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Old 08-27-07, 08:51 PM   #1
asmallsol
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Why Cat 5 class is So hard for begginers

I've been riding for 3 years now. On a group ride up at school with some cat 3 racers, we were doing a hammer fest over some hills. At the end, one racer asked me if what class I raced in. I tell him I've never raced. He kinda urged me to start racing saying I would be close to cat 3 material as is. So I enter a race. First race, I finish mid pack. Nothing special. 2nd race, I try for both prenes, pull a close second in both, then finish 4th. Next crit, I enter was the crit state champs. I pull in 5th. I also did a lower level canadian crit where it was a much more relaxed feel, and 1 1/2 hrs long, and won 2 prenes/sprint points and finished 3rd.

Talking to some other racers (cat 3) they were saying with results like that, I would do fine in cat 4. This weekend, there are 4 crits (although only 1 is a US crit, the others in Canada ) So I request an upgrade to cat4.

Result: DENIED. The rules are clear I must do 10 mass starts before moving up. So that means for almost another half a season (we do not have that many crits around here) I will have to be in Cat5. In cat5 there are 2 diffrent groups that show up. The people that should be there legitimately, and those that are waiting to move up. At the crits that I have done, the pack always splits into two real quick. This is why.
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Old 08-27-07, 08:55 PM   #2
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The 5 ---> 4 rules are in place almost exclusively to ensure some level of experience before toeing the line as a 4. It has little or nothing to do with ability. Case in point, there are no upgrade points from 5 ---> 4. If you happen to dominate a 5 field, it's purely coincidental and probably not related to your experience as a cat 5 racer. Better to get the experience.

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Old 08-27-07, 09:10 PM   #3
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Cat-5 is not hard. Bike-racing has about 10-15% to do with fitness and strength and about 80-90% mental strategy and learning tactics. If you're able to keep up with cat-3s in training, you're throwing away all that fitness and speed on bad tactics. You should be able to win EVERY single cat-5 race you enter. Win 5 in a row and the DR will typically let you upgrade easily In the next race, relax and practice the following:

1. follow one guy and one guy only around the course. Do it for at least 2-5 laps. This teaches you to conserve energy and more importantly, how to follow a wheel. After 2-3 laps, if your guy is not keeping you near the front of the field, then look for another guy that's staying near the front and follow HIM and ONLY him

2. hold your line, similar to above. When the wheel in front of you goes left, you go left. When it goes it right, you go right. When it slows down, you slow down. When it speeds up, you speed up. These variations are much less extreme near the front of the pack

3. stop going for primes until you've won some races. But use them to learn how to read the other racers. Look after EVERY single prime and notice who are in the top-5 in contention for each one. Follow THEM around.

4. find the guys that's been winning those race you've entered and follow HIM around the entire race. Then sprint by him to take the win.

Good luck!
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Old 08-27-07, 09:16 PM   #4
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^^^ I swear it's like having Obi wan kenobi give racing advice.
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Old 08-27-07, 09:22 PM   #5
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Primes in a Cat5 race? not in Sourthern California.
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Old 08-27-07, 09:45 PM   #6
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Cat-5 is not hard. Bike-racing has about 10-15% to do with fitness and strength and about 80-90% mental strategy and learning tactics.
And the other half is pack skill, much of which is cerebellar and obtained only with real live practice.
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Old 08-27-07, 10:21 PM   #7
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Primes in a Cat5 race? not in Sourthern California.
Sometimes there are, but it depends on the race. When I was a cat 5 I won a Giro Atmos in the SDSR crit, but usually its a canister of Accelerade or some socks.
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Old 08-28-07, 05:01 AM   #8
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Cat-5 is not hard. Bike-racing has about 10-15% to do with fitness and strength and about 80-90% mental strategy and learning tactics. If you're able to keep up with cat-3s in training, you're throwing away all that fitness and speed on bad tactics. You should be able to win EVERY single cat-5 race you enter. Win 5 in a row and the DR will typically let you upgrade easily In the next race, relax and practice the following:

1. follow one guy and one guy only around the course. Do it for at least 2-5 laps. This teaches you to conserve energy and more importantly, how to follow a wheel. After 2-3 laps, if your guy is not keeping you near the front of the field, then look for another guy that's staying near the front and follow HIM and ONLY him

2. hold your line, similar to above. When the wheel in front of you goes left, you go left. When it goes it right, you go right. When it slows down, you slow down. When it speeds up, you speed up. These variations are much less extreme near the front of the pack

3. stop going for primes until you've won some races. But use them to learn how to read the other racers. Look after EVERY single prime and notice who are in the top-5 in contention for each one. Follow THEM around.

4. find the guys that's been winning those race you've entered and follow HIM around the entire race. Then sprint by him to take the win.

Good luck!
5. If the guy in front slows down, don't jam the brakes. Keep pedaling and slightly apply the brakes to slow yourself down. You don't have brakelights. If you slow sudddenly, you'll get nailed from behind.

6. Look ahead and see what's going on so you can anticipate speed changes or other issues so you don't ride into a problem.
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Old 08-28-07, 05:04 AM   #9
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6. Look ahead and see what's going on so you can anticipate speed changes or other issues so you don't ride into a problem.
The cheese-d*ck Army phrase applicable to racing is "Stay alert, stay alive."

Look side to side, near and far, and keep your ears open to what's going on behind you.
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Old 08-28-07, 06:09 AM   #10
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3. stop going for primes until you've won some races.
Yeah, asmallsol, stop listening to those idiots goading you into going for primes.




For everyone else's info, the last race around here was a 90+3 'B-level' (theoretically 3/4/5 combo); part of a season-long series. It was my first time there, but it seemed as if the people there were used to a PAINFULLY slow pace.

I don't have the willpower to do nothing all race on a Thursday. Maybe I would if it was an critical-to-me type race; but I'm just looking to have some fun and get in a good workout.
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Old 08-28-07, 06:15 AM   #11
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Do you have any training races in the area on weeknights? Doesn't matter which races you did, just that they are sanctioned. Sounds like your ditrict rep is being a bit of a hard-ass and playing the rules way to tight. Cat5's are for true beginners. You've passed that test.
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Old 08-28-07, 06:25 AM   #12
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Cat-5 is not hard. Bike-racing has about 10-15% to do with fitness and strength and about 80-90% mental strategy and learning tactics. If you're able to keep up with cat-3s in training, you're throwing away all that fitness and speed on bad tactics. You should be able to win EVERY single cat-5 race you enter.
+1 to this. During my racing retirement, after my weight ballooned from 165 to 220, I did a Cat 5 crit and got third just off experience. I was in horrible shape. Gotta suck to get worked by a fat guy with hairy legs on a 12 year old bike.
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Old 08-28-07, 08:42 AM   #13
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Cat-5 is not hard.
I coach a college team. At the beginning of our road season around 5-7 of our riders are racing for the first time. I tell all of them that a good goal is to finish your first bike race in the field. Skills are certainly part of the difficulty but the bigger one is the range of riders in the field. Some have been riding for years, others for one year, still others for weeks. They have varying athletic backgrounds (NCAA athletes to "I was pretty good in high school"). They all react differently to riding in a big pack for the first time.

The mark of these things goes on long after your first race. Further many people make riskier and riskier moves until they crash. This may be in the first, second, third, etc. race. Some people make training mistakes in the interim between races. Others develop anxiety.

By the time you get into cat 4 these differences have narrowed a bit. They're even less in 3.

The reason this is so surprising for people is because cycling development is crap. Several people I know have suggested that college racing is development. Development starting at 19 years old?!?
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Old 08-28-07, 08:56 AM   #14
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Primes in a Cat5 race? not in Sourthern California.
We have them here in MABRA too. Normally just prizes or gift certificates. No cash. I remember a crit in Frederick last year were they were giving away 6 packs of beer as primes in our 35+ 4/5 race.
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Old 08-28-07, 09:31 AM   #15
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I have seen a few primes in CAT 5 races in socal....

more importantly i have seen allot of (probably including myself) no talent riders.

Either way its awesome....i can't wait to upgrade early next year to 4s, i did the CAT 4/5 race last sunday at Ontario and it was nice and smooth in the front half....much jerkier and rough in the back half.
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Old 08-28-07, 09:39 AM   #16
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Cat-5 is not hard. Bike-racing has about 10-15% to do with fitness and strength and about 80-90% mental strategy and learning tactics.
You are, of course, referring to flat Cat 5 crits. I've yet to see anyone strategicize their way to victory on a course with any kind of hill.
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Old 08-28-07, 10:04 AM   #17
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Definitely more experience in the 4's, but you still see toolbags on seats here and there and at one circuit race in August a dude had lugged steel w/HUGE touring lights front and back on his bike and was attacking like a mofo.
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Old 08-28-07, 10:23 AM   #18
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Definitely more experience in the 4's, but you still see toolbags on seats here and there and at one circuit race in August a dude had lugged steel w/HUGE touring lights front and back on his bike and was attacking like a mofo.
I once heard about this dude who showed up for his first road race with argyle socks and an ancient Raleigh with a huge pie plate for a chain ring. He even talked smack before the start about buying people dinner if they could keep up with him.
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Old 08-28-07, 10:29 AM   #19
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You are, of course, referring to flat Cat 5 crits. I've yet to see anyone strategicize their way to victory on a course with any kind of hill.
yeah.....hills definitally create separation from those that have trained and those that haven't...the packs are way more strung out in hilly crits.
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Old 08-28-07, 10:30 AM   #20
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I once heard about this dude who showed up for his first road race with argyle socks and an ancient Raleigh with a huge pie plate for a chain ring. He even talked smack before the start about buying people dinner if they could keep up with him.
That would mentally cripple me.

I think I'll try it.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:16 AM   #21
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That would mentally cripple me.

I think I'll try it.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:23 AM   #22
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Experiment with tactics. Try sitting on wheels the whole race then sprinting for the finish. Try an early breakaway. Try a late breakaway. Try attacking immediately after a prime. Try attacking on a climb. Try attacking immediately after a climb. Try making friends before the race and at the start line and organize a breakaway with a couple other guys. Critique each race afterwards and think of other things you could have, or should have done differently, then try them next time. Cat-5 is for learning. Don't pass up the opportunity. No need to rush the upgrade either.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:49 AM   #23
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If you finished in the pack in your first race and got a top 5 in your second race and then the state championships, you're cat3 material. As said above, you just need to get some experience so you can use that power better and not take anyone out. Remember, the 4 guys that beat you are probably just holdouts or sandbaggers who should have upgraded to 4 already.
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Old 08-28-07, 01:26 PM   #24
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Others develop anxiety.
Oh wow, I didn't know this was something that develops.

I think I'm starting to have this issue. Every time I ride in a group now, I seem to get more and more nervous, thus getting more and more skittish. Mostly because I don't trust the guy in front of me, whereas before it wasn't an issue, as I didn't know what to expect.

Is there anything I can do to calm down?
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Old 08-28-07, 01:33 PM   #25
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Oh wow, I didn't know this was something that develops.

I think I'm starting to have this issue. Every time I ride in a group now, I seem to get more and more nervous, thus getting more and more skittish. Mostly because I don't trust the guy in front of me, whereas before it wasn't an issue, as I didn't know what to expect.

Is there anything I can do to calm down?


Baby steps. Find your own comfort zone, then up the ante a bit more, then a bit more and so on...

And no death grip.
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