form our own "grupettos" in races to help each other out. I also got put in charge of the "C" level group at all the team rides, which was the right fit at that time for my skills and strength. This meant that any other women, juniors and rookies who showed up had someone to ride with who wouldn't drop them. About a half-dozen folks showed up for this group each week, some of who stayed on to join the racing club.

The first season is very hard, particularly in Women's racing, and I don't know what to tell you as far as encouragement other than stick with it. Most areas of the country don't split up women's fields into category or age-graded groups. I'd suggest trying out links like for starters to see if your region hosts a women's grassroots program.

Not that this will make you feel any better, but I raced primarily Men's 4/5, 3/4 and Masters categories for my first 3 seasons. Anytime I was fortunate enough to even find a Women's category at a race, it was Women Open, meaning if there was money to be had, several Cat I and II gals showed up to skim and the rest of us were off the back chasing. You have to learn to count the small victories in these situations, then the big ones will eventually come. Some of my small victories included: not walking up the "big" hill on the State RR course. Or simply not being last. Or hanging in for "x" minutes because I only hung in for "x-5" minutes the week before.

The benefit I took out of racing with the men is that by sticking with it and setting attainable goals (i.e. keeping up for one more lap / mile / hill / whatever each week) I developed a lot more strength, speed, fortitude, handling skills, pack savvy, tactical knowhow and raw courage racing in fields of 30-60 men than I ever could have done in fields of 5-10 women. There is something to be said for that, so if you have a local weeknight training crit, I'd encourage you to just jump in with the boys and try it. Yes you'll get shelled; we all do at some point - just try to hang as long as possible. A funny thing happens if you keep at it - the next time you race with the ladies, it won't feel nearly as hard.
questions and some answersciclista
Jun 27, 2002 6:26 PM
Thanks everyone for the advise yes I think I need to do those intervals starting tomorrow! I'm in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area which does have various cycling groups although I was feeling somewhat intimidated to jump in with the experienced racers but guess that's what I'll have to do to improve and hang in there. It's good to hear that it's not unusual in ones first season to bring up the rear.
Interval training?Kerry
Jun 27, 2002 5:49 PM
My observation is that most people get shelled in races because they can't deal with the speed changes, not because they can't deal with the speed. If the race was at constant speed, they could hang on, but the when things speed up and slow down they can't deal with it. Therefore, interval training is what is required. Two kinds of intervals for a beginning racer: 1) speed intervals 2) sprint intervals.

Speed intervals is ride at time trial pace for 3 minutes, pedal easy for 3 minutes. Start with maybe three repeats, and work your way up to 5 or 6. If you can't hold pace through the 3 minutes, then you are done for that night. Be sure to warm up and cool down well (at least 20 minutes easy riding before the first interval, 10-15 minutes of cool down).

Sprint intervals is jump to your max for 30-45 seconds in the biggest gear you can spin out. Spin for a minute. Repeat just like the speed intervals. Full warm up and cool down required. Only do intervals 2 nights a week and have a recovery ride (easy spin or longer distance at moderate pace) in between. Intervals are what will allow you to deal with the speed changes in racing.
some local resources for youjust starting out
Jun 27, 2002 8:51 PM
a couple of things for you to look into:
monterey-based women's team ... encourages beginners
bay area women's cycling ... also dedicated to encouraging women in racing. there is a clinic this weekend for beginning racers, info is on the site.
I'm an online coachPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jun 28, 2002 11:14 AM
This is not an advertisement. I have quite a few clients who are very pleased with me and my initial coaching is free. So feel free to email me @ Nick@PodiumBound.CA and I'd be happy to help settle you into a program.

Train hard, rest harder!
Nick Corcoran
Canadian National Team Cyclist