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Old 12-25-10, 01:57 PM   #1
BudFox
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Cat 5 in NorCal

I'm hoping for some suggestions for a beginner's race schedule in 2011. How many should I attempt? I'll be starting with a couple of the Early Birds clinics and races in January. I'd appreciate anyone with experience in Bay Area races to provide info on specific races, road or crit. My most important goals are to be safe and have fun, so I'm especially keen on avoiding sketchy courses.

ps - I'm in the 40+ category

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Old 12-25-10, 04:13 PM   #2
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Race lots and have fun. I can;t tell you about races in your area, but if you find one you are especially stoked about, go ahead and plan your season around it if you want to. But experience is a huge thing in racing, and the only way to gain experience is to race. So my advice would be to enter as many races as you can. This will help you identify your strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes.
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Old 12-25-10, 04:31 PM   #3
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Race lots and have fun. I can;t tell you about races in your area, but if you find one you are especially stoked about, go ahead and plan your season around it if you want to. But experience is a huge thing in racing, and the only way to gain experience is to race. So my advice would be to enter as many races as you can. This will help you identify your strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes.
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Old 12-25-10, 04:39 PM   #4
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I'm doing my first road race season this year as well, although I'll be riding Cat-5 Junior division. I plan on doing all early bird crits as well as all NCNCA races that I can. Which means that by the end of the season, I'll likely be moving to Cat-4 depending on the size of the starting fields.

Maybe we can meet at some races and such. I look forward to a fun season.
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Old 12-25-10, 05:08 PM   #5
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What sort of races are you interested in? Crits, flat road races, climbfests? If you ask for example "what's a good climbing race with technical descending" we could give you a selection.

You can read the race fliers (linked off the NCNCA page) or search for the race name to find last years flier if the 2011 one isn't up. There's usually a course description in the flier. You can also search for people's race reports from past races.

There's not often a 40+ category in NorCal races. Its usually 35+ and 45+. If there's a 35+ cat 5, or cat 4/5, do that.
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Old 12-25-10, 05:23 PM   #6
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my favorites:
Patterson Pass, Copperopolis, Pescadero, Ward's Ferry (i think that's what it's called?) San Bruno hillclimb is super fun, and it's on the 1st. Never did the Mt. Tam hillclimb and wish I had.
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Old 12-26-10, 11:43 AM   #7
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Mine from last year... San Bruno Hill Climb, Berkeley TTT, Madera Stage Race, Topsport Stage Race, Wente Road Race (probably the toughest road race due to climbing and wind), PG&E Criterium, Calavaras ITT, Dunlap ITT, District TT Championships, as well as several local practice TTs on the Canada Road TT course - Beat the Clock and Front of the Pack. Most of these have a 35+ 4/5 option and some are organized by age group.

Go to the NCNCA web site and peruse the race calendar.
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Old 12-26-10, 12:42 PM   #8
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I'm planning on going to the early bird's road race on the 22nd. Can't do any of the crits because I work/have obligations on Sundays.
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Old 12-26-10, 02:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BudFox View Post
I'm hoping for some suggestions for a beginner's race schedule in 2011. How many should I attempt? I'll be starting with a couple of the Early Birds clinics and races in January. I'd appreciate anyone with experience in Bay Area races to provide info on specific races, road or crit. My most important goals are to be safe and have fun, so I'm especially keen on avoiding sketchy courses.

ps - I'm in the 40+ category
I'm a CAT5 in the NCNCA (NorCal) as well. However like DRietz, I'll be racing as a Junior and CAT5 from time to time. It totally depends on the type of race. For example, I'll be racing Juniors for all the Hill Climbs, and I'll be racing CAT5's for some of the Road Races. But by February after the Ronde De Brisbeen, I'll upgrade to CAT4.

Now I raced 2 Criteriums with the CAT5's last year. The Berkeley Bike Club Criterium and the Timpani Criterium. In the BBC Criterium, I was dropped because I did the Junior Race right before the CAT5 race. I underestimated the Juniors, I overestimated my endurance. But the Timpani Criterium was different because I had all my energy. One thing I noticed was that most of us are really concerned about being safe, so we take corners pretty slow. But there are also the confident people. Mostly everyone is going to tell you to stay up front, because the back is the area where most crashes occur, but I think no matter where you are, a crash is still likely to occur. The Early Bird Criteriums will help you learn how to race carefully but still have fun with it. Most of the CAT5's are middle aged people like 30yrs-40yrs.

I've made a schedule which fits me. The optimal way to go is to choose the races that have a CAT5 race (Because some only go as low as CAT4) and to choose the races that are closest to you. I'm from Daly City, so I've chose to do most of the races that take place in San Jose, Fremont, and the East Bay-Livermore area.

If you're worried about racing with too many people, then you might want to avoid the more popular races, specifically the Velo Promo races (The Early Bird Crits are hosted by Velo Promo but they're Skill Clinics, so technically there's no racing until the final one). If you want to be racing in a smaller pack, I'd suggest doing the races during early winter and early spring, and the ones that are hosted by Bicycle clubs. You'll have a lot of fun, and the CAT5's aren't so serious so it'll be a good start. Good Luck to you!

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I'm doing my first road race season this year as well, although I'll be riding Cat-5 Junior division. I plan on doing all early bird crits as well as all NCNCA races that I can. Which means that by the end of the season, I'll likely be moving to Cat-4 depending on the size of the starting fields.

Maybe we can meet at some races and such. I look forward to a fun season.
Are you doing the San Bruno Hill Climb this Saturday? And if you do race with Juniors, will you be racing in 15-16s or 17-18s? The 17-18s group is soo fast. Especially since Team Specialized and Tieni Duro usually dominate the field. Tieni Duro juniors dominate in the criteriums because a lot of them specialize in Time Trialing. I'm planning to race Criteriums in the CAT5 or CAT4 (when I upgrade) and Road Races and Hill Climbs with the Juniors.

The hard thing about racing the other Juniors is the experience because most of the 17-18s have been racing for 5+ years, while some of the newer 17-18s have been racing for less than 2-3years (Me). But, it's nice to see your ability and compare it with other Juniors once in a while, to see if you've improved Hope to see you at some of the races!
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Old 12-26-10, 02:40 PM   #10
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Dom, I'll be racing 15-16 if I do race junior. I don't really know what I want to do in terms of racing in Cat5 or Juniors. What do you think? I mean, I think Cat5 would be easier because the junior kids from Tieni Duro are so scary.

And unfortunately, I can't make the San Bruno Hill Climb. I wish I could, I've never been up to the top though.

And as far as licensing goes, if I don't necessarily want to race juniors, should I be buying a non-junior license?

Last edited by DRietz; 12-26-10 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 12-26-10, 07:47 PM   #11
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Dom, I'll be racing 15-16 if I do race junior. I don't really know what I want to do in terms of racing in Cat5 or Juniors. What do you think? I mean, I think Cat5 would be easier because the junior kids from Tieni Duro are so scary.

And unfortunately, I can't make the San Bruno Hill Climb. I wish I could, I've never been up to the top though.

And as far as licensing goes, if I don't necessarily want to race juniors, should I be buying a non-junior license?
The 15-16s are a little easier to race, but a majority of them are still super good. They still shouldn't be underestimated though. A majority of them have raced nationals and have been racing for more than 4 years as well.

As far as the license go, everybody, regardless of age, has to start at CAT5. Racing in the Juniors class is just like a a master racing in a 35+ class, that is, Open Category but age limit. So in the Junior races, you will often find CAT3 Juniors racing. The 15-16's are mostly 3 and 4, while the 17-18's are mostly 2 and 3.

You can race in Junior Class levels, regardless of your category, but you have to race in your racing age class. So you can race in a CAT5, or whatever category your in, or a Junior race (if your under 18) at your choice.

When you buy your license for the first time, it will say something like "CAT5 Junior Road" and you just check the box, so it's automatic. There's no separate license for the Categories or the Age class.

Last edited by 7bmwm3gtr; 12-26-10 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 12-26-10, 08:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by BudFox View Post
I'm hoping for some suggestions for a beginner's race schedule in 2011. How many should I attempt? I'll be starting with a couple of the Early Birds clinics and races in January. I'd appreciate anyone with experience in Bay Area races to provide info on specific races, road or crit. My most important goals are to be safe and have fun, so I'm especially keen on avoiding sketchy courses.

ps - I'm in the 40+ category
Do as many Early Birds as possible and ask these same questions to the mentors. You will learn a lot fast. If you make it to all of them, you will have enough starts to upgrade to Cat 4... but only upgrade when you feel you're ready. Good luck.
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Old 12-27-10, 02:25 AM   #13
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The courses don't make the races sketchy; the racers do. As a 5 the safest races you'll do are the earlybirds and races with a mentor or mentors riding along. Contact Alan Atha and find out which races will have mentors, the crash ratio goes way down when we're yelling at you. It's likely I'll be coming out for Cantua and Pine Flat BTW, if I do I'll work at least one of those and race the other.
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Old 12-27-10, 03:01 PM   #14
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Another vote for the Early Birds. There's nothing like the experience of racing and this is the best way to get it. I'm a Cat 3 and I plan to do at least one to get the rust off.

I also really like Cherry Pie (mid February in Napa). I try to make a day of it with my wife.
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Old 12-27-10, 05:50 PM   #15
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And feel free to shoot me a PM if you have any questions. I've ridden 80% of the stuff in NCNCA.
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Old 12-28-10, 10:18 PM   #16
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If you do the early birds, make sure you do the masters category. The open division is a crashfest. RacerEx, if you disagree, I'd like to see the statistics if you know where to find them. The day they do bumping drills is especially bad, too many overconfident first-time racers.

The early bird road race is great though.
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Old 12-28-10, 11:12 PM   #17
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you know those early birds are crash fests, do cantua creek, snelling would be another one. do as many as you can afford so you can get to cat 4
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Old 12-29-10, 12:01 PM   #18
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The CCCX series in monterey is a really well done set of races. I think they upped the number to 9 total this year. Just about one a month until august. You could do more than one race as a cat 5 each day if you are a master or junior. The course is a nice mix of rollers/flats and some turny stuff. Fields tend to be medium in size. I raced 5 of them last year as a 5 then a 4 and am looking forward to doing more as a 3

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Old 12-29-10, 12:14 PM   #19
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If you do the early birds, make sure you do the masters category. The open division is a crashfest. RacerEx, if you disagree, I'd like to see the statistics if you know where to find them. The day they do bumping drills is especially bad, too many overconfident first-time racers.

The early bird road race is great though.
If the race has mentors it drops the crash numbers way down. I did 4 races last year and we had one crash, reports from the other mentors followed that kind of result. I haven't been there for the bump drills so I can't speak to that.

A lot of the crashing in the earlybirds is further up the Cat chain from the 5's. FWIW I sat on the back in the 35+ 4/5 at one race and it was way sketchier than the mentored 5 race at the same venue.

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you know those early birds are crash fests, do cantua creek, snelling would be another one. do as many as you can afford so you can get to cat 4
Snelling is always a crash fest, unless they've moved the finish line and they aren't stuffing everyone into that right turn. Big fields and a non selective course.

4's aren't any better than the 5's, slightly better skills are usually offset by additional confidence and aggression.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 12-29-10 at 12:31 PM.
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