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  1. #1
    Senior Member totalnewbie's Avatar
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    first time racer humbly seeks advice - 2.5 weeks to race

    I have taken up road cycling for only 4 months. Over the past 1.5 month, I have been training 3 times a week (M,W,F) for my first ever race that is coming up in 2.5 weeks. I humbly seek advice on what I should do in the next 2.5 weeks.

    Here is my schedule: Monday- TT on the actual course (40km)
    Wednesday - 4 sets of 10-minute intervals (90s below LT, 30s above LT, repeat 5x)
    Friday - base mileage training, usually at a slower pace but longer distance (maybe 60km)
    all other days - full rest, not even doing any light spinning.
    I found that at my current shape, I need a full day of rest to get rid of the heavy legs.

    The course is 40km long (see enclosed photo) I broke down the course into sections myself:

    1. flat with a few shallow climbs (0-13km)
    2. flat with a few shallow climbs with a recovery descent (13-25km)
    3. uphill climb at about 5% average (25-32km)
    4. uphill climb at about 10% average with a recovery descent (32-37km) this is where my legs are getting tired.
    5. uphill climb at about 8% average to finish (37-41km) this is where I struggle.

    [/URL]

    I have read about tapering the week before the race so I come up with the following plan:

    Week 1 (this week)

    Wed – TT run of entire racecourse
    Fri – 4x10 intervals

    Week 2:

    Mon – TT run of entire racecourse
    Wed – 4x10 intervals
    Fri – final TT run of the racecourse

    Week 3 (taper, keep intensity and frequency but reduce volume)

    Mon - doing only portion 3 & 4 at race pace (can’t split this as there is no exit in between)
    Wed- doing only portion 5 at race pace
    Thu- 4x5 intervals, doing option 1 at light pace (originally on Friday but I want to rest on Friday)
    Fri- full rest, not even doing any light spin
    Sat- race starts 7am, eat at 4:30am then ride the whole portion 1 to start (i live where 1 meets 2) as warm-up (or maybe drive there instead and try not to deplete any energy at all?)

    There are two options for week 3 I am thinking of. The second option, which will give me one more day of rest before race, will be:

    Mon - doing only portion 3 & 4 at race pace
    Wed- 4x5 intervals, doing option 1 at light pace , don’t bother doing portion 5 at all
    Thu – rest, but 30 min of light spin
    Fri- full rest, not even doing any light spin
    Sat- race starts 7am, eat at 4:30am then ride the whole portion 1 to start (i live where 1 meets 2) as warm-up (or maybe drive there instead and try not to deplete any energy at all?)

    I am very new to this and I don’t even know how my body will react. I certainly understand there is no one-size-fits-all plan but I humbly ask for any input you may offer to help me optimize my condition. I am particularly interested in the tapering week: should I taper earlier? should I lean towards a 2-day rest vs 1-day rest? In the past, if I rest for more than 3 days, my fitness nosedives. Any other input is highly welcome. Thanks all in advance.
    Last edited by totalnewbie; 11-05-13 at 05:18 AM. Reason: inserted profile

  2. #2
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    Train hard up until 1 week before the race, then cut the number of workouts down, but keep the same intensity. Don't need to do all that thinkin' just yet.

    Do some group rides - will have a big effect in confidence/placing..

    Go race, go have fun.
    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.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dolamite02's Avatar
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    totalnewbie: I suspect you are or will be, disappointed with the responses you'll receive here given the thought you've put into your post. Understand though, that the responses you'll see are going to primarily be along the lines of, "Go do it. Go do it more." This is not out of callousness, but out of the fact that it really is that straight forward. johnnybutts' points are correct, and you'll likely receive additional, similar advice.

    Just go race. Have fun. If/when you get dropped, keep going. Do it again.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.
    I'm the guy that wins the group ride. That's dumb. It's time to win the race.

  4. #4
    Powered by Borscht ovoleg's Avatar
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    I would actually rather do some light spinning on the other days where you are taking them off. Is there a reason why you're not even doing recovery rides on those days?
    -Cat-3-o-meter: TBD :/

  5. #5
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    Is this a TT race or is it a mass start race?

    The biggest thing I see is the day off just before the race. This could really affect your race day. You're not doing two days in a row consistently - is that something you can do? I ask because doing a 30 min easy spin on, say, Tue or Thu could improve your Wed or Fri rides. I find, as do many others, that it's hard to go hard after a day or two off.

    This year I actually looked down at my heart rate during races and I noticed that if I didn't ride the day before my HR doesn't like to go above about 158-160 bpm for a while. If I ride the day before I see in the mid 160s shortly after we start racing. If I warm up a lot and spike my HR over 160 then in the race it's usually okay (not enough warm ups where I spike my HR to really conclude that it's effective).

    In the next 2 weeks I'd try doing a short ride on your off days, to see if this helps. If it does then you can do a short ride on Friday before your Saturday race. For me I find two things happen the day before the race. One is that I need to hold myself back because I feel really good. The other is that I feel horrible and can't get my legs going at all. Both of them have led to great race days. Both of them have led to terrible race days.

    When I go easy it's really easy, like 20 kph / 12 mph. Sometimes I'll do an effort or two, i.e. a short jump, but that's only if I can't control myself. I find that just rolling around works fine. My legs get a bit swollen at first, then shrink back to normal. After that I stop. If my feet are a bit swollen, usually after a few days off, then I'll ride until they're back to normal.
    "...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

  6. #6
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    it's hard to say what you should do because you've only been at it for 4 months and are going into your first race.

    I would say things to keep in mind:

    -this is your first race, it's a beginning not an end all be all. go do it, dont put too much pressure on yourself, have fun, and when you're finished take some notes on how things went, how you felt, what you think you did well and what you think you didnt, what you can learn to benefit your next effort

    -it's generally better to be over rested than under rested, your week of looks heavier than I would do, but that's tough to define

    -make sure your equipment is clean and in good safe working order. shifts well, doesnt drop when going from big to small ring or vice versa, your brakes are adjusted, drive train lubed, tires inflated properly, etc. i say clean because cleaning your gear is a good way to inspect, check, and adjust.

    -41K is going to take less than 90 minutes. take with you what you would for a 90 minute ride, and fuel like you would for a similar length ride.

    -get to the race about 1 hr. to 1.5 hours ahead of your start time to sign in, get your race #, go to the bathroom, get comfortable with the scene.

    -do a warmup so you're ready to go when the race starts

    -remember to have enough time to pee after your warmup and before the race starts

    -have fun

  7. #7
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
    it's hard to say what you should do because you've only been at it for 4 months and are going into your first race.

    I would say things to keep in mind:

    -this is your first race, it's a beginning not an end all be all. go do it, dont put too much pressure on yourself, have fun, and when you're finished take some notes on how things went, how you felt, what you think you did well and what you think you didnt, what you can learn to benefit your next effort

    -it's generally better to be over rested than under rested, your week of looks heavier than I would do, but that's tough to define

    -make sure your equipment is clean and in good safe working order. shifts well, doesnt drop when going from big to small ring or vice versa, your brakes are adjusted, drive train lubed, tires inflated properly, etc. i say clean because cleaning your gear is a good way to inspect, check, and adjust.

    -41K is going to take less than 90 minutes. take with you what you would for a 90 minute ride, and fuel like you would for a similar length ride.

    -get to the race about 1 hr. to 1.5 hours ahead of your start time to sign in, get your race #, go to the bathroom, get comfortable with the scene.

    -do a warmup so you're ready to go when the race starts

    -remember to have enough time to pee after your warmup and before the race starts

    -have fun
    How old is the OP? For each 5 years of age about 35 add 1 additional pee break before the start.

  8. #8
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ovoleg View Post
    I would actually rather do some light spinning on the other days where you are taking them off. Is there a reason why you're not even doing recovery rides on those days?



  9. #9
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    Why are the people monochrome?
    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.

  10. #10
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnybutts View Post
    Why are the people monochrome?
    Yeah right, you don't see color.

  11. #11
    illusoryly superior Ygduf's Avatar
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    it's tough for them to pick out colors which mesh, so they stick to grayscale wardrobes.

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  12. #12
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    it's tough for them to pick out colors which mesh, so they stick to grayscale wardrobes.
    Nah, it's photoshopped. Don't know why though.
    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.

  13. #13
    illusoryly superior Ygduf's Avatar
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    can a guy not make a comment about the difficulties of the blind to wear colorful wardrobes around here?

    oh, if you really don't get it, it's a picture of the blind leading the blind, implying that Oboeleg is not well qualified to give racing advice.

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  14. #14
    ride lots be safe Creakyknees's Avatar
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    Attack during pre-reg.
    "have fun and be kind"
    - an internet post

  15. #15
    Senior Member johnybutts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    oh, if you really don't get it, it's a picture of the blind leading the blind, implying that Oboeleg is not well qualified to give racing advice.
    No, I got 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.

  16. #16
    illusoryly superior Ygduf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnybutts View Post
    No, I got it.
    did you think I didn't know it was altered? the outline is clear.

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  17. #17
    Senior Member Dolamite02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    did you think I didn't know it was altered? the outline is clear.
    You can tell from the pixels.
    I'm the guy that wins the group ride. That's dumb. It's time to win the race.

  18. #18
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I'm with CDR. I need to ride the day before a race. Usually 30-45' of easy spinning and then a set of hard efforts. I will usually do 4x1' all out. Others like shorter "jumps" like 15" or 20". These really charge the system without draining you. If I'm going to take a day completely off, it would typically be 2 days before the race, not the day before.

    And there's nothing wrong with riding to the race, provided you know the route well and don't get lost. Good luck!
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  19. #19
    Powered by Borscht ovoleg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    that little girl is creepin me out
    -Cat-3-o-meter: TBD :/

  20. #20
    Senior Member totalnewbie's Avatar
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    thanks for all the advices so far. appreciate your honestly dolamite. yes, I think I am a little too anxious about the race. It's a mass start microchip event of about 300 people grouped by age. these things don't come very often near my neighborhood so to me it's like Superbowl. Where I live, I can't get any group ride so I am always riding solo and the chance to mingle with other cyclists get my blood pumping.

    When I got into cycling, I thought I am doing it for fitness only. Then I saw the racing videos posted by Carpediemracing and I was inspired by that, and thought, wow that looks really fun. As a 40+ wimpy guy (and a wimpy kid who always finished last in any sport many years back) I "discovered" a sport that I may have a chance of not finishing last and that my build could actually be an advantage. I guess the prospect of not finishing last overtook me which led me to overthink everything in order not to get dropped.

    anyway, it seems that a lot of you are advising that I should do some light spinning on my off days. I think I could try that and see how my body reacts. and yes, I also need a walking cane and a pair of ray ban.

  21. #21
    Banana Pancakes furiousferret's Avatar
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    The biggest thing I would recommend is to find someone to ride with; you're going to get shelled with that profile if you cannot hold a wheel for the flat part of the race. The race will be 10x easier if you can stay with the pack; if not its going to be long slog to the end. Good luck and have fun.

    Also with about 2 weeks to go until the race you need a training montage; that's really the only way to win on such short notice. It worked for Rocky and all the other great champions, and it'll work for you.
    Last edited by furiousferret; 11-05-13 at 07:34 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member totalnewbie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
    The biggest thing I would recommend is to find someone to ride with; you're going to get shelled with that profile if you cannot hold a wheel for the flat part of the race. The race will be 10x easier if you can stay with the pack; if not its going to be long slog to the end. Good luck and have fun.

    Also with about 2 weeks to go until the race you need a training montage; that's really the only way to win on such short notice. It worked for Rocky and all the other great champions, and it'll work for you.
    what is a training montage?

  23. #23
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    For your taper week, cut the efforts in half and increase the rest. The day before the race, do a set of openers. They should be in the workout sticky. It's a set if short jumps but not flat out, about half power. You go until you feel the lactate in your legs then back off, rest and repeat.

  24. #24
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    for many years I took a day or two off before a race. My win % wasn't really any different than it is now. As with fit and other things it's often what your body adapts to doing.

    That said the volume and level we're talking about makes hand wringing over tapers and what not a bit silly. Don't go so hard the week of the race and you're probably better served doing something on the bike the day before the race.

  25. #25
    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    All of the physical training in the world will not prepare you for the mind-bending panic of riding in a pack of riders at high speed for the first time.

    If it were a TT, you'd be fine. But staying with a pack is a different animal.

    I know you said it's impossible to find anyone to ride with, but you must. Sometime before the race. If you have to drive an hour to find a group to join up with, do it.

    Riding the course as a TT is good for general training, but the race you're about to ride is going to see so many fluctuations in speed caused by terrain, corners, collisions, near collisions, and the general movement of the pack. It's those changes in speeds that will mess you up more than the speed or distance covered.

    But Johnnybutts was right: go race. Have fun. Take notes. Protect your front wheel. And report your findings here when it's all over.

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