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Old 07-02-14, 11:40 AM   #101
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Its easy for a guy that's been racing for years to do a regimented program solo. I suppose its easy for everyone but my point is newer racers should be either racing or riding in a fast group at least once a week. If I'm doing solo stuff for a few weeks I am definitely a tad bit off during a race. The purpose of a fast group ride for me is to acclimate so I'm not a **** during the race.

Twenty hours a week is pretty crazy. I do about 10 and I'm constantly tired. Of course, Intensity + Duration = Load and noodling for 20 hours is easy but doing real work at that volume would destroy me.
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Old 07-02-14, 11:47 AM   #102
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I am in the less riding but more focused intensity camp. Hammer and nail group rides are okay and can be fun but are not great training for me - too much surging and not enough duration of anything I need other than logging time.

I am not sure what that has to do with participation but...
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Old 07-02-14, 11:51 AM   #103
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I am not sure what that has to do with participation but...
I think the progression was:

Why is participation down? -> racing is hard -> train more -> I used to train 20+ hours -> I can't imagine training 20+ hours -> now
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Old 07-02-14, 11:54 AM   #104
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Also that solo training hard training kills the fun and decreases participation.
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Old 07-02-14, 12:05 PM   #105
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I am in the less riding but more focused intensity camp. Hammer and nail group rides are okay and can be fun but are not great training for me - too much surging and not enough duration of anything I need other than logging time.

I am not sure what that has to do with participation but...
Isn't that what happens in most races though (at least crits) and as such can be viewed as relatively decent preparation for crit racing?
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Old 07-02-14, 12:14 PM   #106
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It depends. Usually it's not enough of this and too much of that to approximate a real race. Your mileage will vary.
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Old 07-02-14, 12:23 PM   #107
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It depends. Usually it's not enough of this and too much of that to approximate a real race. Your mileage will vary.
You beat me to it.

Two weeks ago at the track, we were doing motor paced work. Each racer or in some cases, teams, wanted a specific speed and duration for the motor. So we set up a rotation and had to wait our turn. I was getting a little bored waiting and hooked up with 3 three juniors who were going to Junior nationals. We did team pursuit together but it was not ideal for me since they wanted to go faster and were smaller (poor draft). However, it worked and was more fun than the solo efforts. However, this is the exception.
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Old 07-02-14, 12:33 PM   #108
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I think I'll stick to group rides a couple days a week for now as I am still enjoying the social aspect of getting to know local racers and I'm still seeing improvement. For now, that keeps me coming back and keeps me participating (had to get that it to not deviate from the thread intent). I'll likely mix it up and start doing solo focused work when the performance gains drop or if I sit down and work out an actual plan.
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Old 07-02-14, 12:38 PM   #109
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There's nothing wrong with prioritizing racing and ending up a Cat4 lifer. I think USAC racing is set up really well for that. You can race almost anywhere as little or as much as you want. It doesn't take 20 hours a week to be a winning elite level racer anymore but the more you reduce hours the more structure you should have. It does take more hours in general because your races are longer.
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Old 07-02-14, 06:23 PM   #110
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How many threads are we having the same conversation in?

doesnt it ultimately come down to the same answer - do what you enjoy?

i enjoy training alone almost exclusively because I'm a masochistic head case. I also really enjoy going out with a few friends and riding each other into the ground (figuratively). "Social" group rides are a waste of time, IMO. If I want to socialize, I'll meet someone at a bar/coffee shop/whatever, I don't ride my bike to socialize. Big hammer rides scare me, too many riders of varying skill level doing dumb **** with traffic around.

ymmv.
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Old 07-02-14, 10:35 PM   #111
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How many threads are we having the same conversation in?

doesnt it ultimately come down to the same answer - do what you enjoy?
I got lost since a lot of the topics got intertwined, but, I pretty much agree with this. That's why we do this I reckon...the fun. If you have more fun doing a hammer ride or a solo training session, who cares? If your goal is to have fun and you're having fun in some way, then you're not doing it wrong.
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Old 07-02-14, 10:58 PM   #112
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Road participation is down around here, no question. Overall participation (# licenses) is fine but that is because Cross, XC and BMX are doing well.
I've noticed that too, alt least in my town we've lost a stage race and a road race series in the last few years, but gained an MTB and a cross series. I do all three, so I'm not really doing any less racing... the racing I do is just bumpier.
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Old 07-03-14, 03:21 AM   #113
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I got lost since a lot of the topics got intertwined, but, I pretty much agree with this. That's why we do this I reckon...the fun. If you have more fun doing a hammer ride or a solo training session, who cares? If your goal is to have fun and you're having fun in some way, then you're not doing it wrong.
Exactly. Some people genuinely enjoy the process of intervals and structure and knowing they're doing everything they can to be the most fit they can be. Good for them, but that lifestyle's not for everyone and those who train in other ways usually do so knowing they're not being as "efficient" or whatever.
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Old 07-03-14, 06:49 AM   #114
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Exactly. Some people genuinely enjoy the process of intervals and structure and knowing they're doing everything they can to be the most fit they can be. Good for them, but that lifestyle's not for everyone and those who train in other ways usually do so knowing they're not being as "efficient" or whatever.
Me.

I've been thinking about the participation thing partly because it affects my bottom line. I think about what makes me not race as part of my thought process.

There was the New England Crit Week last week, a slew of good races. I only went to the race 35 minutes from the house, skipped the ones that would have involved doing a longer drive. In fact, even at that race, the Missus left to take Junior home, then came back a couple hours later to pick me up. I didn't even bother looking at entry fee, distance, etc. If I was single or even married but without Junior I probably would have gone to the NE Crit Series. In 2010, when I was fit, I'd have been all over the Series.

2010 I was desperate to race. This year, not so much. It has nothing to do with race promotion, USAC, etc. It has to do with my personal life.
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Old 07-04-14, 01:57 AM   #115
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I just sold my race wheels yesterday, after not having raced in more than a year. I raced for less than two years, and in that time, I didn't even finish 10 races (since that is now the Cat V rule). Here are the reasons why I didn't stick with racing. I should mention that I do inherently enjoy competition, the "idea" of racing is still attractive to me (I've been playing competitive sports my whole life), and I will continue to love riding my bike.

1. There are NO races within an hour of where I live. The hassle and expense of just GETTING TO a race wasn't worth it. Also, Cat V's always seemed to be the earliest race in the day. I had to get up so early to drive there sometimes, I just could not wake up for the race. I am NOT a morning person.

2. There are two teams based about 20 minutes from me, but their training rides are incompatible with my schedule. One of them in particular has a sort of snobbish reputation, and they all race in the higher (lower?) categories. Nobody at my level. As a result, I didn't have a group to encourage me, or anyone I knew to travel to races with. Every race I did go to, it seemed like everyone, even the 5's, were part of teams. You can only stay motivated on your own for so long. There are plenty of group rides near me, but they mostly are recreational in pace.

3. The amount of time, money, and focus it would take to be at all successful even at amateur racing are more than I am willing to sacrifice. Every road race I competed in I got dropped (even though I finished less than a few minutes back). I never got dropped in a Criterium, even 4-5 combined, but finishing with the pack was literally 100% the best effort I could give. My happiest finish was finding out after a 4-5 crit that I was actually the highest placed 5. This was even when riding a lot, and following a variety of interval training programs. I never got a power meter, but that's the cost factor again. My "raw" talent is probably acceptable, as I am one of the fast guys in every group I've ridden with. The racing level, even in 5, was WAY higher than even fast group rides.

4. I've got a lot of other hobbies and a profession (music) that demand my "non-work" time and money.

5. My wife is having a baby, and my life needs to move toward less busy and more simple.

.....I was PRO at number pinning though.
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Old 07-04-14, 11:27 AM   #116
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^I noticed point 3 about the group rides the other day. On the ride there were two stronger riders (me and a 1). The rest either were low cats (5s and 4s) or non racers. The difference in speed was unbelievable. There was one point where the 1 surged up a climb, dropped everyone besides one guy and myself. The 1 sat up and rolled easy and started talking with me while we waited for the rest of the group, but the one other guy (a 4) sounded like he was having an asthma attack. In the span of 1-2 minutes we had dropped everyone, and distanced ourselves by a lot. I can understand why most people like group rides more than racing. No chance of getting dropped (most will regroup at the top of a climb), they can be the "fast" ones even when they are relatively slow.

I think the biggest limiter for new riders is fear of being dropped/the initial difficulty of racing. The next biggest would be after someone has raced for a while, and realizes that they are relatively slow, they just give up. It doesn't take much to be a 3 or a 2, but it takes a lot more to be a 3 or a 2 then to be a strong group rider, plus you don't have to travel to and from races all weekend.
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Old 07-05-14, 09:18 AM   #117
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^I noticed point 3 about the group rides the other day. On the ride there were two stronger riders (me and a 1). The rest either were low cats (5s and 4s) or non racers. The difference in speed was unbelievable. There was one point where the 1 surged up a climb, dropped everyone besides one guy and myself. The 1 sat up and rolled easy and started talking with me while we waited for the rest of the group, but the one other guy (a 4) sounded like he was having an asthma attack. In the span of 1-2 minutes we had dropped everyone, and distanced ourselves by a lot. I can understand why most people like group rides more than racing. No chance of getting dropped (most will regroup at the top of a climb), they can be the "fast" ones even when they are relatively slow.

I think the biggest limiter for new riders is fear of being dropped/the initial difficulty of racing. The next biggest would be after someone has raced for a while, and realizes that they are relatively slow, they just give up. It doesn't take much to be a 3 or a 2, but it takes a lot more to be a 3 or a 2 then to be a strong group rider, plus you don't have to travel to and from races all weekend.
It DOES take a lot to be a 3 or a 2.
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Old 07-05-14, 11:31 AM   #118
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Not really, It just seems to be a lot compared to other things. Semi-focused plus some form of fitness = cat 3 or cat 2
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Old 07-05-14, 11:50 AM   #119
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Hmmm...was checking out previous results from a crit I raced yesterday (Davis 4th of July) and the fields have dropped off considerably. We had 30 or so in the 3's. I think the 4s had 30 and the P12 had 50+.

10 years ago the 3s had 100+, P12 had 120, and so on.
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Old 07-06-14, 08:44 AM   #120
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Not really, It just seems to be a lot compared to other things. Semi-focused plus some form of fitness = cat 3 or cat 2
I think being a 2 is pretty special. It requires a bit of talent, very smart racing, and good fitness. I tried really hard to be a 2 for decades, unsuccessfully.

Cat 3s, not so much. It's straight forward to upgrade to 3 if a rider can sprint or climb well (and upgrade using crits or RR respectively). I know of several riders that upgraded based to Cat 3 on experience, typically riders that worked for teammates but didn't get results themselves. You can't do this to get a Cat 2.
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Old 07-06-14, 10:28 AM   #121
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I think being a 2 is pretty special. It requires a bit of talent, very smart racing, and good fitness. I tried really hard to be a 2 for decades, unsuccessfully.

Cat 3s, not so much. It's straight forward to upgrade to 3 if a rider can sprint or climb well (and upgrade using crits or RR respectively). I know of several riders that upgraded based to Cat 3 on experience, typically riders that worked for teammates but didn't get results themselves. You can't do this to get a Cat 2.

I think a lot of this depends on where you are from as well. Certain states (ahem Florida) have a lot of category inflation and you see guys who are in p1/2 races who are fat and out of shape or just have no business racing that category. Then you might go somewhere like Cali or even other states in the southeast where a lot of the guys in the cat 3 field look in way better shape and could probably do just fine as a 2 in other states.
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Old 07-06-14, 10:37 AM   #122
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I can't even fathom training 20 hours a week - I have no time for that, and don't even have kids yet (just wife and a desk job). Plus, ingesting enough calories to not waste away would be another 20 hours a week for me. But I guess if you love the sport that much, you will make time and sacrifice other things to be successful. I would be frustrated training that much and just have someone who has better genetics beat me in a race while training a fraction of the amount of time.
It is a myth that to be successful one needs to sacrifice. The truth of the matter is that the one's who are successful have a goal and a detailed organized training plan. A plan that is set up long before the new season begins, one that encompasses the needed steps and plateaus, how to improvise and adapt when things don't quite work as planned. There are many Cat II's who successfully race as well as run a business and have a family life. It's about time and organization, but especially quality training. You cannot just go out there and pedal squares with no purpose.

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That's the point, I'm new to the sport and have to decide if I'm going to stick with it. One has to make a choice to put more time and money into this sport or lead a more balanced lifestyle and only do rides with friends once or twice a week after work or on a weekend. But if other Cat 5's feel the way I do and are frustrated that you can't be a casual competitor like you can in other pick-up type sports leagues then they will drop out, and USAC fields will continue to decline, even though competition at the top gets better.

I'd be happy riding 4 hours a week, being competitive in Cat 4 races, maybe get in a break in some races and get upgrade points. That's my current goal. Once the baby comes along riding may go down to once a week instead of my usual three rides a week; we'll see if I am motivated enough to purchase a trainer for the winter.
Putting more effort into this as well as money goes with a balanced lifestyle, it's not either or. If you focus to see what is required to succeed you will find that much of your training is solo. Primarily because we are all different and attempting to train like someone else is a recipe for mediocrity at best, failure most of the time. We are not on the same time clock and therefore cannot train with one program for all.

4 hours a week isn't going to yield much if you want to upgrade and be competitive in the 4's. On 4 hours, there's no way you are going to breakaway and have the resources to stay away or stay with he few that bridge up. You are talking about about a 30% increase in energy expenditure when you go off the front. The pack / peloton is riding at the same speed at 30-40% less effort. For this you need a sound base of fitness to feed off of.
Not trying to dissuade you, in fact I encourage you to step it up, but do look at it with a clear viewpoint. A competitive Cat 4 works a lot, a competitive Cat 3 is even higher up that scale.
Suggestion would be to (1) Get a training plan, Joe Friel's book " The Cyclist Training Bible " 4th edition is well written and thoroughly detailed with no nonsense. It is what it is. (2) You will need to keep a training journal / diary. (3) You will need at the very least an HR monitor. That's the basics. Then equipment plays a key role, 2 bikes are optimal, 2 or 3 sets of wheels etc... Not cheap but much can be found preowned if budget is limited.
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Old 07-06-14, 11:33 AM   #123
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I can't even fathom training 20 hours a week - I have no time for that, and don't even have kids yet (just wife and a desk job). Plus, ingesting enough calories to not waste away would be another 20 hours a week for me. But I guess if you love the sport that much, you will make time and sacrifice other things to be successful. I would be frustrated training that much and just have someone who has better genetics beat me in a race while training a fraction of the amount of time.
it isn't work if you enjoy what you're doing.

If I didn't race, I would still ride just about as much. If/When I have a kid, it'll cut into the time but I have no doubt I will still find the time to ride and race a little bit.
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Old 07-06-14, 12:20 PM   #124
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Moyene: I disagree on the low hours thing. In cat4 races, you can probably get away with 4 hours (think of it this way. 4 rides, each an hour long. One 2x20 day, one 2x20 30 seconds on 30 seconds off, 1 5x5 @Vo2max, 1 tempo with sprints day). Now it would suck, and you would have to work hard, but it's totally possible, especially in the lower cats (heck one of the 1s here upgraded to a 1 on like 6-7 hours a week. Now he's riding closer to 20 to complete at national events, but that's different from racing local p/1/2 races)
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Old 07-06-14, 12:34 PM   #125
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I think the biggest limiter for new riders is fear of being dropped/the initial difficulty of racing. The next biggest would be after someone has raced for a while, and realizes that they are relatively slow, they just give up. It doesn't take much to be a 3 or a 2, but it takes a lot more to be a 3 or a 2 then to be a strong group rider, plus you don't have to travel to and from races all weekend.
Honestly, getting dropped doesn't bother me. Like I told a junior on one of our group rides, no one cares if you get dropped, they just notice you aren't there at the end.

What concerns me as a 40 year old is the talent jump from the 4's to the Masters. I'll hit that road when I get there but I just do not see racing former National Champs, Pros, etc. all that fun. Nor does racing guys half my age in the 3's. I would be nice if they had more 35+ 3/4 races but they seem to be rare.
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