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  1. #1
    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    Understanding Results/Skewed Stats/Vanishing Riders

    OK...I preface by saying that 2013 was my "rookie" year of road/crit racing. I have been riding...well, off/on seriously all my life, but...rather seriously for the last 5-6 years, the last few of which I found myself usually gravitating towards group/training rides with local folks who raced, so racing seemed like a natural next step to challenge myself. Anyway, despite being firmly committed to "having fun" being the #1 goal, I've found myself sort of baffled looking at race results after some of the races I did this year. Basically this is what I experienced in a few cases: Fields of 35-50 riders at the start where the printed/USAC results show results for riders up to numbers up to something like 26 (or, a similar deal w/ 2 or 3 sets of #s in mixed fields...ie, Cat3/Cat4 & Juniors of some sort)....so, I've started thinking, "what happened to the other riders?" Is it common for racers' finishes beyond a point to not be tracked? Do some racers simply drop out (I realize some do involuntarily...but the DNFs haven't always seemed to add up to what I saw at the start..I think) if they see they're not going to finish in a place they want? If so, is there some tactical advantage to doing so? I'm talking here about Cat5 & Cat4 races so this isn't seasoned racers or folks who are getting paid to ride their bike here. Maybe this is all a problem of perception on my part, but I figured I'd put it out here in the (sort of) form of a question in hopes some of the more experienced racers can enlighten me. For myself, I can not imagine giving up on doing the best finish I can muster no matter what, even if it's dead last because I crashed or had a mechanical problem.

  2. #2
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiataccompli View Post
    OK...I preface by saying that 2013 was my "rookie" year of road/crit racing. I have been riding...well, off/on seriously all my life, but...rather seriously for the last 5-6 years, the last few of which I found myself usually gravitating towards group/training rides with local folks who raced, so racing seemed like a natural next step to challenge myself. Anyway, despite being firmly committed to "having fun" being the #1 goal, I've found myself sort of baffled looking at race results after some of the races I did this year. Basically this is what I experienced in a few cases: Fields of 35-50 riders at the start where the printed/USAC results show results for riders up to numbers up to something like 26 (or, a similar deal w/ 2 or 3 sets of #s in mixed fields...ie, Cat3/Cat4 & Juniors of some sort)....so, I've started thinking, "what happened to the other riders?" Is it common for racers' finishes beyond a point to not be tracked? Do some racers simply drop out (I realize some do involuntarily...but the DNFs haven't always seemed to add up to what I saw at the start..I think) if they see they're not going to finish in a place they want? If so, is there some tactical advantage to doing so? I'm talking here about Cat5 & Cat4 races so this isn't seasoned racers or folks who are getting paid to ride their bike here. Maybe this is all a problem of perception on my part, but I figured I'd put it out here in the (sort of) form of a question in hopes some of the more experienced racers can enlighten me. For myself, I can not imagine giving up on doing the best finish I can muster no matter what, even if it's dead last because I crashed or had a mechanical problem.
    Race a few more races and the gung-ho enthusiasm may wane a bit.
    Do some drop out? Perhaps, perhaps not.
    Tactical advantage? Yeah, I don't want to get wrecked by either other riders or the weather no matter how good my legs feel.

    There have been times i've pulled myself in a cat-4 race after i realized i just didn't have it and got enough suffering from the efforts. The race has not yet finished, but i was outta there.

  3. #3
    In the Pain Cave thechemist's Avatar
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    How do you know 30-50 riders showed up? Maybe that was the prereg number but from my experience they will have results for every rider that was actually on the start line.

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    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    I'm sure it will wane..ha! I understand weather/riders & all that tactic-wise, I guess what I meant was that I started wondering if for someone intent on moving through the ranks that perhaps a DNF is preferable to a bottom ten finish?

    On a late in the season race that finished with a 2 mile or so mountain, I had a pretty nasty chain drop/looped RD/mechanical problem about 7 miles into the race. For all intent, I was out of the race at that point with nothing but my heavy breathing & silence of the morning around me. I managed to get the chain/RD relatively functional and chased the group...picking up and working with a few riders dropped along the way as I went. I was able to catch the main group (probably still a couple off the front?) right before the lull leading to a stair step climb and then the finish...so, I was toast & dropped back to a chasing (or, "following" may be more aptly put) group and essentially held a spot there til the end. In the end, the numbers aren't impressive, but for me it was probably just as rewarding when one of the motorcycle refs made a point to compliment me on the effort to chase back. I'd like to think that stubborn enthusiasm will stay with me, but I've lived long enough to know that I don't know everything.

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    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    a lot of times the smaller races would only report the top 10 or top 20 placings. Normally these are the weekly series type races.

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    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechemist View Post
    How do you know 30-50 riders showed up? Maybe that was the prereg number but from my experience they will have results for every rider that was actually on the start line.
    a lot of times the smaller races would only report the top 10 or top 20 placings. Normally these are the weekly series type races.

    Quote Originally Posted by fiataccompli View Post
    I'm sure it will wane..ha! I understand weather/riders & all that tactic-wise, I guess what I meant was that I started wondering if for someone intent on moving through the ranks that perhaps a DNF is preferable to a bottom ten finish?
    depends. I'm not a sprinter type, so my results will be either top 10, middling, or close to DFL. The placings (whether DFL or DNF) will fall accordingly, and I'll pull myself if i've had enough suffering through the first 20 minutes; if i've been in a race long break that get caught close to the end, i may hang tight for the DFL finish. The races are evaluated on the merits of what I did, not on the placings,

  7. #7
    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechemist View Post
    How do you know 30-50 riders showed up? Maybe that was the prereg number but from my experience they will have results for every rider that was actually on the start line.
    that's based on #s the registration folks gave and the (perceived) impression of the number at the start. I completely understand the power of perception over reality so it could all be in my head.

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    illusoryly superior Ygduf's Avatar
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    here it is not uncommon for the latter half of the field to be noted as DNP.

    I've never pulled out of a race, mostly due to the fear that when I do that and the world doesn't end I'll be forever racing with the idea that I can just stop and be OK with that.

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    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    here it is not uncommon for the latter half of the field to be noted as DNP.

    I've never pulled out of a race, mostly due to the fear that when I do that and the world doesn't end I'll be forever racing with the idea that I can just stop and be OK with that.
    Last week you rode with someone I told you I learned a lot from. He taught me to never drop out, once you did it the first time it was so easy to continue to do it...
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

  10. #10
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    Technically a DNF is better than a DFL because you get scored on a low place and you get nothing, not even what some might consider a race start, with a DNF.

    Also, until recently, promoters didn't have to post the full results so they'd pick the top 6 or 10 or whatever. Before the widespread use of finish line cameras it would be next to impossible to pick more than 6 or 8 riders in an all out field sprint. Fortunately you only got upgrade points for the first 6 for many years. Now it's down to 10 places sometimes so a camera is necessary.

    As a promoter who posts results I try not to post DNFs. In USAC's rankings a DNF is zero points, a low placing is a lot of points (and less points is better). As someone that DNFs frequently I made a choice to not post DNFs to avoid cluttering that rider's race resume with noise.

    As someone that DNFs frequently it's for a couple reasons. One is something happens, like a mechanical. I'm normally careful enough about my bike but this year I had two failures - a chain that ended up twisted and a broken saddle. This is unusual.

    The other reason I DNF is I get shelled, meaning I can't or don't try to hang on. I do pretty much only crits and there's no point in chasing since if I got shelled going, say, 27 mph average, then there's no way I'm going to be able to average the 30-32 mph needed to catch back on. When I got a power meter it confirmed my thought process - in many races where I get shelled I'm averaging 250-300w until I get shelled. To go fast enough when chasing I'd need to hold 400-600w. In races where I don't get shelled I'm averaging in the 160-200w range. My FTP is 210-220w. Therefore for me to chase back on, holding 400-600w for a few minutes (or, if you want to put it a different way, holding 200%-300% of my FTP), is totally unrealistic. Therefore I sit up.

    You only have motivation to finish as a Cat 5 and, to some extent, as a 4. If you want to upgrade out of the 5s you have to finish your race, period. That's the only requirement. I've had Cat 5 riders come up to me (me being a promoter now, not a racer) asking that they be scored even though the officials didn't score them. They want to upgrade to Cat 4 and they needed a finish, but getting lapped 5 or 6 times in 15 laps (literally and seriously, so they were going about 10 mph avg in a race) shows to me that they're not ready to upgrade to Cat 4. I won't fight hard to get that score put up (I only put up what the officials say I should put up).

    On the other hand if someone time trialed for 8 laps behind the Cat 3-4 field (and that's happened after the rider got shelled) then I'll fight tooth and nail to make sure the officials score that rider. Holding 27 mph for 15+ minutes is no picnic and doing that after the field collectively attacked you to shell you… that's impressive.

    Best practice is that if you need the finish (Cat 4, 5) then try and finish. If you get lapped in a crit more than once then it's not really "finishing with the field" and I would sit up. It's much, much, much, much, much, much better to be in the field for a few laps longer instead of being able to time trial on your for a while after getting shelled. In this situation I would say that the ability to finish the race indicates that the rider failed in the "racing" and only succeeded in "riding".

    For example say a rider gets shelled in 3 miles in a crit. He time trials for 12 miles at 22 mph and get lapped once or twice. This shows me that the rider didn't try hard enough for those first three miles because I certainly can't go 22 mph by myself at 160-200w, which is what it would take to sit in a 25-27 mph field. This means the rider didn't know how to ride in a field. Therefore the rider is a reasonable rider but a poor racer.

    It would be much more beneficial to the rider to experience and learn sitting in the field. He may go only 5 miles in that same crit and then be so blown he can't even ride another lap, but that is much better than getting dropped without really trying (which is what happened if he can time trial after you get dropped).
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  11. #11
    illusoryly superior Ygduf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
    Last week you rode with someone I told you I learned a lot from. He taught me to never drop out, once you did it the first time it was so easy to continue to do it...
    One of the reasons I am changing teams this year is that my best (and most capable) racing teammate who upgraded from 4-3 with me just quit in one of the early races last year. We were both adjusting to a field of capable riders and it was much more difficult than muscling through a 4s field without concern for non-top-10 finishes. He said "it was too hard" when I asked after the race was over.

    He did like 2 more races with me, DNFing both of them and is now just riding MTB for fun. Completely lost the race edge and the ability to push through the intense parts of races.

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    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Simple thing to take from the results.
    If your license number isn't at the top, learn from it, try again.
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

  13. #13
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    One of the reasons I am changing teams this year is that my best (and most capable) racing teammate who upgraded from 4-3 with me just quit in one of the early races last year. We were both adjusting to a field of capable riders and it was much more difficult than muscling through a 4s field without concern for non-top-10 finishes. He said "it was too hard" when I asked after the race was over.

    He did like 2 more races with me, DNFing both of them and is now just riding MTB for fun. Completely lost the race edge and the ability to push through the intense parts of races.
    I have found that lots of guys crack from 4-3 and even more from 3-2...
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

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    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    I'll DNF in plenty of situations. Raced already and don't think I can place. Racing again in a more important field to me, and the current race isn't unfolding the way I need it to. Break is gone and the money is up the road. Weather sucks. I'm tired, and resting is a better idea. Never ever doesn't last very long.

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    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post


    On the other hand if someone time trialed for 8 laps behind the Cat 3-4 field (and that's happened after the rider got shelled) then I'll fight tooth and nail to make sure the officials score that rider. Holding 27 mph for 15+ minutes is no picnic and doing that after the field collectively attacked you to shell you… that's impressive.
    i did something similar in a race. A week after i got sick, we had a 7-lap circuit race with each lap gaining 275ft in 4 miles. I wasn't feeling too good and started sag climbing on the second lap. On the third lap i sagged too far down and lost contact on the descent and spent the next 3+ laps chasing. The gap actually stabilized at 30 seconds, but after the sixth lap i had enough and threw in the towel. Actually wouldnt have finished DFL, but i'm not a sucker for gratuitous suffering.

  16. #16
    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    I was lucky enough to upgrade from 5-4 towards the end of the season and while I will never declare any absolutes (irony intended), I will be the first to admit I'm a bit of a sucker for gratuitous suffering at this moment in my cycling...

    Thanks for all the inputs & perspectives.

    btw, I had to Google "DFL"...OK. thankfully, not been there in crits yet, but in the road race I described above, it was far more rewarding to me to fight back from DFL to DFL+8 or 9 or whatever than it would have been to DNF. (trying out the acronyms here...).
    Last edited by fiataccompli; 11-04-13 at 10:02 AM.

  17. #17
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    I'll DNF in plenty of situations. Raced already and don't think I can place. Racing again in a more important field to me, and the current race isn't unfolding the way I need it to. Break is gone and the money is up the road. Weather sucks. I'm tired, and resting is a better idea. Never ever doesn't last very long.
    I guess I should have put a qualifier on that. That statement came back in the day of long road races when working with a large team.
    As a crit racer the dropout rules are different. Last year I had a friend ask me to do the masters race to help protect another friend who was gunning for the Omnium so I jumped in and ****ed around in the field watching out for my buddy. My buddy rolled off the front with two others. I then came from the back of the field to the front in about 1 lap (800w for a lap) - got to the front, checked in to make sure they were long gone then pulled off on the front straight and into my team's tent area. They all burst out laughing as I probably could have bridged but my goal was the main that night (which ended up being a total cluster ****)
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

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    Powered by Borscht ovoleg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
    Last week you rode with someone I told you I learned a lot from. He taught me to never drop out, once you did it the first time it was so easy to continue to do it...
    This is kind of the mentality I'm going off of. If I do it once, I'll use it as a way to pull myself in the future. I rather blow up and ride with the stragglers than pull over.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    I'll quit occasionally. I don't like it, but sometimes it simply makes more sense. Usually this happens after I've done and all or nothing attack and ended up with nothing.

    One of my funnier DNFs was local crit last year, attack 3 laps from finish, get caught at the 200m line, I was going so slow, I didn't want to be in the way so I just pulled into the grass 50m from the finish line. Didn't care to get scored. F*ck small wins.

    I've quit mountain bike races when I overheat.

    I don't think I've quit a cross race yet.


    I spend a LOT of time during the first 80% of a race thinking about quitting. I spend the last 20% trying to win it.
    I'm sure when you were getting to the point of blowing nothing was obvious but making the pain stop...I don't know about you but after the fact I always look back at those moments and think 'why didn't I just keep going' but at the time there wasn't enough oxygen on the planet to make me take one more pedal stroke.

  20. #20
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    On the other hand if someone time trialed for 8 laps behind the Cat 3-4 field (and that's happened after the rider got shelled) then I'll fight tooth and nail to make sure the officials score that rider. Holding 27 mph for 15+ minutes is no picnic and doing that after the field collectively attacked you to shell you… that's impressive.
    Last year in the P/1/2/3 at Bethel I got dropped. I don't remember how but it was after the halfway point. Solo against a strong headwind is pretty much doomsday, but I needed the TSS so I stayed out there TT'ing. They let me stay in, and I never got lapped. I don't like to prematurely exit races for any reason.

    To the OP, in Cat4 there can be a lot of DNF's if the course is technical and the stragglers get lapped. Also, registration numbers .neq. start numbers. They can be higher or lower.

  21. #21
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiataccompli View Post
    For myself, I can not imagine giving up on doing the best finish I can muster no matter what, even if it's dead last because I crashed or had a mechanical problem.


    I average around 10 DNF's a year.

    I also average a couple of state championships a year for the last 7 years (I think I have around 30 state medals), and grab the rare national win or medal.

    There are times when staying out is good training. There are also times when it's completely pointless and just making you tired and sore which is going to impact you during the week. Of course I also race 55-65 times a year.
    Last edited by Racer Ex; 11-04-13 at 05:13 PM.

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    Senior Member Wylde06's Avatar
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    The only way I am going to stop racing is either I cross the finish line or they tell me im done.

  23. #23
    Powered by Borscht ovoleg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post


    I average around 10 DNF's a year.

    I also average a couple of state championships a year for the last 7 years (I think I have around 30 state medals), and grab the rare national win or medal.

    There are times when staying out is good training. There are also times when it's completely pointless and just making you tired and sore which is going to impact you during the week. Of course I also race 55-65 times a year.
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