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  1. #1
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    Women Positioning for Crit Sprint in Mixed-Field Races

    Hey everyone. I'm hoping to get some advice on how to handle bunch sprints as a woman (Cat 4, new to racing) when the 3/4 women are racing with the 4/5 men. This may be a bit rambly, so my apologies. First, my primary strength is very obviously sprinting. I'm the one that the guys lead out in the main fast group rides for Strava sprints.

    I got crashed out just after the final corner in my first bunch race, in the final 300m. I moved for a gap made by a rider who went too wide in the final corner, but he jumped out of the saddle and sprinted back into his position, totally taking out my front wheel. I was in the top 1/3 of the field. I know "protect your front wheel," but there's not much that can be done when someone is willing to do that without even looking. All the same, looking at Strava comments, I got blamed. Fun.

    Here's the worry: I was in the lead for the women, by a few bike lengths. And I have a relatively good sprint (I put out the same power as the men who won the race, and more than the power of the woman who won due to my crash). I don't really have the fitness to be in the top 5-10 racers in the final corner in these sorts of fields. So if I burn a match or two to be safely positioned at the front, I'm worried that I'm burning my sprinting matches.

    Another worry I have involves gender stereotypes. Just because I'm a girl, most guys are going to assume that I'm slow and that they're going to feel annoyed that I'm in front of them *and* they'll be less likely to respect my space, thinking that I'm not there to contest the sprint (when I'm definitely there for a sprint). I think it's easy to see how if the guys don't even think I belong up front for the sprint, then they're going to do things that put me in danger. So I worry that doing things to "protect my front wheel" will totally take me out of sprints.

    And so by not being able to burn matches to be ahead of this nonsense, I'm worried about being boxed in by staying farther back in the field. So what the hell do I do to avoid being taken out by inattentive guys who don't respect my space at all, and who figure that I don't even deserve to be in front of them for the sprint?

    Help!!

    (p.s. How about a dedicated thread/sticky to women racers? I looked but didn't find one.)

  2. #2
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Nobody respects anybody's space at the front of a sprint. In the field, that's different and you would have a point. But not at the front. It's risky up there. You pays your money and you take your chances.

    One thing you don't ever want to be at the front of a sprint is in the way. I have to be very careful when I race category races as the fast guys are way faster than me. I find a safe place to sprint and back off if it gets dicey. The last thing I want to be is the 58 year old causing an ugly crash at the front.

    Sprinting is about way more than watts. It's about timing, guts, and positioning, including split second reactions to changes.

    Heal up, learn from this, and get back out there.
    Last edited by shovelhd; 04-18-15 at 05:38 PM.

  3. #3
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ygduf's Avatar
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    I think the only way to protect your front is to have it in front of the guy next to you, or have an option out if the guy ahead of you starts coming into your line.

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    I should mention that abrupt moves that impede a rider in the last 200 meters of a sprint are not allowed, otherwise known as hooking. You can't ride another rider into a barrier, for example, but you can set a pick against a slower rider. I don't think this applies to the question at hand.

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    I'm not sure there are very many women racers on the site right now - rideaz, me, sarals. Anyone else?

    I've been lucky enough in Colorado that we don't race with the men, there are enough women racing here that we have our own fields. We do have mixed fields though, with the Category and Masters races, SW4/50/60+ and SW3/40+. Usually I race with the 3's so we are the stronger/bigger category,so I haven't had too much experience with your issue. When I raced last week in the 50+ with the 4's I didn't contend the sprint, but I had already lapped the other women in my category, so it was a moot point. It sucks to be in a mixed field and not be able to tell who you are racing against, so at least you can tell more easily in your situation with the guys/gals together.

    But, here's what I would do: treat the race as one race, and race it to win. Don't get in the way if you can't contend the sprint. But I wouldn't hang back in the last lap trying to save matches for a sprint against the women, you'll be sprinting somewhere in the mess of the men sprinting for 20th place (and the ones sitting up having failed to win), and that sounds terrible.

    Good luck, and sorry about having to race against the guys.
    ...

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    Very helpful, thanks The next mixed field race is in a couple weeks, and I may try to be in the top ~10 of the guys so I'm not sprinting in the pack mess like you suggest. Today's race was a total mess, and they split up the women so that I was the only 'official' racing woman racing with the 2/3/4 men...and there were 6 of us total. But at least none of the issues ITT came up, since I was in the chase group of 3...and the sprint was easy and safe.

  7. #7
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Do a fake sprint, let some guy with too much ego get around, jump on his wheel, and smoke him in last 200 ft? Dunno.

    shovelhd is right, no one respects anyone space. Only real deterrent from some real ugliness is a sense of self preservation on some level. Although even that mostly goes out of the window once finish line is close. If there is a gap or perceived opportunity people will go for it.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
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    First off I don't take gender into the equation when making judgments on where to be or any of that. I don't think I'm that different from most other guys.

    I understand that women in general have lower peak and sustained sprint power. If this wasn't the case then USA Cycling wouldn't allow a Cat 1 woman to start a Cat 3 men's race. I only know a few women's peak power numbers but they're lower than the power numbers I hear from the men I know. Only the multi-time national/world (Masters) track medalist has numbers resembling a typical Cat 3 men's sprinter (if I call myself a typical Cat 3 sprinter). In races I expect to see 1200w peak, 1100w sustained for most of the sprint, like 10-15 seconds. A really good race sprint for me is 1300-1400w peak, 1100w sustained for 18-19 seconds. In training peak can be significantly higher, sustained is about the same. I've also done well in races without breaking 1000w, like winning one "field sprint" with multiple efforts in the last 45 seconds or so - 900, 800, 700, 600w, etc. I hear numbers like 800-1200w peak for women and most of them don't break 1000w according to them. For the guys it's 1000w to 1600w peak.

    I should point out that I've gotten absolutely crushed by women on training rides. One (a Masters 50 or 55+ non-racer, i.e. a 50 or 55 year old woman) asked me if I was really trying when I got shelled from the group she was in. I told her the truth - I was absolutely redlined when I came off. I know there are regular women much stronger than me, and I've watched "strong" women literally ride away from me.

    This is the Camp Pendleton ride. I'm getting gapped and many of the riders in front of me, including the first two, are women.


    This was a short time later.


    A few weeks ago there was a crash in the sprint of a Cat 3-4 race. I was a bit buried in the field and stopped for the crash for various reasons. The clip is in the video clip thread. There's some comments on the "guy with the green stripes" who ends up crashing into and over riders on the ground. That "guy" is actually the woman that won the women's race. She was mixing it up, no one was giving her any flak, and she happened to get caught up between two guys that hooked bars (one of them was a teammate). She was well in front of me I think.

    So that's the gender thing. I don't take gender into account.

    What I do take into account is the racer's skill, snap (acceleration), judgment, etc. Snap is significant because it allows a rider to quickly fill in a gap in front of them. It also red flags them for me since that's the kind of trait a good sprinter has and since I basically only ever sprint I want to know who might be there. I find a racer that has a good snap and I'm on their wheel in the last 200m then great. If I find a rider that doesn't like to accelerate hard then I figure that's a great wheel to be on as we come into the sprint. Etc.

    Going into the finishing laps I'm paying attention to gaps, cornering speeds, etc, but mainly gaps. If a rider leaves a gap that looks like it's going to stay open and I'm trying to move up then I'm going to move up. I don't register gender into the equation. I register bike handling, how fast they move (i.e. if they will dart back into the hole), etc.

    If a gap looks okay I fill it. If it doesn't then I won't, even if it means not moving up at that moment, even if it's the last lap or the last corner or whatever. I want to finish the race first. If I finish first then great but finishing upright is a base goal for me. This is an example of a race where I had to wait after the last corner to gain the position I wanted. I actually eased, waited for someone to clear me, ten moved back into line. Based on the clip I wait a good 5-6 seconds to get back in line, and this after the last turn of the race, in the last 250m or so. Then I went (and won the field sprint). 1200w peak, just under 1000w sustained for 14 seconds or something like that. The guy who got second in the sprint came up to my bike and pushed a few buttons on my SRM to read peak power. He was surprised at how low it was. He said he hit 1600w but couldn't close the gap, so it was a timing thing.

    These are shots that I didn't put up in a recent race report but it's an interesting sequence. This is the first shot. Just inside 2 to go, the field was pretty compact, and I realized I could move up pretty aggressively here. See the guy with the black shorts and black aero-ish helmet up in front of me?


    At 31:26 of my clip (2nd of 3 clips for the race, total race time about an hour) I was behind and to the RIGHT of the yellow/red/blue/black. The picture above is from 31:37 or so of that clip. About 7 seconds elapses between the above and below picture. Bottom picture is 31:44 or so.

    That's the guy (and I actually know him, although I only just now realized who it was - in the race I had no clue, I was just moving up). I move up in maybe 100 meters of the race, between the picture above and the picture below.


    I didn't go straight through - I waited for minute line adjustments, made myself narrow, and moved up. I even apologized to one guy because he moved right and then moved left while I was passing him. We had momentary contact and it was really my fault since I was slipping into some tight gaps.

    In your situation with the rider going wide, that's a pretty specific scenario. Historically if someone goes off line accidentally then I expect them to try to get back in line, either on purpose or maybe inadvertently (like if they go wide in a hairpin they're probably going to try and stay on the course to avoid crashing and therefore we'll meet again at the turn exit point). I'll wait even if it's late in the race (again, self preservation) because someone that goes off line inadvertently will probably get back in line. If they go really wide, like 5-10 feet off line, and they aren't crashing, I may fill the gap. It's a case by case situation.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  9. #9
    Senior Member rideaz's Avatar
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    That must make for an interesting dynamic! If they continue to combine your fields like that all season, you are going to gain a ton of experience and get better at positioning each race! I sometimes do men's races here because women's fields are so small, I'll do Cat 3 or Masters, but I get out of the way for the sprints because I'm only using it as a training experience. I've been in one crit where we were combined with and allowed to work with the Master men, I didn't give it much thought and just went for the sprint with everyone else.
    Personally, I don't worry about gender stereotypes and I hope the guys I ride and race with don't either. Hopefully it's the same for you. Keep us updated on your race season, it sounds like it's going to be a good one! :-)

  10. #10
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ygduf's Avatar
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    Anyone who talks about "that view" is part of the ****ing problem with women's cycling. Grow the **** up, @GeoNLR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    Anyone who talks about "that view" is part of the ****ing problem with women's cycling. Grow the **** up, @GeoNLR
    Yep. Maybe there's a chip because we're noticing shifty behavior that you're not? FWIW, I'm a professor and I work on issues related to gender. These effects are well established off the bike, so why be surprised that they'd be found in the peleton as well?

  12. #12
    ride lots be safe Creakyknees's Avatar
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    The Dallas weeknighters are also mixed fields (have been for years now) and I echo cdr's and the others' comments.

    Also: " my first bunch race "

    Sounds like you did very well just to be in contention in the sprint. You have a lot to learn, reflexes to sharpen, sixth senses to develop. Repetitions count for a lot - get as many races in as you can.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    Anyone who talks about "that view" is part of the ****ing problem with women's cycling. Grow the **** up, @GeoNLR
    The ladies that I coach (My wife of 21+ years included) don't seem to have a problem with a little friendly banter... You strike me as a child that hasn't learned to appreciate the differences between gender, races, cultures, etc. yet... Word of advice, head your own and grow the **** up. Disagree? Great - the world is driven by diversity! Have a good day.

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    Ninny globecanvas's Avatar
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    @canuckbelle, it's an interesting situation, but I don't see how you can do your thing unless you contest the sprint against the whole field, not just against the women. Somebody once gave me some great advice about being at the front at the end of a crit -- "know you belong there." It's all about confidence, knowing that if your bars are in front of the guy next to you that you own the wheel you're following, knowing that you can move into a gap without worrying it's going to close on you before you get through, and knowing that you have the power to move up in the wind if you have to. Confident moves make for confident body language. Timid moves make for timid body language and will get any rider taken advantage of.


    PS. I apologize on behalf of some of the other morons in this thread. Do yourself a favor and put them on ignore.

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    gmt Grumpy McTrumpy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
    [MENTION=405237]


    PS. I apologize on behalf of some of the other morons in this thread. Do yourself a favor and put them on ignore.
    best feature of the forum

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    my post was really sarcastic and trolltastic. thought it was good timing after ydguf's weird outrage over the "view" or something. you all are so concerned with who can act the most high and mighty around here that you forget to chuckle every now and then. calm down.

  17. #17
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    ibtl, which appears imminent

    I think it's your responsibility to protect your front wheel. the rider in front, or even to the side, may have no idea you're there. when I'm uncertain, I say "inside" or "left" "right" or something to that effect to let them know I'm there. when I pass them, it's now their responsibility to protect their wheel, because I'm too busy with the race to worry about them. I've had a few incidences where I pass someone and their handlebars run into my hip. I don't think I'm at fault, because these were situations where there was enough room for them to adjust. in your case, I think you should've yelled out to let him know you're cutting beneath him.

    I also notice that people in the easier categories talk a lot more **** about what you can or can't do. I could find myself filling gaps, cutting into the peloton for shelter, and people telling me I'm in the wrong. I don't pay any mind to that.


    and can we please, oh god please, keep this off the subject of gender and femininity?
    Last edited by spectastic; 04-21-15 at 02:43 PM.
    4/30

  18. #18
    Ninny globecanvas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    I say "inside" or "left" "right" or something to that effect
    We're talking about lining up for the sprint here, so IMO the only purpose of any vocalization is to yell at somebody to either try to intimidate them or because you are certain they are about to do something incredibly stupid, and you'd better yell really loud because all anyone else can hear is the wind and the blood rushing in their ears.

    In the same spirit, I completely agree about just ignoring anyone else yammering at you. There's absolutely nothing of value anyone can be telling you in the bell lap, unless your helmet is on fire or something.

  19. #19
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
    We're talking about lining up for the sprint here, so IMO the only purpose of any vocalization is to yell at somebody to either try to intimidate them or because you are certain they are about to do something incredibly stupid, and you'd better yell really loud because all anyone else can hear is the wind and the blood rushing in their ears.

    In the same spirit, I completely agree about just ignoring anyone else yammering at you. There's absolutely nothing of value anyone can be telling you in the bell lap, unless your helmet is on fire or something.
    I'm saying even on bell lap, if you even suspect a rider in front/side might cut you off, let the rider know of your presence, even a loud grunt would suffice. the rider may be a dick and cuts you off anyway, but my experience has been that they'd avoid crashes above all else.
    4/30

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    Thank you Ygduf.

    GeoNLR, harolddelaney - you guys are part of the problem. Claiming that someone has no sense of humor because they are outraged at objectification is an example of systemic culturally endorsed sexism.

    Globe, Grumpy - actually the best feature is not "ignore" it is "report"
    ...

  21. #21
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    I'm saying even on bell lap, if you even suspect a rider in front/side might cut you off, let the rider know of your presence, even a loud grunt would suffice. the rider may be a dick and cuts you off anyway, but my experience has been that they'd avoid crashes above all else.
    That might be effective in your Cat4 races but it's not going to matter much at all anywhere else. Attacking or moving up, yes. Bell lap sprint? NFW.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wens's Avatar
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    If someone yells in your left or on your right or inside behind me, better than even chance I close the door on principal. 100% chance in the sprint, unless it's my teammates I'm leading out.

    If you're someplace you shouldn't be, yelling inside doesn't change that you shouldn't be there. If you're someplace you should be, you don't need to yell,you can protect your space or maneuver your way out of trouble.

  23. #23
    Killing Rabbits
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    Quote Originally Posted by canuckbelle View Post
    Yep. Maybe there's a chip because we're noticing shifty behavior that you're not? FWIW, I'm a professor and I work on issues related to gender. These effects are well established off the bike, so why be surprised that they'd be found in the peleton as well?
    Huh. You asked about a women-only thread, how does something like that promote equality? Inclusion, not reverse discrimination is the answer.

  24. #24
    Ninny globecanvas's Avatar
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    Is there like a Godwin's Law for "reverse discrimination"?



    ... just to clarify, please consider exactly how far we are from "reverse discrimination" in this case. There are, what, 3 or 4 women in the entire racing forum? One starts a thread about sprinting against men and gets comments about "the view" and "are you hot" (looks like that post was taken down). A couple of posts later we are at "reverse discrimination." This thread is, sadly, just as lost as it would be if we were at accusations of fascism. IBTL.
    Last edited by globecanvas; 04-21-15 at 07:20 PM.

  25. #25
    Killing Rabbits
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    It was a question directed towards the OP who is apparently an expert on the topic - not you.

    I strongly support equality and have a legitimate question on the validity of female-only groups while male-only groups are banned.

    I am not a pig.

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