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Advice for a racer-wanna-be.(19 posts)

Advice for a racer-wanna-be.look271
Mar 22, 2003 9:02 AM
I have had the bug for the past 2 yrs to start road-racing. What do I need to do to get started? The past 2 yrs I've had decent mileage (4200 miles last year-have similar mileage now as last season and am stronger, for sure) and can keep up with the cat 1/2 riders on fast club rides without being jettisoned off the back like an ugly baby. It's TIME. FWIW-I'm 44 yrs old and would likely race in the "old farts" division. (30+?) Thanks for any advice!
I fully realize that most likely I will finish DFL, but I need to do it.
Racing At 44Sharkman
Mar 22, 2003 11:54 AM
I started for the first time at age 50 this year. It sounds like you are both younger and stronger than I am. My experience is that like some of the comments you got on the general board, racing is faster than training. I can keep up with our team on training rides, but the first road race I did I got dropped seven miles into a 44 mile road race. The course was very hilly, and I am not a great climber. Even having lost 20 pounds getting in shape, I am still heavier than most races my height at 165.

But as long as your expectations are not too high, do it. You'll have a blast, and you'll figure out very quickly where you are and what you need to do to compete. Out here in the Pacific NW, there are no Cat V only races. Everything is Cat IV/V, so I either race that, or if there is a Masters 50+, I'll give that a try.

You will be amazed at how fast some of the old guys are. Like one of the posters in the general forum said, there are lots of ex 1/2's lurking in the Masters fields. Those guys are fast.

Have fun, and let us know how it goes.

Racing At 44look271
Mar 22, 2003 1:11 PM
Thanks, Bob. I was riding with a guy today who is 36 and races the 30+. He said pretty much what others have said-there are a lot of cat 1/2 riders lurking in the masters div. The thing that makes me hesitant about cat 4/5 is the relative bike-handling skills involved. Guess I can crash anywhere, but I don't need someone to help me.=) I'll check with some of the cat 4's and 5's that I know and see how I can get in here. I live outside of HBG, PA.
Mar 23, 2003 3:33 PM
Your point about 5s being crash-prone is one you need to turn inside out. Here in New England they will not let you ride a masters race if you are not Cat 4 or better. The master's don't want you crahing them. Pay your dues in Cat. 5 no matter what your age is.
Mar 24, 2003 11:39 AM
Same deal in this area. Can't race Masters as a 5. Wouldn't want to. Compare the 30+ or 40+ to a solid cat. 3 race.
Racing At 44Billrmblr
Apr 13, 2003 7:45 AM
I won't give any advice but I'll relay my experience (for what it is worth). I am 44 with a 45 race age, second year in cat 5. My first race was a 30 miler in cat 4/5. I stayed with the pack for about 6 miles, speed wasn't a problem at 27-28 mph and I am comfortable in a pack but someone crashed right in front of me and by the time I got around the downed bike I lost the draft and was just glad to finish, passing one other rider before the finish. I didn't crash and I didn't finish last and had a great time.

Pior to entering I was cautioned that I would not win as there were apparently riders who stayed cat 5 for many years, not upgrading their licenses and going to races and winning prizes because they raced against newbies like me. I still am not sure about how I feel about that.

I just raced my fouth cat 5 (my first time trial) and liked that alot. I too have heard alot about cat 5 crashes and have seen two out of the four races I have been in.

The theory behind the high number of crashes was explained to me in this way. In cat 5 there are so many riders that seem to have limited group riding experience, they get edgy and nervous and are prone to using their brakes alot. I actually wore the name partially off my front tire on one race because the guy in front of me apparently grabbed his brakes all of the sudden on a straight road section, probably because the guy in front of him did the same thing, I don't know why, maybe on one of the turns the lead riders tried to drop us and when we caught them they decided to slow down for some reason. It kinda shook me up, I since have learned to be ready for anything.

I have learned to appreciate the moment that I pull up to the line, I kinda look deep inside and find something there. Oh yeah I'm hooked. I don't know what I'll race next but I tend to think I will race in cat 5 again.
Racing At 44look271
Apr 13, 2003 3:33 PM
I don't expect to win. I just don't want to be DFL =). Thanks for the insight. I found a race that has a cat 5/beginner race of 24 miles. I know a guy who is doing it as well. He raced cat 5 last year and never finished worse than 12th, 2nd being his best finish. He's stronger than me, but then, he'a also about 10 yrs younger than me!
Advice for a racer-wanna-be.char
Mar 22, 2003 5:03 PM
If you are 44 right now (you haven't had your birthday yet) your racing age is 45. And with that brings a whole 'nother level of...

45+ is "open" there is no Cat 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; you race together, sometimes with the 55+ depending on how many register. First hill I'm way off the back with this group.

35+ 4/5 This may be the better choice to start out with. I can hang on for awhile, yo-yoing on the hills and catching up.

Cat 5 I have found this category appropriate to my curent fitness level, your speed may be at a much greater level. Enter a road race as a Cat 5 and see how you do. If you are hangin with the locals, you can just ride near the front, don't worry about all the tales of the Cat 5 crashes, worry about that when you are a "3" 'cause then there is the 35+ 1,2,3 (or just 3s) group you can race in.

Doug Sloan, Emeritus, has summed this up before, check out some of the archives.

Just turned 44.look271
Mar 22, 2003 5:26 PM
I think I'll go the Cat 4/5 route. That way at least I'll see where I am speed/endurance-wise.
Get your feet wet with time trials.MR_GRUMPY
Mar 22, 2003 5:57 PM
Start out with time trials to test your fitness. Depending where you live, you will compete in mass start races in the 40-49 or the 45-54 group. It might be slightly easier in the 45-54 group, but not much.
re: Advice for a racer-wanna-be.cipolini2b
Mar 22, 2003 6:55 PM

It is very difficult to get dropped in a flat 4/5 race. First, make it your objective to just finish (ie no intense riding at all, just think "pure efficiency"), after you're comfortable doing this, go for a prime or two. Once you're pickin up more cycling socks (or whatever other trinket they have, sometimes they're awesome, energy powder, bike parts) than you need, save yourself for the finish and go for a top five. If you're hanging with 1/2 riders on club rides, you will not get dropped in a 4/5 race, impossible.
Thanks for the info/advice guys & gals (LFR).look271
Mar 22, 2003 7:23 PM
I'll post the ugly details when & if this happens.
re: Advice for a racer-wanna-be.STEELYeyed
Mar 23, 2003 4:38 PM
I raced last year in a couple of Cat5/citizen races, one was flat 25 miles and was an all out sprint, I finished 7th. The other one was a 50 mile hilly course,and the pace was a bit slower,I finished 4th but these guys will try to put you away on the hills and turns. If you are not with a team don't get sucked into doing any work,or these guys will use you and then toss you away. There are going to be crashes,and it may be you at the bottom of the pile, its just a part of mass start racing that you have to accept.
I know you think I'm an a$$hole, but read thisKerry
Mar 23, 2003 7:03 PM
I just posted this on the GENERAL list and I wanted you to know why I suggested you post here in the first place:

I know I've raised this issue before (and got mixed comments) but wanted to post it again. I perceive a problem with lots of racing, fitness, and equipment posts on the GENERAL board. The reason I see this as a problem is that these posts just make the other posts drop off the bottom all that much faster. Often, the first post of the day is at the bottom of the list by evening, so good topics don't get much discussion because they only hang around one day. Moving equipment discussions to the COMPONENTS list, racing discussions to the RACING list, and fitness and food discussions to the FITNESS & NUTRITION list will not only allow a bit better discussion on the GENERAL list, but it will also insure that the posts are visible for several days on those lists and therefore get a good discussion. I know people want to post on the GENERAL list because it gets more traffic, but the other lists get that traffic over many days. IMO that is the way to use the RBR board. "
Kerry, you're an a$$hole, but I agree with you 100% nmclimbo
Mar 24, 2003 6:25 AM
I generally agree.look271
Mar 24, 2003 5:35 PM
I don't like to see extranneous "stuff" on the general board, either. That said, you do see that I did move it here. I had not even thought about there even being a "racing " forum; I just forgot. Glad there are "forum police" out there to keep us on our toes. (No, I don't think you're an a@#hole-you do know your stuff.) Just irritated me with your comment, that's all.
Sorry I'm late - go Cat 5McAndrus
Mar 25, 2003 6:00 AM
I was in a situation similar to yours. Although I've been what most would call a fast recreational cyclist for years I'd never raced until last year. I often rode with the 1-2-3 crowd on their training rides. One of the better ones finally shamed me into racing.

So, last year at the tender age of 50 I started in Masters 45+ races and I had a blast. Being officially a Cat 5 I had to race one Cat 5 race at year's-end last year and two early this year as these races didn't have a 45+ category.

I can tell you from my experience that the 5s are much easier than the 45+. The Masters racers (as they say) are filled with old-but-still-fast guys. The 5s seem to have a handful of strong-young types but they don't seem to have the tactical knowledge to take advantage of their strength. The 45s do.

If you're just starting out and aren't sure of your form, go with the Cat 5s. Sure, the 5s are not the smooth bike handlers the Masters are but they aren't as bad as I heard before hand.
Thanks. NMlook271
Mar 25, 2003 9:59 AM
Apr 10, 2003 6:09 AM
I found a local crit that has a cat 5/beginner race. It is a 24 mile race with 4 laps of a rolling 6 mile loop. I did this loop as part of a metric century 2 yrs ago. Any advice for preparation? I've been putting in at least 100 miles per week and have been gradually upping the intensity.Sat I will be doing a fairly fast group ride and will probably do that at least 2 more times before the race. It is May 3rd. Also have been getting good mileage on the fixie. They have a masters 40+ race but I don't want to get my arse kicked too badly 1st time out!