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Is it too late for me?(22 posts)

Is it too late for me?crashjames
Jan 29, 2003 1:42 PM
I'm 34, been road riding since 01 and mtb-ing since 00. I'm a consistent mid-pack sport class finisher in my off-road races, and have decent fitness and endurance.

I'm going to be entering my first road races this year as a cat 5, and really want to make a lot of progress in my riding this year.

I'm interested in hearing from others who got into racing somewhat "later" in life, advice, etc.

Thanks in advance.
re: Is it too late for me?No_sprint
Jan 29, 2003 2:00 PM
Nope, it's not too late. If you want to see your riding and racing improve, do 20 crits this year. Guaranteed, you'll see improvement. Go out and do two a days, race your age group when you can in addition to your cat.

Advice? Banging it out with the 20 somethings can be pretty tough sometimes. Remember how you felt indestructible at that age? Well, you're bangin' shoulders and rollin' through chicanes with them... Ride hard, ride aggressively, hold your own, hone up your skills in regards to wheel rubbing, shoulder banging, etc. Watch out for squirrels, they are who cause crashes in the 5s. Those who cannot hold their inside line or sweep outside in or are unstable during accelerations out of turns, etc.

Racin' the 30 class where I'm at is much faster however, the feeling is it's less dangerous if you can keep up. Most feel it's like racin' 3s. In this class you'll find a lot of strong dudes who have been racin' together for years. No rookies.

Good luck, keep it upright.
re: Is it too late for me?hrv
Jan 29, 2003 2:54 PM
I'm 47 and started riding and racing last year. The advice I got was to stay in the front third of the pack to avoid the yo-yo effect at the back, since much energy is used keeping up with the drops/surges in speed. Easier said than done! Sounds like you have good fitness going in so might be easier for you. Also, here in Oregon the 5's race with the 4's, some of whom are 'lifetime' 4's so that makes it harder for the new racers.

How's your pack riding skills? If not good then go on group rides and sharpen them, because a race is not the time to learn them! Unless you're really fit then take a flyer and
ride solo! And don't just sit in all of the races. When you feel good, attack! If you blow up, so what? One day it'll work but you'll never know unless you try.

Now, I'm thinking of getting into mtb racing. Any tips?

As you can see, attitude is everything...shirt
Jan 29, 2003 5:47 PM
Who knew that hrv, as an antique specimen of our genus, was an aggro freak? ("Take a flyer! Attack!")

Children under 30 beware...

34 is nothing. It's never too late. If you, as a 30-something, have an 80s collegiate background involving Circle Jerks and Bad Brains, you'll do fine in Cat-5 crits.

Eternally Immature,
I GOT A...lonefrontranger
Jan 30, 2003 8:46 PM

oh... ahem, sorry; that got a bit out of hand. shirt is digging up some nostalgia on my part.

I love crits. I happen to be 34, small, female and about as aggro-looking as a pair of pink bunny slippers. Perhaps it's merely all that bleach corroded into my brains over the years from keeping my hair post-punk platinum, added to a few bad trips into the mosh pit on my head, but something about criterium racing really gets my blood flowing.

I started racing when I was 22, but I never got serious about it until a couple seasons ago. Now I'm stronger than I've ever been, and this former "lifer" Cat 4 is considering a Cat 2 upgrade and a shot at Nats.

It takes youth and enthusiasm to haul the pack around for the first 35 minutes, and old age and treachery to sit on their wheels and then sprint past 'em all in the final K. That and a black spiked dog collar gets you pretty far in my book.
Crit Sister is Out of Step With the Worldshirt
Jan 30, 2003 10:18 PM
I think we've covered this before, but I think my early 80s attraction to the U.S. hardcore scene (sorry, you young 'uns missed the good shit) is directly proportional to my love for crits.

Oh my, I just realized...
1. They both spin in circles.
2. You slam into people as a matter of course.
3. They're exhausting.
4. Somebody usually gets carted off in the meat wagon.
5. People fall down and get trampled.
6. The symbolism and ritual is greater than the literal meaning of the activity.

Now if we can just convince the race organizers that the Chariots of Fire soundtrack is wholely inappropriate, we'll have a seventh item...(G.B.H on the final lap, anyone? Pun intended)
Crit Sister is Out of Step With the Worldeurochien
Jan 31, 2003 1:14 PM
"No Survivors" (or is that Discharge?)
Punk's not dead
Nope, Minor Threat. (nm)shirt
Jan 31, 2003 2:18 PM
also a great GBH song w/same title - just checked (nm)eurochien
Feb 3, 2003 10:52 AM
I'm with ya ShirtNo_sprint
Jan 31, 2003 2:20 PM
35 here. Was a regular at the Starwood, Whiskey, etc. Pal'd around with Penelope Spheeris, Rodney, Rob Graves, Lee Ving, etc. I was lucky enough to see the Germs before Darby's early exit. I love/hate crits.
Feb 8, 2003 7:01 PM
I may be working Nats! One of my friends is the director. So hope to see you there!
qualified - Master's Natslonefrontranger
Feb 9, 2003 9:08 AM
They're in Louisville, Ky this year and I should know the courses and competition fairly well seeing as that's part of my old racing region.

Sorry, should have made that clearer. I'm 35 this year, figured I'd get serious for a couple years and see where it really takes me.

I'm too wimpy for Elite Nats.
re: Is it too late for me?flyinbowlofmilk
Jan 29, 2003 7:35 PM
Cool. I will be 1yr younger this year. As far as getting into Cat 5 road racing,I was 32 when I started. You may spend a racing season near the front,before you upgrade. Mostly I agree with the other replies that you have gotten from other racer. But I give you some serious advice,and that is be prepared to work different aspect of road racing. Your mtb-ing will help you, but you will have to get use to accelerations Road Races and conering in crits. Good luck and keep us informed. I just complete my 1st year of Road racing in 2002.
Never too lateiamkramer
Jan 29, 2003 11:01 PM
I'm 32 and entering my second season racing. Expert MTB CAT 4 road. The beauty of racing when your a bit older is you handle the learning process much better than a less mature athlete...all performances even the truely humiliating ones are learning experiences.....Just remember if you train hard you will see dramitic improvement...good luck to you and don't take any shit from overly agro road racers in the pack...

"agro road racers in the pack... "Mike-Wisc
Feb 4, 2003 11:33 AM
"agro", that's like a vegetarian, right????? ;) ;) ;)

Be hungry, go fast, don't crash, win.
Or at the very least do your best and have fun.

(er, no offense to the vegans out there) :)

In my 40's here, and still having a little fun in life.
Mike, where's the fun in life if you can't tweak a vegan?shirt
Feb 4, 2003 9:21 PM
re: Is it too late for me?Sharkman
Jan 30, 2003 9:33 AM
Like hrv above, I'm getting into it much later than you. This will be my first season, and I just turned 50. I think you just need to have expectations that are realistic and commnensurate with your age, abilities, etc, and you'll be fine.

My expectations are low for this year. I may do reasonably well in time trials in the 50+ age group, but I don't expect much in the way of results in road races or crits - just to have fun and challenge myself to get better.

It's all about having fun and enjoying the hunt to get better.

I hope not...outofthesaddle
Jan 30, 2003 9:41 AM
I'm 37 and beginning my first year of road racing. It seems like (although its only January) that decent fitness will get you pretty far in Cat 5 racing. Once you start racing I think that you'll gain experience pretty quickly and that coupled with good fitness should allow you to progress pretty quickly. I've got to agree with the "front of the pack" advice for Cat 5 crits. Not only do you avoid the "yo yo" effect in and out of turns, but your chances of going down - go down.

Good luck.
Very similar here...shawndoggy
Jan 30, 2003 10:15 AM
I am 32. Raced sport class MTB a little in college between drinking and other youthful debauchery.

At 29 I was diagnosed with arthritis. With this particular form (ankylosing spondylitis) exercise is recommended therapy. So I started going to the gym regularly. Went to the library one day looking for a book on weight training and happened across the Mountain Biker's Training Bible by Friel. Decided (at 30) that I could put together a decent racing season. Gave it a shot, had a blast (and arthritis was mostly kept in check).

So last year (at 31) I added some road racing and group road riding into the mix. Resulted in a serious improvement in my sport class results (still not quite ready for expert). But it was A FREAKIN' BLAST! Unlike MTB races around here (Reno) where the fields can be quite small and thus after the initial shakeout a MTB race basically turns into an offroad time trial, on the road you are mixing it up with other riders all the time. Passing, getting passed, etc. THere's lots of strategy involved (basically knowing when to work and when to save energy), but you can pick that up lurking on here.

I didn't actually do many sanctioned races, instead sticking with our local club's weekly twilight races (job/family/travel considerations), but the fields were decent, probably averaging around 30. Did an 80 person crit in SoCal (Manhattan Beach GP/5s) while on vacation and that was really fun too.

As you'll hear frequently here, in the 5s you have everyone from the fat guy with his helmet on backwards to the superfit expert MTBer or Tri-geek who is too cheap to buy the annual license which is necessary to cat up. So just 'cause its 5s doesn't necessarily mean that the field is going to be really weak (but some surely will be).

Definitely do some group rides first so you don't take a whole pack down when someone bumps your elbow in a turn at 30 mph for the first time. Also, as noted by Shirt, experience in a mosh pit is somewhat translatable.

To translate the fitness to MTBs, try to find some road races with lots of climbing. Contrary to what others say (maybe it's just the fact that I'm riding 5s), I did not find crits to be extremely fast ... more like riding in your comfort zone most of the time with some huge efforts at the sprints. In the 5s nobody wants to pull and everyone wants to sit in till the bitter end. Road races on the other hand tended to break up the pack a lot more on climbs (with the fast guys going off the front) and thus require much harder work. Long grueling climbs simulate MTB racing a lot more than crits IMO.

So back to your question, you absolutely aren't too old! Go for it my man.
Very similar here...Will Ross
Jan 30, 2003 12:13 PM
I just turned 39, been riding since 2000, but training hard (500-hours-per-year pace) only for the past year or so, and hoping to do some races this season, if my fitness continues to improve. Appreciate all the advice here, as well as the encouragement. Fast group riding is a good idea and has helped my comfort level riding with other riders in close proximity. Group rides also often involve surges that you have to adjust to. There are also training races that may enable you to get the feel for what's involved in crits, though I haven't done any yet myself since they haven't started this season in PA. I have practiced cornering; I actually have a local coach who has worked with me on cornering techniques. Practicing different cornering styles and lines might be useful. Being able to adjust your line instantaneously will probably be a necessity at some point. Also, riding on a flat grassy area and doing some shoulder-banging and wheel-rubbing might help as well. Having said that, I'm sure there's no substitute for experience. My main concern is just being able to hang fitness wise. But then again, getting dropped just makes me work harder.
Good luck.
Don't forgetQ-Pro
Feb 17, 2003 9:49 PM
to do some intervals, Will. Besides cornering, crits are being able to to recover quickly from hard, hi-speed efforts. First fifteen minutes are likely to be balls-to-the-wall to pop those who don't belong. The pace will still take a lot of recovery if you aren't near the front due to yo-yo effect around corners. Learning to corner will help alleviate a lot of this, but you gotta be able to go hard to close a gap if someone in front of you can't hang.
Great Comments!crashjames
Jan 30, 2003 12:24 PM
Thanks everyone -- I really appreciate the encouragement and advice.

I wouldn't have thought to do crits (seem a little scary) but may reconsider and try one or two this year. If not, there's always the Tuesday night hellfest when the local racing club does an extended 5 mile circuit ride/race. I never worked so hard on a bike as Tuesday nights last year.