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Race report... learn from my mistakes, comment on my dilemma(17 posts)

Race report... learn from my mistakes, comment on my dilemmashirt
Aug 26, 2002 12:16 PM
On Saturday I did the Winters Road Race, held on a 25 mile loop west of Sacramento and east of SF. Most of the loop was flat with rollers from miles 7-10, then a 3.7 mile climb, a 1 mile descent (steep!) and flat back to the start/finish.

As usual, I was dreading the climb but figured if I survived the second lap, I'd be in the mix for the white line. Sure enough, I nearly got dropped towards the end of the climb on the first lap and had to play time-trialist after the descent. Once I caught the group (down from 55 to about 25) the pace backed off to a miserable 22-24. I couldn't believe it. As we sat there picking our collective noses, all of the guys that couldn't climb but could sprint made their way back up to the group. Dang!

Lap 2 I felt much better, I think I was actually warmed up by then. I climbed towards the front of the group and we actually did the hill much faster than on the first lap. Once on the other side of the hill, we had a flat 10 miles to the finish line. Mercifully, people were willing to work this time and we kept the pace up in the 29-32 range, successfully preventing the detritus from recapturing us.

Now it gets ugly. The race organizers were unable to close ANY part of the course, including the final mile. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE: I did not know this. At the 1k mark I was two rows back from the front. "Rows" you say? Yes, the pace had shrunk down to a miserly 22-24, when we should have been up in the low to mid 30s. "No problem" I thought to myself, "I can jump ALL these bozos" (I become a very irritating person when racing.) "I'll wait to move up until about 500m to go." So instead of being strung out, we looked like a field of NASCAR racers parading around the track before the green flag. And your man shirt was STUCK in the middle.

Oh no!! The 200m sign flashes by and there is a HERD OF SWINE blocking my way. We BARELY crept up to the low 30s, and people are out of the saddle pretending to sprint. The yellow line rule is still in effect, and I can see the officials looking down the road at us waiting to see if anybody will cross.

100m to go! "GET... OUT... OF... MY... WAY!!!!" Mr. Manners screams at the human road block rolling gently in front of him (sorry for the third person here.) No response. It was at this point I realized all was lost. I never even got to uncork my sprint! It was the most unsatisfying feeling I've had since that time in college when my girlfriend was in my room and the dean of students walked in right as... oh, wait. Nevermind.

So. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO: Don't let anything prevent you from being in the front during the last mile. MISTAKE NUMBER THREE: See re-read mistake number one.

So shirt chalks up a miserable 13th. Vengeance is planned for next Monday, at a crit in downtown San Francisco.

All of this has raised the moral dilemma I've been having about categories, by the way. If anybody has any opinions I'm certainly open to them. Here it is:

I currently race the Masters 35+ 4/5 category. Unless you do Senior races as well, it obviously doesn't matter if you're a 4 or a 5. Because of that, I've remained a 5. I raced as a 3 for several years in the 80s, upgraded to 2 then quit. I'm now at a point (recent history notwithstanding) that I know I can be in contention for the win at most races I do. The podiums I've been getting however, feel like potemkin victories. Here I am, beating old 4s and 5s. Deep down inside, I hear this little voice saying, "Big deal. You want a challenge? Upgrade, pal." Of course, if I move up to 3 (I can do this in one swell foop, skipping 4), I get to race with Postal Masters, Roberto Gaggioli, and a group of probably the fastest Masters on the planet. Seriously. I've raced with these guys before and was grateful to not get dropped. I'll never podium again if I move up to this group, but somehow I'll feel that my result is more "honest."


Aug 26, 2002 1:10 PM
Both Sherpa23 and my SO addressed this with me over the summer as I was waffling and whining about my imminent upgrade. My SO put it this way: would I rather be Queen of the Mice or raise my standards and upgrade?

Sherpa told me that it's more satisfying and motivating to know that you are competing against better riders, regardless of results.

Both of them are right. I feel a greater sense of accomplishment getting a measly 19th place and just being able to hang onto the field last Saturday than I did about getting 2nd place and winning a couple primes in a Cat 4 race back in June.
I stayed a cat 4 for waaaaaay too long...brider
Aug 27, 2002 9:42 AM
At one race, the district TT, when I was given the gold, the district rep announced me as "the professional cat 4." Hmmmm. Kind of made me think a little. I knew when I upgraded, I would be in total culture shock, and would possibly never see the top of the poduim again. I upgraded at the end of that season. What I found was that the higher level of racing brought out new determination and strength in me. I eventually became pretty good at cat 3, and even found the top of the podium a couple times. I wasn't the dominating factor in 3's that I was in 4's, but I was a better and faster racer because of it.
What dilemma? I got a dilemma!hrv
Aug 27, 2002 11:04 AM
Being an older,beginning 4/5 racer, I'm constantly racing against guys who could place in the 3 field. The way I look at it, if someone in my position has decided to step up to the plate and even enter a race, those guys should take a risk/challenge and upgrade. It doesn't bother me that much;I just know I'm going to get my a@@ kicked 'cause these guys are going to be driving the pace up to crazy levels.

I know I can't really give a good response since I don't have much experience. Plus I'm still in the 'success = finishing with the pack' stage. I plan on upgrading as soon as my fitness allows me to hang w/ the 3's; if not next year than the year after. Life's too short to not go for it.
And I hope to do it on less than 200 miles / week.

Aug 27, 2002 11:20 AM
Part of the dilemma is the fact that there are only two categories in Masters racing: fast and sick fast. There's no such thing as a '3' in Masters. Out here in California there are two groups called 'Masters 1,2,3' and 'Masters 4,5.' In smaller races, it's simply Masters 35+ or Masters 45+.

So you see, moving up to '3' doesn't mean much; you might as well be a '1.'

I agree that it's tough for new Masters racers to get started even with the 4/5 group. I usually recommend that they start with the Senior 5s which are always slower than the Masters 4/5s. The exception of course are the triathletes who occasionally show up to flex their muscles. I still think Senior 5 is where any new racer should start.

You all have given me good things to think about, however. I notice that you're all saying the same thing, too: "UPGRADE." Perhaps this is the year to do it... Of course, I'll be coming home next year after the races saying, "Honey! I got 27th! Isn't that great! I never got dropped once, even though Roberto Gaggioli won!" "That's nice, dear. Didn't you win a few times last year? And who's Roberti Jollygaggy?"

don't you haveclimbo
Aug 27, 2002 1:34 PM
Cat 3 races you can do also? If you move up do you HAVE to do the Masters race because of age? In NJ, Cat 3's can double up and do the straight Cat 3 race and a Masters 35+ race if they are old enough. The straight 3 is usually considered a little easier than the Masters 35+
Just give it a shot...RockyMountainRacer
Aug 29, 2002 11:04 AM
Why not try it Shirt? If you really really get your ass kicked and are hating it, you can always petition to move back down (which is of course a whole lot easier if you are getting dropped!). But the way I see it, if you are easily kicking ass in the 4's, you shouldn't have any problem with at least hanging in the pack. And who knows, you may even surprise yourself and a couple of old pros in the process!

I understand your dilemma though. I'm about to upgrade to Expert on the mountain bike for next year. I know that if I start the season as Expert, I won't see the podium all year long. Problem is, I've still never won a race--2 seconds and 3 thirds though. Also, I just may never get fast enough to win an Expert race, and therefore may never get my win. So do I start next year as a Sport after a good off-season, try to get my win and then move up? Or start off as Expert right off the bat with the knowledge I won't be getting a win for at least another year? People tell me I'd be sandbagging to not move up because I've had 5 podiums. But the bastard who wins all of my Sport races always beats me by like 5 minutes, and has times that would put him in the top third of the Expert pack. HE'S the sandbagger, not me!
I see your dilemma now, clearlyhrv
Aug 30, 2002 8:56 AM
So I get home from my ride last night and turn OLN on and watch while stretching. The replay of the NYC Crit. is on and there's a guy off the front. The announcers couldn't say enough about him. Name: Roberto Gaggioli! I knew I heard this name somewhere. And if you move up you'd race against him or guys like him?

Dude, you're f****d!

But like everyone tells me, have fun!
I've already raced against himshirt
Aug 30, 2002 9:40 AM
in an open Masters 35+ race. A couple times. Once I got lapped by him and five others in a crit. Even after getting lapped he launched off the front to win the field sprint.

There are about half a dozen guys in NorCal about as strong as Gagg. When they do the Pro/1/2 race (before or after the Masters 1/2/3 race), they usually podium.

Thanks for the empathy, anyway!

re: Race report... learn from my mistakes, comment on my dilemmaBrokenSpoke
Aug 28, 2002 8:20 AM
So if I read this correctly, your dilemma is 'Should I move up and race against a competetive field or should I stay in my current classification and as an ex cat 2, stomp them into the ground?'

I grew up racing in CA and am familiar with how competetive the Masters Cats are so I am somewhat qualified to reply. Whether you will ever podium again isn't the issue. The real issue is how fair is it to the real Cat 4 /5 Masters that an ex Cat 2 is riding with them? I remember my first 35+ race some years ago, La Mirada, and they introduced the former Mexican National Champion, several Pan Am games gold medalists, and several ex-olympic riders for the United States. How I wish there had been a 4 /5 category back then. I paid my dues and became competetive within the 35+ structure at the time.

If I were to take a couple years off and come back, as you have, I may ride a couple 4 /5's just to get my feet wet and then move up ASAP. I would be ashamed to 'earn' that type of podium. Kind of like playing basketball with a 6 year old and then bragging about how you beat him isn't it. Hollow victory.
re: Race report... learn from my mistakes, comment on my dilemmashirt
Aug 28, 2002 12:05 PM
Well, this is only my second season back. And it wasn't a "few" years off, it was twelve. And I did almost NOTHING for fitness for those 12 years, so I really don't feel bad about doing at least one full season as a 4/5. Furthermore, I never raced as a 2; I raced for a couple years as a 3, upgraded, then immediately quit. That was in '89.

Finally, I'm pushing 40, have a family with little kids and can't commit the hours to be competitive with the M 1/2/3 class anyway.

Does that help show why I'm on the fence?

re: Race report... learn from my mistakes, comment on my dilemmaBrokenSpoke
Aug 28, 2002 7:32 PM
Sorry for the rant, I just get a little peeved at riders who race out of category. Takes a lot of the fun out of it for the riders who really belong in that category.

At a minimum, move up to Cat 3. It's faster than the 35+ 4/5 but not as fast as the 35+ 123. The whole point of racing is to challenge yourself against equal competition. Something you are not getting in the 35+ 4/5. Race with the 3's and enter the 35+ 123 the same day. They used to discount the second race when I lived there.

You will appreciate the challenge. You'll get faster and regain your old form, and the podiums will be earned.

Good luck and have fun.
You're the third person to tell me thatshirt
Aug 29, 2002 7:54 AM
Maybe I'll do Senior 3s instead. I was just hoping to stay clear of the childless, testosterone swilling youngsters.

You're absolutely right about the point of racing being to challenge yourself against equal competition. The more I think about it however, the weirder it seems that we essentially rate ourselves. It almost makes me feel that racers should have nothing to do with their own upgrades; it should ALWAYS be determined by the organization they race in. The objective would be to eradicate both sandbagging and high numbers of "droppees."

re: Race report... learn from my mistakes, comment on my dilemmaDeadGame
Aug 28, 2002 8:31 AM
10 miles out rolling 29-32 in a pace line and these where 4/5's.

I'm taking up Golf

sounds like you snadbagging to me!K-Man
Aug 29, 2002 7:24 AM
just my humble opinion though. Keeping in a class year after year just to keep podiuming. I can understand staying in a class if series points are at stake (do they do that in RRing?), but not for the reasons you mentioned. Pretty mch makes you a sandbagger. Bet you fellow racers really respect you.

You don't read too well, do you?shirt
Aug 29, 2002 7:48 AM
"year after year"? It's been a year and a half. And I've only raced four times this year.

I don't mind getting flamed, but why don't you read the whole thread and digest it before offering your jewels.

Stay in the 35 4/5schar
Aug 29, 2002 6:00 PM

That's my opinion, in a few years you can upgrade to the 45+ and then have some real fun! The fast guys there do the 35+ 1/2/3.

See where you are at next spring and then reconsider upgrading, I mean, do you want to have fun and mix it up or just suffer trying to hang on? I have even thought of downgrading to the 35+ 4/5s as suggested earlier in the post, 45+ are just way too fast for my fitness level. See you at your next race.

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