Originally Posted by blackvans1234
You're the infamous aki, aka SDC aka SprinterDellaCasa I presume.
I'm hoping to do the bethel spring series in 2014, cat 5 (obviously)
I've seen most of your vids, trying to scope out Bethel (I live in poughkeepsie NY) so it's a little bit far for me. I'll send you a PM
"Infamous", I like that. Yeah, that's me.
Okay so you have a lot of info then. The Bethel course is... simple. No real turns, the only one is taken at slow speeds. The 5s are hit or miss, sometimes you get some ringers (like pro level mtb type riders who couldn't or didn't get an upgrade to Cat 4 or higher) and the pace is insane. Other times, like this year, it's pretty even in terms of speed/fitness.
The hill is the main thing but honestly I wouldn't go recon the course except maybe once if you're nervous. Personally I go up that hill solo/training in a 39x17 and think it's hard, and in the race it's 53x15 or 53x17 minimum. In many of my sprints there I'm in a 53x12, and I've hit it in the 11 when it's a tailwind (not in any of the clips I think). Reconning a crit course is deceiving because you go so fast due to the draft that it's a different world when you race. I go into that hill at 18-20 mph myself but in a race we're hitting it at 30 (and soft pedaling going into it).
In terms of sprint speeds you can usually hit out at a little over 30 mph and then you slow as you go up the hill. If you jump halfway up the hill (typically in a headwind) then you're jumping at a lower speed.
If you don't have a good jump then you need to accelerate further out. It's a very particular course and certain riders, like myself, tend to do really well in the sprints. I'm much weaker now than say 10-15 years ago so my halcyon days are gone but I've overheard some of the regular P123 winners say that for whatever reason this course really suits them. They all have good jumps, they all need to be fresher going into a finish.
The thing that gets most new racers is the speed on the flats and the drafting. If you work on drafting, aka riding in a group, then you'll be ahead of the game. Even if you're riding with just a couple other people that's better than nothing. Group rides are better - you might check out Gimbels (although I actually found it a bit unwieldy the last time I did it, this year or last year). There's got to be rides up that way regardless.
The speed on the flats is hard to imagine if you haven't ridden with a racer or done a race. In group rides with few/no racers if I do a "kinda hard" effort it will blow the group apart. It's not me, it's just that no one else truly realizes the importance of drafting and therefore the importance of responding immediately, and since no one goes immediately (even though I really overtly broadcast any such moves) they hit out at a much lower speed.
You know the bethelspringseries site, you should check out the clinic stuff. It'll be pretty much the same. I'll tell you this now since I've said it here before - all the drills are designed to help the Cat 5s practice drafting without thinking about it. The idea is to distract the racer with other "tasks" or "ideas" so that the drafting becomes second nature. It's not fun to say "we're going to do pacelines every week" though, and really it wouldn't be as productive.
All but one of the instructors from the last two years are on BF. Shovel and Homebrew are the two most regular on BF. If you ask a question we'll try to answer it.
Finally since it's an early season series you'll naturally get more fit as the races go on. In the Cat 3-4 races I expect breaks to go in the first few weeks as the guys that did training camps out west come back home and spank everyone. Then, a few weeks in, everyone is getting above that minimal level of fitness and those training camp monsters have a harder time. Towards the end you sometimes get a totally different cast of characters as riders finish their transition between base miles and racing miles. What I'm trying to say is that you should work on your speed and such now, group riding skills all the time, but try to create a strong foundation for the 2014 season. Get rid of excess weight. Make sure your bike fits. Be efficient on the bike. The speed will come.
Incidentally someone asked so I looked - Easter is April 20 in 2014. This leaves SEVEN WEEKS IN A ROW from the first weekend in March to April 13 (we don't race Easter). I'm actually considering doing an 8th race April 27th but that's a really faint idea right now. Definitely going to ask permission from the town to do 7. So that's the tentative schedule. I normally ask the town for permission in October so it'll be a bit yet.