# "The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Could I really be a Cat 3/4 racer?

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the beef
01-15-07, 07:45 PM
Inspired by hiromian's similar thread, I decided to head on over to the Bicycle Speed and Power calculator to find out my wattage output for a certain amount of time. I punched in my best time for a local climb, a 0.8 mile ascent from the Burke/Gilman trail up to where I live, at an average 5.0% grade. My best attempt has seen me take the climb in 3 minutes 52 seconds, or an average 12.8 mph (I seriously felt like I would puke at the end of that one).

The power calculator at http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm approximates that I put out about 280 watts, assuming 0 wind, my 20 lb steel road bike, pedaling at a cadence of 90 rpm. I tried a few other calculators. http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/ProdDiss/Bicycle/bikecalc1.htm is more conservative, putting me at 264 watts.

I weigh 138 lbs, and I'm 16 years old. I've never raced before, but I'm in shape and one of the better recreational climbers I know. 138 lbs = 62.6 kg.

280 watts / 62.6 kg = 4.5 watts / kg
264 watts / 62.6 kg = 4.25 watts / kg

Curious to see how I'd stack up, I checked out the 'power profile' chart that's been floating around. http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/images/powerprofile_v4.gif Assuming that I could keep this up for five minutes, that'd put me in the 'Cat 3' category. Maybe the 'Cat 4' category would be more accurate, since I only kept it up for 4 minutes in the actual ride and I probably would've slowed after that. But the thing is, up until now I've been too intimidated and doubtful to even think I could compete in a bottom-rung Cat 5 race.

Are these numbers any indication of anything? They're taken from a hill climb, and I don't know how well that translates into all around power. I'm light, which gives me an advantage on the climb.

And of course, I know this power profile chart I referred to is just sort of a questionable benchmark. The wattage calculators are anything but exact, too - but I have nothing better to go by.

I'm wondering if I may have a shot at this racing deal, or at least be able to be proud of these numbers. It was certainly eye-opening and encouraging when I saw where I fell on the chart. Or am I missing something that puts me back in the category I belong in, "Untrained non-racer"?

Thanks.

Snuffleupagus
01-15-07, 08:00 PM
Only one way to find out buddy :)

TheKillerPenguin
01-15-07, 08:03 PM
IMO, I'd trust analyticcycling's power calculator over other online ones. When I plug the numbers in on that, it puts you at 247W, for a w/kg ratio of 3.94.

Anyway, that's really not important. You won't know how you'll stack up until you actually go out and race. There's a lot more to being a good racer than having power.

edit: also, you say after 4 minutes effort you were about ready to puke. If that's the case, I doubt you could hold that effort for 5 minutes. Your 5min w/kg ratio, according to the chart, is probably low cat4 high cat5. not trying to rain on your parade, just trying to be realistic :)

Snuffleupagus
01-15-07, 08:06 PM
There's a lot more to being a good racer than having power.

Lies, all lies. The minute I bought a PowerTap USCF upgraded me to CAT-1, and I'm having to fight off Pro Tour team contracts left and right :D

smoke
01-15-07, 08:08 PM
IMO, I'd trust analyticcycling's power calculator over other online ones. When I plug the numbers in on that, it puts you at 247W, for a w/kg ratio of 3.94.

Anyway, that's really not important. You won't know how you'll stack up until you actually go out and race. There's a lot more to being a good racer than having power.

concur. first, i think those are pretty good numbers for someone as young as you. second, numbers aren't important when you go try to beat somebody. when you get to a race, it's your heart and your desire that matter. work hard, train hard, and go try racing - if you get the bit in your teeth, the only number that's gonna matter is your place. nike is right - just do it

-smoke

the beef
01-15-07, 08:08 PM
Anyway, that's really not important. You won't know how you'll stack up until you actually go out and race. There's a lot more to being a good racer than having power.

True enough. More of my question is whether these numbers really mean anything - and what they mean in terms of my power output. One question for example, If I can put out x watts on this hill for 5 minutes, does that mean I'd be able to do the same on the flat? I guess I'm looking for encouragement, in a way.

Snuffleupagus
01-15-07, 08:11 PM
True enough. More of my question is whether these numbers really mean anything - and what they mean in terms of my power output. One question for example, If I can put out x watts on this hill for 5 minutes, does that mean I'd be able to do the same on the flat? I guess I'm looking for encouragement, in a way.

Race.

Don't speculate. You're riding a lot, and you're not slow, so just go race.

the beef
01-15-07, 08:12 PM
edit: also, you say after 4 minutes effort you were about ready to puke. If that's the case, I doubt you could hold that effort for 5 minutes. Your 5min w/kg ratio, according to the chart, is probably low cat4 high cat5. not trying to rain on your parade, just trying to be realistic :)

True - that was for my PR run of 3:52. I did a repeat the next week, taking a pace that felt a lot better - got a 4:02 and did not feel like puking ;), so yeah. When I nabbed the faster time I remember averaging 16/17 mph on the last stretch, at probably 4-5 percent grade. It was insane.

Thanks, though. I appreciate it.

smoke
01-15-07, 08:15 PM
True enough. More of my question is whether these numbers really mean anything - and what they mean in terms of my power output. One question for example, If I can put out x watts on this hill for 5 minutes, does that mean I'd be able to do the same on the flat? I guess I'm looking for encouragement, in a way.

do they mean anything? sure. are they accurate? we don't really know. you want encouragement? well, i think you're doing pretty damn well for somebody as young as you are, who doesn't have an organized, coherent training plan. are you good enough to be a cat 5 or 4 or 3 racer? quit thinking - do. go find out. i think you're gonna be surprised

-smoke

DrWJODonnell
01-15-07, 08:17 PM
My friend, you are young, you are in one of the best cycling cities in the states (for both year round cycling as well as cycling awareness and support), and you have an interest. Go for it. I promise you that unless you suffer major incident, you will only get better. You might not win your first race, but don't be afraid of it either. Let us know how it goes. (By the way, what stretch of the Burke are you talking about? I am trying to think of a stretch that has any sort of lengthy 4% grade and I am not really thinking of it)

the beef
01-15-07, 08:27 PM
My friend, you are young, you are in one of the best cycling cities in the states (for both year round cycling as well as cycling awareness and support), and you have an interest. Go for it. I promise you that unless you suffer major incident, you will only get better. You might not win your first race, but don't be afraid of it either. Let us know how it goes. (By the way, what stretch of the Burke are you talking about? I am trying to think of a stretch that has any sort of lengthy 4% grade and I am not really thinking of it)

Thanks a lot for the comments. They really mean a lot. Who knows, I may give this thing a shot.

As for the Burke-Gilman.. I get off at Third Place Books and then ride north-ish for a few blocks. Then I go up a curvy/winding road called Perkins Way. It's a sweet climb. I live up in Shoreline, so it's my only way to finish off a ride or get home. Feels especially nasty after a longer ride.

cat4ever
01-15-07, 08:57 PM
xxx (or even 400 <snicker> ) watts does not make you automatically win a race or even be a pack fill. Go race and you'll find out soon enough if you can be a cat 3/4 racer.

platypus
01-15-07, 11:28 PM
Considering the 5->4 upgrade just takes surviving 10 mass starts, yes you too can be a cat 4! :D

4 to 3, however, will take some results. Seriously, go race already! It's fun!

Duke of Kent
01-15-07, 11:42 PM
I hate to be a nag, but you need to go the full 5 minutes for that to be applicable. It's a V02 max indicator interval, so that last 1min that you're missing is going to be pretty important in a test so short.

RockyMtnMerlin
01-15-07, 11:45 PM
Hey: Join the American Cycling Association in Colorado and start out as a Cat 4 (they have no fives). :D Plus, you could even race in a bunch of NW races as they have a reciprocity agreement with the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. :)

spunky
01-16-07, 12:42 AM
True - that was for my PR run of 3:52. I did a repeat the next week, taking a pace that felt a lot better - got a 4:02 and did not feel like puking ;), so yeah. When I nabbed the faster time I remember averaging 16/17 mph on the last stretch, at probably 4-5 percent grade. It was insane.

Thanks, though. I appreciate it.

Here's a comparison, I did a cat 4/5 RR last August where we had to climb a 6% grade for 2.5 miles.....three times. This hill starts off steep for the first mile and then eases to around 3% for about 1/2-3/4 of a mile and then goes up in grade until the top. The first two times we climbed it, we climbed the steeper sections around 12-13 mph and the flatter section about 16-17 mph. On the last climb we took off up the steepest grades about 14 mph and the easier grade at 18-19 mph. This was the pace of the leaders. It all depends upon how strong of cat 4/5 climbers are in your area.

Squint
01-16-07, 01:06 AM
I weigh 138 lbs, and I'm 16 years old. I've never raced before, but I'm in shape and one of the better recreational climbers I know. 138 lbs = 62.6 kg.

280 watts / 62.6 kg = 4.5 watts / kg
264 watts / 62.6 kg = 4.25 watts / kg

I think most good Cat 3/4/5 can do around 5.25-5.5 W/kg for a single all-out 4 min climbing effort. 4-4.5 W/kg is more like their 60 min power.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't enter a Cat 5 race. The sandbagging winner of a Cat 4 or 5 race would be close to those numbers though.

botto
01-16-07, 04:26 AM
anyone can be a cat 4/3 racer. cat 2, that's something else.

YMCA
01-16-07, 05:24 AM
anyone can be a cat 4/3 racer. cat 2, that's something else.

Yup.
5 to 4, all you need is 10 races and don't even need results.
4 to 3, all you need is 25 races and don't even need results, just a finish in the pack 20x

So if you race 40x (allow a few races for mechanicals/crashes and what) this year and follow the above instructions, you are a 3. Simple, eh?

Bobby Lex
01-16-07, 06:03 AM
Those stats are pretty good.

Now, all you have to do is find a 4-minute uphill race, with no corners....

Bob

DrPete
01-16-07, 06:40 AM
The fact that this thread exists is evidence that R600DuraAce should never have been allowed to 1. Own a Powertap and 2. Post on this forum. :D

In my meager amount of racing experience, I've definitely seen that being the strongest rider out there will only get you so far. In fact, a lot of the strongest riders are the ones who end up pulling the whole race because they're not thinking about conserving energy. Then, when it comes down to the sprint at the line, there's a huge component of strategy and luck that goes into it.

So the bottom line is, just get a license and start racing. Just because some anonymous yahoos on the web tell you something doesn't mean it'll bear out. Hell, you might do your first race and hate it. Maybe you'll find you need more practice in a pack. Maybe you'll excel.

There's only one way to find out, and it ain't on this here interweb.

merlinextraligh
01-16-07, 07:43 AM
The numbers tell you that you have enough fitness to give it a go. Now go race. Odds are strong that even if you have 4.5 w/kg at FT, you'll get your butt handed to you. In addition to good FT power, you need that ability to put out 1000 watts for 15 seconds, when you've got to close a little gap at 32mph, and to recover very quickly.

You can have the ability to go at 4.5 w/kg for an hour, but if you can't go substantially above that for 2 minutes, recover, and repeat, you're going to struggle in a mass start race. Actually racing will develop that.

you need to know how to corner, you need to know where to be in the pack, you need to know which wheel to follow, you need to know who to chase and who to let go, you need to know when to work and when to not, etc, etc, etc.

You definitely have the motor to get started (assuming the data's correct). Go race, learn how to race, develop the other aspects of fitness that are important for racing, and you may have real potential. Only one way to find out.

So, no, you're not a Cat 3, not even close. Do you have the potential to move up to Cat 3 , and maybe beyond fairly quickly, depends on how bad you want it.

wfrogge
02-12-07, 10:15 AM
High wattage riders get beat by lower wattage (smart racers) every week as stated above. Infact if it wasent for the high watt racers who would I have to pull me around all day? Right now I am coming back from a 6 year layoff and know that if the race is hilly my butt is getting owned. Get me on the flats and even with hard surges I can hang with the CAT IIIs around my area..... Hang on the back that is.

jrennie
02-12-07, 10:38 AM
Yup.
5 to 4, all you need is 10 races and don't even need results.
4 to 3, all you need is 25 races and don't even need results, just a finish in the pack 20x

So if you race 40x (allow a few races for mechanicals/crashes and what) this year and follow the above instructions, you are a 3. Simple, eh?

4-3 requires 20 points OR 25 starts with 10 top ten's OR 20 pack finish with a field of at least 50

BKVR6
02-12-07, 11:04 AM
Your 16 and in Seattle. I have no comments on power output but I will give you a place to start.

http://www.wsbaracing.com/juniors.asp

I would suggest finding a team and racing with some juniors to start with. This will give you an idea where you stack up with your peers.

I am partial to the RAD racing guys but there are 5 teams listed on the WSBA page. All of which work to develop you as person and a racer.

Best of luck, see you at the races.

Bobby Lex
02-12-07, 12:32 PM
4-3 requires 20 points OR 25 starts with 10 top ten's OR 20 pack finish with a field of at least 50

....within 12 months, I believe.

Bob

El Diablo Rojo
02-12-07, 01:09 PM
....within 12 months, I believe.

Bob

I have one weekend of racing in this year and I'm 6 points away from catting up to a 3. I know I'm not ready to cat up but just on points making it to a 3 isn't all that far out of reach.

zimbo
02-12-07, 01:37 PM
I have one weekend of racing in this year and I'm 6 points away from catting up to a 3. I know I'm not ready to cat up but just on points making it to a 3 isn't all that far out of reach.

How much of those points are carryover from last year? Or maybe I'm misunderstanding how many points you get for placing.

--Steve

El Diablo Rojo
02-12-07, 01:49 PM
How much of those points are carryover from last year? Or maybe I'm misunderstanding how many points you get for placing.

--Steve
Steve this is my first year as a C4. 'The race was a stage race, so I got points for my podium, my finishes in the other two stages and for my overall finish. My first year racing was '05 but due to the amount of traveling that I was doing only allowed me to do 3 races. I did my last 7 in 06, I plan on getting enough points to upgrade in the first half of the season but the majority of the races I'll do in the second half of the season will be 45+ open.

zimbo
02-12-07, 02:00 PM
I wasn't aware one could "double up" on points during a stage race. Does the same apply to an Omnium? I have a copy of the USA Cycling upgrade specifications but I guess I'm an idiot because I couldn't really figure it out. As a Cat5, it's pretty easy but at some point I'll be a Cat4 so I'll have to figure it out.

--Steve

Snuffleupagus
02-12-07, 02:05 PM
I wasn't aware one could "double up" on points during a stage race. Does the same apply to an Omnium? I have a copy of the USA Cycling upgrade specifications but I guess I'm an idiot because I couldn't really figure it out. As a Cat5, it's pretty easy but at some point I'll be a Cat4 so I'll have to figure it out.

--Steve

http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=580

Stage race placings do not count for a 4-3 upgrade, only 3-2 and 2-1.

For 4-3 it's 7-5-4-3-2-1 for the first 6 placings. You need "20 points in any 12-month period; or experience in 25 qualifying races with a minimum of 10 top ten finishes, or 20 pack finishes with fields over 50. 30 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade"

MDcatV
02-12-07, 02:07 PM
I wasn't aware one could "double up" on points during a stage race. Does the same apply to an Omnium? I have a copy of the USA Cycling upgrade specifications but I guess I'm an idiot because I couldn't really figure it out. As a Cat5, it's pretty easy but at some point I'll be a Cat4 so I'll have to figure it out.

--Steve

http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=580

I dont think a stage race/gc or omnium scoring gets you anything on the 4 to 3 upgrade. Also, local upgrade coordinators have some latitude when considering upgrades. In MABRA, there are so many Cat 4s that the lifetime achievement award upgrade of finishing with the pack 25x usually gets granted. I've heard that in other districts that dont have such a glut of 4s, the coordinator wants no part of that rule and rarely grants an upgrade for the pack finishes unless there are some top 10s or demonstration of results mixed in.

El Diablo Rojo
02-12-07, 02:12 PM
http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=580

Stage race placings do not count for a 4-3 upgrade, only 3-2 and 2-1.

For 4-3 it's 7-5-4-3-2-1 for the first 6 placings. You need "20 points in any 12-month period; or experience in 25 qualifying races with a minimum of 10 top ten finishes, or 20 pack finishes with fields over 50. 30 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade"

Okay I'm an idiot. I have 4 upgrade points but 14 Texas Cup points. When I checked the TXBRA website I just looked at the points total not the heading. Sorry!

MDcatV
02-12-07, 02:15 PM
I read that too but when I checked my points on our racing website I have 14. The only explanation I could come up with is that I was awarded points for my overall position as well.

your local best all around rider (BAR) points or whatever your district calls them might not mirror USCF points. e.g., last year I had something like 150 BAR points in my district, but 30 USCF points.

El Diablo Rojo
02-12-07, 02:17 PM
your local best all around rider (BAR) points or whatever your district calls them might not mirror USCF points. e.g., last year I had something like 150 BAR points in my district, but 30 USCF points.

I edited my post while you were typing yours. You are right, my points total is the state cup points and they do not mirror USCF upgrade points.

MDcatV
02-12-07, 02:20 PM
I edited my post while you were typing yours. You are right, my points total is the state cup points and they do not mirror USCF upgrade points.

my typing is like my sprint, too slow. I really better do some work today ...

zimbo
02-12-07, 04:01 PM
For 4-3 it's 7-5-4-3-2-1 for the first 6 placings. You need "20 points in any 12-month period; or experience in 25 qualifying races with a minimum of 10 top ten finishes, or 20 pack finishes with fields over 50. 30 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade"

That's what I thought I had read. What the 12-month expiration means to me is that unless you are either head and shoulders above everyone else in the Cat4s or do quite a bit of racing it's not so easy to upgrade to a 3.

I know some of you guys race as often as twice per weekend during the season but for those of us who might only do 10 USCF events per year upgrading is it's no easy task especially if it's a large 3/4 field. Nor should it be easy, I guess. But this helps me understand how a "sandbagger" might not be an intentional sandbagger. He or she might just be someone who only does a handful of races every year.

--Steve