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  1. #1
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    Road Racing Advice/Tips

    I'm pretty new to this forum, but in reading the posts, it seems as though this will be the 1st year racing for alot of folks. When I 1st started, which wasnt very long ago, I thought my fitness was good but my results sucked, so of course I started whining on another bicycle racing forum. Copied below is a reply I got from a more experienced forum member who unfortunatley was killed in a bicycling accident last year. There are some good tips for new racers and some good points to re-visit for more experienced racers. Hope it is beneficial.


    Generally a race gets a lot faster over the last few laps as everyone tries to move forward for the sprint. It sound to me like you need to work on both your speed and your ability to hold a postion in the pack near the end. It could also be that you simply don't have the makeup either physically or psychologoically to be a field sprinter, if that is the case you need to start figuring out how to get away during the race. It isn't a crime not to be able to do well in field sprints some can and some can't. Ultimately, this isn't a function of your training plan or whether or not you are "peaked" it is about knowing how to ride and race properly which you cannot get from doing intervals or following a training plan, it comes from time, experience and getting your ass kicked enough times that you start to get everything sorted out. It is possible that many of the guys who finish in front of you do so not because they are more fit but because they are better riders and know how to handle themselves in a pack sprint better than you do. Maybe find some guys who seem to do well in field sprints and ask them how they do it. Most will tell you that it is a matter of finding and following the right wheel. Generally, the same 10 guys will end up doing well in field sprints and they tend to kind of follow one another and all end up at the front at the same time. It is like a little chess game, sometimes somebody gets stuck in front at the wrong time and ends up leading things out and gets screwed and other times they hit the front at the right time and win, but it is generally the same few guys who do well in field sprints time after time. So, figure out who always seems to do well and put yourself on their wheel with about 3 to go and stay there, chances are you will do better in a sprint.

    In the end, this isn't really about fitness, it is about knowing how to ride and race. You can have a motor like a Ferrari, but if you are missing the steering wheel, you are not going to get very far.

    Here are a couple of cheap tips which may help your racing, then again maybe not.

    1. NEVER EVER pull when you are in the field (this rule does not apply to break aways or if you are part of an organized chase). If you are in the field and are going to find yourself at the front ATTACK. Stick it to someone else and make them hurt getting up to you. When you get caught, pull off. If you are pulling you are helping everyone else in the race beat YOU.

    2. There are only two things you should ever be doing in the field if you are really part of the race and not just field filler. The first is ATTACKING the second is planning/getting ready to ATTACK, anything other than that and you are just along for the ride.

    3. When you are racing, if you want to maintain your position in the field, for every rider you notice moving past you, figure that you have to move yourself past three other riders to hold your spot as you most likely missed at least two riders moving up.

    Good luck, keep plugging along, it takes time to learn how to race, I have been at it 33years and still manage to learn something new every year. In racing once you have reached the point where you are not getting dropped from the pack the whole thing becomes less and less about fitness and more and more about smarts and skill.

  2. #2
    Mostly Harmless Dead Extra #2's Avatar
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    That sounds like good advice. I fell off the back of my first ever race last year, and it had damn little to do with fitness.
    --
    If your relationship still works, you could be training harder.

  3. #3
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    Good post. The very last line sums it all up. You need a certain level of fitness just to be able to hang. After that, tactics, ride-management, handling skills, awareness, good decision-making, drafting, and positioning all become more important than raw fitness.

    Bob

  4. #4
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Totally off topic, but how did the OP of the article die?

  5. #5
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    I'd add that you can save a lot of energy staying near the front of the race. If you can hang in the top 10, but out of the top 5 you can still get a great draft, but you don't have to deal with accordian accelerations like the guys at the back of the pack (coast, sprint, coast, sprint, yuck).

    In the higher categories, the pack flows up the sides from the back, and it becomes very difficult to stay near the front. In these instances, it can help to move up even further, into the top 5 -- but still stay off the front. The pack flow won't get to the front five very often, as everyone finds a way in a little bit back. This will make for a much smoother ride.

    Approaching a corner, shift down one cog. If you're far back in the pack, shift down two or three as the accordian effect will have a 28mph rider at the front of the pack, with a 12mph rider at the back -- all through the same corner. When you get out of the corner, you're going to have to sprint back up to speed and compress your part of the accordian, and you'll hurt your legs a lot less in a proper sprinting gear.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
    Totally off topic, but how did the OP of the article die?
    It was reported that while he was on a regular group ride there was a crash and he ended up sliding out into traffic where he was struck and killed by a car.

    While not quite as notorious as Sidney, he was nonetheless well known and respected on the message board where his death was reported.

    Bob

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
    Totally off topic, but how did the OP of the article die?


    http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/9658.0.html

  8. #8
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    In the lower cats, if it comes down to a mass sprint on the last lap (as it usually does) try going early on the last lap, a few corners from where you know the sprint will wind up for the finish. If you can make a clean, decisive break in a lower cat race, the field generally will not chase you down. They will figure, OK, he won, I'll try for second.

    This usually does not work in the higher cats.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
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    Some great advice has been posted. Here's what I can add:

    1) Be like "Mary, Mary, quite contrary." If the pace is low ride in the top 5 of the group and attack or follow one. If the pace is high, don't worry about your position so much. Instead focus on drafting, controlling your breathing, and doing anything else you can to relax. Sometimes the fastest sprinter wins, sometimes the best rested rider wins.

    2) Use the other teams in the race. Most of the time, teams that make a move later in races are successful. There are probably only one or two that can make that kind of a move, so shadow their big guns and follow them.

    3) Only brake when you absolutely, positively need to.

  10. #10
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ri_us
    Be like "Mary, Mary, quite contrary." If the pace is low ride in the top 5 of the group and attack or follow one. If the pace is high, don't worry about your position so much. Instead focus on drafting, controlling your breathing, and doing anything else you can to relax.
    Why do you advocate this? Lots of riders much better than I advocate attacking when the pace is at it's highest, like up a climb. Not trying to sharpshoot you, I'd just like to know your reasoning.

  11. #11
    Eternal Cat3 Rookie branman1986's Avatar
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    I'd guess probably because you could put some sick distance in quickly if you caught it right?

  12. #12
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    ri us, and Snuffleupagus, I think you're talking about 2 different moves.

    An attack when the pace is low has the chance of getting a clean seperation, which I think is ri us' point.

    Attacking when the pace is very high on the flats is going to be hard to get away, and may waste a ton of energy for a couple of second gap that can't be held.

    However, attacking when everybody else is hurting on a climb may get you seperation if no one else can respond, and may crack some of your competitors.

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