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Help me with my Cat 4 girlfriend's learning curve.(12 posts)

Help me with my Cat 4 girlfriend's learning curve.Pack Meat
Aug 22, 2002 8:14 AM
My girlfriend just completed her first year racing and it didn't meet her expectations. I keep telling her that she shouldn't expect a whole lot from your first year but she doesn't listen to me because I've been racing for so long she believes that I can't remember how hard it is to get to the point that you can actually keep up with the pack. I think she did pretty good, she never got lapped or finished last or dropped out.

Any advice you can give her about training, racing tactics and nerves, and motivation would really help. A brief synopsis of your first year racing would be helpful also. She doesn't have internet access so I'm going to print out the responses for her.

re: Help me with my Cat 4 girlfriend's learning curve.kaiser
Aug 22, 2002 10:23 AM
While we all read about the anomalies that won their first races, and were pros within3 seasons, the vast majority of us got dropped in our very first race, and continued to get dropped until our bodies decided that they'd become used to it. Myself, I got dropped every race, then miraculously took 3rd in the state championships later that season. I thought being dropped was then behind me, but no, I still had several humbling experiences to go. By the end of the season, I was finishing top-10 consistently. The next year, I was able to hang in the races with not nearly the same amount of training or effort. I think there is a duality of not only training for increased fitness but also a major bodily adjustment to riding this fast that is not often taken into consideration. so the first year really IS about paying dues...To your body.
re: Help me with my Cat 4 girlfriend's learning curve.yiucycle
Aug 22, 2002 10:41 AM
i i have a riding buddy whose age could compare to my mom's and she won or top three finish at alot of race and i think the reason she is so good,because she train with cat2-3 men on the training ride and local training crit. also you have to be more aggressive in race which means don't wait for other people to sprint or attack or counterattack. you be surprise by how many women race i saw have a succesful break because most cat 4 women is waiting for other to catch the break and they give up so easily when the gap is only 20 feet or less. position in the last lap is so important because if you are not the best sprinter in the pack you want to position youself in the top five or three also depend how many people in the pack. don't let any woman racer push you around in a race becasue that is how my friend do it in the women cat 3-4 race, she would just ride close to the rider when she want that position becasue most cat 3-4 women is scare of crash so they will let her in the position, even on the very last lap. so just go to you local training crit and ride with the fast group, i mean the first couple month or weeks you pobably will get drop but remember to jump back to the pack when you recover.
good luck and hope you make it to the pro level race:)
re: Help me with my Cat 4 girlfriend's learning curve.RockyMountainRacer
Aug 22, 2002 12:45 PM
Even if you are Lance Armstrong (and you're not), it takes time for your body to develop itself into the body of a bicycle racer. This was my first season on the road (2nd overall, last year I did mountain only), and yes, I got dropped big time in my first few crits. I came into the sport with a long athletic background--I had been playing lacrosse for 13 years, and I had just finished my colleigiate career. I decided to bike race to try something new. I was so frustrated when I got dropped, because I just didn't understand what was happening. Here I was, this "top collegiate athlete" (in my own mind of course!), and I was getting dropped by people who clearly were not as physically fit as I was. I just didn't get it. My solution was to do intervals and more intervals and more intervals untill I was so burnt out I didn't even want to ride any more, much less race (this was last year for mtb racing). This clearly was not the solution.

Once I recovered from burnout, I realized I still wanted to race, I wanted the challenge of a new sport. I read all I could about training for bicycle racing. I discovered why people were dropping me even though I was more fit than them: My body was trained to run and sprint at a high intensity, not turn the pedals at a high intensity. I learned about the aerobic adaptations that happen to your body only when you patiently and consistently put in the miles on your bike (and don't do too much too soon). I started riding a ton in February, put in a good amount of base, and have been training consistently ever since then. I have made progress--I can now hang in the pack in cat 4 crits and even go off the front some times, and I have been consistenly finishing in the top 5 of Sport class mountain biking including 5 podiums.

This will happen to you too, I guarantee it. The two words I can't stress enough are patience and consistency. You simply have to put in the miles to condition your body for bike racing, there's just no way around that. It will take a few YEARS to get where you want to be. A big help for me was last years failed experiment in racing. I learned what not to do, and I still gained some valuable fitness. Consistency comes from being patient with your development, resting when you are tired, and not going too hard too much. You must take a long term outlook to be successfull. Armstrong may have been winning triathalons when he was 16, but even he had been training for several years before this happened.

Read as much as you can about traning and racing, it will help you more than you know. Once you learn what is happening with your body from a physiological perspective, you will find things much easier mentally.
Aug 22, 2002 7:39 PM
that's rough. I used to give my mentors grief about the same thing because I'd get so frustrated. It's really easy to look at it that way when you're just starting out.

Remember, I spent my first 3 years mostly racing in men's fields, so to add to my angst and droppage, there was a lot of pushing, shoving, crashing, and getting cussed and barked at, too. It took me three full seasons to win a mass start race (this including the women's races I DID find, with 6-8 starters, ugh!). I struggled and fought, and bit and clawed my way to the top of my little heap in open women's races in Cincinnati. Hell I used to pat myself on the back when I beat the local Cat 2 chick...

Only to move to Boulder and spend nearly an entire season off the back of the Women's 4 field; and that after nearly a decade of racing experience.

Gimme a shout. I'm racing at Superior on Saturday and working the race on Sunday. I suggest we all go out for a beer, and John and I can tell her some great war stories. He can bring along his racing journal from his early days. It has an awful lot of DNF and DFL entries in it, I can tell you.
Racing already? Sweet!BipedZed
Aug 23, 2002 5:05 AM
I'll be racing both days this weekend. So hopefully I'll see you at some point. Sunday looks like much fun.

Pack Meat - didn't she win a medal at State TT? That's pretty impressive for a first year Cat 4.
That's not my girlfriend.Pack Meat
Aug 23, 2002 6:46 AM
That's Barb. Barb actually introduced me to my girlfriend. Barb's an animal, she's been kicking ass all year, I think it's her second year racing. Barb's dating some fella on Stealth. My chicky is about 5'6", has long curly red hair and is damn cute.. You may see her this weekend if she goes to Superior. She is so demoralized and bummed that she really didn't want to race this weekend.

I'm up for beers this weekend.
well, I'd hesitate to actually call it racinglonefrontranger
Aug 23, 2002 7:25 AM
Remember I've been off the bike getting fat and lazy for the past 4 weeks. I'm doing this just to exorcise the heebie-jeebies before the season's over with. My directive is to hang in with the field as long as possible without freaking out. When I get dropped, I call it a day.

Personally, I'd much rather do the Kemmelburg. I love those kinds of races and am eager to support any promoter willing to hold them, ESPECIALLY since the women's turnouts are usually crummy for them. However, there's no freakin way I could ride that climb with a busted shoulder, not to mention that the consequences of even a minor stupid crash like I did when we pre-rode the Roubaix course are just too much right now. I should probably hold off for at least another four weeks before doing any banzai dirt surfing.

Zed, you up for an RBR post-race beverage?
Yes I'm up for beersBipedZed
Aug 23, 2002 7:40 AM
It's still awesome that you are racing so soon after Niwot. I'm looking forward to Sunday. I really like those combo dirt road races. Beers on Saturday after the 3 race?
Roger that (nm)lonefrontranger
Aug 23, 2002 8:11 AM
Passion for the Sportrollo tommassi
Aug 23, 2002 7:18 AM
I think it's great that she feels she didn't live up to her expectations. Aim high. Grit your teeth. I know too many women who never really try hard enough, or get discouraged after three races, or decide to "only do time trials".

What is your GR's name? I hate to 'talk' to her in the third person. But here is my advice: It can take a lifetime to be an 'overnight success'. See if you can get her access to the net, and she can join in on the fun here on the board.

Who am I? I'm 39 and been a Cat 4 since I started racing at 26yrs. But I don't care. I have learned a great set of skills in riding, my health is the best it's ever been, and I still get pumped up at the start line. I've had great races, I've had crappy races. I even one a race once. Once. But Doing Well can be as rewarding as Winning.

Another part of the learning curve has little to do with bike riding: it's understanding yourself, and setting goals that are attainable, so that you don't feel that you haven't lived up to your expectations.

Pack Meat - you're a great boyfriend, and you're being very supportive! I hope all of our posts help you out.
Passion for the Sportcp123
Aug 23, 2002 10:59 PM
Hi PM, I totally agree with Rollo on this one. This year I have entered a series of womens races. Sometimes I've done pretty well, although rarely am I up there with the real rockets, but other times I've been DFL, including today. I know I can't stick with the young guns and I'm about 10 years older than a lot of them. Why do I do it? Because I want to. It did get somewhat hard to turn up and see who else was there and figure out that yup, most of them would flog me, but once you put that aside, I'm looking to race MYSELF! My average speed on the same courses have crept up over a few months and I am sticking longer in the crits and developing more "balls" (So to speak!). Tell her not to give up, but that we've all been there and know how she feels.

In fact, some of us are still there... :-)