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Old 03-28-14, 07:31 AM   #101
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I find that in the road races I've done so far that it takes a lot of effort to fight for position for an hour. If I just tried to stay in the middle of pack I would always just end up in the back of the pack after two or 3 mintes. Now, there is less of an according affect as it's a road race and not a crit so I may try to be in the back for 90% of the race one of these days, but I find that boring, and I've only done 3 races! I like the tactics of when people are coasting, to follow someone up the side and get "free speed" to move to the front, and then try to be 5th out of 50 or so for as long as possible, until people start moving up around me. It's definitely a moving chess game and it's pretty intense. Even in Cat 5.

I had this grand notion of doing 10 races as quick as possible, maybe even getting 10 done by mid June or so and then upgrading to 4. But then I saw that the average speeds in the 4's road race may be 26mph compared to our 22 or 23mph and I don't know if I'll just get dropped. At least I have time to consider it. There's no mandatory upgrade from 5 to 4, right?

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Old 03-28-14, 07:32 AM   #102
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(I get that first contact with the enemy obviates battle plans,
Or to quote Mike Tyson, "everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth"

Mike Tyson explains one of his most famous quotes - Sun Sentinel
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Old 03-28-14, 07:35 AM   #103
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There's no mandatory upgrade from 5 to 4, right?
You can stay a 5 for life. There was a guy around here who was consistently placing top 3 in Cat 5 races for years. Most people find that rather silly.

Once you can complete 10 Cat 5 races, and are finishing with the pack (i.e. actually racing not just rolling in OTB) you need to upgrade.
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Old 03-28-14, 07:41 AM   #104
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You can stay a 5 for life. There was a guy around here who was consistently placing top 3 in Cat 5 races for years. Most people find that rather silly.

Once you can complete 10 Cat 5 races, and are finishing with the pack (i.e. actually racing not just rolling in OTB) you need to upgrade.
Ok, sounds like a plan. Plus, as I'm paying for the races, I'd rather be challenged than just sit in cat 5 races. I'd rather get my money's worth and strive to get better.
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Old 03-28-14, 08:24 AM   #105
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I like this thread. good discussion points from multiple sides of the skills spectrum from people who've demonstrated successful racing abilities and results.
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Old 03-28-14, 11:36 AM   #106
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I attacked once last year, midway through a 25 minute crit. Slight headwind, false flat, cold, and rainy. No one wanted to do anything so I went for it. Another guy jumped on my wheel...I ran out of gas and got caught ~250m from the line
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Old 03-28-14, 12:03 PM   #107
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Such replies. Wow. Much wise. Thanks.

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New racers don't know what they're capable of. This is why I feel so strongly that guys like the OP are doing EXACTLY what they should be doing as a new Cat5. Forgetting about results and ewang at personal bests and Strava and all that noise and just going out there and crush themselves until they figure out what might work for them when the racing really counts. It's why I feel that all Cat5's should do their ten and not upgrade early. Ten chances to figure things out before it's about points.
This. 2 races in, I still don't know what I'm capable of. After these 2 races, I always think about what I should have done in a particular situation.
Like, "hmm, if I am on the inside/outside corner, I should have done this."
"I should really move up in the last few laps or else I'll end up in the middle of the pack when I finish."
"I need to pedal through corners and not worry about my pedal clipping the pavement."

Lots of shouting in Cat 5's too, lol. "Hold your line!"

Like what I said, I will try out attacking in my next race and see how it goes. I then should have a gauge on my skills and at least know when to stop or if I can go on til I get caught by the pack.
First thing I'll find out if I can separate from the group, that's why I asked the question about when's the best time to attack that can help you to be successful.

I guess the beauty of being a Cat 5 is you can learn, experiment and discover yourself. I always make it point to have a goal in my races. Of course my number one goal is to win races but in my 1st race, my goal is to not crash, cause a crash and not be DFL. 2nd race was to try out moving in and out of the pack and place better. Next is attacking and making it to the top 10, podium perhaps.
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Old 03-28-14, 12:25 PM   #108
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Like what I said, I will try out attacking in my next race and see how it goes. I then should have a gauge on my skills and at least know when to stop or if I can go on til I get caught by the pack.
First thing I'll find out if I can separate from the group, that's why I asked the question about when's the best time to attack that can help you to be successful.

I guess the beauty of being a Cat 5 is you can learn, experiment and discover yourself. I always make it point to have a goal in my races. Of course my number one goal is to win races but in my 1st race, my goal is to not crash, cause a crash and not be DFL. 2nd race was to try out moving in and out of the pack and place better. Next is attacking and making it to the top 10, podium perhaps.
Just try it. Not that I'm highly experienced racer... cat 4 who only gets in maybe 5 real races and 8 or so practice crits a year...

That said, my first win was a semi-suicide attack from roughly 1000m out. Granted the situation was good; we were coming into the final 500m, I was not well positioned so was moving up in the draft around 8th wheel, and a car got in the way and we got waved off to do another lap. The top 4 guys had already started to windup their sprints. As we all crossed the "finish" line sucking wind to do ANOTHER last lap, I decided to attack as hard as I could. There was about 4 seconds of hesitation, and that was enough to keep from getting caught...

Granted I took the advice I'd heard from this forum many times... I attacked like my life depended on it, ripped the pedals off the bike, and DID NOT LOOK BACK (well, not for 30 seconds or so... I glanced as I turned into the last corner to see if anyone was closing).
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Old 03-28-14, 12:31 PM   #109
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This. 2 races in, I still don't know what I'm capable of. After these 2 races, I always think about what I should have done in a particular situation.
Like, "hmm, if I am on the inside/outside corner, I should have done this."
"I should really move up in the last few laps or else I'll end up in the middle of the pack when I finish."
"I need to pedal through corners and not worry about my pedal clipping the pavement."
Second-guessing never stops, unless you win. And unless you're really really exceptional, wins are rare, even for the strongest guys. If you are that good, you move up and up until winning is super hard again. You'll never get away from the what-ifs, which is what makes the game have a lasting fun.

Were there a hard-and-fast rule, everyone would tie for first and we'd all get bored very quickly.

Just have fun, try different things, figure out what gives _you_ the best shot at a win on any given day, then figure out how to trick everyone else into following your plan. Enjoy the journey, because about 5 minutes after you win, you're back to being the same dude you were prior to winning. If you don't like the grind, you can still have fun and like racing, but you'll find it difficult to beat the guys who _do_ like the grind.
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Old 03-28-14, 01:12 PM   #110
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I totally disagree with this. The way to learn to make smart, winning attacks is to try it and make mistakes. Even the perfect move is going to fail the first few times because you won't have the experience of "having been there before." You'll panic and go too hard or too easy or pace it wrong with the wind, the hill, or something else. Trying and failing develops the skill to know when to attack better the next time and its improving your fitness for exactly that type of effort at the same time. In bike racing, trying and failing is also a repeated, necessary step to trying and succeeding. And stupid, hopeless, pointless attacks may not work all of the time or most of the time, but they sure as hell work some of the time.
One of my favorite race experiences was one where I got dropped. I accidentally rolled off the front in mile 1 at 300 watts. I said what the hell and held ftp for 10 minutes or so and one guy bridged up. He asked me what my plan was... I told him it was a stupid, hopeless, pointless attack. Jk, I actually said I had no plan, but it would be nice to have a few minutes on the field before the big climb. Long story short, I learned 2 things: (1) fueling properly between successive days of road races is vitally important, and (2) stupid, hopeless, pointless attacks can work - for the other guy. He won.
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Old 03-28-14, 01:45 PM   #111
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I've seen guys waste entire seasons trying to "learning to make smart, winning attacks".

In my experience, they very, very rarely work, especially in the 4s and 5s, and even in the 3s.

So if it comes down to a cat 4 asking for advice on when to attack and having the choice of making all of these "smart attack" attempts hoping to pull off a rare winning break or sitting in and learning how to sprint (the most useful thing you can possibly do when trying to move up the ranks), I would say 100% of the time to sit in and go for it.

The only exception being in relation to my first post; and that is when strong riders make a strong move on a very difficult part of the race.
Glad to see this. I can sprint, but I can't win because I'm still trying to figure out how to position myself and how to time it. I think this is 98% of what holds me back. I've seen some promising top tens lately and hoping I can get it to come together in the next few weeks or month. It's frustrating to pass 20 guys in the sprint and get 11th place, and equally frustrating to be in prime position to win only to ruin it by hesitating.
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Old 03-28-14, 02:00 PM   #112
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Yes, you're right. I am being overly general.

But here's the thing about sprints in the upper categories; they really are not all about top kick or top speed. They're about not having spent too much energy.

You can still top 3 a sprint with a 900 watt sprint in a hard race where everyone has gassed themselves out if you play it correctly. Or in a long, windy sprint, uphill sprint, etc.

And that's where a lot of people take themselves out of the running, thinking they don't have a kick. The last lap of a crit or km of a road race is full on power. Even if your kick sucks, laying it down for a minute or two and getting yourself towards the very front will pull you into a good finishing position. Everyone is hurting at that point and you can make up a ton of spots even if you never kick it in properly.
Loving your posts (other than that one that everyone misinterpreted). Another anecdote - I did a training crit yesterday where I tailgunned, but found a slight gap while moving up on the last lap. I hesitated, but when I did cross the gap I was basically leading myself out. 900 watts max, but I was still going faster than the guys up ahead who were actually sprinting.

Also won an uphill sprint for 3rd early season as a cat 5 without breaking 1000 watts. When I'm hurting, chances are the others are hurting as well. It's one of the hardest things for me to learn - it's stupid, but I tend to see everyone else as always fresh.

Add this to my last post about needing to figure out the OTHER aspects of sprinting, and I'm starting to see why sprinting isn't all about top end power.
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Old 03-28-14, 02:08 PM   #113
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Anyway, the OP is asking the wrong question. It's not "when" to attack, it's "why"
- to go for the win
- to instigate a break or a chase
- to set up a counter for a teammie
- to wake up the legs
- because it's fun
- to inflict pain and consternation on your adversaries
- for training
- as a test of your form
etc.

Remember the rule, never put your nose in the wind without a reason.
Haha!
How about:
Because you are bored and think it will be fun to watch everyone scramble to chase you before you suddenly ease up and laugh.
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Old 03-28-14, 02:28 PM   #114
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Such replies. Wow. Much wise. Thanks.



This. 2 races in, I still don't know what I'm capable of. After these 2 races, I always think about what I should have done in a particular situation.
Like, "hmm, if I am on the inside/outside corner, I should have done this."
"I should really move up in the last few laps or else I'll end up in the middle of the pack when I finish."
"I need to pedal through corners and not worry about my pedal clipping the pavement."

Lots of shouting in Cat 5's too, lol. "Hold your line!"

Like what I said, I will try out attacking in my next race and see how it goes. I then should have a gauge on my skills and at least know when to stop or if I can go on til I get caught by the pack.
First thing I'll find out if I can separate from the group, that's why I asked the question about when's the best time to attack that can help you to be successful.

I guess the beauty of being a Cat 5 is you can learn, experiment and discover yourself. I always make it point to have a goal in my races. Of course my number one goal is to win races but in my 1st race, my goal is to not crash, cause a crash and not be DFL. 2nd race was to try out moving in and out of the pack and place better. Next is attacking and making it to the top 10, podium perhaps.
Same, after 26 races.
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Old 03-28-14, 07:01 PM   #115
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FTP doesn't mean jack when you know how to race and have race-specific power
[video=youtube;SZVhzVTBDvA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=SZVhzVTBDvA[/video]

FTP might be the most overrated metric devised by man.

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Old 03-28-14, 07:51 PM   #116
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I dunno... It might be a good idea to ride a little more conservatively if you're not in peak shape, or are inexperienced, and instead react to breaks than initiate them, just to understand better what works and what doesn't. I've raced like 8 times, and I've only seen one break that actually stuck. I was in good shape, and two guys went off the front. I tried to work with the chase group, but nobody wanted to pull, so I dropped them on a false flat and closed the 100-200 m gap by myself.

And I think it's obvious that you'll see more attacks and tactics in the upper categories. I've seen videos of P/1/2 crits that are just crazy... full of attacks and lead outs in excess of 30 mph. If I could get there someday, I would be very satisfied. Those guys are like the big dogs.
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Old 03-28-14, 11:52 PM   #117
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Same, after 26 races.
same, after about 140 races. getting closer to knowing but still learning!
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Old 03-29-14, 07:04 AM   #118
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same, after about 140 races. getting closer to knowing but still learning!
so pretentious!
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Old 03-29-14, 07:18 PM   #119
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this needs a cross-post... what not to do... why to practice bumping drills...

Crash40+ - YouTube
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Old 03-29-14, 07:21 PM   #120
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this needs a cross-post... what not to do... why to practice bumping drills...

Crash40+ - YouTube
I raced there before.

What a fabulous piece of bike handling that was.
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Old 03-29-14, 07:31 PM   #121
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I raced there before.

What a fabulous piece of bike handling that was.
Jebus I saw that coming 3 seconds in to that vid. Dude took himself out. wtf?
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Old 03-29-14, 08:03 PM   #122
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I don't understand what I just saw. I mean other than the guy laying down.
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Old 03-29-14, 08:08 PM   #123
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I don't understand what I just saw. I mean other than the guy laying down.

Maybe he was trying to draw a yellow card from the ref?
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Old 03-29-14, 08:11 PM   #124
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I raced there before.

What a fabulous piece of bike handling that was.

I've been bumped a bunch of time, hard a couple of times, and haven't crashed from it.

I don't even get what happened there.

Anway, as fun as it is to make fun of a guy, I hope he turned out alright. **** hurts.
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Old 03-29-14, 09:30 PM   #125
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I don't understand how that crash happened, did he even touch the guy? I hate to say people can't ride there bikes unless I was there, but that looks like a serious lack of something. I don't even think the guy in red felt that.
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