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Old 04-28-08, 09:14 AM   #1
lightbulb
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I feel like a sandbagger

But I'm not. I'm just following the upgrade rules.

I raced the Binghamton circuit race yesterday. It was my 2nd mass start uscf race, but I've been doing thursday night training races for a couple of weeks, and I've done well in those so far. The event was setup so that almost everyone would have a chance to race twice, so I signed up for the Cat 5 race at 11:15 and the 3-4-5 race at 1:15.

For the Cat 5 race, I felt like I was barely moving for almost the entire race. The course was fairly flat with one long downhill and a gradual uphill at the finish line, so a breakaway was not the best strategy. I knew the this race would most likely come down to a field sprint, and I watched as the first few breakaway attempts were brought back without too much trouble. As we rolled around the final lap, I got myself into a decent position and tried to make sure that nobody would be in my way. Coming up to the finish, I waited until the first few guys went (earlier than I was expecting, again), and launched up the hill. I ended up catching the guy who had left really early and breezed past him. It almost looked like he had let up because he thought he had won the race, but when I came barreling up the hill, he let out an "oh s***". I heard later that he had supposedly clipped out, but it didn't look that way to me. So I got my first official USCF win.

After that race I felt like I had just done a warm-up for the next race. I realized that the pace felt slow, incredibly slow at times. I asked another of the stronger riders in the 5s, and he felt the same way.

In the 3-4-5 race, my goal was just to sit in and see what the pace was, and then just try some different tactics to see what worked and what didn't. On the 4th or 5th lap (out of 15), I tried to get on a breakaway with another strong rider from the 5s. We were brought back pretty quickly. I again decided that I should just sit in and wait for the sprint. Over the next few laps, we had some interesting stuff going on. At one point an 18 wheeler pulled onto the course in between the breakaway and the pack, and someone ran into my back wheel, causing a crash. After another 2 laps, the race was finally neutralized and they brought everyone back together. On the last lap, the pace ramped up considerably, and I struggled to get myself into position. I moved up with another rider who I thought was going to contest the sprint, but when we hit the hill, he just sat up and I was blocked in. To make matters worse, my left hamstring started to cramp when I stood up, so I just soft pedaled up the hill.

I guess I should enjoy these early wins, but I feel like I'm just in the wrong category. I'm racing as much as possible to upgrade quickly. I know they want you to do 10 mass start races for the experience, but I feel like I handle my bike pretty well. It's still fun, but I'm looking forward to more tactics, and not just "the fastest guy wins".
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Old 04-28-08, 09:26 AM   #2
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Congrats on the win!

Just my 2c: reading your report, and having mentored some new racers, there's a good chance you were at fault in that crash. Panic braking is a common new racer mistake. Brake gently, as little as possible. Look far ahead so you have time to slow gradually. Always stay relaxed.
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Old 04-28-08, 09:39 AM   #3
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Just my 2c: reading your report, and having mentored some new racers, there's a good chance you were at fault in that crash. Panic braking is a common new racer mistake. Brake gently, as little as possible. Look far ahead so you have time to slow gradually. Always stay relaxed.
I was wondering if this would come up.

Well, it was just a bad situation. The pack was being squeezed into basically a single file line as we were attempting to pass the semi on the right, and the semi-driver was giving us enough room to do so. I was following one other person. The person that I was following lightly tapped his brakes, and I did the same, but unfortunately, the person behind me didn't. So yes, I was involved, but I don't feel like I was the direct cause. I really just did what I needed to in order to avoid crashing into the person in front of me.

If I were leading, I would have just ramped it up and passed the semi. I commute in traffic almost every day, so I'm used to this kind of thing happening. I don't know why the person leading the group hit the brakes at all.
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Old 04-28-08, 09:54 AM   #4
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You know 10 mass starts is not writen in stone. The regional director can do anything he/she wants. Put together a list showing your training races (which generally do count) and your placing in the last two and input the data on the web site. If they say no, try again after a few more. - TF
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Old 04-28-08, 10:06 AM   #5
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Well, it was just a bad situation. The pack was being squeezed into basically a single file line as we were attempting to pass the semi on the right, and the semi-driver was giving us enough room to do so. I was following one other person. The person that I was following lightly tapped his brakes, and I did the same, but unfortunately, the person behind me didn't. So yes, I was involved, but I don't feel like I was the direct cause. I really just did what I needed to in order to avoid crashing into the person in front of me.
I'm not saying you were the direct cause at all. The guy ahead of you certainly shouldn't have braked.

But I'd think about overlapping his wheel temporarily (and carefully and attentively) so that you can brake gently. Or if you know for sure you're clear to one side, glide to that side and roll by him.

Braking should always be way down on the list of options.
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Old 04-28-08, 12:18 PM   #6
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Congrats on the win. Enjoy your supremacy while you have to.

I think you braked when you had to. There was a semi truck in front of you - not exactly ideal racing conditions. When things get sketchy, I like to create a buffer zone between me and the guy in front of me. The guy behind you should have done the same.
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Old 04-28-08, 03:29 PM   #7
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If you truly are that much stronger than the rest of the (5) field, use that strength to stay out of trouble. Don't get mixed up in the middle or back of the pack where all the shenanigans usually happen. Do your 10 trouble free (oops too late for that) and then cat up

- meow.
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Old 04-28-08, 03:50 PM   #8
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If I were leading, I would have just ramped it up and passed the semi. I commute in traffic almost every day, so I'm used to this kind of thing happening. I don't know why the person leading the group hit the brakes at all.
Because the pack had neutralized...
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Old 04-28-08, 06:05 PM   #9
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Congrats on the win!

If you're going to have to pay your dues in the 5s anyway, why not take some risks now that you know you're strong enough to win. Attack and/or bridge, and learn what it takes to stay off the front. There are no points at stake -- you're in the 5s to learn as much as possible before hitting the 4s when you're racing for points.
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Old 04-28-08, 06:44 PM   #10
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Congrats! I bet that is a good feeling.

I don't think you were at fault. Stupid situation. I had a the same think happen except rather than a truck it was a racer quickly changed lanes and almost took out the guy infront of me who then slammed his brakes and I slammed into his RD. The guy behind me slammed into me...no one went down. Shook me up pretty good though. Quick stops happen.
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Old 04-28-08, 07:01 PM   #11
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Because the pack had neutralized...
So you let off the power, but still, don't hit the brakes.
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Old 04-28-08, 08:52 PM   #12
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In the 5s the main thing to learn is pack handling. Strength has absolutely nothing to do with it.

It's possible that the OP had nothing to do with the guy behind him falling down, but without some empirical evidence (vid clip for example, or perhaps some third party observers) it's impossible to say one way or another.

We segregate the 5s from the other categories. We've had too many ambulance calls due to incidents that had everything to do with rookie bike handling errors (when mixing 5s with other categories). At the same time we have some insanely strong riders in the group, including nationally ranked triathletes. I should point out that we've also had a bunch of crashes in the Pro-4 categories.

cdr
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Old 04-28-08, 08:58 PM   #13
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in a pack, if the lead let's off the power, it's not much different than tapping the brakes for the rest of the pack
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Old 04-28-08, 10:09 PM   #14
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Congrats on the win! There's absolutely nothing like winning a bike race and it puts that fire in your belly to go out and do it again. There's plenty of higher caliber competition just waiting for your legs in the Thursday B4 field and eventually Tuesday nights. Put your time in and learn the ebb and flow of the pack because at some point you won't be able to muscle your way to a win, but will have to strategize to get there.

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