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  1. #1
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    how fast to start racing?

    Hey kids.

    So, I got a cycle computer. The great thing is, I can see how fast I ride. The disheartening thing is, I can see how fast I ride

    So, I was wondering a few things...

    1.) I hear about crits and such, what type of racing would one be doing if one just wanted to do 25-50 miles on a road bike?

    2.) what type of pace should one be able to maintain before they start thinking about racing?

    3.) Any other advice for a timid newb looking at getting into a race or two to see if they like it?

    Thanks.

    -- james
    It is easy to win an argument, but the greater reward is to win an ally.

  2. #2
    Senior Member YATES's Avatar
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    I'm new to racing myself but:

    a. 25-50 miles on a road bike would be entering your basic, good ole, road race. A cat 5 race (what you would be) are typically 25-40 miles in length.

    b. You can start racing at any level. But, if you don't want to get dominated. I'd suggest being able to maintain at least a 19 mph pace on a solo ride and 23 mph group ride pace. I hear that the average speed for a peloton of 50, cat 5 race, is around 23 mph. (the draft REALLY is helpful in maintaining this speed) I assume that most people don't get their first win until they have done several races, and develop the stamina to put in a strong sprint/breakaway at the end of the race.

    c. considering a newb is giving you this information, i can't give you any more tips haha.

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    It's not so much the average speed, but the wicked acceleration that you have to deal with. Gotta be able to go from 18mph to 35mph instantly without blowing up and getting shelled. Then go for 23mph for a couple of seconds and recover. Then brake down to 18mph, then sprint up to 35 again... repeat 4x per lap, and you get the idea. And that's only 2% of racing anyway.

    The majority of racing is mental and skills based. You gotta be able to handle the bike and fly around the corners while scraping your pedals and handlebars on the ground. Gotta be able to draft 6" behind someone smoothly and follow their line. Then you need to learn to maneuver around a pack with people elbow-to-elbow with you. Finally, you gotta learn how to read people and figure out the fast ones to follow around and the slow ones to avoid. You want to sit behind the wheel of the guy that's gonna get 2nd place.

  4. #4
    Senior Member I saw Elvis's Avatar
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    FWIT I've seen plenty of really strong riders get shelled out in crits just because they can't handle the change in pace, despite being really strong and able to ride 'fast'. And equally I've seen plenty of riders (often myself included ) who have had decent finishes in the peloton just by being able to handle the acceleration and the sprinting in and out of corners, despite not being the fast on the day.
    As has been said the change in pace is the killer.
    But having said that the best way to see if you're up to it is to give it a go and to learn from the experience. I'll guarantee that there will be riders like yourself and that you'll do as well if not better than them - enjoy
    I grew up as a kid idolising those hero's in the Tour de France, Indurain and everyone like that. It was almost a childhood dream to ride the Tour de France. The last 2 years my childhood dream which became a reality has been pissed all over by certain members of the peloton. - Bradley Wiggins 27th July 2007.

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  5. #5
    In beaurocratic limbo urbanknight's Avatar
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    +1 on the change of pace. If you can hold 20 mph on a flat course, you might be "strong enough" but you have to remember for everyone willing to suffer, there's someone willing to suffer a little more for the win. The only way to tell is by going out and trying a few races (and I mean more than 1 or 2). Considering where you live, crits are the most common. Just give it a try.
    "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I saw Elvis
    FWIT I've seen plenty of really strong riders get shelled out in crits just because they can't handle the change in pace, despite being really strong and able to ride 'fast'. And equally I've seen plenty of riders (often myself included ) who have had decent finishes in the peloton just by being able to handle the acceleration and the sprinting in and out of corners, despite not being the fast on the day.
    As has been said the change in pace is the killer.
    But having said that the best way to see if you're up to it is to give it a go and to learn from the experience. I'll guarantee that there will be riders like yourself and that you'll do as well if not better than them - enjoy

    What is it that makes some people naturally better at handling the speed surges than others? Is it a question of anaerobic capacity? or fast-twitch vs. slow-twitch muscle? To improve on this sort of thing (ie speed surges & attacks) I suppose that is a matter of doing the appropriate intervals, some group rides and good racing experience?

  7. #7
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
    What is it that makes some people naturally better at handling the speed surges than others? Is it a question of anaerobic capacity? or fast-twitch vs. slow-twitch muscle? To improve on this sort of thing (ie speed surges & attacks) I suppose that is a matter of doing the appropriate intervals, some group rides and good racing experience?
    Training. Lots of sprints & intervals. Work on getting as high a top-speed as possible and 1-minute interval speeds. When I was in top shape, I could sprint all out for a prime, then sit and wait for the pack to catch and by the time we re-grouped, I'd be fully recovered and ready to go again. Practice-crits are great for getting the necessary intervals in, especially the yo-yo effect when you get stuck at the back of the pack.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 05-05-07 at 02:04 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member aicabsolut's Avatar
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    Not necessarily anaerobic capacity or type of mucles. What I think Danno is getting at is recovery time (and being able to recover without coming to a crawl). Interval training helps shorten your recovery times between sprint efforts.

  9. #9
    Will race for points dl613's Avatar
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    Everyone will have a different first race experience but the only way to know is to try it. Don't be afraid to be dropped just try it. +1 on all of the surge talk, try to incorporate some intervals into your rides and be prepared to hurt.

    Go do it, have fun and post a race report. Tell your wife/gfriend or whatever to be ready for you to give her the play by play for about a week.

    Good luck.
    Best finish this season-2nd with a prime $$$

    worst: DNF-flatted on crit

  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    IMHO, the only prerequisite to racing is having good bike handling and group riding skills. If you haven't done any group rides, go out and do some. If you've done some group rides, find the local trianing rides where the fast guys train. Do a few of those rides till your comfortable, and then go race.

    You'll get as much or more benefit doing the training rides, as you will going into a race cold and getting shelled, and you'll be much safer.

  11. #11
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    It's not so much the average speed, but the wicked acceleration that you have to deal with. Gotta be able to go from 18mph to 35mph instantly without blowing up and getting shelled. Then go for 23mph for a couple of seconds and recover. Then brake down to 18mph, then sprint up to 35 again... repeat 4x per lap, and you get the idea. And that's only 2% of racing anyway.

    The majority of racing is mental and skills based. You gotta be able to handle the bike and fly around the corners while scraping your pedals and handlebars on the ground. Gotta be able to draft 6" behind someone smoothly and follow their line. Then you need to learn to maneuver around a pack with people elbow-to-elbow with you. Finally, you gotta learn how to read people and figure out the fast ones to follow around and the slow ones to avoid. You want to sit behind the wheel of the guy that's gonna get 2nd place.
    Great post. I saw this in action in my first road race....except people were braking on straight stretches of road for whatever reason....but the accelerations weren't *as bad* as the crit I was in. I'm a race noob, and am learning more and more each race.

    The hard part I noticed is if you're towards the back of the pack, and in a peloton that's large enough to where you can't see the guys in the front and are out of touch with what's going on. For example, we took a left-hand turn and then went up a small climb.....turns out a few guys attacked up the climb, and the peloton responded - at the time, it was hard for us guys in back to determine if it was just the peloton doing a short sprint out of the corner, or if someone was going off the front. Turns out it was the latter, and when things got strung out enough to see this (i.e., falling off the back), we could see 4 riders at the top of the hill with the peloton in full tilt chasing them. Those 5-6 seconds of uncertainty kinda killed things for quite a few of us. The guys at the back had to work a bit harder to maintain contact, and as a result a bunch of us resorted to trying to chase down the peloton the rest of the race. Builds character, fitness and experience though .

    Sadly, I was up towards the front of the peloton earlier on, but for whatever reason drifted back a bit. Had I managed to hold my position near the front, perhaps I would've stayed with the group. As I am finding out more and more, positioning is key, and can sometimes be even more important than brute strength. However....that alone won't make up for not having an engine that is capable of getting you to the finish.

    If you're new to riding, I would personally suggest getting some miles in the legs first, and some group rides in and work on your bike handling skills....but that's just me. I'm not naturally gifted, and am not one of those guys who can jump on a bike, ride for 5 months and then start placing in races like some others on here have done. I have slightly less than 2 years back in my legs now, and *ideally* would have liked another solid year or so, but I didn't want to wait any longer.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

  12. #12
    Struggling at the Back Ghostman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarWizard
    Great post. I saw this in action in my first road race....except people were braking on straight stretches of road for whatever reason....but the accelerations weren't *as bad* as the crit I was in. I'm a race noob, and am learning more and more each race.

    The hard part I noticed is if you're towards the back of the pack, and in a peloton that's large enough to where you can't see the guys in the front and are out of touch with what's going on. For example, we took a left-hand turn and then went up a small climb.....turns out a few guys attacked up the climb, and the peloton responded - at the time, it was hard for us guys in back to determine if it was just the peloton doing a short sprint out of the corner, or if someone was going off the front. Turns out it was the latter, and when things got strung out enough to see this (i.e., falling off the back), we could see 4 riders at the top of the hill with the peloton in full tilt chasing them. Those 5-6 seconds of uncertainty kinda killed things for quite a few of us. The guys at the back had to work a bit harder to maintain contact, and as a result a bunch of us resorted to trying to chase down the peloton the rest of the race. Builds character, fitness and experience though .

    Sadly, I was up towards the front of the peloton earlier on, but for whatever reason drifted back a bit. Had I managed to hold my position near the front, perhaps I would've stayed with the group. As I am finding out more and more, positioning is key, and can sometimes be even more important than brute strength. However....that alone won't make up for not having an engine that is capable of getting you to the finish.

    If you're new to riding, I would personally suggest getting some miles in the legs first, and some group rides in and work on your bike handling skills....but that's just me. I'm not naturally gifted, and am not one of those guys who can jump on a bike, ride for 5 months and then start placing in races like some others on here have done. I have slightly less than 2 years back in my legs now, and *ideally* would have liked another solid year or so, but I didn't want to wait any longer.
    +1000
    "Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from the sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me."

    --Tim Krabbe, "The Rider"

  13. #13
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    You just have to experience a good race to fully appreciate it. I overheard one newbie racer at my last race tell her apparrent husband in an exasperated voice, "you just don't know what it is like out there!!" I feel that! Those people are fast. You start off and think it is a nice easy ride. I even sometimes have found myself thinking, "comeon guys, let's get this race rolling." Then, 12 minutes later my legs are screaming at me, my lungs are begging for mercy and I am clawing at the back of the pack and wondering if the people in the front are human when they jump out of the saddle and sprint out of a corner like they are on fire. It is great competition....and there WILL come a day when I will rip someone's legs off in a sprint out of a corner.
    __________________________________
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