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Do I suck?(11 posts)

Do I suck?ORdirtydown
Aug 13, 2003 12:18 PM
Or should I address my situation and not attack my person? I am just trying to purge some gloomy thoughts.

I participated in my fourth crit last night. The pace was so slow the prior week that I questioned whether I was even getting a good value for my money. I decided that I wasn't going to let that happen again. So if the paced slowed and my momentum carried me off the front I was just going to go for it. After the 6th lapped, the pack started to slow because no one wanted to lead. I went ahead and pulled the pack for 4 Km. I didn't respond quick enough when they passed me and I missed the draft. I suffered off the back for about 8 Km in strong winds. The dynamics of this cat 4/5 pack is to periodically back way off because nobody wants to lead. I thought I could make it back on if I just hung in there. I didn't want to give up but my mentor talked me into letting the pack lap me and finish the day working on my sprint. That was the point the pack let up. I gave up a minute before the miracle. It took forever for them to lap me and I was practically coasting. When they finally lapped me, I had lost my rhythmn and didn't have the heart to stay. Very disappointing.

The thought, "better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all" kept running through my head. Since it is my first year racing, I am loving it a lot and also losing a lot. My original goal for my first crit series was just to get a pack finish. After 2 successful races, I had growing confidence and aspirations. The 3rd race, I got frustrated with myself for not being a more active leader in the pack. My personality preference is to be proactive rather than reactive. I had high hopes of finishing well last night. Instead, I get blown out. :(

Background: Age: 39, Cycling: 3 yrs., Racing: 1 yr. Family: wife & 5 yr twins, Career: U of Oregon Athletics. My primary purpose for road racing was to accelerate my overall conditioning in order to enhance my enjoyment of all varieties of cycling experiences (road & mtb). It has been a true adventure. I tasted a little bit of everything; mtb racing, road racing, stage race, TT, and crits. I have prevailed through a herniated disc, cracked rib, bruised hip and road rash (all separate incidents).

I am about ready to call it a successful year and relax and heal up for a couple of months. I sure would love to finish on a high note with a top 3 finish in one of the 4 remaining crits.

I still have a lot to learn and I will never be content just being pack fodder.
No more than I do!hrv
Aug 13, 2003 1:07 PM
Had a similar situation last night and felt so good after my mid-pack cat 3/4 finish last week I was looking for top 10 this week. Ha! When I saw one of the teams, close to 15 strong, hold a meeting 10 minutes before the start, I knew trouble was ahead. Long story short, that team had the top 3 sewn up, I joined a chase group right off the bat, and pulled the main chase group for 1/2 lap, then died a horrible death and got passed by everyone. Welcome to the club, huh!

Today I still feel eviscerated and emasculated, all because of 1 dumb-ass race? Really, how stupid is that? How to get over it? Learn from it, that's how. I learned that I absolutely need to hide in the pack for the first 1/2 of the race, or I'm toast. I learned that the only thing I'm gonna be pulling from now on is a gel pack from my shorts leg.

You race in OR, correct? Well, once we start using our heads and racing smarter, which might even mean not doing a race if really fatigued, hurt, etc., we are going to kick some OBRA booty! You with me!

hrv
Of course you suck, Eugene...shirt
Aug 13, 2003 1:32 PM
Actually, you did exactly the right thing (in shirt's book) and only need to modify your attack strategy.

Screwing the pace back up to "fast" is the correct thing to do. Holding it all alone for 4k is not. After two minutes of showing the 4/5s who's boss, you need to drift back and see if anybody else will share the notice-serving with you. If not, do a quick (1-2 minute) recover and go on the attack again. When you're OTF, you need to monitor your relative position to the pack. Yep, that means looking back a lot. If you're completely tapped out and you see that you're losing ground, you have to time a quick recovery to be followed by a quick effort to get back on the fast wheels. It doesn't take much practice, but it does take good timing, discipline and attention paying.

It sounds like you could benefit from doing open Masters races or 3,4,5 races (if they have them up there). It will be good experience to ride with a faster, more organized and bloodthirsty group, and then come back to the 4/5s.

Of course, 39 is extremely old so you might as well hang up your helmet.

/shirt
hmmm....filtersweep
Aug 13, 2003 1:41 PM
I'm no expert at all, but you really need to use your head. The smartest rider will usually beat the fastest. A 4K pull in a crit?! What did you expect would happen?
my favorie cycling quote: In answer to the question whybill
Aug 13, 2003 2:39 PM
cyclists train so hard, a guy in my club said, "Because you have to be really fit just to suck."
People have said, when you are racing, for any energy expended, have a purpose. That is good advice. Getting to know those purposes and how to dole out your energy is what it's all about, and it ain't easy.
Thanks for the responsesORdirtydown
Aug 13, 2003 8:24 PM
All of your comments apply. My favorite response is "of course you suck." This appeals to my sense of self-depreciating humor. My greatest source of laughter is from my own life blunders. Once I accepted that I am goofball, life became much more fun.

None of the information is new to my head. I just need the wisdom that only comes from experience. That is why I am not afraid of trying something different. It just takes me longer to process the hard lessons of defeat. Next week I will be wiser and stronger.

I will continue to attack and attempt break aways. I don't know how I can ever become a rider with break away ability if I don't practice attacks. I will always choose defeat from attempting the extraordinary over success at being average.
Try To See Things From The Optimistic SideIndurain 03
Aug 13, 2003 10:55 PM
When doing anything in life (including racing), all you can do is try as hard as you can and be happy with that.
Whether that is winning by a lap or finishing dead last. Knowing that you gave it absolutely everything is more satisfying (for me anyway) than most anything else.
okThe Human G-Nome
Aug 14, 2003 7:43 AM
but aren't you the kid who's like 18 years old and hammering everyone on the climbs? easier to say that when you have real talent. ;-)
training for racing vs. racing...Spunout
Aug 14, 2003 3:50 AM
Keep attacking. When it comes down to the real race, you will have the speed to bridge gaps and have something left for the sprint.

I am 35, in my second year of cycling and do my crit training with Cat1 group. Last time I checked, our crit was averaging 28 mph with a top speed of 34 mph and I didn't even contest the sprint. But when it comes time to race my events in the 3s, I'll be more comfortable. I train harder and faster than I race!
Here's the deal... the more you fail the more you learnshawndoggy
Aug 14, 2003 9:44 AM
Some people learn from instruction, others learn from thinking they know what they are doing and going out and falling on their face. I'm in the latter group, and it sounds like you are too. The good thing about these sorts is that you tend to (a) fail gloriously, and (b) not make the same mistake twice.

Do a search here of LFR's posts, especially from last year on tactics. They will make lots of sense after you've made all of the mistakes that everyone says to avoid. Things like "ride toward the front but not at the front." Easier said than done!

I'm in year two of road racing (32 years old, 2 kids, career) and my third year back cycling competitively (I race MTB too). Only in the last month have I reached one of those rare convergences of skill, fitness and luck where I've been able to ride effectively in crits and RRs. I've been able to get much better results than my ITT times would suggest are possible relative to my rivals.
The mistakes you are making now will pay dividends as you progress. Everybody's got to pay their dues. That whole "the smarter racer beats the fitter one nine times out of ten" is true, but for me at least the knowledge that makes me smarter was (and continues to be) gained through failures.

Now to leave you with a couple of tips that I've received this year (which again, will make more sense after you've violated the principle):

1. Don't take any wind unless it's for a reason.

2. When you attack, don't start from the front and ramp it up to your TT pace -- you'll just tow the rest of the pack with you. Rather attack hard from the side and get a gap. Treat it like a prime, but where you are going to keep pedaling through.

3. Use your mouth -- talk up chasing down a break. A "let's go get 'em" along with a hard 30 second pull on your part may start a train of guys who are going to pull that hard for the next five minutes while you get towed along.
Don't give up.TWD
Aug 14, 2003 12:48 PM
I've been doing the same series as you have. The pace seems to get slower and slower every week. The problem is that there aren't any teams strong enough to push the pace and toughen up the race. So, what you are left with is a bunch of guys looking out for only themselves, and every week fewer and fewer guys are willing to tow the group around.

I think you need to adjust your tactics. You mentioned that you pulled the pack along for 4 km. Sure, you picked up the pace, but all you did is burn yourself out.

Rule # 1, is to not do any work unless it benefits you or your team.

If you are going to attack, then attack hard and make a clean break. Lots of guys just try to ride off the front by slowly upping the pace. Unless you are an order of magnitude stronger than anyone else, that isn't going to work.

If you want to attack, hide out in the pack for a while, recover as much as possible, and when the group sits up and starts to look at each other, come from the back and hit 'em with everthing you've got. The road is super wide, so when you go, swing wide so that nobody grabs your wheel. If you start from the back, by the time you hit the front, you'll have a 5 mph adavantage on anybody trying to chase.

If you get free, then go. If you drag somebody along, try to get them to work. This won't be easy since very few people want to work. If they are sitting in on you, or the group is catching you, then sit up, and try again later.

Also, take notice of who the stronger riders are. If you see one of them going on the attack, try to grab their wheel. If they make the attack and you stick with them, chances are better that they will work with you if you pull through. Take short fast pulls while you are out there.

Don't get discouraged. It's more respectable to go out there give it your all then get dropped, than it is to hide in the bunch all day then roll across the line with the back of the group.

Good luck.