I find all this talk about the goal of a race is to win it as funny. I have been racing and winning more than my fair share for many many years, but winning is often not my goal at most races, even if I do. My race goals are usually more tactic/training/support based. I train to win, I race to learn how to race, enjoy time with my race friends, support teammates and to get ready for my A level races. 90% of my races are not A level races, with those the goal is to win or meet some race based/team based goal, but the rest of the races, winning really doesn't matter. And even in the A races, it is usually just a few riders who are really trying to win, as the rest don't have it as their A race or are supporting a teammate to win.
That doesn't mean I don't try to win other races, but I constantly have to remind myself during the race not to just save energy for the finish and meet the goal at hand. I think there is a very small percentage of riders who go into the race with the pure goal of winning every race. Many, as has already been said, don't really have much of a shot and are here for fitness/social/team/other reasons. Many others just don't have it down as a top race and want to get something out of it such as pack riding, figuring out a course, sizing up others, race training, etc.
I am going to spend well over $500 on two race weekends traveling to races just to see the course and test myself, no goals to win what so ever. The goal is to prep myself for my A race so that when that comes I am prepared and have seen different competition from different areas as well as the course first hand. I could go on about this, but winning is not everything, even if it is the eventual outcome of the race.
Bike racing is often not about winning, even when you are winning.
Edit: I do fully admit that before I turned 30 ... it was pretty much all about winning every race I could, but I have moved on from that point of view. And even then I had days I didn't care.
I do think perspectives differ based on where people are in their career. For someone like yourself who has had some success its going to vary from a guy like me who is new to the sport. I do think every racer should experience a victory at least once. While I'm being completely honest, there is a feeling that at least one win validates a place in the sport. Both from inside the peleton and in my social circle. I realize its silly to care what others think about my results, but I do.
In the 5's as a solo racer my main goals are to do the best I can, since I have no teammates, that means solo results. In the few races I've done, most I've been off the back. A few times due to bad luck, others to a failed winning move, but realistically I'm just not very good. If I get dropped to after making what I think is an attempt to win, I'm ok with it. If it is other reasons, I don't accept it. Realistically, for me winning is a long shot, with my power numbers others racers have to do things to set me up, and I have to be smart enough to see those actions.
Taiko was that racers tend to downplay whatever goes on from the Category racers below them. Its not everyone, but its out there.
As for learning about my strengths and weaknesses, I do at least one competitive group ride a week just to stay sharp. I sit in, I try stuff out, but mostly I just hang on for dear life. Despite people opinions that it wasn't what a coach was for, I hired one locally just so he could go over basic skills and teach me the intricacies of racing. Its helped tremendously. I can't even equate what that has been worth. 20 races? I just know I wasn't close to figuring things out and it would have been very possible I would have walked away just thinking I'm not at the level to bike race.
I'm not saying I can handle my bike as good as a Tour rider...unless we are counting Chris Froome or Andy Schleck then maybe I am
I don't want you to get the impression that I just ride on a trainer for 10 hours a week then hope for the best when I toe the line, because that's not the case. I know what I can and can't do out there. I've done all the work before the race starts to be a safe and tactically smart racer, not figure things out during the race. It would help if my power and ftp were a bit higher, but that will hopefully come with time. There are still things I need to work on, but I do work on them. Some 5's have no clue, and some will continue to have no clue into the 4's.
Last edited by furiousferret; 07-11-14 at 12:11 AM.
I love that tall thin guys are terrible bike handlers when they crash, but everyone else isn't?
I mean, **** Cavendish initiated contact on purpose and then crashed. He knew it was coming and couldn't handle it.