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Thread: Cat 5 Question

  1. #26
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    I feel very lucky to race in Oregon, especially the Portland area. We have races nearly every day in the summer and many have races for new riders, often with clinics/assisted cat 5 races that make for a much easier entry into the sport. Pack racing is not easy for those who just jump in with no idea what they are doing.

    I think it would be nice if it was a basic requirement to offer a short cat 5 only guided race at most crits and circuit races. It doesn't take much time to add and only needs to be 15 to 20 minutes long. It should also be a requirement to be in a few guided races before doing am unguided cat 4/5 race. I know that most velodromes take this more seriously and require certification before racing, I don't think it would reduce racing, and might even increase it if new racers thought it might be safer to enter the sport.

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    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christobevii3 View Post
    In Lambra you have a lot of people who are cat 1 in mtb, cyclocross, or cross country. They show up for their one or two road race a year, blow everyone out, then not show up till next year. I'm not sure if everywhere is like this but a 44 mile cat 5 race averaging 23.8mph seems relatively quick?

    People finally started upgrading this year since last year the top 10 people were like this. One upgraded to 4 and his first 4 race got 3rd.

    I know this year if you race in a 4/5 race as a 4 it doesn't even count towards your point in our area. They have enough people and are forcing people to upgrade finally to stop it. The funny thing is, there are barely in 1 or 2's then too. The 1 cat 1 guy got blown out by 40 places by a cat 2 from Texas that I know in the Fayateville stage race both in the road and tt section.
    USAC has rules regarding this. I believe the rule states that you cannot be more than two categories difference between disciplines: i.e. a Cat 1 in cross is automatically a Cat 3 on the road. So, you should not have any Cat 1 cross guys in your Cat 5 races.

    This does not pertain to Triathletes, who are governed by USAT.

    And yes, 4/5 races do count toward 4 to 3 upgrades. The only issue is that USAC only counts the Cat 4s toward the number of starters, and points available are based on the number of starters. And it's your placing in the whole race, not in your category, that is counted.

  3. #28
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    Before we even had Cat 5, the system was designed to rely on Clubs/Teams to teach their new members.

    I think the ideas in this thread such as clinincs, and seperate 5's races, are good, but are difficult for organizers.

    Another answer is a greater emphasis on Clubs/Teams. If you go out and do the training rides with the local racers, find a Club/Team to learn from, you can learn a fair amount of what you need to know before you do your first actual race.

    Increasing unaffiliated rider fees would help in this regard.

    Arguably this could discourage new riders, but you could mitigate that effect by giving out information on hooking up with a club at the same time you collect the unafilliated rider fee.
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    Agree with above about team/club/group rides...even though they're not exactly race conditions, they're the best substitute I'd say (in my limited experience.) I'm with a great team, lots of guys willing to help out the new guys if they can. And it does help.

    I have been under the impression that Cat-5 is designed, like someone else said, to help produce skilled and safe racers. In my area with everything combined into 4/5's, it just doesn't seem to be working that way. It's a race just like any other, and often a fairly fast one. Lots of 5's end up spit out the back quickly, some for fitness reasons, some for confidence reasons, some for experience reasons. In my opinion getting dropped (or pulled or whatever) is not a problem in the sense that it hurts rider's egos, it's that it's a problem because it's tough to gain any experience in the 5's for some.

    I do understand why it's difficult to not combine the 4's and 5's. It just seems to kind of defeat the purpose of Cat-5. As much experience as possible with team and club/group rides might be the best answer?

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Everything is a fight in the 33!!
    I'm not trying to start a fight or call anyone stupid. I'm just trying to point out that inexperience will make it harder to even know what lesson to draw from something that went wrong, or how to fix the problems with running races for beginners. My point was just to emphasize even more strongly how dysfunctional it is to just throw the n00bs into the deep end and let them sink or swim. But I also think that Cat 5 is part of a good solution to training new racers, and that mixing it with Cat 4 from time to time doesn't render it useless.

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    Here is an email from a race we had recently:

    As this race is sold out and there have been a few guys contact me about a waiting list to get in should anyone of you not show up on race day, I want to make the Cat 4 guys aware of the rules for this race.

    Cat 4 guys in this race are not eligible for prizes of any kind and do not receive LAMBRA / LCCS points. They will not be recognized on any podium only listed in the finish results. If you are a Cat 4 and racing this to win, you should be in the Cat 3/4 race. There will be podiums for both Cat 3 and Cat 4 in that race and you will also be eligible for the prize money and primes.

    The only reason that Cat 4s are allowed in this race is due to an old loop hole in the USAC rules that allowed field expansion to 75 riders if there was a combined field, this rule is no longer in effect as of this year, so next year this race will be Cat 5 only.

    Should you want to transfer to the 3/4 race please let me know so that I can move you and allow some more guys the opportunity to race.

    I look forward to seeing everyone next weekend.
    So racing in a 4/5 mixed field in Lambra as a 4 is no different than just being a 4 it seems. The cross country and what not are classified as 3, 2, 1 so maybe that is why there is some issues there. But I would hope anyone doing 100kmh+ cross country as cat 1 would start as a 4 or 3 at least. But nope, we get them in cat 5. The last race they had one as a 4 ride off the front and win by 3 minutes solo.

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    Before we even had Cat 5, the system was designed to rely on Clubs/Teams to teach their new members.

    I think the ideas in this thread such as clinincs, and seperate 5's races, are good, but are difficult for organizers.

    Another answer is a greater emphasis on Clubs/Teams. If you go out and do the training rides with the local racers, find a Club/Team to learn from, you can learn a fair amount of what you need to know before you do your first actual race.

    Increasing unaffiliated rider fees would help in this regard.

    Arguably this could discourage new riders, but you could mitigate that effect by giving out information on hooking up with a club at the same time you collect the unafilliated rider fee.
    The problem is that the ship may have sailed on the club system providing an organized and instructive environment for new racers. This may partly be because of the shift from most new racers being juniors to most being adults who don't want to be told what to do. I don't know. But few clubs are as focused on development anymore, and even where they are, the rides everyone is going to tell you about are the hammerfests. If there's to be a greater emphasis on clubs, there are institutional ways of encouraging that, but they actually have to happen.

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hack View Post
    I jumped into racing May of last year having done one or two group rides. Looking back...probably not the best approach, but the officials were quite helpful and we had a mentor that was helpful for those of us that were out of our element. The mentor would offer advice and guidance during the race like "we're coming up to a corner, dont cross wheels". After the races, we'd debrief and I learned a good amount of info about what to do/not to do, when to do, etc.

    Earlier this year in a Cat 5 race I was watching, the lead official collected the guys that had fallen off the back (maybe 10 guys or so) and regrouped them as a chase group. Their instructions were that they stay together and race as a group since that was the intent of cat 5. I thought this was a great approach. These guys have already been dropped and were learning nothing, but the official made sure they got more pack time in the race.

    So, there are some merits to cat 5 racing, but it is tough as you get a rather large spetctrum of abilities amongst the racers.
    Sounds like some places have a great structure in place for training new racers.
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  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    Sounds like some places have a great structure in place for training new racers.
    To be fair, we also have the 4/5 races and some non-mentored races where guys can get blown out the back of the group before the first turn and pulled 5-minutes later. So, while we do have some great 5's races, there are some that could turn guys off, too. It'd be great it the flyer advertised the race as a "great learning opportunity" or something like that. A cat 5 technical/climbing course may not be an ideal first race course, while a flat business park course may be a great first race opportunity. Problem is, a lot of 5s won't know this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    The problem is that the ship may have sailed on the club system providing an organized and instructive environment for new racers. This may partly be because of the shift from most new racers being juniors to most being adults who don't want to be told what to do. I don't know. But few clubs are as focused on development anymore, and even where they are, the rides everyone is going to tell you about are the hammerfests. If there's to be a greater emphasis on clubs, there are institutional ways of encouraging that, but they actually have to happen.
    Exactly.

    Where have all the steady weekend social rides gone? Strava has killed them.

    Can't seem to find a ride that doesn't devolve into half the group sprinting up a hill or drilling a segment. Used to be the occasional pick up for a city limit sign. Now it's hold on for dear life on every uphill.

    Ah, the good ole days.

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    They aren't happening, or no one is inviting you to them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    They aren't happening, or no one is inviting you to them?

    I like how you turned my agreement with this statement:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    But few clubs are as focused on development anymore, and even where they are, the rides everyone is going to tell you about are the hammerfests.
    into an unwarranted dig. Keeping it classy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    The problem is that the ship may have sailed on the club system providing an organized and instructive environment for new racers. This may partly be because of the shift from most new racers being juniors to most being adults who don't want to be told what to do. I don't know. But few clubs are as focused on development anymore, and even where they are, the rides everyone is going to tell you about are the hammerfests. If there's to be a greater emphasis on clubs, there are institutional ways of encouraging that, but they actually have to happen.
    Dutch cycling union has instituted that you can't get a racing license unless you are affiliated with a licensed club. This has some definitive downfalls as well but at least you encourage the development role that clubs / teams should play to new racers. I think completely excluding unaffiliated racers is not the way to go but development should be started from the clubs. These are the people you ride with a lot and they can spot some mistakes you make in training etc. As a new racer myself getting tips from my team/club in terms of cornering and such has been invaluable. We also do organized training for race craft, like how to ride proper echelons etc and before the major 'classics' we'll do wheel changes and such.

    Learning in this way is way more comprehensive than a 1 hour clinic can ever be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by needmoreair View Post
    I like how you turned my agreement with this statement:



    into an unwarranted dig. Keeping it classy.
    You misquoted me, but one, I disagree with the statement that there are not social rides. Two, I disagree with the sentiment that Strava has anything to do with your perceived lack of social rides, primarily because I know of plenty. Three, it's an honest question given 1 and 2.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    You misquoted me, but one, I disagree with the statement that there are not social rides. Two, I disagree with the sentiment that Strava has anything to do with your perceived lack of social rides, primarily because I know of plenty. Three, it's an honest question given 1 and 2.
    No, I certainly did not misquote you. That quote is yours exactly.

    I simply added on to my agreement of your quote with other sentiments. That was denoted by a new line/paragraph, but apparently you needed an entirely new post to prevent the confusion.

    And now, here we are. It's almost comical watching your responses. It certainly gives me a smile how hard you try to read into things.

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    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    They aren't happening, or no one is inviting you to them?
    I'm going to show up to Spectrum, totally uninvited.

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    Quote Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
    I'm going to show up to Spectrum, totally uninvited.
    I wouldn't call spectrum a social ride. But if you are down here looking for some, let me know. There's a few that meet regularly, and many others that are just called a day or two in advance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerundium View Post
    Dutch cycling union has instituted that you can't get a racing license unless you are affiliated with a licensed club. This has some definitive downfalls as well but at least you encourage the development role that clubs / teams should play to new racers. I think completely excluding unaffiliated racers is not the way to go but development should be started from the clubs. These are the people you ride with a lot and they can spot some mistakes you make in training etc. As a new racer myself getting tips from my team/club in terms of cornering and such has been invaluable. We also do organized training for race craft, like how to ride proper echelons etc and before the major 'classics' we'll do wheel changes and such.

    Learning in this way is way more comprehensive than a 1 hour clinic can ever be.
    In the US the old system was such that all clubs had to promote a race annually. Riders could ride unattached but promoters generally charged an "unattached" fee. The assumption was that if you were unattached you weren't contributing to promoting races and therefore you got dinged for the extra money. The fee was substantial at some races.

    The side benefit was that there was an assumption that a club fostered better racing habits.

    Nowadays it's more about whether a racer pre-registers or not. Generally speaking it's easier on the promoter if someone pre-registers.

    And clubs are generally very loosely organized. It may be that club members see each other mainly at races, rarely on training rides.
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    In a continuation of the thought (but not a response directly to any post), with a huge increase in emphasis on training with the advent first of the heart rate monitor and then the power meter, it's become less about learning how to race and more about "following a training schedule". As far back as the early-mid 90s there were racers that were skipping group rides so that they could "follow their training schedule", i.e. target heart rates and such. This has led to a deterioration in riding and racing skills since a lot of riders don't train regularly in groups.

    The Cat 5 designation is useful in separating the new racers from the experienced ones. It's like if you threw in a normal driver (like me) into an F1 race. Yes, I know the basics of steering, braking, and accelerating, but compared to the skill set of an accomplished F1 driver I'd be a danger to everyone else on the track (and to myself as well).

    As a promoter I've been asked by very level headed rides to please keep the 5s out of the Masters races. It gets really dangerous.

    As far as what it takes to make things safer… yes I've run (mandatory) clinics before Cat 5 races, so that the Cat 5s are forced to get some kind of structured learning in before they line up. There's the "chalk talk" or reading and then the actual clinic on race day. Although very basic it seems to help.

    Now I'm using the Tuesday Night Races (I'm not affiliated with the promoters in any way) to try and teach the others about racing. Although initially approached by teammates, I've had others ask me for advice as well. One of my teammates told me that the only thing he knows about racing is that he should be "at the front". So he diligently went to the front whenever he could.

    As far as the rest of the rest of the racers it was pretty messy the first week. There was a massive bobble in the first turn (guys went off the course), there were repeated bobbles in all the corners, my teammates rode hard to chase down my teammates, etc. It was a mess. From three weeks ago to even two weeks ago there was a huge improvement in the cornering, in sheltering from the typically substantial wind (especially exiting certain corners), and some of the basic tactics.

    To address my teammates' questions, but to share it with everyone racing there (because everyone should learn how to race, not just my teammates) I wrote a general blog post followed by a few that hit each of the main points in the general post. General, point 1, point 2, point 3, point 4.

    Instead of complaining about lack of action, I've done what I can to address the problem. I have contacted USAC about clinic requirements etc but never get a response. In the meantime I'll continue my guerrilla actions.
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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by needmoreair View Post
    Exactly.

    Where have all the steady weekend social rides gone? Strava has killed them.

    Can't seem to find a ride that doesn't devolve into half the group sprinting up a hill or drilling a segment. Used to be the occasional pick up for a city limit sign. Now it's hold on for dear life on every uphill.

    Ah, the good ole days.
    I don't agree that those rides are all gone, or that Strava has killed them - this trend predates Strava, which I would contend is an effect, not a cause, of a culture shift. What's happening is that people coming into the sport are less likely to even look for these rides, and there's not as much ability to really guide people to the club rides and mentorship that they need. Everyone wants to know when and where the hammerfest ride is. It's fitness, fitness, uber alles. It's easy to understand what's happening, I don't go to a lot of these rides, either. So I'm not helping much.

    It's not hopeless, though, there are still well-structured, beginner-friendly rides around. In my neck of the woods, Green Line Velo puts on a weekly group ride where members of the team lead groups from fast, down through intermediate, moderate and leisure. And they have actual, experienced racers leading the slower group - they don't all jump on the fast ride. The reason this is rare is that it takes discipline and some willingness to ride slower and meet new people from time to time. It can be hard to get roadies to do that. But I'm not sure right now if it's smart for USAC to keep hanging their hat on the hope that this kind of experience will regain enough popularity to remain as the primary source of skills training for new racers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    This has led to a deterioration in riding and racing skills since a lot of riders don't train regularly in groups.
    as measured by?

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    I don't train in groups. Hell, I barely ride outside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    as measured by?
    I look at the Cat 3-4 races and there's a pretty big gap between the 4s and 3s. Also I was appalled by the lack of knowledge in the 5s and 4s. I did a B race a few years back (I'd ridden 5 hours to pick up a vehicle and the promoter told me I should do the B race since I was there anyway). I had an initial reintroduction to new racers then, the braking, the swerving, the big gaps, etc.

    However in the B races on Tuesdays it's been more than that. A significant number of riders didn't know to follow the wheel in front of them in a corner, resulting in 5 different lines and a lot of bobbling. I understand bobbling due to some unexpected thing but for riders literally not know that they shouldn't follow their own line? That was a bit much for me. I even heard one guy tell another to "follow the curb line" in the corner. The tone was a scolding one, not even a friendly one.

    I think that new racers' grasp of the basics, at least here in this area, are pretty weak. It may be different in other areas, like the West Coast, with the Early Bird series, Oregon, etc. But around here, in CT? Not very good.

    The fact that there was such a substantial improvement in the field dynamics in literally one week means that there is a lack of information out there. All these riders are extremely fit - there's no way I could race against them if they were racing smart, most of them are so strong (I did one team ride this year and I was one of the first to get shelled, and the ride was basically a Cat 3-4-5 ride). I've gotten feedback from other teams' riders, not just my own teammates. All of them are starving for knowledge, and that 4 point series of posts really helped them understand some of the general ideas of racing in a field. One guy, not a teammate, told me that he felt really dumb for not realizing certain things. He's an aerodynamics engineer yet he never really thought about how wind affects one's ideal field position. Now he's much better about that.

    Of course just because I offer some advice doesn't mean it's taken or even that it's right. A teammate of mine fell over the weekend and skinned all his finger tips. Long finger gloves? Nope, and anyone that's been on BF for any amount of time knows that this is something I recommend for all racers, all the time. One of my posts has someone saying that my advice for using pins is not great, spray adhesive is better. I didn't realize that USAC took the word "pins" out of the rule book - now your number simply has to be "secured" at the four corners (I suppose for the magnets and similar type ideas). My goal is to present the simplest, most reliable way of approaching racing, and for me, after trying all sorts of number attaching ideas, pins works best for me. It doesn't mean it's the best for everyone else. For me, however, it's the simplest, most reliable way of securing my number to my jersey.
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    I should have put "new" in front of the word "riders" in that earlier sentence.
    "...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

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post

    I think that new racers' grasp of the basics, at least here in this area, are pretty weak. It may be different in other areas, like the West Coast, with the Early Bird series, Oregon, etc. But around here, in CT? Not very good.
    I'm not disagreeing with you. Though I do think it's mostly generation gap and selective memory, that's not my current point. My only question was "what's your measurement?" to know that it was better "back when" or if any changes to cat 5 structure make improvements. What's the metric?

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