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Old 03-26-08, 03:04 PM   #1
Gebrselassie
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18 y/o Question

I'm 18 years old and ran track in high school. In the 3200 I ran 10:05 and in the 1600 I ran 4:43. I have be cycling for about two years, but only this year I have been training more seriously. Last year I rode a lot, completing my first century, but haven't trained to race. This year for the past 2 months about I have been riding, usually on the trainer with pretty high resistance for 5-6 days a week, 1 or more hours at a time.

I plan on racing next spring in college, but I want to know where I would be at this summer, or what CAT could I be competitive with?
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Old 03-26-08, 03:08 PM   #2
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It doesn't matter what cat you could be competitive in, you'd start in the 5 field.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:11 PM   #3
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Cat 5. Everyone starts there...competitive or not, that depends upon the group rides you do and the results of your first race.

(I am curious too, my first race is not for a couple of weeks.)

btw, great times on the track!
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Old 03-26-08, 03:19 PM   #4
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FYI Running fitness doesn't hurt, but running results are no guarantee or indication of cycling aptitude in my opinion.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:24 PM   #5
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there is no real reason to wait until next spring to start. do some group rides, get comfortable with the whole paceline thing, and start racing when you are ready. cat 5 races are usually pretty short and don't require a huge amount of fitness to do decently.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:24 PM   #6
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Yeah I know that everyone starts CAT 5, but I was wondering if I would be able to hang with guys at a higher level or not. Thanks for the responses though.

The reason that I was going to start next spring is when the college road season beings, at least I think.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:28 PM   #7
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The only way to find out is to try it.

Or get a powertap and use that one chart. But don't do that. Yet anyway. Just go try it.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:29 PM   #8
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Why don't you ride with other people who race in CAT X and see if you can keep up.

There's no rule of thumb, though there is a wattage chart, but I doubt you can measure wattage.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:39 PM   #9
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Yeah I know that everyone starts CAT 5, but I was wondering if I would be able to hang with guys at a higher level or not. Thanks for the responses though.

The reason that I was going to start next spring is when the college road season beings, at least I think.
Why wait till next spring?

You have some degree of fitness, and you've been on the bike for a while now. Start with the local group rides, then the local races.
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Old 03-26-08, 03:56 PM   #10
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I think you'll be fine in a ride with Cat 2s as long as you can handle your bike like a Cat 2. Unfortunately that takes experience and some etiquette. Cat 4s easy, Cat 3s probably easy (getting into the bike handling there too).

The worst thing in a group is a strong rider who handles his bike like crap. Kind of like dropping a driving school dropout into a NASCAR car and expecting him to be able to handle a big field at 200 mph. You can't drop the rider because they're too strong, but the rider endangers everyone beside him and behind him.

To get group riding experience you'll have to ride in a group. Local shop rides are good, also local "affiliated with nothing" rides (Gimbles in NY for example). Sit at the back, get a feel for things, and start getting into the mix. Ride with smaller groups too, 2-3-4 riders. It helps if they feel they can give you constructive criticism because in a large group you just get yelled at. Small groups, hopefully more friendly, will explain what you shouldn't do (they may not explain what you should do, but that's nice if they do).

There's a local guy who is a bit older (Masters) who is a phenomenal runner. He took up cycling for whatever reason, heavily supports it. He's strong as heck but it doesn't matter because, except for pure physical type efforts (TTs, races with massive climbs), strong as heck is usually not enough to win races.

He's able to handily stay with 3s (break away from them etc) and he can race with 2s. He seemed to have gotten sick of not winning though so he went to some combination of running, biking, and swimming (maybe skipping the last thing). I think he's won at least one World Championships in his age group recently, i.e. he's no slouch.

But last few times I raced with him he didn't do well.

In mass start racing, tactics counts for 80% of things up until about the Cat 2 level (or whatever level you find yourself in where you can't just bully your way at the front the whole race). Then it quickly goes the other way.

My fitness, according to the various wattage/kg charts, is either Untrained or Cat 5. Yet I can place or win Cat 3 races. Granted my sprint wattage/kg rating is better than Untrained or Cat 5, but I'm pointing this out to show you that by virtue of simply being very fit, you'll be good to Cat 3. After that, it'll get tougher.

I'm pointing out this phenomenally fit Masters rider because he's an example of a strong runner who has not converted his insane aerobic capacity into an all-race dominating cyclist.

Remember bike handling is absolutely critical to riding with the strong riders. Drafting closely is important (I'd say under a foot at 25-30 mph). Holding your line (you should be able to ride pretty much on the white line without looking for a minute or two at a time, without freaking out). Riding next to each other (bumping shoulders or elbows should be regarded somewhat casually, a non-event). Cornering without taking out everyone around you (cornering in a group is completely unlike cornering by yourself).

I just realized you probably deal with close quarters running all the time, so you know what it's like to be in close quarters. Take what you realize you have to know to be able to run with others like you and apply it to cycling.

I hope you enjoy cycling, I hope you take it up, and I hope you don't live in the CT area Well, if you do, you'll be a 2 soon enough and I won't have to worry about you.

cdr
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Old 03-26-08, 04:02 PM   #11
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FYI Running fitness doesn't hurt, but running results are no guarantee or indication of cycling aptitude in my opinion.
Yep, looking at Lance's marathon finishes for proof.
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Old 03-26-08, 04:08 PM   #12
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CDR,

This time, I'm going to have to disagree with you.

I came into cycling fresh off a ~4:25 mile time trial a day or two before (it's been a while, and I don't have the stopwatch hanging on a coathook, but it was below 4:30). The day after that was the last time I ran seriously.

My experience has showed me that running fitness only translates to a certain degree. I'm a middling Cat 2, producing pretty good watts. I haven't won a Cat 5, 4, 3 or 2 race. My best placing, in all categories, is a 3rd place, with several 4ths, all in the 3s. All of those races involved "climbing", a rarity here in the midwest.

I'm not trying to knock the kid down. But I also don't want him to have expectations that are too high. When I first started riding, I thought I'd be a Cat2 before the end of my first season. My fitness was up there, right? Well, it was alright, but I failed to take into account the many other factors that come into play in a bike race. The reality of the situation was pretty depressing after building myself up to expect too much success.

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Old 03-26-08, 04:22 PM   #13
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FYI Running fitness doesn't hurt, but running results are no guarantee or indication of cycling aptitude in my opinion.
I personaly know a few guys who were great in college track, and after riding for a little over a year, they are handing Cat 1/2 guys their asses. They've got the heart and lungs, as well as the legs.

One of my friends teammates has only been cycling a handfull of years and got his first pro contract after only a few years of riding a bike. He also ran track in college.

I think it helps a lot
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Old 03-26-08, 04:32 PM   #14
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there are a lot of things about running that can help.

one of the biggest is that it forces you to learn about pacing. that, of course, translates very well to cycling.

it also hurts and feels horrible sometimes and you have to learn to deal with that. another good carry over to cycling.

and like CDR mentioned, you can get used to being in a pack. another bonus.



i've found running helped keep my overall fitness high. however, because cycling uses the muscles in a whole different way, it takes some time to develop that. i couldn't ever do both it seemed (in the same season). i would either be a good runner\poor cyclist or a good cyclist\poor runner.
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Old 03-26-08, 06:04 PM   #15
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CDR,

This time, I'm going to have to disagree with you.
I don't think you do. Fitness, as you pointed out, is one thing. Racing bikes is another. If a good runner figures out racing bikes, they'll be a good bike racer. If not, they'll make a good duathlete. Or whatever run/bike folks are called nowadays.

cdr
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Old 03-26-08, 06:39 PM   #16
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I don't think you do. Fitness, as you pointed out, is one thing. Racing bikes is another. If a good runner figures out racing bikes, they'll be a good bike racer. If not, they'll make a good duathlete. Or whatever run/bike folks are called nowadays.

cdr
Well, ok, fine. Sure, I've always had better legs and lungs than most of the people I raced against. It's just a completely different mindset from racing on the track, or cross country courses. In track/CC, the fastest guy is going to win 99% of the time. That 1% will be the state meet when they get nervous, can't eat/hydrate enough or hold it down, and blow up with a quarter mile to go.

In cycling, the guy who was away in a break the entire race, escaped when it started to fall apart, and soloed until half a lap to go only to get caught on the back straight DESERVES to win, but he doesn't, and that's the way the cookie crumbles.

I think that a lot of runners have a hard time getting over that fact; being strong does not guarantee success.
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Old 03-26-08, 06:40 PM   #17
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Thanks for the responses, especially cdr. I'm going to try to get involved in local group rides. They seem pretty hard to find though here (I'm across the sound from cdr). When I said competitive originally, I was just mainly referring to cat 4's, so I'm looking forward to trying my hand at some races this spring/summer.
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Old 03-26-08, 07:58 PM   #18
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My experience has showed me that running fitness only translates to a certain degree.
I'm a middling Cat 2, producing pretty good watts. I haven't won a Cat 5, 4, 3 or 2 race. My best placing, in all categories, is a 3rd place, with several 4ths, all in the 3s. All of those races involved "climbing", a rarity here in the midwest.
By god, there is hope for me yet. This made my day. I don't think I'll ever win a race but I can sure get close consistently.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:44 AM   #19
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Fast running times may indicate you're no couch potato, but it won't indicate how you'll do in a bike race. There are HUGE differences between foot races and bicycle races. To name just a few:

>drafting (the lead runner isn't working 30% harder than the runners behind him; the guy safely hidden in the middle of the bicycling pack whose heart rate is 75% is going just as fast as the guy on the front who is at a 90% heart rate)
>pack dynamics including the struggle to maintain positioning in a bike race
>the technical aspects (cornering for example)
>the pace changes, surges, and brutal attacks
>tactics

Bicycle racing is really like no other sport out there. Hell, bicycle racing is way different from even recreational bicycle riding. So comparing running with cycling, other than perhaps time-trialing, is comparing apples to oranges.

Best way to find out how you stack up is to give it a try, as has been suggested above.

Bob
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Old 03-27-08, 08:27 AM   #20
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Another problem I've seen runners hit when they come into bike racing is the highly variable pace. Surges are a big difference with running. You just don't get to pick your pace. I've seen several strong runners pop off the back during a surge, then be frustrated when the pack slows a bit, but is now 300m up the road.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:10 AM   #21
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FYI Running fitness doesn't hurt, but running results are no guarantee or indication of cycling aptitude in my opinion.
unless your name is pizzaman.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:22 AM   #22
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Judging by your avatar, you go to KU. Why don't you stop by the Spring Fling races at Clinton Lake and have a look? These next two saturdays are the last ones.
I'm not the most fit dude out there. If I have to pull for very long, I'm fried. But last week in the 5's, I managed to stay out of the wind the entire time and found the right wheels to stay on and came in 5th. If I had to race all those guys without drafting, I'd probably come in dead last.
Brian Jensen went to KU and was a cross country runner. He switched to cycling and is now on a domestic pro squad.
A few of the KU riders are now on the Cycle City racing team so look for them if you make it out there.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:28 AM   #23
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I'm 18 years old and ran track in high school. In the 3200 I ran 10:05 and in the 1600 I ran 4:43. I have be cycling for about two years, but only this year I have been training more seriously. Last year I rode a lot, completing my first century, but haven't trained to race. This year for the past 2 months about I have been riding, usually on the trainer with pretty high resistance for 5-6 days a week, 1 or more hours at a time.

I plan on racing next spring in college, but I want to know where I would be at this summer, or what CAT could I be competitive with?
I came from pretty much the same back round. 4:55 mile, 1:58 800, 50.1 400 at 16, and found that aerobically I could keep up with a 5's field, hell aerobically I could keep up with 3's. Muscles always gave out first. It takes about a year of consistent riding before muscle memory starts to set in and you really get comfortable on the bike Surges were also a big factor. It took me about a year before I was comfortably riding in the pack and I was trying to do 2-3 group rides a week, which helped a lot. Even slower ones will help to give you pack experience.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:43 AM   #24
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CDR,

This time, I'm going to have to disagree with you.

I came into cycling fresh off a ~4:25 mile time trial a day or two before (it's been a while, and I don't have the stopwatch hanging on a coathook, but it was below 4:30). The day after that was the last time I ran seriously.

My experience has showed me that running fitness only translates to a certain degree. I'm a middling Cat 2, producing pretty good watts. I haven't won a Cat 5, 4, 3 or 2 race. My best placing, in all categories, is a 3rd place, with several 4ths, all in the 3s. All of those races involved "climbing", a rarity here in the midwest.

I'm not trying to knock the kid down. But I also don't want him to have expectations that are too high. When I first started riding, I thought I'd be a Cat2 before the end of my first season. My fitness was up there, right? Well, it was alright, but I failed to take into account the many other factors that come into play in a bike race. The reality of the situation was pretty depressing after building myself up to expect too much success.
I started life as a runner, HS and College. Ended cycling as another middling Cat 2. I would say the biggest difference, especially for a middle distace or greater runner, is that Cycling demands speed. If you want to do yourself a favor take all of that running fitness, focus on short/fast intervals, and improve your speed and recovery.

Cycling, here (read Criteriums) is all about having the quickness and recovery to put yourself into good positions. Then the speed to take advantage. There are a lot of guys out there who can motor all day long but cant deal with speed.

Think about the craziest, most tactical running race you were ever in. Surge, recovery, surge. Thats what every bike race is gonna be like.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:55 AM   #25
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I came from pretty much the same back round. 4:55 mile, 1:58 800, 50.1 400 at 16, and found that aerobically I could keep up with a 5's field, hell aerobically I could keep up with 3's. Muscles always gave out first. It takes about a year of consistent riding before muscle memory starts to set in and you really get comfortable on the bike Surges were also a big factor. It took me about a year before I was comfortably riding in the pack and I was trying to do 2-3 group rides a week, which helped a lot. Even slower ones will help to give you pack experience.
In contrast, I ran a 5:20 mile, and a 49.4 400 and I can't hang with ANYBODY.
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