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Old 08-09-11, 11:43 AM   #1
Monkeyclaw
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Cat 5 RR strategy

I'm racing my first race in a couple of weeks and trying to think about my strategy. It's a cat 5 RR out and back, ending with a fair hill (1600 ft in about 10 miles, ~4.3% most of the time). There are also a few other smaller hills thrown in.

I'm thinking I should hang with the group for most of the ride, and maybe try a break before the last hill. Breaks before that will likely be caught, at least to my thinking. Since it's a cat 5, I'm not expecting a lot of team organization or coordinated breaks. I think of myself as more of a climber, hence saving myself for the last climb.

What say you all?
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Old 08-09-11, 11:59 AM   #2
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I'm fairly certain that I speak for everyone when I say, If its your first race, just ride safely, pay attention to what's going on around you, and have fun. Also, read this
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Old 08-09-11, 12:15 PM   #3
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yup. I'd love to add more, but wouldn't want to dilute the important parts, which have just been said.
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Old 08-09-11, 12:28 PM   #4
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I'm fairly certain that I speak for everyone when I say, If its your first race, just ride safely, pay attention to what's going on around you, and have fun. Also, read this
+1.

Ride safe. If it's out & back & has a hill, then you'll have to descend as well. Practice descending.
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Old 08-09-11, 12:38 PM   #5
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I'm racing my first race in a couple of weeks and trying to think about my strategy. It's a cat 5 RR out and back, ending with a fair hill (1600 ft in about 10 miles, ~4.3% most of the time). There are also a few other smaller hills thrown in.
I take it this is the state RR championship? Hillside? If so, I entered it in ridewithgps: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/487786 but since I did, they provided a mapmyride link that resolves an apparent discrepancy they had in the initial description of the route. So there is an extra spur beyond what is in my file.

I was planning to do that one, but decided not to for a variety of reasons. It is clearly a climbers race, and IMO the pack won't hold together past the initial 2 mile flat section. There is a fast (and from what I'm told, dangerous) downhill after that, and the pack will splinter. Then it heads uphill, and it will break up even more. The climbers will take off, and if you are doing anything besides just riding the race for the experience, you need to stay with them. Rather than a race with a pack based, wait to attack strategy, I think this is a race where the stronger riders will just gradually pull away. A lot of people (those that can't hold the climbing pace) will be out of it by mile 18.

So, while I agree with the idea of just hanging with the pack and soaking it all in for your first race, I think that, in this case, that will only apply for the first 2 miles. After that, there will be no real 'pack'.. everyone will be spread out in 'clumps'. So... my advice, which you should take with a huge grain of salt given my relative lack of experience, is:

If you can do so carefully and safely, try to work towards the front before the downhill starts. Be really really vigilant on the downhill. People will be passing you; you may be passing others. Learn from what the guys in front are doing. Keep the rubber side down. As it heads back uphill, use your climbing to move up all you can. This pattern is going to repeat itself, and the group in front will get smaller and smaller. Try to survive there as long as you can. If you find yourself still near the front as that final climb approaches, by all means attack. Those who have it will be pouring it all out then.

Again, this is just my take on how the race will go, but, so far, I've been pretty good at divining how our local RR's will shake out.

Have you done any of the local 'Tour de" events? If so, picture Tour de Mesa, but with Usury happening early and often. You can imagine what will happen to a Cat 5 pack. Kablooey.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:25 PM   #6
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I'm thinking I should hang with the group for most of the ride, and maybe try a break before the last hill. Breaks before that will likely be caught, at least to my thinking. Since it's a cat 5, I'm not expecting a lot of team organization or coordinated breaks. I think of myself as more of a climber, hence saving myself for the last climb.

What say you all?
Have fun and pay attention like everyone else has said. That being said, every other guy there is probably thinking the same thing, so attacking further out might stick. The fact that no one will work together favors you getting away if you have the fitness.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:28 PM   #7
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Cat 5 RR strategy: Don't die. Learn something. Have fun.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:34 PM   #8
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Cat 5 RR strategy: Don't die. Learn something. Have fun.
That's my Cat4 strategy
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Old 08-09-11, 01:41 PM   #9
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Attack during pre-reg. Lap the field.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:53 PM   #10
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I was planning to do that one, but decided not to for a variety of reasons. It is clearly a climbers race, and IMO the pack won't hold together past the initial 2 mile flat section. There is a fast (and from what I'm told, dangerous) downhill after that, and the pack will splinter. Then it heads uphill, and it will break up even more. The climbers will take off, and if you are doing anything besides just riding the race for the experience, you need to stay with them. Rather than a race with a pack based, wait to attack strategy, I think this is a race where the stronger riders will just gradually pull away. A lot of people (those that can't hold the climbing pace) will be out of it by mile 18.
It doesn't look steep enough for anyone to ride away unless they are massively stronger. It should be fast so there will be lots of benefit just sitting in.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:56 PM   #11
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I'm gonna go ahead and say attack! Attack again, then attack once more.

You'll learn a lot more this way than just sitting in and watching.
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Old 08-09-11, 01:56 PM   #12
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Also, dont' do any work at all. Move to the front if the road narrows or starts twisting or if there's a severe crosswind, but otherwise just hang out and wait for the finish.
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Old 08-09-11, 02:18 PM   #13
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...So, while I agree with the idea of just hanging with the pack and soaking it all in for your first race, I think that, in this case, that will only apply for the first 2 miles. After that, there will be no real 'pack'.. everyone will be spread out in 'clumps'...
If this is the case, you'll need to work with others - when things fracture, wherever you happen to be, hook up with at least three or four other riders who come out near you and organize a steady paceline as you move back up. (of if you just so happen to be hot *****, are off in a break) If you aren't riding for teammates, everyone around you is someone you can work with to get up closer to the front. Just keep the pace stiff but even with relatively short pulls. If you're a crafty SOB, make sure others are pulling on harder terrain.

No point in being stranded somewhere in the middle without a wheel to draft off of.
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Old 08-09-11, 02:27 PM   #14
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Also, dont' do any work at all. Move to the front if the road narrows or starts twisting or if there's a severe crosswind, but otherwise just hang out and wait for the finish.
Spoken like a true "side-show Mario" (Cipollini, that is).

I'd say do what you need to do to stay near (but NOT AT) front the whole time. That's the best way to avoid all the crashes that WILL happen. And it'll help you get decent position for the sprint. Mostly, watch, learn and have fun.

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Old 08-09-11, 02:49 PM   #15
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No...seriously....

Cat 5 RR strategy: Don't die. Learn something. Have fun.

Just remember that everyone you are racing against has an internet connection too and they are ALL trying to "ride near the front but not at the front" and trying to "not do any work." When this happens you get a lot of crazy starts and stops that cause a lot of pileups....so

Don't die. Learn something. Have fun.
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Old 08-09-11, 03:37 PM   #16
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It doesn't look steep enough for anyone to ride away unless they are massively stronger. It should be fast so there will be lots of benefit just sitting in.
3-4% for several miles? That's plenty enough to break up the pack. The lead riders will be taking that at what, low to mid 20's? Anyone can hang with the pack when the draft is everything, but it doesn't take much of an incline to change that picture. Especially here where there just isn't that much climbing compared to many regions. The fact that the OP lives in Sedona, and presumably trains there, should help him. I'm basing this a lot on my personal experience here, and my climbing sucks, so it may be different for the OP. But I guarantee you a lot of people will drop off the pack early in this race.
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Old 08-09-11, 04:54 PM   #17
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Thanks for all of the replies! ATR - yes, this is the AZ RR Championship. I'm thinking it will splinter on the hills, too. I mostly train in Sedona and Flag, so hills and elevation aren't too big of a concern. The route is http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/36039320#summary. The Cat 5's do ACBA, so the profile is slightly different than shown.

I won't I'll go all out on the initial descent. I think if there are major crashes, this is where they'll be. Nothing looks too technical except for a couple of hairpins near the end of the first descent, but I'm sure there will be some that feel like they can just ride away from the group or will take some chances in an attempt to make up time they will lose on the hills. It transitions right into a 7.5 mile long hill, where I think some will get dropped.

Unfortunately I've never done the Tour de Mesa. This will be my first bike-only race in 25 years (rode some crits back as a junior), and my first road race. Up in Flag, I've been riding with a good group of P12's plus lots of others that join in. It starts out 40-50, but at some point they put the heat on and drop most of them. Usually it's 10-15 after that. I got dropped the first time with them (too many and too long of pulls I think) but since then I've been able to hang and take my turns at the front. Distances have been 60-70 miles.

Other than that, I'll do my best to stay alive, climb the best I can and put the hurt on at the end. Unless the hurt's already been put on me
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Old 08-09-11, 06:44 PM   #18
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Oh, and one more piece of advice. If you haven't done it already, ride or drive the route. Looking at the map, or even Google's sat images, is one thing, but actually seeing the course is another. It will give a true indication of how tough the hills will be, and what to watch for (and how to set up for) the corners. It makes a huge difference. Knowing a particular corner is off camber and might have gravel can truly save your bacon. Same when it is the opposite, and a corner isn't as slow as it looks on screen. Other danger areas are when the road narrows, especially if that narrowing is via the use of islands. When that happens, people are almost always going down! Driving the course can ID those trouble spots.

Sounds like you are ready, have the right attitude, and will have a blast!
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Old 08-09-11, 07:00 PM   #19
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That Hillside RR course is very difficult, but doable with the Cat 5's. I did that part of the course in the Heart of AZ Century, part of a 7k climbing day.

The Cat 5s in AZ usually have some decent climbers, so don't expect a walk in the park. That climb is going to hurt bad, and expect to get dropped, but that's just part of racing!

Make sure to give a wave to the ASU Cycling team, I think we'll have 5 or 6 guys in the 4s. Wish I could make it, but I graduated in the Spring and working now in South Carolina.
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Old 08-09-11, 08:33 PM   #20
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I remember my last cat5 RR. I won it in the sprint. It was about 55 miles and a few thousand feet of climbing in Tennessee. We widdled down to like 8-9 riders down from 55+ during the first big climb. Basically conserve as much as possible, don't chase because there is always someone there to chase for you in the 5's and watch for shrapnel (people getting popped on the climbs or just giving up during the sprint). I would say that the best thing you could do is make sure you get a decent warm up in, eat right the days and morning before, have try to taper your training a little bit before the race, don't adjust anything the day before the race, always ask yourself "how can I be doing less work?", don't worry too much about being at the front -- that can sometimes suck with the surges and such, just be smooth.

Most of all, don't get tore down by the people on this forum who say it's super dangerous and blah blah blah, pro's crash a lot too.

There are about 10 miles of gaps in recording because it was raining and my PT loves to cut out when wet. Also, weighed about 145# during this race so the numbers will probably look a little low.


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Old 08-09-11, 09:00 PM   #21
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Attack during pre-reg. Lap the field.
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Old 08-12-11, 11:41 AM   #22
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Unless you weigh 135-145lbs and can climb, just try to hang on to the main pack.

Oh, and race strategies never work out like you think they will, particularly as a Cat 5.
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Old 08-12-11, 12:05 PM   #23
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Unless you weigh 135-145lbs and can climb, just try to hang on to the main pack.

Oh, and race strategies never work out like you think they will, particularly as a Cat 5.
Don't follow advice on the internet. (but I won a 5s race this year, so take mine)
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Old 08-12-11, 03:22 PM   #24
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Thanks again for the advice. I won't bore anyone with stats, but I'm 145 and like to think I'm a good climber. I guess I'll find out in a week

I'm going to try not to overthink the race. I like the idea of "how can I be doing less work", I'm going to stick with that.
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Old 08-13-11, 01:20 PM   #25
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After not dying, don't pull, ever. Hide in the pack and wheelsuck like your life depends on it.

If you get to the last 200m and you're still with the pack, you may now show your face to the wind.
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