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Old 11-27-13, 02:58 PM   #1
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How do you choose races?

I took a look at NCNCA, and there are races almost every Saturday & Sunday from January through September. How do you choose which ones are important, which ones are your "A" races, which ones you want to do?
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Old 11-27-13, 03:09 PM   #2
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Old 11-27-13, 03:21 PM   #3
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Do as many as you can, I say - figure out which ones you like, which ones you're good at.

Basically, "A" races are ones that you're peaking for, and planning your season around. For me that's big crits. You can only peak so many times in a season; thus you can only have so many A races.

"C" races are ones you'll do maybe during the Build or even Base period, and not necessarily rest up for and definitely not peak for. You'll still try to win them, but they're really just for working on fitness, experience, tactics.

The only races I actively avoid are ones with lots of climbing, like Mt Hamilton, etc.

I'm sure a few outliers will step in and say every race is an A race, but this is how I think about it anyway.

Friel covers this in more detail in the Training Bible btw.
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Old 11-27-13, 03:42 PM   #4
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Do as many as you can, I say - figure out which ones you like, which ones you're good at.

Basically, "A" races are ones that you're peaking for, and planning your season around. For me that's big crits. You can only peak so many times in a season; thus you can only have so many A races.

"C" races are ones you'll do maybe during the Build or even Base period, and not necessarily rest up for and definitely not peak for. You'll still try to win them, but they're really just for working on fitness, experience, tactics.

The only races I actively avoid are ones with lots of climbing, like Mt Hamilton, etc.

I'm sure a few outliers will step in and say every race is an A race, but this is how I think about it anyway.

Friel covers this in more detail in the Training Bible btw.
Mattm covered main points. Basically "A" races are the ones you think you will do good in because they play in to your strength, or at least for me they are just fun to do. For example Davis 4th of July crit. Other then that if it's on a calendar and it's a crit chances are I am racing it.
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Old 11-27-13, 03:50 PM   #5
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Do as many as you can, I say - figure out which ones you like, which ones you're good at.

Basically, "A" races are ones that you stress out over; thus you can only have so many A races.

"C" races are ones that you try to convince yourself are not to be stressed over. You'll still try to win them, but they're really just for working on fitness, experience, tactics and dealing with stress.

The only races I actively avoid are ones with lots of climbing, like Mt Hamilton, etc or ones that are notorious for being death traps.

Every race is an A race, you should be so nervous that you can't sleep every weekend.
Friel covers this in more detail in the Training Bible btw.
That is what you meant right?
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Old 11-27-13, 04:03 PM   #6
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It really isn't particularly complicated. How many races do you want to do? When do you want to race? Anything in particular important to you?
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Old 11-27-13, 04:11 PM   #7
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It really isn't particularly complicated. How many races do you want to do? When do you want to race? Anything in particular important to you?
How many? As many as possible.
When? Whenever there is a race, so every weekend.
Anything in particular important? Not yet, which I guess is why I wouldn't know how to choose A races. And all I see is the name of the race, knowing nothing about it unless it was one of the few I did this last year.

Which ones would I like to like and do well in? road races.
Which ones am I able to be near the front at the end of the race? 4 corner flat crits, i.e., Red Kite crits.

Basically just got overwhelmed looking at the NCNCA calendar, and imagining how to plan out a year.
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Old 11-27-13, 04:13 PM   #8
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That is what you meant right?
Basically.

Except I lust after "death trap" races!!
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Old 11-27-13, 04:17 PM   #9
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Basically just got overwhelmed looking at the NCNCA calendar, and imagining how to plan out a year.
Picking an A race also tells you when to start Base & Build, so that you peak at the right time.

But as a cat 5, probably just best to race a ton and see what happens.

And if you're overwhelmed by the huge amount of racing available here, just break it up in to chunks. (or move to somewhere like WA). Don't worry about races in August yet, just focus on one month at a time.
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Old 11-27-13, 04:26 PM   #10
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Picking an A race also tells you when to start Base & Build, so that you peak at the right time.

But as a cat 5, probably just best to race a ton and see what happens.

And if you're overwhelmed by the huge amount of racing available here, just break it up in to chunks. (or move to somewhere like WA). Don't worry about races in August yet, just focus on one month at a time.
Yeah, but it would be nice to get some kind of feel for how I respond to build/taper/race as opposed to race/race/race. If I actually get a plan nailed down sometime soon, choose A races and follow a plan, then I will be able to see if there is a noticeable difference.
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Old 11-27-13, 04:30 PM   #11
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How many? As many as possible.
When? Whenever there is a race, so every weekend.
Anything in particular important? Not yet, which I guess is why I wouldn't know how to choose A races. And all I see is the name of the race, knowing nothing about it unless it was one of the few I did this last year.

Which ones would I like to like and do well in? road races.
Which ones am I able to be near the front at the end of the race? 4 corner flat crits, i.e., Red Kite crits.

Basically just got overwhelmed looking at the NCNCA calendar, and imagining how to plan out a year.
If you're married and have kids who play sports it's a whole new level.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:07 PM   #12
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You think way too much. You're a Cat5. Winning a Cat5 race means jack squat. Your focus should be learn, learn, learn, and stop asking stupid questions.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:09 PM   #13
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One thing I'm going to try this coming season is not picking specific 'A' races, but targeting a period of time (and set of races) where I want to be at my fittest. Hilly or long road races aren't worth targeting specifically for me, as I am unlikely to do well despite my best efforts. And targeting a peak for one crit is silly and really not necessary. At a certain point with crits, you've got the fitness you need (or can achieve, anyway) and a good result is about how well you race, the way that race unfolds, etc.

Whatever you do, you want to race as much as you can during your build up and into your peak, whether it's for one race or a month. The best seasons I've had, both in terms of results and fun, have been the seasons where I raced a lot. The last two years I've done 20-25 or so races each year, and for me that's a pretty good number. More racing means more opportunities to learn, try new things and of course more fun (you do this because you enjoy it, right?). My first season in particular, looking back, was really relaxed and fun in no small part because I spent the fall and winter riding a bunch and then started racing in March with no real concept of targets or peaking or any of that crap. I did about a dozen races that spring, and I had more fun then I did for the next three years.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:20 PM   #14
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I'm just go ahead and avoid all the death trap races, everything else is on the calendar. I've got my eye on a few key races but we'll see what happens. I think a big part of racing is strategy and skill, fitness matters but overstated sometimes.

If your fitness is so crazy that you're riding away lapping the field, you're in the wrong category(imo) or your name is Shovel.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:40 PM   #15
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having raced in the NCNCA now for a few years i've figured out which races i like and don't and that helps. at first i just did almost every race and then had to come to the realization mid race "what the hell am i doing here". but we do have an embarrassment of riches as far as racing goes. and i live a few miles from the velodrome in san jose and I've never even been there.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:44 PM   #16
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race where you might win, your teammates might win, or where you'll have fun.

If you're allergic to bees, maybe skip Snelling.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:55 PM   #17
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race where you might win, your teammates might win, or where you'll have fun.

If you're allergic to bees, maybe skip Snelling.
Hah. I am allergic to bees so I always race with an EpiPen in my jersey. Last year I felt a couple ping my helmet and I was thinking "Crap, one's going to get stuck in a vent, sting me in the scalp and I'm going to have to pull off and use the EpiPen." Never happened though, just lucky I guess.

I actually looked up epinephren in the substance list: it's banned in competition so I figure that if I ever have to use the EpiPen I'd be required to pull out of the race and inform the officials.
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Old 11-27-13, 06:16 PM   #18
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You think way too much. You're a Cat5. Winning a Cat5 race means jack squat. Your focus should be learn, learn, learn, and stop asking stupid questions.
Yeah, I know. Everyone knows the best way to learn is to shut up and not ask questions. It's amazing I made it through college with all my questions!
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Old 11-27-13, 06:22 PM   #19
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race where you might win, your teammates might win, or where you'll have fun.

If you're allergic to bees, maybe skip Snelling.
Not allergic, but I got one stuck in my jersey on 2 seperate occasions last year and it's really no fun. Maybe I'll skip that one haha.
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Old 11-27-13, 06:29 PM   #20
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One thing I'm going to try this coming season is not picking specific 'A' races, but targeting a period of time (and set of races) where I want to be at my fittest. Hilly or long road races aren't worth targeting specifically for me, as I am unlikely to do well despite my best efforts. And targeting a peak for one crit is silly and really not necessary. At a certain point with crits, you've got the fitness you need (or can achieve, anyway) and a good result is about how well you race, the way that race unfolds, etc.

Whatever you do, you want to race as much as you can during your build up and into your peak, whether it's for one race or a month. The best seasons I've had, both in terms of results and fun, have been the seasons where I raced a lot. The last two years I've done 20-25 or so races each year, and for me that's a pretty good number. More racing means more opportunities to learn, try new things and of course more fun (you do this because you enjoy it, right?). My first season in particular, looking back, was really relaxed and fun in no small part because I spent the fall and winter riding a bunch and then started racing in March with no real concept of targets or peaking or any of that crap. I did about a dozen races that spring, and I had more fun then I did for the next three years.
This actually makes a lot of sense. At this point I'll probably target a couple road races with hills. Like you said, no point in targeting a single crit. I'll have a better idea of whether I'm cut out for them or not, get to know my body and how it responds to build taper peak, and I'll still be in a low enough category to not get creamed in everything else. Then I'll have a better idea for 2015.
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Old 11-27-13, 06:45 PM   #21
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How I would select NorCal races would be completely different from how you might do it. What team are you on and what races are they going to feature? Some teams focus on races and pay all or part of the expenses. If you are unattached, then you can choose whatever race you want.

Here is an idea for you.

My observation is that you are killing it right now - Spectrum ride every weekend, AV A rides and cat 6 racing (41 thread material) on your way to work.

That suggests a peak in March. Generally, racers can can train and race for 6 months and hit a peak. Racers who race early in the season need a mid season break if they want to also race later in the season.

I like the Madera Stage race in March that features a simple 4 corner crit course on good pavement in the morning followed by a 10 mile time trial in the afternoon. The next day is a 50 mile road race that features a 2.2 mile rough pavement section followed by a series of rollers. For the cat 5 racers, it is three laps which means you get 6.6 miles of Paris Roubaix style riding. The rollers separate the pack and breaks start out of the rough pavement section. Hotels are cheap and if you go with a others, you can stay together. Madera is not easy and it will be a good test while offering all three types of racing over two days.

This could be a good A race for you and you could pick other races and training to prepare for Madera. And your current fitness will carry forward to March. Then take a break and do the Cal Cup races later in the summer.
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Old 11-27-13, 07:16 PM   #22
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For me, we have 2 local series within 20 miles (Ontario, Rosena Ranch) and the rest I'll pick and choose. I will probably do Redlands since that's the home race. I want to do EC and DVSR but I'm on the fence, partially because I don't want to humiliate myself and partially because I don't want to show up with no shot at winning (this all depends on what I do right now and how much I can improve).

I'm just not going to burn myself out driving to 50 races a year. I do not know much about racing but one thing I do know is many people burn out fast and only last 2-3 seasons before quitting.

Winning a Cat 5 may be a joke here, but for me it would be friggin awesome. Outside of 1 on 1 matches, I've never won an athletic event in my life (I was 3rd in a 5k with over 300+ people) and I'd like to experience it once.
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Old 11-27-13, 09:11 PM   #23
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One way to burn out is focusing too much on targeting specific cat 5 races that you think you'd really like to win. Driving to 50 races is definitely excessive for the majority of people, but you can do a lot of races and still have fun if you keep a big chunk of them local and know why you're racing. For me, I could probably do ~30 races in a year and preserve domestic bliss, but that would be pushing the limit. I remember when I was new, the 12 or so races I'd done in my first year and the 8 or so the year after that seemed like a lot of races. Now, that would be a pretty short season for me. But what I do now is nothing compared to the really dedicated amateurs, let alone people who do this for a living.

As for winning... I finally won a race about a year ago. It was cyclocross, not road, the closest I've ever come there was second. It felt pretty good and all, but it didn't change my life. Most of the time, I'm still not going to win. So when it comes to thinking about whether you should bother showing up to races that you don't have a shot at winning, well, maybe you'll turn out to be an awesome bike racer and that makes sense. Or maybe chasing that win is exactly what's going to burn you out and you need to wait and see how you progress. Especially early on, when getting all the races you can under your belt is only going to be good for you.

It's not that there isn't some sense in choosing to avoid certain races. Road races and me don't really get along. Physiologically, I'm just not put together in a way that lets me race for lots of miles and still have something left to fight with at the end. You should see me at the end of a fast century. Smoked. Guys who are just plain slower than me for 60 miles ride on by at 85, because my tank is just empty. So I don't go to almost any road race with the expectation that I can contend for the podium. I don't skip them all, because I like road races and can be useful to my team earlier on, but I won't win. If I only went to races I felt like I could win, I would miss a lot of opportunities to grow my experience. Someday I might even better better at long races.

Guys like Ex or gstein likely have a different perspective than me, because they win a lot more than I do. But when it comes to a cat 5 skipping races because they don't think they can win, I bet we all think that's pretty pointless. I mean, how do you even know? Just go race and learn what you can do.
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Old 11-28-13, 01:49 AM   #24
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Although I think of areas of the calendar as "goals" vs specific races (because it takes just one minor thing to derail a race but if I'm strong that Sunday then the following Sat or Sun I'll also be strong), the reality is that I find myself getting stronger and more motivated most seasons. This made me settle on aiming at March, end of May, and August as my peak periods. March works well because the earlier the first goal the better I am in August/Sept. End of May used to be 2-3 crits on Memorial Day weekend but there are crits just before and after, most of them ones I enjoy. August just because, and Sept usually has some local Championship thing.

Goal "time ranges" help me focus on clearing up any bike issues/maintenance, motivate me a bit more when it's December or January, etc.

I find that racing keeps me fresh/motivated the best. The year I did 55 or more races (it was just one year, I forget the exact count), a teammate and I drove 5+ hours to Baltimore to do a race in November. I was just dying to race and my first "non-race" (club thing but definitely a bragging rights thing) was in February. 5+ hours may not seem like much to someone in California or to tetonrider but for a CT racer that's a lot - most riders will cap it at 2-2.5 hours each way.

Not only that but in the pre-season, meaning the fall/winter prior, I did more stupid long rides than I ever did. My teammate and I would do about 120 miles two days a week until everything iced over.

That was the midst of about 10 years of super consistent riding, doing 40-45+ races a year most of the time, plus big group rides and midweek training races. It was about 4 years later that I really eased back on the racing schedule, mainly due to the very different job I took (IT, with a 90 min commute, vs bike shop with a 15 minute drive or a 40 minute ride).

Now, with family, it's different. It would be nice to be more fit etc. I DNFed most of my races this year, but the ones I finished were pretty fun (and often when I finish I can do well either in a field sprint or in the race itself).
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Old 11-28-13, 07:05 AM   #25
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Aaron - I'm glad you asked this question, because it's something I've been working on too.

So far, I've got one "A" race figured out in March...but then what? I'll be racing as part of a team next year; the planning meeting/Christmas dinner is December 19, so I'll see what the team's plans are and go from there. I've got the opposite problem from you - there is one, sometimes two races/month for most of the season, and almost all of them involve travelling and motels and therefore some expense. Most of them are stage races or omniums. I don't feel I have a realistic expectation for results this year, so I'll probably lean towards whichever races offer the most opportunities for learning stuff. Actually, peaking for a race is going to be a learning experience in itself. Gonna be a cool year.
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