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Old 07-12-09, 12:03 PM   #1
JohnnyWill
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The Road to Professional Racing

Hello Everyone,

I would like to know your thoughts about the professional cyclist’s career path and how it relates to my situation. All of my life I have been an ardent cyclist but have never taken up the sport competitively. I have been thinking about racing for some time but have been unable to do so while in school as I have had to balance my studies with part-time work to pay for my education. I have ridden in the past with accomplished cyclists and always done well. I just have not formally raced. Now that I have graduated from college I am looking at cycling as a career with more seriousness. Currently I am working in a job that, while undesirable, allows me ample time to train daily (and relocate if necessary as the work is freelance). Clearly I am very confident in my abilities and dedicated to earning a livelihood from bicycle racing as soon as possible so that I can quit my current job and devote myself entirely to the sport. I am very disciplined and motivated and I ride everyday.

My questions are:

1) What is the minimum amount of calendar time in which one can go from Cat 5 to Professional? Is it necessary to be a Cat 1 racer in order to turn professional? Could a very impressive Cat 3 rider, for instance, catch the eye of a team and turn pro or is their some kind of rule that forbids any but Cat 1 riders from upgrading to Pro status? It seems crazy that a rider who is capable of professional-level riding would have to waste time in Cat 5-Cat 2 in order to get enough points to “upgrade”. If a Cat 5 rider goes out and posts times similar to Cat 1 rider wouldn’t it be insensible to limit him to upgrading only to Cat 4? I have not found any information about this kind of case but it seems that USACycling would have to allow exceptional riders to skip Categories if they consistently demonstrate their ability. My urgency stems from my desire to join a team as soon as possible so that I can start making a living from my riding.
2) I am more interested in the European emphasis on longer road stages than what seems to be the American emphasis on intensity i.e. Crits. Given this, what would be the best path for me to take to race in Europe? Should I first establish myself in the US and then lateral over to Europe? Is transferring from US cycling to European cycling something that can readily be done despite the apparent differences in the two disciplines? Would it be best (and possible) to start my amateur career over there and progress up the ranks without even getting involved in bike racing here in the US? If not as a Cat 5, what category would I need to be before I could begin racing in Europe?
3) Do you have any suggestions that would help me on my path (which at this point is entirely self-directed)? Are you aware of any resources where I may find further information that would provide answers to these questions?

I sincerely thank you for the time you have taken to read this post and would be very appreciative of any feedback you are able and willing to provide. See you on the road.
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Old 07-12-09, 12:07 PM   #2
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try "formally racing" first and get back to us. buh bye
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Old 07-12-09, 12:29 PM   #3
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now that would be a good race report

"first race ever...in belgium. can't waste time with Cat 3 high school linebackers. this mysterious goo sprayed up in my face as tires whizzed past me on the first col."
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Old 07-12-09, 12:36 PM   #4
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Read the book A Dog In A Hat by Joe Parkin. It'll give you an idea about what pro racing is like in Europe. Joe was a young racer here in the US who went to Europe.
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Old 07-12-09, 12:51 PM   #5
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or get your VO2max tested in a lab to save years of heartache
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Old 07-12-09, 12:55 PM   #6
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Wow.
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Old 07-12-09, 01:07 PM   #7
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Old 07-12-09, 01:07 PM   #8
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JohnnyWill, if you're as good as you think you are you can be a Cat1 in a few months. Please blog about your success. We'd love to follow it. We can make you famous 'round these here parts.
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Old 07-12-09, 01:33 PM   #9
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JohnnyWill, if you're as good as you think you are you can be a Cat1 in a few months. Please blog about your success. We'd love to follow it. We can make you famous 'round these here parts.
If he wants to make a living from bike racing I think going from a cat5 to cat1 in one year is probably the least he needs to do.

Get a power meter as well to measure your progress, especially to find out if you can hit 6W/kg FTP by end of this year.
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Old 07-12-09, 01:37 PM   #10
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You lose support from USACycling's development programs once you're out of the junior ranks. And even so, it's mindbogglingly hard--I raced guys at junior nationals who absolutely crushed the fields there, but were nowhere close to demonstrating that prowess when they raced in Europe.

Here's the track mass-start test for a junior who wants to receive support from USAC:

A 3:32 or under flying-start 3000m time trial with a first 500m of 33.2 or better. Or, to put it another way: That's a 31.65 mph avg. speed with a start of 34 mph.



If you want to race Europe, you're going to have to keep in mind that cycling is baseball for these kids. If you're starting at age 20, they've got a headstart of a decade of experience.

To your first question: There's a lot more to racing and the category hierarchy than just times and speed--which is why many believe the mass-start test is flawed--but experience, tactics, handling, and race politics, to name a few. You cannot skip categories because, as the logic goes, if you're fast enough to be a pro, it'll be easy enough for you to upgrade anyway.

To your second: There is no USAC-supported path to go to Europe once you are out of the junior ranks. You'll have to get your 2 or 1 upgrade, get picked up by a local U23 development squad if you're still under 23, continue to get crushed in the Pro/1/2 races, get noticed by and race for a domestic squad, rack up result after result in NRC-ranked races, and maybe, just maybe a Continental team will want to bring you to Europe. By this time, however, you may be too old to relearn how to race in Europe.

The advice I'd give you is just to race and move up through the ranks quickly. Find a local team and if you can hang, ride with as many of the 1s, 2s, and 3s as you can. If you get owned, don't let it get you down, and always have something to fall back on, because there will be no money for you in cycling after and most likely during your race lifestyle.
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Old 07-12-09, 01:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
...have never taken up the sport competitively. I have been thinking about racing for some time but have been unable to do so while in school
Enter a race. Report your findings.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Now that I have graduated from college I am looking at cycling as a career with more seriousness.
Sadly, there are no career recruiters making the rounds on college campuses.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Clearly I am very confident in my abilities
Clearly.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
It seems crazy that a rider who is capable of professional-level riding would have to waste time
Waste time learning how to ride in a pack? How to ride through a corner? How to pack a bag for overnight travel? How to shave your legs without getting razor burn?

Yeah, it seems crazy.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
it seems that USACycling would have to allow exceptional riders to skip Categories if they consistently demonstrate their ability.
How do you intend to demonstrate your ability?

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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Would it be best (and possible) to start my amateur career over there and progress up the ranks without even getting involved in bike racing here in the US?
There's no law against it.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
3) Do you have any suggestions that would help me on my path (which at this point is entirely self-directed)?
Enter a race.
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Old 07-12-09, 02:12 PM   #12
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Where do you live, JW?
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Old 07-12-09, 02:26 PM   #13
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Not to sound like a jerk but you're in la la land. It's like if I said I'm good w/ my hands can I skip college & medical school & just become a surgeon. Enter your 1st CAT 5 race and tell us how easy it is.
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Old 07-12-09, 02:26 PM   #14
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Ignore all these haters. Pack your bags and get to Belgium ASAP. By the time the snow falls, you'll know one way or another.
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Old 07-12-09, 02:35 PM   #15
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here's a typical track for a young domestic pro.

http://www.usacycling.org/results/in...d=221557&all=1


By the way, many US pros don't make enough money to call it "making a living". Some make nothing at all but get expenses covered.
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Old 07-12-09, 02:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Hello Everyone
Hiiiiiiiiii Will....

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
I would like to know your thoughts about the professional cyclist’s career path and how it relates to my situation.

okeley-dokely

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
All of my life I have been an ardent cyclist but have never taken up the sport competitively. I have been thinking about racing for some time but have been unable to do so while in school as I have had to balance my studies with part-time work to pay for my education. I have ridden in the past with accomplished cyclists and always done well. I just have not formally raced. Now that I have graduated from college I am looking at cycling as a career with more seriousness. Currently I am working in a job that, while undesirable, allows me ample time to train daily (and relocate if necessary as the work is freelance).

Hmm...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Clearly I am very confident in my abilities and dedicated to earning a livelihood from bicycle racing as soon as possible so that I can quit my current job and devote myself entirely to the sport.

Clearly

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
I am very disciplined and motivated and I ride everyday.

That's a start...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
What is the minimum amount of calendar time in which one can go from Cat 5 to Professional?
It could probably be done in a few months, maybe faster if you are 18 or under.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Is it necessary to be a Cat 1 racer in order to turn professional?
Don't believe so

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
Could a very impressive Cat 3 rider, for instance, catch the eye of a team and turn pro or is their some kind of rule that forbids any but Cat 1 riders from upgrading to Pro status?
Regardless, it is unlikely that a team is going to pick up a cat 3. If you are so good that you could be a pro you should have no trouble upgrading out of cat 3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
It seems crazy that a rider who is capable of professional-level riding would have to waste time in Cat 5-Cat 2 in order to get enough points to “upgrade”.
It seems crazy that someone would think they could just jump to the head of the line... A professional-level rider would be able to move up through the ranks so quickly as any "wasting of time" to be irrelevant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
If a Cat 5 rider goes out and posts times similar to Cat 1 rider wouldn’t it be insensible to limit him to upgrading only to Cat 4?
The only time there is any "posting of times" is in TTs and they are only representative of steady-state power not racing ability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyWill View Post
I have not found any information about this kind of case but it seems that USACycling would have to allow exceptional riders to skip Categories if they consistently demonstrate their ability.
Again it doesn't take much to upgrade if you are exceptional you would blow through the categories.

Quote:
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My urgency stems from my desire to join a team as soon as possible so that I can start making a living from my riding.
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Old 07-12-09, 03:00 PM   #17
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I have a simple test - go 30 mph on a bike on a flat road. Hold speed for 1 minute. If you can do that now, you'll probably be able to get to Cat 2 minimum. Work on it from there.

If you can't, forget it.

btw, the original post reads like one of those spam emails about increasing length, making money, etc. It has some logical thoughts in it, but the premise is faulty.

Also, I'd consider a crit to be just a short version of a European race. The speed and intensity of a "crit" are pretty much a very short version of the speed and intensity in a European race, just more turns in a "crit". Road races are much harder than crits (at least to me).

cdr
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Old 07-12-09, 03:37 PM   #18
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Unless you're a genetic freak it's probably already too late, the serious competitive racers have been at it for years, have several season of intense training/racing and a lot more experience in areas like bike handling and reading races.

Still, let's say you are an inhuman freak, you still have to go through the stages, there is no fast tracking based on ability, if you're good enough you'll be upgraded out of the 5's and 4's in no time when you win every race you enter.

If you are good enough to be considered by a pro team, chances are you already have enough points as a cat 3 for a mandatory upgrade.
Now all you have to do is win some of the big races in the P12 fields and the teams will come to you.

In short, no matter how fast you think you are, even a cat 5 pack will likely drop you like ton of bricks.
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Old 07-12-09, 03:40 PM   #19
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if this is a troll its a well made one
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Old 07-12-09, 03:46 PM   #20
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In short, no matter how fast you think you are, even a cat 5 pack will likely drop you like ton of bricks.
this

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if this is a troll its a well made one
either a troll or extremely naive.
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Old 07-12-09, 04:05 PM   #21
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either a troll or extremely naive.
Agree. It's quite ridiculous to consider a career in bike racing without ever having tried a race. I'm not saying it's not possible, but I think the OP should have tried a few races before deciding to try it as a career.

And, even if you completely destroyed the fields as a Cat 5, Cat 4 and Cat 3 (which the OP hasn't, but I have seen many others do), it's still a huge leap from there to being a Pro.

I wish him luck though and hope he posts his progress here (if he's for real).
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Old 07-12-09, 04:26 PM   #22
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If you are strong enough to skip a category, you're strong enough to upgrade through it in a few weeks anyway like anyone else.
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Old 07-12-09, 04:33 PM   #23
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And, even if you completely destroyed the fields as a Cat 5, Cat 4 and Cat 3 (which the OP hasn't, but I have seen many others do), it's still a huge leap from there to being a Pro.
Hell I've seen guys blast through 5->2 and become packfill...
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Old 07-12-09, 04:47 PM   #24
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Don't listen to the haters.

Buy yourself a 40 dollar thrift store bike.

Get a trailer for your bike

Get a 80 lb dog and a sack of potatos and camping gear.

Pedal across Northern Canada, and Alaska for about four years.

Mow some lawns around some race team directors.

Get noticed. Bam you are a professional.
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Old 07-12-09, 05:06 PM   #25
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So, OP, perhaps you've got a better idea now based on the replies ?? (or enjoying the trolling results ?)

To put it in perspective, let me turn things around. Are you particularily good at anything now ?

- Musical instrument ?
- Painting or drawing ?
- other sports ?
- Writing ?

Think about your best talent, that you've spent years on. Now, someone walks up to you and says: I'd like to be the lead violinist at the Met net year .... do I need to waste time at music school if I have talent ?

I would like to be a top painter, like Picasso or Michaelangelo, do I need to bother with art school ?

I really like hockey, Will an NHL team pick me up in the draft next year if I practice a lot ?
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