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  1. #1
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    Upgraded, and wondering...

    ...if I'm going to get crushed. I assume it's likely especially in the early going. I've got about four months until racing starts here, so lots of time to wonder before I find out for sure.

    Background, started riding in 2013 for exercise, raced as a 5 in 2014, hung on but did literally nothing. Raced as a 4 this year, had my points for the 3's by June but held off and finished the year off as a 4 to gain a little more racing experience. I earned my points mainly through decent finishes in big 4/5 fields. (Top 3-8 of 50-75.) Only won twice, a training crit where I lapped the field solo (they forgot about me out there, not nearly as impressive as it sounds trust me), and a USAC crit where I got away solo on a little hill on the last lap and barely held on to the line. That one was really fun I have to admit, I was happy.

    Really I guess I'm more interested in any advice I can get moreso than whether or not I'm destined to get creamed in the 3's. If I do, I do. I'll try to get better.

    I'm guessing a lot of new Cat-3's are in the same boat. I've learned quite a bit from you all here. Any bits of wisdom I can chew on over the winter?

  2. #2
    Nonsense TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    You earned your upgrade via points and consistently good finishes which likely means you'll be in the top third of 3's as far as strength goes, and racing with guys faster than you is going to give you a fitness boost. I think it'll feel a bit more aggressive and the increased distance will take some time to get used to, but once you get over that hump you'll be fine. Just make sure you ride your bike this winter
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    I, and several other posters here, had significantly better results in CAT3 races than I did in CAT4/5 races.

    Don't sweat it.
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  4. #4
    cmh
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    What they said ^^.

    If you won a couple 4s races and consistently placed well, you will be fine in Cat 3. My experience was that Cat 3 races were a little bit harder and a lot more fun than Cat 4 races because teams (including mine) were employing team tactics in the 3s. Or at least trying.

  5. #5
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    There will probably be some adjustment but I expect you will be fine.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of Kent View Post
    I, and several other posters here, had significantly better results in CAT3 races than I did in CAT4/5 races.

    Don't sweat it.
    This. Especially as your wins have come as solo efforts (most 4/5 races seem to come down to a field sprint s***show).

  7. #7
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    If you've won two races, one solo (even if they "forgot about you", which they probably didn't), the other solo after getting away on the last lap, you'll be fine.

    Keep in mind that the 3 fields are going to consist of, say, 30% of riders roughly like you (top 10 in Cat 4 races). There will be about 30% who were, at one point, Cat 2s. I'm one, although I sniped my way to Cat 2 only recently and promptly downgraded. There are others I regularly race against who own dozens of National Titles between them, were excellent top 3 Cat 1s or 2s back in the day, Olympians for smaller countries, etc. To upgrade back then you had to place in both crits and road races, so these guys were super strong - think about riders who win road races and make them win crits, or vice versa. It was tough. Those guys know how to race, they have good genetic/physiological talent, and it's very hard cracking them. For me I had to wait 15-20 years until they got much older, like they got into their late 50s or mid 60s

    From what I see the 3s will probably have sharper, more committed attacks. I suspect the big chases will have a bit more speed in them, and the last laps of a crit may (or may not) be surprisingly hard.

    I've raced on the same courses different weeks/years, in Cat 3-4 races, and sometimes the last lap is totally manageable and other years I've had to sit up halfway through the lap. It depends on how well riders work well together. I vividly remember one race where I had planned to shoot up the inside just before a narrow 180. It worked in prior years so I didn't think it'd be a big deal. To my surprise a new-to-the-course team showed up. They figured that their Juniors would be severely out geared in the fast run in to the finish so they used three riders to "lead out" to the 180, leaving two or three Seniors to finish off the job (they got first and third or something like that). The Juniors absolutely drilled it, like a final sprint leadout, one rider every couple hundred meters. Not only could I not move up, I was so redlined I couldn't stay with the field after the 180. In this case a smart team, using their teammates well, managed to change the way the race historically ended.

    As a long time 3 I'm still amazed by the ferocity and length of the P123 chases and attacks, and the last lap of such races is such that I almost always have to sit up before the last couple turns. This may be your initial experience in the 3s.

    Finally, and I see this almost every year. You get a few talented riders flying through the ranks. They're a Cat 3 just as long as it takes for them to win a few races and upgrade to 2. One local rider went 5->2 in one year and placed 3rd in his first P12 race. He's a super strong 1 now, dominates the area crits. Don't be discouraged if one of these guys is working through the 3s and wins everything for a month or two.
    "...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

  8. #8
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    Thanks guys for the encouragement and advice. Regardless of how it goes, I'm looking forward to it. Too bad it's November and it snowed last night, long winter of mostly indoor rides ahead!

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    cat3 is fine as 'at least' u are still segregated as cat3s only. Sounds like you will be fine.

    cat2 is I believe racers have the toughest challenge as here in MABRA, there are now dedicated cat2 fields, but only p123. So scoring those valuable points, you will have to scrap against Cat1s in the area.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    It depends on what your priorities are. There are races where you are going to get creamed, and races where you have a shot to win. That's true in every category. If your priority is to get points to get to Cat2, ask yourself why. As a challenge? To get faster? To become a better racer? If the last item is the priority, one thing that you can now do is race with P/1/2/3 on a regular basis. That's how you are going to become a better racer, racing regularly with those that are better than you. That may conflict with your desire not to get creamed, or your desire to upgrade to Cat2. So mix things up. As a 57 year old long time Cat2 Master I would routinely race in P/1/2/3 and even P/1/2 races, not for the points, but for the experience. It may have even been my second race of the day. So ask yourself why you are concerned about being creamed, as that should help you figure out where you want to go. As CDR says you can always downgrade.

  11. #11
    Rides too much bike dz_nuzz's Avatar
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    +1 to what Shovel said. When you go and try to play and survive in the heavy hitter races (P123) you develop a HUGE amount as a racer. Then when you step back down to a Cat 3 only race you end up feeling like everyone is just dragging their ass. My suggestion: Race P123s to learn, Race 3s to win.
    I don't like cats.

  12. #12
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    Excellent points from shovel and dz. At this point, I'm not sure what my long-term goals are. Cat 2? Seems presumptuous to even think too much about that. I'm new to racing, only two seasons under my belt. I'm 33 with a family and a full-time job like most of us here. So really I guess the goal is just to keep improving and enjoying racing my bike. Improvement definitely comes with going against stronger competition in any sport I think so lining up with the P/1/2/3 fields might be something I look at for the experience aspect of it.

  13. #13
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    In the old days I'd do the early season races to try and do well. Then I'd do a "build" period where I'd do P123 (or maybe they were just 123) races, get my butt handed to me. It was like motor pacing or something, just get used to the high speeds in those races. Then I'd do my target Cat 3 races.
    "...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

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AERO63 View Post
    I'm guessing a lot of new Cat-3's are in the same boat. I've learned quite a bit from you all here. Any bits of wisdom I can chew on over the winter?
    I'm a big fan of upgrading towards the end of the race season just so you don't spend the whole winter wondering. Getting a few races under your belt lets you know where you sit and what improvements you need to focus on over the winter.

    Since that's not possible, I'd just continue on with your training. With only two years under your belt, you're likely still on a solid upwards trajectory. I wouldn't go into next season expecting to roll over dudes, but I wouldn't expect to be barely hanging on, either.

    Keep doing what's worked for you so far and it'll likely continue working for you in the 3s.

  15. #15
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    i think you should upgrade midseason, not toward the end, reason being you can loose a lot of handling skill in the off season from not riding in an aggressive pack, that that's an important skill to have in the upper categories - but that's trivial. I'm in a similar boat, racing for ~2 years, been a 3 for half a season, and a competitive 3 by now (or at least that's where i left off ; haven't been riding worth **** lately), improved mostly by racing and using good sense. i agree that 1/2/3 is a great field to test your mettle, and that upgrading should be something to look forward to, not to be hesitant towards. it's not a big jump at all.
    13/30 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) 😁

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    you can loose a lot of handling skill in the off season from not riding in an aggressive pack, that that's an important skill to have in the upper categories - but that's trivial.
    Eh, I always seem to lose that anyway, and I've been a Cat 1 for almost a decade. Everyone's a bit rusty the first few races of the year.

  17. #17
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    When I finally upgraded to Cat 3, and started doing 1/2/3 races, that was the real eye-opener. I learned more from that first handful of 1/2/3 races than I had from dozens of Cat 4 and 3/4 races over the years. Which is not to say that you don't learn a lot in the lower category races, only that it's that step from the intermediate class to the advanced class, where you're taking everything you've learned and then realizing that there's this whole other level that builds on top of that foundation. That was where bike racing clicked for me and I really started to get it. Also where I realized, oh, if I want to keep it advancing I can't just fake it by barely training and hiding the whole time, I have to be able to throw down as well.
    The Workingman's Honest Bicycle Program - Heady talk about bikes, bike racing, bike racers and bike riding. standarddouble.com/whbp

  18. #18
    Senior Member TexMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AERO63 View Post
    ...if I'm going to get crushed. I assume it's likely especially in the early going. I've got about four months until racing starts here, so lots of time to wonder before I find out for sure.

    Background, started riding in 2013 for exercise, raced as a 5 in 2014, hung on but did literally nothing. Raced as a 4 this year, had my points for the 3's by June but held off and finished the year off as a 4 to gain a little more racing experience. I earned my points mainly through decent finishes in big 4/5 fields. (Top 3-8 of 50-75.) Only won twice, a training crit where I lapped the field solo (they forgot about me out there, not nearly as impressive as it sounds trust me), and a USAC crit where I got away solo on a little hill on the last lap and barely held on to the line. That one was really fun I have to admit, I was happy.

    Really I guess I'm more interested in any advice I can get moreso than whether or not I'm destined to get creamed in the 3's. If I do, I do. I'll try to get better.

    I'm guessing a lot of new Cat-3's are in the same boat. I've learned quite a bit from you all here. Any bits of wisdom I can chew on over the winter?
    You sound exactly like me, started cycling 2013 july but you did well on your races than me. 2015 did 11 races mostly Crits but I seem to finish 30th a lot , got couple of primes but still a 4 this year. Best luck and health in 2016

  19. #19
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    better riders in not-cat5 fields makes for slightly better racing. youd be surprised at yourself i think
    http://natelife.tumblr.com

  20. #20
    I eat carbide. Psimet2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
    Eh, I always seem to lose that anyway, and I've been a Cat 1 for almost a decade. Everyone's a bit rusty the first few races of the year.
    I affectionately refer to it as "trainer handling skills". Gotta love winter.

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