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is there any reason in particular that Cat 4s can't attack?(36 posts)

is there any reason in particular that Cat 4s can't attack?weiwentg
Aug 24, 2002 2:21 AM
I've been in 7 cat 4/5 races so far. each one ended in a bunch sprint. actually, one ended in the hospital, but that's another story. no one ever really attacked.
why is this? do we not have an adequate grasp of tactics and team coordination yet? are we racing too conservatively? am I insane to be asking this, at this stage in my training?
re: is there any reason in particular that Cat 4s can't attack?Thorman
Aug 24, 2002 4:32 AM
I've noticed this in a number of races this season as well. I think it's just an experience thing. Most 4/5 racers are new to the sport and lack the confidence and strength to launch successful attacks.

If I'm feeling good and I think there is a chance to break up the field I will launch attacks, but when I'm not feeling as well I sit in and let the others do the work, saving my energy for the finish.
Aug 24, 2002 12:46 PM
Are guys you doing mostly flat races with small rollers? If so then most races will end up in a bunch sprint in the cat4. Bu, if there are pretty good rollers ( short steep power climbs ) and you have 4-7 guys who ride together or know how to race you can get into a break away. I raced my a$$ of this year and saw only 5 races with break aways and all of them had big hills...long climbs..and only one was a success. On the other hand crits are a good place to try this but you must time it right since if you wait to long the others chase you down in the last laps. Try taking off on your own in a race and you will have a great respect for those solo break aways you see in Pari Rubaix or the Tour. You dont build that kind of strength in 2 or even 3 years. So forget about it, it takes a long time to have that kind of fitness. Watch local Pro races, thoe guys/girls have been lifting weights and riding bikes for 4-10 years+. If you want to do this get some local cat4s together and practice it...over and over.Taking turns pulling, not blowing up and going fast enough to stay away for good. Learnto read the Peloton really well. Or sit in all race and move to the front the last couple of laps in a crit, the TT to the finish but you better have a good kick and time it right.
Isn't that a show on Fox? "When Cat 4s attack!!" Friday at 9pmmerckx56
Aug 25, 2002 6:27 AM
re: is there any reason in particular that Cat 4s can't attack?Thorman
Aug 25, 2002 11:45 AM
I agree with carbon110 in that if there are hills you will see more breaks. All of the flat races I've done this year have ended with a bunch sprint. I did a rolling race a few weeks ago and got into a break that stayed away until the finish. There were 9 of us and we stayed away for almost 20 miles. This is my first year racing on the road and I've found a new respect for the pro's you see on TV that can hold off a charging peloton for an entire race. You don't realize how hard it is until you try it yourself.
My opinion...Wayne
Aug 26, 2002 4:09 AM
is that:
1)A significant part of the field is typically just happy not to get dropped.
2)Alot of people are afraid to lose but don't want to try to win, so you get people who will chase anything down but never attack.
3)There's a lack of team coordination which makes it harder to crack a race apart.

My advice, is to sit in, wait for the sprint and get your upgrade results. And/or do 3/4 races or Masters races if eligible. They're more like real races with constant attacks and team tactics and a more consistent hard pace. The 4 races, tend to go slow, until someone attacks but then it only lasts for a few minutes because of the lack of enough people willing to commit to an attack once the first few attackees are brought back, so it goes slow again for awhile.
The opinion is rightkaiser
Aug 26, 2002 1:36 PM
"2)Alot of people are afraid to lose but don't want to try to win, so you get people who will chase anything down but never attack. "

This one sentence sums up Cat 4 racing quite well.

How many times have I attacked, gotten a huge gap, and ended up with 2-3 guys who were able to cover my move, and then they just SIT-UP when I move over to let them pull through? Too numerous to mention. I mean, DUDE, I have just handed you an opportunity to Ga-ron-tee a top-three placing (if you're willing to hammer with us for 15 minutes). You can not get better odds...Yet they all seem to think they are George Hincapie, protecting Lance. What idiots!

I once confronted one of the guys who screwed up our break (after the race), and asked "WTF?" His reply: "I was helping my teammate"...To which I said "Helping him do what?" many of these guys wanna play around and pretend they look like the guys in the magazines, and pretend that they are great 'teammates"...And I just utter to myself "This if freaking FOURS, man!, What teams?"

My own personal tactics, while I'm a 4 again, center around the field sprint. Just being fearless is one of the best single things you can do to improve your winning ratio.

I'm just a hobbyist now, and don't have any real ambition to upgrade to 2 again (I'm hapy with my family, job, house, and non-cycling stuff too). I like to help out the youngin's in my club, and try and point out the ways of the peloton to them during actual races. If I get enough points for an upgrade, then I'll do it (so as not to be a sandbagger). So yes, I am also, simultaneously, one of those guys who is just happy not to be dropped. I like the noise of the peloton, and the excitement of racing. I do not need to win to be happy. Not to say I will not try to win. But in the 4's, I'd rarely try doing it via a break.
my thoughtskaiser
Aug 26, 2002 4:55 AM
After a 12 year layoff (and a lack of available training time), I had myself downgraded to the 4's, and I have the following observations:

• Most choose to attack right from the lead (#1) position, so everyone behind them already knows they are planning a move. By the time the lame-o decides to jump, it's already covered. I see this constantly. Attacks need to be a surprise, whenever possible, so attack from further back. 5th or 6th position. Don't give the lead guys any time to react. And don't start acting all "attack like", with the growl on your face and the gritted teeth. All of it says "I'm the idiot that's about to attack you all".

• You call THAT a jump? Few attack with the intensity that is worthy of the name "Attack". They get themselves a huge lead of 25 meters, slow down, take a stupid look backwards, and then sit-up when they realize they didn't get very far (see above point as to why). People need to work on their jump. Getting farther away with an explosive effort in less time. Basic zone 4 intervals are not what you do to prepare for this effort. You need to rehearse doing jumps that gain you distance quickly. More power. More speed. More exposive efforts.

• The teammates that say they are going to help them when they DO the attack, have virtually no idea how to actually HELP the attack succeed. The helpers need to go after the guys who try and bridge, and render their attempt useless by not pulling through. Most 4's that do well in races, usually did it 100% on their own. I've not once seen an affective use of team tactics in a 4's race, and that's in 19 years.

• Those that do attack, tend to look over their shoulder within 10 seconds. A sure sign that they don't have the patience to do what it takes to get away and stay away. They need to get going and KEEP going. Looking back does nothing tto help you gain distance. It just psyches you out when you see how hard the group is riding behind you. Note to peloton: If you see the guy looking back constantly, stop riding hard. he'll be back instantly anyway.

• Most important: The 4's never let anyone go. Every rider is dangerous to them, since they usually don't know each other. Pro 1/2 fields often let guys go, at least for a while, while they figure out the best tactical response. In the 4's, there IS no tactical response.

So if you want to upgrade, you'll either need to work on your sprint, or you better drop some weight and win som hilly races....Or you'll need to work on your jump as well as time-trialing skills.
the man knows Cat 4sPack Meat
Aug 26, 2002 7:11 AM
There is a definite need to work on the "Attack" aspect of races. I can't tell you how many times I've launched "attacks" and failed and as I'm sliding backwards in the pack somebody says "hey nice pull". PULL???!!!! That was my jump, my attack, my leg breaking, morale crushing effort that would gain me respect in the pack and propel me to victory and you're calling it a pull? I guess I know what I need to work on in the off season.
my thoughtsda cyclist
Aug 29, 2002 6:17 AM
do you race in texas?
my thoughtsSherpa
Sep 9, 2002 10:00 AM
thanks for the info/advice. I competed in a Cat 5 crit this weekend and took your comments to heart. I attacked on the 5th lap (of 18) and never looked back -- allright, I finally looked back after about 4 laps -- anyway, I won the race with 25 second gap. Hooray!
kaiser is dead onlonefrontranger
Aug 26, 2002 7:46 AM
Kaiser makes some darn good points, you should print that one out and keep it.

Weiwentg, I would seriously recommend that you get together with 2-3 of your most dedicated teammates and work with them on coordination. My SO and his guys from the local squad have been doing just that for the past couple months. On Saturday everything finally gelled and they were able to get their team leader (who isn't a great sprinter) off on a 1K flyer in the final lap for a win, and the lieutenants took third and seventh place in a field that started seventy riders. Here's how they got there:

1) The team leader (the strong guy), the team captain (the smart guy) and a couple of guys who are intelligent and fit enough to qualify as good lieutenants have all been practicing "release" and blocking maneuvers in group training rides. The four of them vs. the rest of the group ride.

2) These four have also been working on jumps; agree with kaiser that this is the Cat 4 Achilles' heel. They got together once a week to do a group interval session. They'd go to a local industrial park and do several sets of 10-15 minute attack drills where they'd roll along in a paceline at 25mph. Every couple minutes the rear guy would jump off and try to make it as far as possible before getting caught. They got it down pretty good.

3) On Saturday, we had all the guys "wired" and I stood on the sidelines with the ground unit where I could see as much as possible. I wouldn't call that course selective. There was one short sprinter's climb on the backside (where I stood), and a 1K gentle false flat up to the finish line. Even the women's fields never dropped below 53/19 or 21, and most categories ended in a field sprint.

The team started six guys, and those radios were crucially important a couple of times. Once in the early going they got all scattered and dispersed through the field and the leader was way too far back. I told the captain to round them up and get them consolidated in the front third, because the field was shattering at the back and they couldn't afford to waste energy crossing gaps. This became really important as the race progressed, because big chunks of guys fell off the back every time up that little climb, purely through "accordion" effect. Our team didn't start the most riders, but after 3 laps, they had the most riders in the lead group. The second time the radios saved the day was when our "strongman" lieutenant flatted (no free laps in this one) and got a superb bike change from one of the domestiques. He then chased right back on with assistance from two others, and launched an attack up the main climb on the penultimate lap that shucked a big clump of riders, including a couple of dangerous "enemy" sprinters. The whole sequence ran like something on TDF footage. They hadn't practiced this maneuver, but via good radio contact, the captain was able to take immediate control of the situation. I can guarantee that calmly being told what to do over the wire kept the rest from doing the headless-chicken dance.

The guys said it was a huge help that I was able to tell them who to watch, who not to chase, time gaps, and how many of the team remained in the front group. It gave our leader a huge boost when I told him that with 3 laps to go, the main group was cut to twenty-five riders, and we still had five guys in it. Sometimes the mental component is all it takes.
radios in a cat4 race = overkill!merckx56
Aug 26, 2002 11:50 AM
that's fine, we won using them tho (nm)lonefrontranger
Aug 26, 2002 11:53 AM
cat4 win=summer school valedictorian!merckx56
Aug 26, 2002 3:14 PM
so, if that's trueDougSloan
Aug 27, 2002 6:38 AM
By your message, you imply that anything short of winning the TdF is sort of wimping out and unworthy -- a bit elitist, huh?

With the same thinking, then, winning a Cat 1 race is like getting an A in 12th grade English -- nothing like being top of the class in medical school, or winning the Nobel prize for physics.

I think it is just as difficult to win a Cat 4 race as a Cat 1; the pain is the same, you're just not going as fast (unless you are a total sandbagger, but then a 1 who should be pro could be sandbagging, too).

I sort of reject elitism in all forms.

Yes, but what's really funny...Wayne
Aug 27, 2002 6:54 AM
is that even being one of the best local guys and winning your local 1/2/3 races is really = to being the valedictorian of your highschool class. Making fun of the summer valedictorian is like not realizing there are college grads and even PhD's out there, but at least it gives you somebody to belittle to make yourself feel better and elevate your own (under-developed) sense of self-worth.
let's get a few things straight...merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 7:17 AM
1)i am a racer. i really enjoy racing my bike.
2)i am really happy that others enjoy racing their bikes.
3)a pro 1,2 race is infinitely harder than ANY cat 4 race.
4)the jump from a 2 or 1 to the pro field is a considerable one. very few ones that i ride with have the talent, desire or willingness to suffer, to become pros.
4)radios in a cat 4 crit that is 30-40 minutes long seems to be a bit of radios for the sake of them. if you can't keep an eye on a cat 4 field from the inside of the pack, you are not paying attention.
5)i truly admire those who work hard and dedicate themselves to getting better and faster on the bike, but when someone who has been a cat 4 (man or woman) for YEARS is the voice of racing for the majority of this board, and deems themselves the guru of training, maybe a glance should be thrown somewhere else!
6)i was a cat 4 once, for 4 weeks. it's to be used as a stepping stone. it's to be used to gather experience. 4-6 races, or maybe even half a season, gives experience. 3 years starts to become sad.
7)i am in agreement with you that elitism is bad. i coach juniors who are doing very well. a few that i have coached have had zero talent and zero desire, especially once the drivers license comes into question. i have flatly told them to keeping riding and enjoy it. it's supposed to be fun!
8)sandbagging is bad for the sport. it breeds all sorts of hostility towards those who do it. go to the next race near you and watch the 4 race. i'll bet the guy that wins has been a four for either a very short time, or a very long time. no in between.
Thanks for clarifying...Wayne
Aug 27, 2002 7:43 AM
now I see what happened, you really only meant to belittle LFR:
"5)i truly admire those who work hard and dedicate themselves to getting better and faster on the bike, but when someone who has been a cat 4 (man or woman) for YEARS is the voice of racing for the majority of this board, and deems themselves the guru of training, maybe a glance should be thrown somewhere else!"
and got carried away, as clearly several of us thought your opinion of winning a cat.4 race came across as elitist which you clearly think is a bad thing.
BTW I don't think anyone suffers under the delusion that cat. 4 races are as hard as a 3 or 1/2 or even most masters races, people just find the elitism distasteful.
LFR was never mentioned..merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 8:29 AM
as I was speaking in generalities. You drew that conclusion youself! I have won cat 4 races and quickly moved up as i wanted more than to be a lifetime cat 4 racer.
if people have found their comfort zone in the 4s, that's great. personally, i wanted to move up as quickly as possible, so i didn't muck around for a long time in the 4s!
Aug 27, 2002 8:41 AM
As an elite racer you should know that back-pedaling isn't going to get you anywhere.

You made your opinions clear.
believe when i tell you i don't back pedal!merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 10:16 AM
No sh*t, I drew that conclusion...Wayne
Aug 27, 2002 8:56 AM
it was rather obvious, but go ahead a backtrack if you want. I think anyone familiar with this board would draw the same conclusion from your post, just like several of us found your comments elitist. And BTW I've found your comments regarding training informative in the past and look forward to doing so in the future. In fact, I'm going to start a post about training because this exchange is really going nowhere productive.
let's get a few things straight...kaiser
Aug 27, 2002 11:11 AM
I've been a 2. Reached this level while still a junior. I've been through the transition.

Depending on your own level of conditioning, a cat4 race can feel (and essentially BE) as difficult (to the Cat4 in question) as any Cat2 race is to a Cat2 rider.

It's all relative. Really.

If you are implying that people should not choose to remain a 4, I think you make a mistake that people have different ideas about how much training time they are personally able to allocate to their programs. If I find myself acquiring upgrade points within my 9-11 hour per week program, I'll happily upgrade to Cat 3 when appropriate. I'm perfectly happy to ride with Cat 4's (now). There was certainly a time when I would have considered that a very "Fredly" attitude, but then I had some life changes, like a _real_ career, a house, a marriage and the responsibilities that go with these. Not to say that there are not Cat 2 and 3 riders that also manage these responsibilities, but then again, my body is different than theirs in all likelihood.

I think it is better to be able to enjoy bike racing with my new Cat4 designation than to have to suffer through race after race of embarassment as I desperately try and regain Cat2 form after a 12 year layoff. I actually do not think I could retain it without at least one to two seasons at the Cat4/3 levels first.
I'm sorry...RockyMountainRacer
Aug 27, 2002 6:51 AM
...but you get to be the target of my latest rant against elitist roadie snobs everywhere! I am so sick of you arrogant roadie bastards who can only feel good about yourselves by putting down racers of a lower category.

So I take it you were never a cat 4 eh? Of course not, you are much, much faster than I could ever hope to be. As a matter of fact, you are so damn fast that you upgraded to pro after your first cat 4 race because you "absolutely shattered the field." Is that about right?

Thank you for insulting everything that I and every other cat 4 in the world has accomplished this season. Trying to win a cat 4 race (or feeling proud of winning one) is obviously an act that is just far below a rider of your stature. I know, I know, all of us cat 4 pussies should just quit the sport right now because we will never be as good as you.

I think the reason you put us down is because you are scared that we will upgrade soon and kick your arrogant little ass. Or maybe you are still trying to get over the fact that you are nothing but pack-fill since your upgrade, so you have to remind the cat 4's that you are at least better than them because you are in a higher category.

Death to elitist roadie snobs everywhere!
It's really a personality defect...Wayne
Aug 27, 2002 7:05 AM
that is allowed to show itself because finally the person has demonstrated he is objectively better than someone else at something. It appears to characterize a relatively small number of people but they stand out. BTW, the guy I know who is most guilty of this is a recently up-graded cat. 3, who I don't think even got the points, but did it on experience and the good graces of the district official and who you would think spent far too long as a 4 to even think about belittling them!
no where in any of my posts ...merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 7:21 AM
have i EVER said that i was better than anyone else. period.
no, but you sure do imply it a lot (nm)lonefrontranger
Aug 27, 2002 7:29 AM
pot calling the kettle black!(nm)merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 8:38 AM
read my post above! (nm)merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 7:19 AM
pay no mindlonefrontranger
Aug 27, 2002 7:29 AM
What we have here is a bitter old Luddite with no perspective, and no concept of racers who are in the sport for fun, not profit, and enjoy the role of "weekend warrior". Despite the fact he feels it necessary to denegrate our efforts to maximise our personal performance without becoming Cat IIs or pros, I can appreciate how someone coaching and racing at elite levels views the pack fill.

My experience in racing far outweighs my category. I've said before that most elite level types absolutely suck as coaches because they lack perspective, compassion and most of all teaching ability. They make great phys. ed. instructors, but seriously lack the psychological component it takes to make the jump from personal trainer to coach. Apparently our man is the type of coach I mentioned who feels it necessary to coach as an extension of ego.

I would be happy to provide names of elite women racing in the Midwest who started out being coached by me, and point to my mentoring and coaching as the reason they love and are successful in the sport if I need to resort to the same level of chest-beating.

Eventually all old-school Luddites like this get run over by progress :)
you're most likely older than I...merckx56
Aug 27, 2002 8:37 AM
and as a point of fact, i ONLY coach juniors in an effort to breathe new life in our sport. i may offer advice to others that has been derived from my experiences both on an off the bike, but i refuse to coach adults. i think it's great that you have some elite level women who look to you for advice and coaching and that they do well.
half of my kids are wash-outs, but that doesn't mean that i am a "bitter old-luddite" for speaking my mind and trying to further our sport. BTW- if you are going to insult someone, use the word properly! I haven't destroyed any machinery nor do i resist technological change.
Problem in a lot of fringe sports...Stampertje
Aug 27, 2002 11:03 AM
Most people do not have either the talent or the desire to compete at an elite level. These may still be people that are willing to put a lot of time or money into organizing events, managing clubs, coaching or just driving their kids to games or races.

The problem is that these are often the people that are most ignored in any sport. Once they get to the senior age group, most of those kids that can't or won't stay at the top are left out on their own. Many are disappointed with the lack of coaching - whether because there's no coach or because the coach only has time for the 'A' group - and leave the sport. I've seen it happen in speedskating in the US and in basketball in the Netherlands. In the latter case, it meant the end of the club and the end of basketball for a lot of young kids.

These are the people that help build a team. These are the people that bring in the youngsters. These are the people that take care of the kids when they come in, that take care of the administrative work, that build support in the community. These are the people that all the kids that don't dream of winning the olympics look up to. These are the people that might become coaches some day.

Coaching juniors, and bringing young people to the sport, is necessary to "breath new life in the sport". But if it's all allowed to waste away once they get older, it's wasted effort.

/end rant
A new "4's" POVkaiser
Aug 27, 2002 12:28 PM
It took me a while to get over my initial involvement in the sport. When I started racing, I took a more "elite" path. Every goal was always about upping myself, and getting closer to that Olympic/pro dream, and win, win, win attitude (I'll spare you all my palmares). While I enjoyed racing, and race culture, I eventually found myself so dang absorbed in the sport, that I'd neglected almost all other aspects of my life. School, girls, social life, having fun, etc. when I look back at a lot of my other elite junior friends, I notice that we all missed out on a lot of things our peers did not.

One day when I was 19 or 20, I remember I was out training in the springtime with some older Cat 1 and 2 riders, many of whom were on the national team then. I was riding with them, and was in absolute pain and misery, and I only had like 50 more miserable miles to go before completing the ride, and then I had to be at my pizza job for another 6 hours. On this day, I said "f-this", and decided that it just wasn't worth it to me to spend all my time suffering, just so I could _stay_ in the Cat 1/2 world. But you can't just spontaneously decide one day that you no longer wish to be an elite rider, and you just want to enjoy racing. For starters, downgrading was not an easy subject back then, so I had to basically abandon the sport and find new things to do for fun.

Now I have rekindled my interest in racing, but I approach the sport from a totally different position. I'm quite happy to slug it out with the 4's, even though many of the others have goals of uprgading. Me, I've already been there. I don't want to go back....And I find that I am much more in the majority than I thought I'd be. A lot of my fellow 4's have similar situations. We're in our 30's, have jobs, houses, families, and yet we still dedicate ourselves to maintain a level of fitness foreign to most Americans so that we can race.

Merckx56: I'm a 4 AND I hold the unusual position of also being qualified to give racing _and_ training advice. In my past, I've whooped the rawhides of such persons as Mike McCarthy, Frankie Andreau, Greg Oravetz, Scott McKinley and others too numerous to mention. And here I am, a friggin 4. I have a good life, and I'm a success. And I consider myself to be a cycling success too.

I know that Merckx56 also climbed the ladder in the same manner as I, and he still remains there. Kudos to you for being able to maintain your racing lifestyle. I'm not sure how old you are, or how affected you've been by other life pressures or events...But perhaps we all just deal with them differently.

To the Cat 1-2's that might wish to bash cat 4's, be mindful that there are a few of us who have simply found a new way to integrate bike racing into our lives, yet may have actually achived much higher levels of success in their own pasts.
I've made several futile attemptsDougSloan
Aug 26, 2002 1:55 PM
On some flatter races, I several times got away with 2-5 other individuals, only to find that no one wanted to work together. I'd darn near blow pulling the break, or have it fail because I could not bear the load alone.

Then again, maybe they were always team mates of others just covering me. I'm so stupid.

I've never had the fitness level to enable a solo break, flat course or hilly. I imagine most riders are in the same boat; a group of 50 riders can travel much faster than almost anyone alone at this level.

I think it mostly boils down to the lack of teams and team work. Even with the teams I'm been on, it's usually every man for himself. We end up racing each other, that is, unless several of us are off the back; you'd be amazed at the cooperation that kicks in then!

Me too. So I don't botherkaiser
Aug 26, 2002 3:04 PM
YES! What idiots that find themselves in a potentially winning break, and then sit-up so that their big-time Cat4 teammate can then blow-it in that big lottery we call the sprint. This just about sums up the essence of Cat 4 frustration.

This is why, whenever my own club teammates say "we're working for so-and-so today"..I just nod and go "yeah, ok"...But since Cat4 team tactics virtually never come to fruition, I just work for myself anyway. I figure they can play for real when they get to Cat 2 and above.
If you're in aposition to do well, you really can not count on any kind of real support, because most are too inexperienced to give it in an effective way

Don't get me wrong. If I'm in a position to help a buddy, I certainly will. But I'm certainly looking out for #1, as I can not rely on my clubmates to actually execute any kind of plan or to help me an any measureable way when it's my turn to benefit.