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Old 08-19-06, 03:12 PM   #1
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First Race: my report, critique me!

So this is the email I just sent to my coach. The persoal references are for him, but i'm too lazy to edit them out. The road race was called "dunnigan hills" It was entirely flat except some super easy rollers and a slightly steeper one at the end. 46 miles. Cat 5 (of course). The report is super long, so if you read the whole thing, thank you. If you have anything at all to add, thanks even more.

Woke up at 6. Had a cliff bar for breakfast & some water. Got lost on the way to the race, showed up at 7, registered by 715. Did the warmup prescribed. Drank a bottle of cytomax. Went to the bathroom. I was ready to race at 8:50, but they were running late and we actually started closer to 9:15.

Mistake #1. I should have gone to the bathroom again here, or drank less. I had to pee from mile 6 until the end.

I started in the front of the pack at roll out. I wanted to stay near the front so that I could see breaks, and to avoid the beginners (like me) in the back of the pack. The price for this was that I had to pull for a bit. It was strenuous but I think I pulled a total of 5 minutes in the first 30 miles. I got to learn who the stronger guys were, and which guys (1 in particular) were incapable of riding in a straight line while pedaling.

Around mile 20 I meandered to the back of the pack. Pedaling seemed a lot easier back there, but there was constant braking and surging. It was very "accordian-ish" as opposed to the slightly harder, but more steady tempo at the front.

Miles 30-44 were one straight flat stretch of road with what felt like a headwind. I situated myself near the front, but far back enough that I didn't have to pull. I kept looking back for an attack. When the first real attack came around mile 40, I was boxed in at the moment. By the time I got free the group of 3 was 100 yards up and all out of the saddle. I had been waiting for this all day and decided to go catch them.

Mistake #2.

So I chased off after the breakaway once I had gotten free and was 100 yards back. I felt good because the rest of the peloton was trying to catch up but I was passing them all. About 30 seconds into it, the back guy of the attack falls off and I pass him. When I'm about 20 feet away from the lead 2 guys I look back and everybody's there. I learn later that I pulled the entire peloton back to the lead group. Made me look like a nice guy but that was not my intetion.

After that effort (which was dumb but i thought it was going to be my 'big moment') I was getting tired and spent some time trying to recover about 10 positions back. This is where everything starts to get bad....

So after the long straight, there's a right turn and a small hill going over a freeway. At this point there are about 2 miles left in the race. Well I tried to stay with the leaders around the corner and up the hill, but find myself in front. I don't like this at all but nobody else wants to pull so I start slowing down. When I hit about 18mph, the entire peloton passes me going about 28. I struggle to accelerate but by the time i've matched their speed, I'm fairly far back and winded. Oh, this is the point where both of my calves, and my left thigh start to cramp. All I can think is "****."

Anyway, there's like a quarter mile left so all i can do is pedal as hard as i can and hope for the best. It's straight, and flat until the last 300m or so which are a hill with maybe a 3-4% grade. Im so exerted that i can't see straight and I hear this SHHHHHPANG in front of me. I look up and at least one bike is in the air and 10 or so people are skidding around. I miss the crash and look up to see that there's NO WAY i'm going to pass anybody before the finish line. I look back and the nearest guy that's still upright is about 100m back when I'm 200m from the finish. I downshift, spin up the hill at a high rpm & call it a day. I finished 11th out of 75 (definately was 11th, I might be wrong about the 75)

The parking lot is about 2 miles from the finish line, so i pedal back at 90rpm and 130-140bpm. This is when I meet the guy who won, and learn that I pulled the peloton back to the breakaway while i was chasing it. I finish the half cytomax bottle I have left, then down a bottle of endurox and another of cytomax when i get to the car. I don't feel particulary thirsty, but i feel it's a good idea to drink as much as possible at this point.

Lessons learned:

1.Either I'm in the attack or I'm not. Once they've clearly seperated themselves by X distance (to be deterimined later. help?) I need to let them go and become part of the organization to reel them in.

2. When it's flat: If I pass someone and Im not flying past them, it really means I'm about to be pulling them wherever I'm going. The "slow pass" will only be useful during climing, or at the final sprint where all I need to be is in front for another 3 seconds. From now on, pass em like they're standing still, or don't do it at all.

3. I know hydration is good, but do I need to start tapering it off an hour before the race? I've been peeing clear since thursday, and if I need to 'go' 6 miles into a 46 mile race, something needs to change.

4. I need to build my skills on the bike. I can hold my line and stuff, but can you pair me up with one of your students so that we can take turns shoving each other and rubbing wheels? Everything with me was fine but listeing to other categories afterward I heard that there was a lot of shoving going on. Also i came VERY close to rubbing the side of some guy's back wheel with my front, and just as it was about to happen, I'm sitting there realizing that I'm totally going down because I've never had this happen before. I also know that mark (the citycycle employee) went down after rubbing Eric's wheel, so staying upright can't be easy.

5. I need to work on my aerobic & recovery systems. Laying down the power when necessary was no problem. If anything I passed people whenever there was an out of saddle roller or mini attack. My issue is that after that last attack, I couldn't recover well enough to stay with the leaders until the end.

Conclusion: If I raced more intelligently, i MAY have had the physical ability to win. I also probably would have been in that big pileup during the final sprint. Overall, I feel that I performed acceptably, and can use the knowledge from this race to improve my performance in the next one.

Alright. So there's my essay. Sorry it's so long. I hope it's helpful, and I hope I can learn from this and be a stronger and smarter rider next time.

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Old 08-19-06, 04:37 PM   #2
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Awesome report!

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Old 08-19-06, 04:38 PM   #3
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"I don't like this at all but nobody else wants to pull so I start slowing down. When I hit about 18mph, the entire peloton passes me going about 28. I struggle to accelerate but by the time i've matched their speed, I'm fairly far back and winded."
nice race. the above quote is something that happens all the time. when the speed gets that low people start getting antsy and eventually someone will take it as a prime time to attack.
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Old 08-19-06, 05:04 PM   #4
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11th out of 75 in a 46-mile RR is a hell of a first race. Great report, and congratulations!

I've learned in my cat 5 noobness that I always overestimate the potential of a breakaway group. Without even thinking about it I see a break, and move up to the front and start pushing the pace for no reason, because the break has always gotten caught. I caught on to this and learned to chill when a break goes off, and the pack catches them anyway.
"Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."
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Old 08-19-06, 05:45 PM   #5
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Great report, and nice race!

I had very similar experiences in the flat races I did as a Cat 5.
Now I only go to road races with big hills.

I had considered doing this race, but skipped it since it was too flat.

I can't tell you how many times I've chased a breakaway and brought the whole peloton with me.

I've learned to be patient and wait for someone else to do it, or I wait until there's a hill where I can break away and bridge solo.

As for peeing, I just make sure I'm hydrated the night before, and drink lightly on race morning. I always make one last pit stop 5 minutes before the start. Even if I don't feel like I need to go, I'm always able to go a little bit more.

I highly recommend practicing bumping, shoving, touching wheels, etc. I went to a clinic where all these were practiced and it helped tremendously with my confidence and bike handling.

Do you ever show up for the Tuesday night practice crits in GG Park at 6PM?
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Old 08-20-06, 09:10 AM   #6
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Great report and nice 1st race. Do some crits and report on those too please. listen to Pizza man, his stats floor me.
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Old 08-20-06, 09:33 AM   #7
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Quoted: 0 Post(s) not waste alot of energy chasing down every break. Don't try to be the Mother Theresa of the peloton. Always think in terms of allocating your energy output most effeciently. You'll need about 80%
of your gas tank during the closing miles and especially during the finish.

The first cat 5 I ever won was a break away win...but it wasn't because I attacked the group. I rode away with about 3-4 laps to go(criterium) after the group sat up after a prime. I guess they were tired. I merely kept my pace the same(didn't let up) and simply rode off the front. I looked back and saw I had a very good gap and no one was chasing up. That's when I made the decision to go full gas. I stayed away for two laps...and almost got caught at the line. I was exhausted by the effort to stay away.

I saw that I had a good gap and only had 2-3 laps to go. I decided to give the attack my all. That is an intelligent move. However, going off the front with an attack while you still have 20 miles of racing to go isn't quite so smart unless you know you are heads and shoulders above the rest of the riders. So I'd recommend that you not cook yourself doing a lot of chasing of these silly moves. 9 out of 10 will probably come back. The best thing you can do when these suicide attacks go off is to simply encourage the rest of the riders up front with you to slightly pick up the pace. It only takes a slight increase in the pace of the group to render a break impotent. Try to bring them in slowly and steadily rather than going all out. Work as a team. Don't be Mother Theresa. let them cook out there while the group works as a team to reel them in a little at a time. Try to bring them in where you guys can see them up the road. They are not dangerous if you can see them. You have to talk to the other riders and encourage them to manage these break aways. Some of the riders may not have a lot of racing experience and may not know to do this. win, you have to be willing to lose. In other words...refuse to kill your own chances by doing too much chasing of these breaks. It's a gamble or poker game in a sense. If you refuse to chase and the break succeeds then so be it. This is what I mean by 'willing to lose' in order to win. Most of the time they'll come back and your reluctance to do all the work chasing will pay off in the end. You are not going to win every race anyway. Winning 2-3 races out of 10 is a great percentage in bike racing. The best guy isn't always going to win. That's bike racing. If you do your training, and manage the race well, you'll always be up there with a shot to win.

Finally, the most underestimated and underdeveloped part of a road cyclist's array of weapons is the sprint. Do not neglect working on your sprint in training. Your results will improve exponentially when you build up your sprinting capabilities.

Last edited by oneradtec; 08-20-06 at 09:46 AM.
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