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Thread: Cat 5 Question

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    Why don't you guys start advocating for something concrete, like a crash/injury/incident reporting system for USAC events so there can actually be some metric.

    If you crash in a race, you or a witness fills out a form that says crash, # involved, incident type (flat e.g. flat corner vs. solo descent vs. wheel overlap vs. piling into downed riders) etc. Make it short, sweet, but start putting something to a measure other than "back in my day."
    I have, although I didn't mention it before.

    I was discouraged a few years ago when I asked for crash statistics. USAC said they didn't compile those, they don't keep a history of suspensions (except drug related, which USADA tracks, and current/unresolved suspensions). I thought of doing that myself, having one of my machines download the license database nightly off USAC's site and storing it (a lot of my last IT life revolved around that kind of a set up, analyzing the data, etc.). It would be an interesting exercise.

    I actually proposed to USAC that they track repeat offenders and establish an escalating penalty system, just as I described above, even if only to keep a database. As an example I used the rider that took me out. He had taken out much of the front of the field 9 days prior (with a very intentional move sweeping across the road in the heart of field sprint) but wasn't suspended so he could keep racing. There's no tracking of relegations, suspensions, etc. He also served an off season suspension but there's no record of that anywhere.

    I decided ultimately not to download the USAC database daily or even weekly, although I suppose I could start it at some point.

    I also decided to give up on any kind of USAC tracking of anything, at least for now.

    Finally although crashes can be the result of a poor bike racer, my goal is to make racing better, not necessarily more anything else. Yes, people stay upright more if they have better skills or knowledge, but mainly because they don't get into weird situations that require remarkable bike handling skills. Tracking crashes isn't the way to go about making racers better, it's something else.
    "...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 TexMac View Post
    I meant these folks had no idea that warming up was important, hence got dropped first lap.
    But it's not important, at least to me, except in very unusual situations/courses. Maybe it's important for optimal physiological performance, but that's rarely important in a mass start race. For track, TTs, RR that start on a climb, or ultra technical crits (for example an 8 corner 1/2 mile course in the wet), yes, warming up would be good, and I'd want to.

    For pretty much everything else not so much.

    The emphasis on optimal physiological performance obscures the importance of race craft, which is what I was saying has happened over the last 10-15 years. I forget but I just remembered that I even put a quote about it in my sig.

    Saturday I worked hard from about 7:30 until about 11 AM (physical and mental stuff, very stressful, so much so I almost skipped going to the race), got to the venue at about 11:35, got registered, pinned my number on, and started the race at 11:50. I missed the break that had my teammate in it (not that I could have gone, warmed up or not), I chose to hold back when ex-pro Frank McCormack ripped off the front to chase (I was suffering), splintering the field. I won the field sprint to take the bronze medal for the state. Everyone knew the bronze was up for grabs so it was a "real sprint", not just for pride.

    The last time I rode the bike before that was Tuesday, when I raced it for about an hour. Before that, same, the Tuesday before. I got an hour of training in the prior week, and raced Tuesday. Etc. Right now I'm not fit at all. I can't sustain big efforts. Yet I can participate in races. You can check my training on Strava, which I've used meticulously since May 2012. You can see my various race results (and the various DNFs as well).

    I've been doing this because it's an n=1 sample of how race craft is important compared to simply being fit. In 2010 I was fit, doing maybe 5-8 hours a week, and I upgraded to Cat 2. Now it's more like 1-2 hours a week, and I'm somewhat competitive in less selective races.

    I don't have some phenomenal FTP to rely on (it's about 220w on a good day). I have a reasonable jump (1200w peak on Saturday, but due to lack of fitness my 18 second number was something like 750w, about 200-250w lower than what I'd see in 2010).
    "...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 kmill23 View Post
    That's from Rouge Roubaix, which is a different race all together, .

    But in the 'normal' races, Cat 5 isn't about winning anything, anyway. If those guys want to do that, that's fine. Just get your mass starts (LAMBRA is quite lenient with upgrades to 4) and get your upgrade. Let those guys continue racing as a 5 if they want. You'll gain a lot more experience and fitness by training and racing as a 4 and continuing on to Cat 3 and up.

    You must be referring to the Cat 4 guy who demolished the field in Lake Charles. It looks like he raced a couple of 'cross country' races as a Cat 2. He is now a Cat 3 on the road. I don't think he was out to stroke his ego or anything. I think he is just that strong . . . . there are those people out there that just have to put in their 'time' in each category and fly through. LAMBRA got him up where he needs to be quickly. I've seen it a lot racing LAMBRA over the past several years. Guys I started with as Cat 5 were killing us, then killed us for a while in 4s, then immediately were 3s, then some are 2s already. It's just the nature of bike racing. It takes a while for the talent and skills to shake out.
    He is just that strong. He was a 5 in Monroe, a 4 at the Tour du Lac in Lake Charles, and a 3 at Rouge-Roubaix. For non-LAMBRA folks, that's a month and a half's time. He came in 6th overall IIRC last weekend at the Tour de Louisiane in the 1/2/3 field as a 3. God help the 1s when he learns how to race. He's very aware of his lack of experience. Plus he's a super-nice guy. And a teammate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    But it's not important, at least to me, except in very unusual situations/courses. Maybe it's important for optimal physiological performance, but that's rarely important in a mass start race. For track, TTs, RR that start on a climb, or ultra technical crits (for example an 8 corner 1/2 mile course in the wet), yes, warming up would be good, and I'd want to.

    For pretty much everything else not so much.

    The emphasis on optimal physiological performance obscures the importance of race craft, which is what I was saying has happened over the last 10-15 years. I forget but I just remembered that I even put a quote about it in my sig.

    Saturday I worked hard from about 7:30 until about 11 AM (physical and mental stuff, very stressful, so much so I almost skipped going to the race), got to the venue at about 11:35, got registered, pinned my number on, and started the race at 11:50. I missed the break that had my teammate in it (not that I could have gone, warmed up or not), I chose to hold back when ex-pro Frank McCormack ripped off the front to chase (I was suffering), splintering the field. I won the field sprint to take the bronze medal for the state. Everyone knew the bronze was up for grabs so it was a "real sprint", not just for pride.

    The last time I rode the bike before that was Tuesday, when I raced it for about an hour. Before that, same, the Tuesday before. I got an hour of training in the prior week, and raced Tuesday. Etc. Right now I'm not fit at all. I can't sustain big efforts. Yet I can participate in races. You can check my training on Strava, which I've used meticulously since May 2012. You can see my various race results (and the various DNFs as well).

    I've been doing this because it's an n=1 sample of how race craft is important compared to simply being fit. In 2010 I was fit, doing maybe 5-8 hours a week, and I upgraded to Cat 2. Now it's more like 1-2 hours a week, and I'm somewhat competitive in less selective races.

    I don't have some phenomenal FTP to rely on (it's about 220w on a good day). I have a reasonable jump (1200w peak on Saturday, but due to lack of fitness my 18 second number was something like 750w, about 200-250w lower than what I'd see in 2010).
    That just doesn't seem a sound philosophical argument. I'm fast. I warm up. And I have race craft. It's like saying one shouldn't use a faster set of wheels because it de-emphasizes race craft. In truth though one should maximize all the advantages one has available to them. Ultimately they're weighed on some sort of scale of cost and aggravation, with race craft being (usually) just a time and attention cost. I've won races where I didn't warm up, but it's usually circumstances where others didn't warm up either (raining or super early in the morning). I much better if I warm up properly.

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    my issue with all of this is just that it's 100% N = 1 anecdotes.

    I won Boonville RR that starts out on a 13% climb for a mile with no warmup, but I'm not going to weigh in on whether warmups are necessary. I also see some guys who climb fast that, and get this, they don't use Strava, so it can't be to blame for their fitness. Also, I DO use Strava, and I can't descend for ****, so that whole "strava makes people go fast" thing isn't working for me.

    I've seen old racers make stupid moves on group rides (like diving across the group to get the draft of a passing car to attack!) and that tells me "back in the day" probably was just like it is now, only you're all viewing things in sharp-edges-dulled-by-time sepia tones.

    I mean sure, N = 1, and I have no evidence or even any specific claims to back up, but that's all it takes to be an expert in here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    He is just that strong. He was a 5 in Monroe, a 4 at the Tour du Lac in Lake Charles, and a 3 at Rouge-Roubaix. For non-LAMBRA folks, that's a month and a half's time. He came in 6th overall IIRC last weekend at the Tour de Louisiane in the 1/2/3 field as a 3. God help the 1s when he learns how to race. He's very aware of his lack of experience. Plus he's a super-nice guy. And a teammate.
    Super nice guy and crazy strong. I raced in the 1/2/3 field at Tour de Louisiane this weekend with him. I can't believe the TT he laid down. That was smoking fast and won the TT overall. I was on my way back to the start and saw him motoring and thought "Yep. That's going to be a FAST time."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    I've seen old racers make stupid moves on group rides (like diving across the group to get the draft of a passing car to attack!) and that tells me "back in the day" probably was just like it is now, only you're all viewing things in sharp-edges-dulled-by-time sepia tones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    my issue with all of this is just that it's 100% N = 1 anecdotes.

    I won Boonville RR that starts out on a 13% climb for a mile with no warmup, but I'm not going to weigh in on whether warmups are necessary. I also see some guys who climb fast that, and get this, they don't use Strava, so it can't be to blame for their fitness. Also, I DO use Strava, and I can't descend for ****, so that whole "strava makes people go fast" thing isn't working for me.

    I've seen old racers make stupid moves on group rides (like diving across the group to get the draft of a passing car to attack!) and that tells me "back in the day" probably was just like it is now, only you're all viewing things in sharp-edges-dulled-by-time sepia tones.

    I mean sure, N = 1, and I have no evidence or even any specific claims to back up, but that's all it takes to be an expert in here.
    Back in the day was certainly the same by my perspective, and it's also true due to modern training more guys get fitter faster. That doesn't necessarily mean that given more time they'd cultivate better skills. I know plenty of guys who have raced for a million years and still can't handle a bike worth a damn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    That just doesn't seem a sound philosophical argument. I'm fast. I warm up. And I have race craft. It's like saying one shouldn't use a faster set of wheels because it de-emphasizes race craft. In truth though one should maximize all the advantages one has available to them. Ultimately they're weighed on some sort of scale of cost and aggravation, with race craft being (usually) just a time and attention cost. I've won races where I didn't warm up, but it's usually circumstances where others didn't warm up either (raining or super early in the morning). I much better if I warm up properly.
    Yeah, but will a proper warm up make the difference between a Cat 5 getting dropped in the first lap and finishing with the group? That was sort of what TexMac, who originated the warm up thread of this conversation, was implying. Whether intentionally or not. Anyway, I don't really know how much of a difference it makes, but if there are problems with the way new racers are handled, I don't think that many of them lie in how effectively those Cat 5s are preparing right before their races.

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    I was really just looking at that as an example of "The emphasis on optimal physiological performance obscures the importance of race craft, which is what I was saying has happened over the last 10-15 years."

    I don't think warming up or not makes the difference of getting dropped or not, in many or even most cases. Between winning or not though? And yes, it becomes less important the longer a race is, perhaps even if you start off on a stout climb.

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Oh, and I sympathize with Fudgy's cry for data, but memory and anecdote is just the best we've got. There's no way to reconstruct, for example, crash rates from the old days. USAC could start a crash-reporting system tomorrow and still be unable analyze the success or failure of racer training from any date prior to 6/10/14 with that data. So we just throw away the limited info we have from old-timers (sorry CDR...) because we think they're just old fogeys? Do we take them 100% at their word? Or is there a way to incorporate the recollections of people who have been racing for decades while acknowledging that memory is imperfect and rose-tinted by nostalgia? After all, what we know about how racing and cycling culture have changed in the last 30 years is almost entirely from the living memory of people who have been riding that whole time. There's just not a lot of this stuff written down in books. But we believe at least some of it, surely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    I was really just looking at that as an example of "The emphasis on optimal physiological performance obscures the importance of race craft, which is what I was saying has happened over the last 10-15 years."
    Ah, gotcha. One need not have anything to do with the other. Of course, that assumes that knowledge of and/or emphasis on race craft has declined over the last 10-15 years, which I wouldn't know. I haven't been at this very long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    Oh, and I sympathize with Fudgy's cry for data, but memory and anecdote is just the best we've got. There's no way to reconstruct, for example, crash rates from the old days. USAC could start a crash-reporting system tomorrow and still be unable analyze the success or failure of racer training from any date prior to 6/10/14 with that data. So we just throw away the limited info we have from old-timers (sorry CDR...) because we think they're just old fogeys? Do we take them 100% at their word? Or is there a way to incorporate the recollections of people who have been racing for decades while acknowledging that memory is imperfect and rose-tinted by nostalgia? After all, what we know about how racing and cycling culture have changed in the last 30 years is almost entirely from the living memory of people who have been riding that whole time. There's just not a lot of this stuff written down in books. But we believe at least some of it, surely.
    The really good officials in my LA (NEBRA) have been around for a very long time. They've worked thousands of races and seen pretty much everything. To dismiss the value of this experiential data simply because there is no "hard evidence" is stupid. It's just as stupid as judging the capability of a rider by their ewang.

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    For what its worth, most of the racers in our Cat 5 races seem to be pretty good bike handlers. In our area there are 3 competitive group rides, and if I include SoCal there are probably at least 50. That doesn't even include the standard group rides, which are probably triple that. If you're under 18 and race for the junior clubs around here you'll get free coaching as well. So there is an infrastructure out there for those that pursue it, the problem is that there is no obligation for a racer to participate in these prior to a race.

    During these rides I have a few guys that keep tabs on me, and give me advice (since they know I'm new to racing). I also have another 65 (give or take) that will yell at me if I do something stupid.

    However, there are still a ton of guys out there that train alone (*cough* triathletes *cough*), and race occasionally. Others live out in the middle of nowhere and may not have the option for a group hammerfest. IMO, USAC needs a way to reach these people. Its been said here already, but those guys can do their 10 races, and they can cause a crash in every race and nothing is to stop them. Other than separating all the new racers, there is no preventative or remedial action taken for guys that are dangerous riders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    my issue with all of this is just that it's 100% N = 1 anecdotes.
    ...
    You can keep asking for data, but if it ain't there, all you got is all you got. Look, you might be able to put metrics on some of this stuff, and I don't think you are going to get any pushback from suggesting that this is a good idea. But there are some things that just aren't really that amenable to measurement. How do you measure cornering skill or race craft? What metrics would you use that would be a good proxy for this information?

    Regardless, the sport could probably use some good system for teaching Cat5 racers race craft and bike handling skills. Whether it is better or worse than it ever was is pretty irrelevant; it is what it is, and if there is some benefit to putting on a series of skills clinics or somewhatever in the present, then maybe we should all be considering it.

    With our current system of a "rules body" separate from race administration/promotion, it will be difficult to get a formal requirement up and running. What Oregon has are certain races and promoters who self-designate as skills developers (and OBRA goes and marks these races specifically as "beginner friendly"). There are also certain clubs and teams that self-designate as for "race development", with an emphasis on learning racecraft and bike handling. And, of course, there is also the velodrome model where beginners are required to take a class prior to racing. In Oregon, specifically for track, it's old school. The upgrade criteria runs through one person. At some point, if you are racing regularly and showing progress with your race skill, you get "the talk". There is an upgrade point criteria, but until you get "the talk", you aren't going to be upgraded.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    The really good officials in my LA (NEBRA) have been around for a very long time. They've worked thousands of races and seen pretty much everything. To dismiss the value of this experiential data simply because there is no "hard evidence" is stupid. It's just as stupid as judging the capability of a rider by their ewang.
    Yep. I mean, like I said, I get it; I'm a scientist by profession for crying out loud, so I'm not immune to "Data! Data! Data!" as a rallying cry. That's today's buzzword. "Big Data." "Data Journalism." "Anecdote ≠ data." Et cetera. But we have people, and shouldn't we trust them a bit? I'm a huge stickler for clear data in my work life, but my professional world has different demands than bike racing does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    my issue with all of this is just that it's 100% N = 1 anecdotes.

    I won Boonville RR that starts out on a 13% climb for a mile with no warmup, but I'm not going to weigh in on whether warmups are necessary. I also see some guys who climb fast that, and get this, they don't use Strava, so it can't be to blame for their fitness. Also, I DO use Strava, and I can't descend for ****, so that whole "strava makes people go fast" thing isn't working for me.

    I've seen old racers make stupid moves on group rides (like diving across the group to get the draft of a passing car to attack!) and that tells me "back in the day" probably was just like it is now, only you're all viewing things in sharp-edges-dulled-by-time sepia tones.

    I mean sure, N = 1, and I have no evidence or even any specific claims to back up, but that's all it takes to be an expert in here.
    Don't let the best be the enemy of the good. You're absolutely right; identifying the right metric, tracking that metric, and measuring the effect of initiatives designed to improve the metric would be great. But not having that data shouldn't preclude efforts to improve things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    my issue with all of this is just that it's 100% N = 1 anecdotes.

    I won Boonville RR that starts out on a 13% climb for a mile with no warmup, but I'm not going to weigh in on whether warmups are necessary. I also see some guys who climb fast that, and get this, they don't use Strava, so it can't be to blame for their fitness. Also, I DO use Strava, and I can't descend for ****, so that whole "strava makes people go fast" thing isn't working for me.

    I've seen old racers make stupid moves on group rides (like diving across the group to get the draft of a passing car to attack!) and that tells me "back in the day" probably was just like it is now, only you're all viewing things in sharp-edges-dulled-by-time sepia tones.

    I mean sure, N = 1, and I have no evidence or even any specific claims to back up, but that's all it takes to be an expert in here.
    I'm okay with your criticism. I'm the one that records all his outdoor rides, even use a dash cam in the car, because I trust video more than I do recollection. On the other hand even accounting for my nostalgic recollection I think that there's a drop in riding skills, or at least there's a permeation of lower riding skills reaching further up.

    The bold - yes, "back in the day" stupidity was similar in "stupidity" as now - judgment is hard/impossible to train. The difference that I've seen is the lack of education if you will, the lack of "sharing the knowledge". You can't fix stupid but you can educate those that want to learn. Using your example, if that old timer that went across the group to draft the car didn't take anyone out, or even come close to it, if his move was smooth (albeit unexpected), then you could say that he was stupid but knew enough not to actually take out the others. I've drafted cars (well trucks to be precise) to "attack" on small group rides, although my intent wasn't to do anything but do a good, hard jump. In fact those that know me won't even react, unless they want to do a jump as well, because they know they'll see me in a minute or two.

    So the guy that took me out in 2009, he's more the former (lack of judgment) than the latter (lack of skills/technique). I refer to that crash often for a couple reasons, one is that it's the first time I broke a bone ever and I had over 25 seasons of racing under my belt, the other is that the guy that took me out had probably been racing for almost as long. As you point out stupidity hasn't changed. I've seen a few other flagrant stupid moves and they stick out because they're ridiculous.

    On the other hand I have 8, maybe 10 teammates, Cat 4s and 5s, who are starving for knowledge. They really, really want to race better but they don't have much opportunity to learn "more". They want to be better bike racers. Many of our more experienced teammates (Cat 3s, for example) have only a few years of racing under their belts and they're in a similar situation - they come to me asking for tactical advice, they have difficulty explaining things, etc. Without effective feedback constantly streaming their way, it's hard for the first and second year racers to improve. They were dangerous at the beginning of the season, no doubt about it. They were dangerous maybe 4 weeks ago. They just didn't know.

    Group rides help with some of it, like pace lines and such (that's what it seems like everyone tries to teach newcomers first) but they rarely teach actual cornering, since group rides rarely corner side-by-side at high speed, meaning a 90 degree turn on a flat road at 30 mph. They stream through more casually, they'll naturally string out, etc, so there's less opportunity or reason to deal with cornering on group rides.

    There needs to be some more education and more instant feedback, i.e. people saying things to the ones making mistakes.

    I know that there are riders out there that haven't grasped some of the basics, so they're lacking technique, not necessarily judgment. Those riders are ripe for learning. In the old days, around here, there was more infrastructure for that. There was also less "politically correctness", so the patrons would yell at the others (I got yelled at plenty of times - how do you think I learned?). The problem now is that the patrons aren't racing with the new racers. Also everyone's an expert so you get a lot of pushback if you holler unwanted advice (and from what I've seen, some of the yelled advice is really wrong, based on my, ahem, "expertise" )

    I also know there are those out there that lack judgment, but that's not really fixable except by tracking them and banning them. That was part of my reason for proposing some rule changes to USAC but they shot me down. I haven't tried again.

    I tend to focus on one result at a time. If I can help one rider at a time, that's great. Educate them, help spread knowledge. I know it helps, I can see the improvement myself now that I can do the B races. It took one week of the new racers realizing something wasn't right, asking for help, and getting feedback. I can say that I think all my Cat 4-5 teammates are now better, safer racers. I think that many of their competitors, in this area, have similarly improved. As everyone improved one racer started to stand out as someone "not changing". It may be a judgment thing, I don't know, but at this point he's caused a crash (I wasn't at the race) where at least one racer broke a bone. When most people do things better and one doesn't, the one that doesn't stands out a bit more.

    So that's my rambling "Junior woke up and I fell asleep 7 hours ago so I can't get back to sleep" post.
    "...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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    Oh, as far as warming up goes, my point was that if it's not critical to doing well in a race then someone should say so. The emphasis needs to be on the stuff that really counts, and warming up may not be the thing to focus on if, say, the rider is leaving a gap when exiting corners.

    Would warming up help me in my races? Maybe there's a few percent improvement, I don't know, but improving my max average wattage by 5 or 10 watts isn't going to help me in pretty much any race where I've been in trouble - I need a 30-50% improvement to hang in those races, based on what sort of wattage I held until I blew up. With what I've got I've done well in races consistently without warming up, both with lots of training or very little training (I used to think that if I trained more my legs needed more time to warm up, but that was only the case if I did massive miles the day before the race).

    As pointed out it's probably not the (lack of) warm up that is getting the rider dropped.

    On the other hand if a racers shows up at a race after driving there from work, doesn't have time to warm up, but has reasonable racing skills, then what's the harm? They have a job, they made a point of getting to the race instead of doing something else, and they're racing.
    "...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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    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ygduf's Avatar
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    He said a declining club culture and the prevalence of individualised training plans which encourage riders to cycle alone were partly to blame.
    ******' testers!

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Good stuff gsteinb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AERO63 View Post
    That sounds to me like what Cat-5 is "supposed" to be. But maybe I'm wrong? My first race (and every other race since) there has been nothing, just a whistle and go, every man for himself. The pace in every single mass start I've done so far has had only one gear, high. Sometimes I wonder if the shorter crits and shorter distance RR's in the 4/5's has something to do with that too...strong guys can just go. In a 30-mile 4/5 RR this weekend, guys were out of their saddles sprinting from the line and at least half the group was gone in the first few miles. Nothing wrong with that really in terms of racing, good for the strong dudes to be able to push it like that...except that's really no way to "learn" for a brand new Cat-5 is it? I really don't know I guess.
    What you're not realizing is that all the real racing was taking place in the front group. Plenty to learn up there. Sometimes the big split comes right at the start. Give it everything to stay with it and it will usually slow down in short order.

  24. #124
    Senior Member Moyene Corniche's Avatar
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    Cat 5 is introductory. But belonging to a club with a wide range of Categories is also critical. Sure you can do it solo but it will probably triple the learning curve as far as time expended. Having the opportunity to ride and learn is critical to the skill levels needed once on a race course. Learning tactics while racing is the norm. Learning how to control a bike while racing is a recipe for unpleasant results. You cannot go into a 90-120 degree corner and expect to exit on an optimal line and at speed unless one has practiced this in a group ride or even solo multiple times prior to the race.

    Cat 5 should be the time to focus on how to ride in a race, how to control that bike and be ready. Screw the results, you get upgrade automatically after 10 races, so the emphasis should be learning how to race so that at the end of the day you are driving home and not being driven home as an outpatient.
    At this level the emphasis should not be on winning but rather how to survive. Way too many complaints about how Cat 5 is not working. It works only if all the participants are on the same page. Granted if there are only 5 to 10 cat 5's at a race then combining with the 4's is necessary.

    Keep in mind that there isn't always sufficient support personel and vehicles. so combining makes sense, since the option would be to cancel the race. take the Cat 5 experience as a learning time, it will pan out when in higher categories. You have much to learn in the initial years so use them wisely.
    Emphasize finishing a race, which is more important then trying to win it. There needs to be a knowledge base in your brain so that you can react to situations in a race. If it's alien and you have to think about it, it's too late, the moment has passed. Racing is very much about the flow, which demands having developed both the fitness required as well as the bike handling skills to stay out of trouble. Meaning never should you be in a panic mode.
    Take that corner example, they crashed because of poor bike skills, one of which is the appropriate set-up for each and every corner. The same corner on a course is going to require a different approach each lap. Based on wether you are solo, in a pack, in breakaway or with a couple riders who are way out of their comfort zone. Racing is about continuously assessing and adapting to a constant state of flux.
    None of this is apparent and only comes with time spent on the bike in a controlled group environment.
    When it comes to cornering at speed, you should eventually be able to control and stay upright when both front and rear wheels are drifting. No better place to practice this then descending from a a mountain top on a sinuous road. ( switchbacks ).

    One of the most valuable learning experience for me was to be in France racing with an amateur club. I would recommend it to any Cat 4's and 3's. Amateur racing in Europe is still light years from domestic racing. Brutal, it can be, but more importantly the emphasis there is in getting riders to race efficiently. A small local club in France has a better support system for it's riders then clubs here like Hot Tubes. It's about the club/team rather than the all too prevalent about me scenario here. ( sorry but that is a reality ).
    Last edited by Moyene Corniche; 06-25-14 at 09:56 AM.
    Ah.... Voila les Cannon ... !!

  25. #125
    Senior Member Moyene Corniche's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    I keep hearing this.

    While I don't doubt that people are better-trained these days, what I wonder is did everyone suck in the good ol days?

    Yes... We sucked wind back then just as well as today ...

    But seriously, as society has evolved ( perhaps not the correct definition ) over the past couple decades, cycling is a reflective microcosm. There is tremendous emphasis on the singular approach versus the group theme. Thus it is much more prevalent, or the lone wolf scenario.
    As CDR suggests, change has to come from USAC itself, it's a top down approach or it just won't stick.
    Ah.... Voila les Cannon ... !!

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