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Old 02-01-07, 10:32 AM   #1
CarlJStoneham
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Cat 5 just to say I have it?

I've toyed with the notion of maybe getting a license just to say I have one. By that, I mean that I doubt I'll ever excel at the sport, but having a license and racing from time-to-time might be that extra little bit of fun and motivation to keep me on the bike on those dreary days...

Anyway, could someone give me some basic ideas of what Cat 5 is like? Is it basically guys like me who just want to try it out then the small group that's already on their way to the next level? Is it high-speed, long-distance riding? Are there freds that just muddle through and cross the finish line so they can say "I finished a race"?

A little about me in case it's important:
6'4", 250 (should be able to get back to 230 by mid-summer)
AvS on "moderate difficulty" rides = 17-18
Pack riding experience = the occassional group ride (I'm at least smart enough to know what I don't know so I try not to be stupid). On MS150's, I occassionally act as the "wind shield" for slower groups and have received compliments before on "keeping it steady".
2005 Trek 1500

Please don't be TOO harsh.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:38 AM   #2
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Cat 5 is a mish mash. People of all age groups and abilities have to start here. You get one day license holders who are triathletes that can hammer. You get one dayers who are doing the race because it's near where they live. You get 16 year olds racing next to 50 year olds. There are those who have never been in a pack before. You'll get a few people who don't want to upgrade to cat 4 because they like winning the cat 5 races.

Races can be fast or slow. Depends on the day, the field and the competition.

Just give it a shot, maybe buy a one-day license for $10 so you don't have to pay the whole $60.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:38 AM   #3
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You'd be running for president of the OCP club if you just got a license to have it! Really, though, Cat5 races are somewhat brutal to the beginner because most people don't realize that a race pace is hammering from the gun (most of the time). The learning curve is quick in Cat5, though, so you'll catch on if you stick with it. Just try to avoid being in the back half of the pack. 50+ inexperienced people hammering like mad men leads to some dumb moves, and inevitably, crashes. You don't want to be trapped and surrounded by a bunch of riders when people go down in front of you.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:38 AM   #4
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cat 5 is a random assortment of riders. some guys will have done over 10 races already and are reasonably fast, and some guys will be brand spanking new. you might see someone in their 60's or a kid still in high school.

it's almost impossible to be out of place in a cat 5 race. unless, you show up on one of these: click
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Old 02-01-07, 10:39 AM   #5
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It really is a mixed bag, with some people that are very fit and fast, on their way up, some folks not as fit and fast, but still working pretty hard at it, and some people just trying out racing. The latter people getted dropped quick, and either work harder and come back, or decide its not for them.

The races do not tend to be long at all. (30-40 minutes for a crit, 30-40 miles for a RR is about typical)

But they're surprisingly fast. Not necessarily in average speed, but the surges can be high 20's low 30's.


You should definitely give it a shot. Only way to figure out if its for you, and how much more work you'll need to be competitive is to try it.

One problem with the "freds that just muddle through to say I finished" is that in a lot of races particularly crits, the officials will pull you if you're not in contention, and are in risk of getting lapped.

However, sometimes in smaller races, particularly in training series races, they'll let you jump in the back of the pack after getting lapped, just so you can get more trianing with the group. (but you can't contest the finishing sprint, or any prime sprints.)

I would reccomend finding where the local fast training ride is. Go out with them a few times, which will improve your fitness, and your pack skills, then sign up and give it a go.

You don't even have to buy a year's license, you can just do a one day license, and decide if its for you.

Last edited by merlinextraligh; 02-01-07 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanknight
You'd be running for president of the OCP club if you just got a license to have it!
Heheh. Title probably wasn't a good one. I meant have one so I can ride in the occassional race just to do something different.

As for staying out of wrecks, I've been incredibly lucky on the bike. What's needed, realistically, to stay out of that pack and run with the other? What should I be able to do on my own as a test to see if I'm ready?
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Old 02-01-07, 10:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
You should definitely give it a shot. Only way to figure out if its for you, and how much more work you'll need to be competitive is to try it.
I would say to try at least 3 races. The first one is most likely going to be an eye opener and nothing more than that. The next two will show if you can kick it up a notch to hang in the pack for longer.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:44 AM   #8
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You won't know till you try. If you're a betting man, bet on going to your first cat 5 race and learning that it's a lot faster than you think. You'll likely get shelled. This will either motivate you to train harder and come back stronger next time, or you'll hate it and get discouraged, never to race again.

Either way, you can make that determination with a 1-day license. Good luck!
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Old 02-01-07, 10:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
You'd be running for president of the OCP club if you just got a license to have it!


I'll sell someone my 2006 license. It has a cute little cat 3 sticker on it.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:45 AM   #10
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i'm pretty much in this boat. luckily, there are some clinics and team rides around that are friendly to squirrely fools like myself. the more i learn the more i have to learn, but i'll probably try a few races this season just to see what it's like.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlJStoneham
As for staying out of wrecks, I've been incredibly lucky on the bike. What's needed, realistically, to stay out of that pack and run with the other? What should I be able to do on my own as a test to see if I'm ready?
You need to be constantly aware of where you are. Packs are individual riders fighting for the "sweet spot" in the pack, so if you snooze for half a second, you will slip to the back of the pack and be spit out before you even realized people had passed you. Notice the size of the pack before the race, and make sure that no more than 1/4 of them are in front of you in the pack. Constantly recheck and hammer to keep in position. The middle of the pack sucks you along while the sides, front, and back all have wind or turbulants that you have to overcome. But I can't stress enough how easy it is for riders to squeeze you out of that spot.

You really can't test to see if you're ready. I've never really found anything that simulates racing. Maybe find a group of racers and hammer on a training ride with them, but even that doesn't have the same dynamic of a race. Nike said it best. Just do it. If you fail, do it again.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by cat4ever
I'll sell someone my 2006 license. It has a cute little cat 3 sticker on it.
That isn't worth the stamp to mail it to me. Let me know when it says Cat1
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Old 02-01-07, 10:51 AM   #13
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One mistake I think USCF makes is pushing membership strictly as a racing license. They should just encourage all cyclists to become members of USCF to support the sport. I'd suggest two membership levels:

X for supporting members
X + $10 for racing license

I think thats the way the Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) does it.
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Old 02-01-07, 10:54 AM   #14
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you could get some nice video footage of you racing, like this
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Old 02-01-07, 10:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dial_tone
One mistake I think USCF makes is pushing membership strictly as a racing license. They should just encourage all cyclists to become members of USCF to support the sport. I'd suggest two membership levels:

X for supporting members
X + $10 for racing license

I think thats the way the Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) does it.
I'd agree with that. Of course you can always buy the license just to support the orginization. There have been a fair number of years where my license fee was essentially a donation.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlJStoneham
Anyway, could someone give me some basic ideas of what Cat 5 is like?
No, no one can give you that. Anyone who pretends to is lying. You are going to have to try it yourself. And try several different ones...different types of races, different areas, etc. No two races are the same.


Quote:
Is it basically guys like me who just want to try it out then the small group that's already on their way to the next level?
Yes. Even if you have ability of a Pro, you have to start in the 5s. If you're good you won't want to stay there long.


Quote:
Is it high-speed, long-distance riding?
High-speed, maybe, depending on the race. Long-distance, probably not so much, but there are a few that I know of that are long-ish.


Quote:
Are there freds that just muddle through and cross the finish line so they can say "I finished a race"?
Yes.


Quote:
A little about me in case it's important:
[...]
Pack riding experience = the occassional group ride (I'm at least smart enough to know what I don't know so I try not to be stupid). On MS150's, I occassionally act as the "wind shield" for slower groups and have received compliments before on "keeping it steady".
[...]
That's probably the most relevant bit there, and your experience certainly won't hurt. But be prepared to find that riding in a pack during a race is frighteningly different from riding in a paceline with your local club or tourist/century-type ride. Sure, it's for "fun" and all, but the people next to you are not necessarily your buddies and they are not going to care if you can't hang on.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:04 AM   #17
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you could get some nice video footage of you racing, like this
Aiyaah... Oh no...
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Old 02-01-07, 11:04 AM   #18
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Carl

To use a tired worn out marketing slogan, just do it, I'm 42, I used to be 250, now around 220, I tried racing last year becuase I wanted to see what its like. I am athletic enough to jump into sports and have some success and then move on to the next sport, 8 years ago it was tennis, then I tried triathlons, easy enough to get to the mid-competetive level, why not try cycling. Whooooo. What a difference, I have had every newbie thing happen, dropped first couple of races, DNFs, yelled at by a ref, and I can't get enough of it. I haven't had a challenge like this since I was a competitive wrestler in my long ago youth. Whether i finish last or mid pack, I always feel like I hvae accomplished something after a race. I am learning and it gets better, not easier, just better.

Try it, its the only way to find out if its for you.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:04 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botto
you could get some nice video footage of you racing, like this
i love that video. most pointless crash ever.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:06 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrPete
Aiyaah... Oh no...
Quote:
Originally Posted by timmhaan
i love that video. most pointless crash ever.
it still makes me laugh so hard, that my eyes get all teary.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:07 AM   #21
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it still makes me laugh so hard, that my eyes get all teary.
Me too.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:09 AM   #22
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Me too.

That "Aiyaah... Oh no..." should be a cause of concern for Phil Ligget
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Old 02-01-07, 11:19 AM   #23
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I'd agree with that. Of course you can always buy the license just to support the orginization. There have been a fair number of years where my license fee was essentially a donation.
I agree entirely. But, IMO, the strong emphasis on the racing aspect discourages people from doing that. I think there are a lot of people, myself included, that think "I'd like to support USCF but I don't want to be a racer". They could by referring to the payment as "membership" instead of "racing license". To me that is the sticking point.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:23 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dial_tone
I think there are a lot of people, myself included, that think "I'd like to support USCF but I don't want to be a racer".
I think you can do that, or pretty close, by donating to the USA Cycling Development Foundation.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:35 AM   #25
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I found Cat. 5 racing to be incredibly more aggressive than even my fastest club rides. Lots of jockeying for position, because good positioning is a big part of successful racing. No one will let you back in if you lose your spot. No one cares about being smooth or steady or whether their surging is annoying you or making you suffer. It's an every-man-for-himself freeforall.

I found the cornering to be measurably faster than even my fastest club rides because there is more risk-taking, the roads are generally closed to traffic (so you're not worried about sliding out in a turn and getting hit by an SUV), and corners are where you can make or break a race (especially in crits.).

I found the pace to be faster, LONGER than my fastest club rides. In club rides, even fast ones, you invariably hit a stop sign or traffic light, stop and wait for the guy who flats, take a pee break or a water break, or just let up because no one wants to suffer for too long. In a real race, you never stop till the end. You're always going fast, and then even faster, and you never get to fully recover. I've coughed up blood in crits. which I've never had happen in a club ride.

But racing is such a RUSH!

Bob
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