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Old 07-09-14, 07:00 AM   #26
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When those strong guys nail it on a hill in a group of 4 or 5, if you're trying to win the race and not just finish it, you likely need to do all that you can to hold the last of their wheels and try and recover on the far side of the hill.

Sounds like you probably don't have the speed/fitness to just TT away from the field, but you may be able to get away from a 5 field on a technical course if you get off the front in a technical portion of the course and can get out of sight. Probably won't be successful if the word "coasting" is in your mind mid-break. You will need to rely on higher corner speeds to suceed.

Also getting away in the last 10 minutes of a race if you aren't super fit (aka you're fit enough where you could have gone at anytime and likely stayed away) is pretty unlikely
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Old 07-09-14, 07:06 AM   #27
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When those strong guys nail it on a hill in a group of 4 or 5, if you're trying to win the race and not just finish it, you likely need to do all that you can to hold the last of their wheels and try and recover on the far side of the hill.

Sounds like you probably don't have the speed/fitness to just TT away from the field, but you may be able to get away from a 5 field on a technical course if you get off the front in a technical portion of the course and can get out of sight. Probably won't be successful if the word "coasting" is in your mind mid-break. You will need to rely on higher corner speeds to suceed.

Also getting away in the last 10 minutes of a race if you aren't super fit (aka you're fit enough where you could have gone at anytime and likely stayed away) is pretty unlikely
I agree, staying with the strong guys is the goal, in theory. Harder to do on race day!

I'm a 4 now, so road races are longer, which should be interesting. They are a little faster too. 4/5 Crits I plan on doing for the next few weeks depending on weather and if my schedule allows.

I find that in the minutes leading up to the final mile or so in a crit, final 3 miles in a road race, there is a lull in the action as the pack re-groups before ramping up the pace. That's why I was thinking of trying to go solo even before the pace slows so then I could hopefully increase my lead during that slowish period. Again, probably a better idea in theory.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:28 AM   #28
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Because they are waiting for someone like you to tow them to the line.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:34 AM   #29
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Attacking at the lull is a sucker move. Most don't have the stink to pull it off without a lot of help or a lot of luck.

I wasn't asking for power numbers, they are meaningless. Knowing that you can sustain 22mph for five minutes is what I am looking for. Did you do this in a race or in training? Race efforts can be higher. If you really want to know, try it in a race. I don't think that's enough, but you don't know until you try.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:50 AM   #30
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Breakaways just do not happen around here in the 5's. Its what I've been told and what I've experienced. I'm sure there are guys out there that can make one stick, but I don't have the power to do so, nor do most others. Maybe I should go to Massachusetts where they are plentiful.
Couple of ways to start a break. One way is to go for a prime sprint, and just keep going. Most riders will assume you're just going for the prime, and that the pack will regroup after the sprint. By the time they realize its an attack, not just a prime sprint you can have the gap you need.

Another is to attack just before the most difficult turn on the course. Jump as hard as you can 50 meters or so before the turn. if you're a good bike handler you'll get through the turn faster than the pack (particularly a Cat 5 pack) can, and you can get a gap to launch your break.

I get your point that its difficult to get away in Cat 5 fields because the pack will chase everything, without any sense of strategy, but you can use that to your favor. After there have been several efforts by the group to cover unsuccesful break attempts, launch your own counter while people are tired of chasing. When the group catches a break, there's a momentary letdown, and the pack slows. Don't slow yourself, instead jump hard as they slow. Your momentum will get you a gap while they have to reaccelerate to try to catch you.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:57 AM   #31
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I find that in the minutes leading up to the final mile or so in a crit, final 3 miles in a road race, there is a lull in the action as the pack re-groups before ramping up the pace. That's why I was thinking of trying to go solo even before the pace slows so then I could hopefully increase my lead during that slowish period. Again, probably a better idea in theory.
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Attacking at the lull is a sucker move. Most don't have the stink to pull it off without a lot of help or a lot of luck.
Shovel, I get your point that attacking when its easy doesn't work. But there's a dynamic in a Cat 5 race where a flyer with a lap to go can work.

Almost every Cat 5 crit I did had the same pattern. Lots of early attacks that were all covered quickly. With about 2 laps to go, the pace drops noticeably because everyone is resting for the sprint, no one wants to work, and there's no team organization to keep the pace up.

If you can attack just as this starts, attacking before a turn and rolling full speed through the turn, you can get a jump on the pack that might hold.
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Old 07-09-14, 08:02 AM   #32
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OP, not sure if you saw this thread, but there are some good posts here:

When is the best time to attack?
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Old 07-09-14, 09:06 AM   #33
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Merlin, it's not a lot different in my races, but it will take riding at 28-30mph solo and at least a ten second jump to pull it off.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:18 AM   #34
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If you didn't have teammates in a race and wanted to get a break going or get people to work for you during a race, what would you say to them while sitting in the middle of the pack? Is it better to move up the side and tap people on the shoulder and say nothing? Would they even know what that means? Would they know I'm trying to move up and get a free ride to the front, but then not come with me on a break? I know a lot of these have to be trial and error, I'm just wondering what others have experienced here.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:29 AM   #35
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OP, are you riding / training only in Central Park ? I would say head up north along the Hudson towards the hills and work on your base.
Personally when I was in NY I never liked CP, just too many intangibles to pay attention to. A roadway out of the city is much more conducive to working on building up the levels.
Getting in that training of riding above an average speed of 22-24mph for 2+ hours will build and give you the needed fitness to allow you to go when you want, not having to wait for either a lull or when everyone is watching each other. You need to be able to dictate the pace when the race calls for it. In other words be able to put at least 50% of that pack in the red zone chasing you.
That ability and good tactics will give you results.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:42 AM   #36
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If you didn't have teammates in a race and wanted to get a break going or get people to work for you during a race, what would you say to them while sitting in the middle of the pack? Is it better to move up the side and tap people on the shoulder and say nothing? Would they even know what that means? Would they know I'm trying to move up and get a free ride to the front, but then not come with me on a break? I know a lot of these have to be trial and error, I'm just wondering what others have experienced here.
You don't ask them, You just go and see what develops. Hopefully 2 to 3 will bridge, maybe 5. Then immediately get into a rotating pace line, figure out who is just sitting in and who is willing to work. That should be quickly assessed. If no one is willing to work equally, then back off and drift back to save it for another attack. You don't want to be the one pulling a breakaway. You will lose out in the end.
You can also attack your breakaway partners if they are not contributing. It may just be that some don't like the party members and just need a reason to really get in the fun.

Let's put it this way, I don't know you and you tap me to say let's Go. Well I'll go, but I'm going to bleed you dry since you are so willing to take someone along for the ride. This is where tactics are critical. You can't herald your intentions to other's when you have no idea of their response.
They may be great temporary allies or they may just be the nail in your coffin.
This is why you need a solid base of fitness to allow you to repeat these efforts multiple times if needed. The only way here is to experiment and figure out who is who at the races. Who to watch, who to follow and most importantly who not to drag up the road. Those may be all one and the same. You won't know until after a few tries.

BTW.
NO One in their right mind is going to work for you in a race. IF it will benefit them, they will work with you ( maybe here again it's calculating the odds that you are going to stay away instead of becoming the sacrificial lambs ) but eventually they will look out for themselves. Again it's about tactics and the correct assessment and reading the opponent and race.
ON paper it's easy, on the course, the multiple variables and the constant state of flux means you have to react to the present situation.

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Old 07-10-14, 07:47 AM   #37
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LMAO.. thanx for the laugh
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Old 07-10-14, 07:51 AM   #38
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If you didn't have teammates in a race and wanted to get a break going or get people to work for you during a race, what would you say to them while sitting in the middle of the pack? Is it better to move up the side and tap people on the shoulder and say nothing? Would they even know what that means? Would they know I'm trying to move up and get a free ride to the front, but then not come with me on a break? I know a lot of these have to be trial and error, I'm just wondering what others have experienced here.
you talk to much.
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Old 07-10-14, 07:59 AM   #39
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From my experience, it seems like most people aren't actively trying to win the race, they're just racing not to lose. So I am trying to get people motivated into working as a group. Even when there are teams in a race they don't seem to be working together. I obviously may not be seeing the whole picture, maybe people are too tired, maybe there are other variables I don't see mid-race, but people seem to be content just riding around in the pack for an hour. I'd prefer to be more proactive. I already told my wife she doesn't need to come to the race later (if I decide to go) because I'm going to have some fun and most likely will finish in the back if I'm not top 10 or so, but I guess it could be fun for her to watch me be in the front for a few laps until I get caught at the end. Sprint finishes are not my thing. Too many crashes in the races I have been a part of.
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Old 07-10-14, 08:13 AM   #40
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It's not a team building exercise. You're not a motivational speaker. It's not a tea party. This may seem obvious, but you might be missing it. It's a bike race. Attack. If guys don't work attack them. If you get caught go again. Rolling around the field talking up your tactics and trying to find somebody to work with you in a break is, frankly, dumb.

One of the nuances is that you're racing on non selective city courses, where it's easy for guys to sit on and chase down stuff. The fields are bloated. The riders are largely self center a holes. It leads to crashes. If you don't want to be part of the inevitable field sprints that occur in most city fields you need to attack. If you're not strong enough to get to the front on your own and launch there is a silly discussion. Best to work on that first.
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Old 07-10-14, 08:52 AM   #41
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Breakaways just do not happen around here in the 5's. Its what I've been told and what I've experienced. I'm sure there are guys out there that can make one stick, but I don't have the power to do so, nor do most others. Maybe I should go to Massachusetts where they are plentiful.
If you're saying breaks "can't work" in the 5's, but do work in the higher categories, the underlying assumption there is essentially that Cat 5 racers are too dumb to let a break go. That doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? Breaks in higher categories don't work out because the riders are smart enough to let the race get away from them. A Cat 5 race and a Cat 1/2 race aren't that different in terms of what the various riders in the race want. Some want to win. Some want to survive. And every point in between. Even the difference in average fitness between these fields is unimportant. The differences are tactical naivete, ability to organize, and willingness and/or ability to keep trying.

Next time you do a crit, watch how the 5's race, then stick around and watch how the 1/2's race. In Cat 5, everyone has been told not to ride at the front but to be in first 10 riders, so you get a bunch of guys trying to be near the front but not actually on it, focusing on that to the exclusion of actually racing. And when someone launches a half-assed attack* and everyone jumps on their wheel, two things happen. First, no one follows it up. Second, the caught rider thinks, damn, that didn't work, I guess attacking is pointless, I'll wait for the sprint. If someone actually gets separation and has a couple other riders with them, they will struggle to efficiently get a rotation going.

In the 1/2s the pattern is different. You're basically going to see an hour of dudes beating the crap out of each other. Attack goes, gets marked and brought back. Another attack goes. Same thing. First guy has recovered by now, so marks the third attack that goes. Three guys get clear and start trading short pulls right away. Maybe they stick it, maybe they don't, but if breaks are more likely to form at the higher categories, it's because the tactics are much more aggressive, attacks are more effective, and the guys who want to get in a break do not try once and give up.

All of this is hugely generalized of course, and these races can happen lots of different ways. But the point is that getting into a break in a crit requires persistence and aggression, not a single heroic attack. Sometimes you get lucky, yeah, but even the best, strongest guys usually have to try more than once. And even once you're in a break, it still might not stick! That doesn't mean you should give up on them. Breaks CAN work in the 5's. Okay, you've got tactical naivete and difficulty in organizing a fast rotating paceline working against you. But in the higher categories, you've got the fact that there are some really, really fast guys in the race working against you. It NEVER gets easy to get into a break and stick it. So you might as well start trying and learning now instead of waiting until you're up against the big dogs.



*This is the other problem, attacks in Cat 5 are more likely to be ineffective. An effective attack generally should either come off the front of the group with a huge speed differential in order to gain separation, or if the rider can't jump that hard, be prolonged enough to build some separation that way. A lot of riders in Cat 4, 5 and even 3 simply don't go hard enough to get away, and/or will make 5 hard pedal strokes, look over their shoulder and ease up.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:16 AM   #42
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Solo break pessimism - if you can TT at race pace (24-28 mph) then you have a chance of making a break work. If you're substantially below that (22 mph for example) then probably not. I fall in that second category of being so slow that it's totally unrealistic to stay away from a field.

Asking for help, aka "combines" - generally speaking people will do stuff if it gives them a benefit. Even a generous, no-actual-reward type thing will have some kind of benefit, like the good feeling you get when you help someone. If you're regularly at races and you know of a couple unattached or usually-flying-solo type riders, see if there's a way for you to work with them. For example if you find a sprinter type and they want to work with you then you could tell him that, say, you're going to go at 3 to go, he can cover moves, and if you get caught he's in good/protected position but in the mean time he's getting a free ride near the front.

Most combines are more "active", meaning two riders work together to get away vs one rider away and one rider in the field. It's usually a result of riders looking to break the stranglehold of individual strong finishers, whether break riders or sprinters. Usually it's sprinters they're trying to defeat - a couple non-sprinters will get together to try and get away from a sprinter that seems to win/place in everything. Or sprinter teams/riders will work together to contain a really strong break type rider.

For this stuff the main thing will be the spirit of cooperation between the riders. Hopefully you'll have run across the others someone regularly, you both respect each other's riding, and you sometimes say hi and all that. I let my legs do the talking last year, going on some doomed moves, and as a result one TT type guy said that if I plan on going we should talk. Although I'm not a TT/break kind of rider his offer is something I've sort of saved in the back of my head. Who knows, maybe in 5 years I'll tap him on the hip as I try to go off the front.

Also if you do end up doing something like this offer to split the money you make. If you don't make any (like the other guy ends up with the money) then realistically don't expect money (you might get disappointed) but file away the other rider's actions for future reference. It's the principle of the thing, not splitting the $5 prime or whatever.

Stringing out the race, unless you're working for someone, is almost always not good. The exception would be a massive cross- or tail-wind, where your work doesn't really benefit the others. For you I'd think about Floyd Bennet Field, where the wind can be pretty strong. If it's a hard crosswind then hitting the front in the gutter would be great. I have very vivid memories of cross-headwinds from the left, sitting 6" to the right of the wheel in front of my, my shins getting scraped by the somewhat thick bushes I was virtually riding in to stay out of the wind. In the tailwind sections (typically the back straight when I was there) I'd regularly pull at very high speeds. Of course this was because I missed the massive break but still, it was fun and the glares I got from the blocking teammates made it worth it. (And for the record I never caught anything there.)

In those wind type situations I wouldn't ramp it up, I'd just hit the front going hard. What you're doing is choosing when to work and forcing the others to work just as hard, relative to their aero drag. Tall guys will hate you more, ditto those that can't find shelter.

I've done the above in races as recently as a few weeks ago. It was a tiny field, I went to the front, no one pulled through, so I went a bit harder. When we hit the crosswind section I attacked hard, knowing that everyone would be exposed to the same wind. It broke up the small group but I only succeeded in dropping two people - one guy plus me, after I failed to recover after my "move". A TT guy (the one that said he'd work with me) asked me why I did it - he said that as soon as we all lined up he thought that I'd win if it stayed together. I replied that I wanted to hurt people but overestimated my ability to recover. Heh.

For me when I get to the headwind section I'd sit up right away. I'll blow myself up in 20 seconds and everyone else will be going 120w while I'm doing it. This is why we never caught anything at FBF - I'd sit up on the headwind section, the (Cat 1-2) teammates would roll up next to me, and we'd go 15 mph for a bit.

As far as talking to people, talking to them at the front of the field, with everyone listening behind (because voices carry back due to the pack's self-generated wind direction), doesn't make sense. Well unless you're feeling supremely strong and you want to totally demoralize everyone! It's better to talk further back in the group. A few guys will listen in but they may not react. I regularly hear plans while sitting at the back but I generally don't have the legs to take action. It may be that the TT/break guys know I won't go so they feel comfy talking about their plans around me, I don't know.

Not sure if I hit the points you had but I hope this helps.
I can read this over and over. Good works
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Old 07-10-14, 09:20 AM   #43
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From my experience, it seems like most people aren't actively trying to win the race, they're just racing not to lose. So I am trying to get people motivated into working as a a group. Even when there are teams in a race they don't seem to be working together. I obviously may not be seeing the whole picture, maybe people are too tired, maybe there are other variables I don't see mid-race, but people seem to be content just riding around in the pack for an hour. I'd prefer to be more proactive. I already told my wife she doesn't need to come to the race later (if I decide to go) because I'm going to have some fun and most likely will finish in the back if I'm not top 10 or so, but I guess it could be fun for her to watch me be in the front for a few laps until I get caught at the end. Sprint finishes are not my thing. Too many crashes in the races I have been a part of.
Your experience is not the norm, Cat 5 is not about solo tactics or team tactics simply because most are to new to the game and have not developed the necessary skills.
Case in point is you as you keep reiterating the same question " SO I AM TRYING TO GET PEOPLE MOTIVATED INTO WORKING AS A GROUP "
NO... Not in Cat 5, you need to learn tactics. For yourself, not others. This isn't a charity ride, it's a race, do unto others as they would do unto you.
It seems you are not understanding what we are trying to illustrate to you, Grolby explained it pretty well as did others.

If you want to go out there and race to help others, then by all means do so, but to the rest of us it is a futile pursuit and pointless if the goal is to race and succeed.
Again forget about the other's as potential allies and look at them all as adversaries with perhaps a short lived common goal. That time span is where you need to learn the tactics and use them to your benefit not others.

Get on a team / club with 4's,3's, 2's and 1's. There's a few in NYC and they will be able to get you to understand.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:25 AM   #44
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Breaks in higher categories don't work out because the riders are smart enough to let the race get away from them.
Not disagreeing with the larger post (good post), but in higher categories, the riders are smart enough to let the race get away from them in many cases. In a P/1/2 or Master's race, when someone launches, there are usually people in the pack with the legs to chase it down or bridge. Those people are smart enough not to put in this effort, but instead wait to see what develops. Maybe the right teams get in a move, then a huge portion of the pack is smart enough to let them get away.

One way I started winning races from breaks was by letting a good break get established, with some dangerous riders and good team representation, then bridging up to them. So I intentionally let them get away... for a while.

In 4s, 5s, and often 3s, the strong folks left back in the pack make stupid decisions to chase everything down no matter what.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:26 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by TexMac View Post
I can read this over and over. Good works
Yes but that isn't a Cat 5 scenario. This is Cat 3's and up. Cat 4's don't have the consistency of riders to implement tactics in a large field to succeed. Granted there are some savvy riders but they are the exception.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:28 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Not disagreeing with the larger post (good post), but in higher categories, the riders are smart enough to let the race get away from them in many cases. In a P/1/2 or Master's race, when someone launches, there are usually people in the pack with the legs to chase it down or bridge. Those people are smart enough not to put in this effort, but instead wait to see what develops. Maybe the right teams get in a move, then a huge portion of the pack is smart enough to let them get away.

One way I started winning races from breaks was by letting a good break get established, with some dangerous riders and good team representation, then bridging up to them. So I intentionally let them get away... for a while.

In 4s, 5s, and often 3s, the strong folks left back in the pack make stupid decisions to chase everything down no matter what.
This... Which translates to you only have so many matches to light up.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:32 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Not disagreeing with the larger post (good post), but in higher categories, the riders are smart enough to let the race get away from them in many cases. In a P/1/2 or Master's race, when someone launches, there are usually people in the pack with the legs to chase it down or bridge. Those people are smart enough not to put in this effort, but instead wait to see what develops. Maybe the right teams get in a move, then a huge portion of the pack is smart enough to let them get away.

One way I started winning races from breaks was by letting a good break get established, with some dangerous riders and good team representation, then bridging up to them. So I intentionally let them get away... for a while.

In 4s, 5s, and often 3s, the strong folks left back in the pack make stupid decisions to chase everything down no matter what.
Yeah, I didn't want to add too many caveats. I tend to drone on as it is. This is a great point.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:35 AM   #48
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not much to offer, but wanted to share the following.

Thanks to strava, i can now see the ride files of people with whom i raced, and sometimes, people comment on their rides. Find it rather funny that one racer with whom i raced the state crit championship lamenting that the course was not "selective" enough for him, the implication being he'd have done better on a more selective parcour.

But a break did get away in the end, and it took me a minute or so to bridge up to the winning move. I wasn't the strongest in the move, but i held on. This other racer isn't that much different from me aerobically, and he seems to also have a better sprint, but when it comes to bridging up to the winning break, he was either out of position or out of power. I guess there was some selectivity after all.

Which brings us back to the gist of the fourth post in the thread: experience. You need to have raced enough to recognize the situations that facilitate the formation of a break that gets away. Everyone knows that on a selective course, you use hills or chicanes to create separation, but not everyone knows how to approach things on on a non-selective course. This requires post race analysis, pre-race determination of people to mark, and actual racing experiences. As always, success isn't guaranteed, but you are looking at better outcomes when you have more experience.

Of course, the above is moot if you don't have the physical attributes. Even then, it's still a moot point if you don't incorporate into your training plan workouts that train you for the demands of getting into a break.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:42 AM   #49
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I'd say bottom line (and I've gone through this over the past year, so it's all relatively fresh for me) is to race more, learn as you go, and try out all aspects of racing. Don't over think, try to over strategize, or collaborate too much. Mix it up, sit in and try a field sprint, try get in a break if you see one roll off, etc. Don't worry about coming in last or getting dropped if you're trying new things. Placings right now (you're not on a team or working for others???) don't matter too much, so don't let your ego be affected by your results.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:56 AM   #50
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Don't over think, try to over strategize
This is huge. And it's safe to say virtually all of us have done both of these things.
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