"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - What strategy can you use on a 24-mile (40k) race?
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From my other thread, I think I'll end up doing the Cat 5, 24-mile (40k) race.
So, what kind of strategy to you use in a 24 mile race? I'm not much of a sprinter, but I can sometimes break away from the strong riders during my local group rides, even when we are all trying to race each other.
Should I try and break away early and tough it out? Or should I go about 20k and then try and break away for the last half of the race?
The riders in this race will all likely be able to do the whole race strong without much problem.
08-04-03, 10:59 AM
I can't recall ever seeing anyone try and break in a 24 miles race. It's so short that they'll pull you back as soon as they can.
08-04-03, 11:35 AM
You will be wasting energy doing any early breaking away. Unless it is all uphill and you are a superb climber.
The freshest guy with a strong sprint will win this race in the last 100-200 meters if I had to bet on it. Stay fresh and wait, do a share of work on the front to get some respect from fellow racers but not enough to wear yourself out.
I'd bet this race will only last about 50 minutes.
Cool. So here's another "strategy" question....
I do not have a USCF license. If I pay the one-day fee to do this race in the CAT5 category, can I still use the race toward being able to climb eventually to the next category? Or should I get a license now?
I'm starting to think that the only reason to do this race is to get some experience and perhaps use it for USCF points (if it even works that way.) Otherwise, such a short race is hardly worth the risk of crashing and the $30 entry fee - especially if I'm not a sprinter and cannot possibly win.
08-04-03, 12:34 PM
If you plan to race then get the license.
You have to remember that you have to start somewhere and somewhere is usually the beginning. You will learn a lot from the cat 5 races that you will carry forward. Hey, they don't start you out with Trigonometry in Grade school.
Enjoy the races, if you are worried about the sprint try a break late in the race. But remember, you will learn from every attempt you make. Learn what works and what does not. If nothing else it will be a hell of a training ride.
If you are a good climber and not a good sprinter than hopefully there will be a hill in the last stretch for you to attack on. You will find a lot of fast riders still cannot carry speed over a hill. If you can you will drop em. Better yet, accelerate up and over the hills if possible.
08-04-03, 01:47 PM
As others have said, don't bother trying a solo break, you'll just burn yourself up. They may not chase you down right away but no one will let you go very far and dangling off the front will fry you for the finish.
Your strategy will depend on the course, what others around you are doing and what your strengths and weaknesses are. A couple of things I'd look for or do are
- Stay near but not on the front of the lead group. This is the most efficient place to ride so most guys want that spot. Hold your position and donít let them intimidate you. You will on occasion get stuck out in the wind so when you do, make your turn at the front shorter than what others are taking. If other riders try to keep you on the front, and they will, soft pedal until they go around and take the first available wheel.
- Make mental notes of which guys spent a lot of time on the front and also remember the ones who dangled off the front the most.
- If the course has climbs, being a road race it should, position yourself at the start of the climb so you don't need to work too hard at the top to stay in the main group. Think about the hardest climbs on your club rides and how you kept pace, use that as your gauge. Solo chases to re-integrate with the pack will cook your legs and leave you with little chance at the end in the event of a fast finish with worst case scenario being you never catch back on.
- If you're feeling good at the end remember those guys who were on the front for the whole race. Do not sit on any of those wheels in the final stretch unless you hear other riders bemoaning the super human leg strength that "Mr. X" has.
Most ďteamsĒ donít really use team tactics in the beginner races as the riders are not used to working together and no one wants to lead out or cover for the others. I remember a race where out of 30 guys, 9 were from one team. I had only one other team member but it was someone I worked well with. Those 9 guys could have schooled the entire group if they had worked together but the highest finisher out of the bunch was something like 9th or 10th place. We placed 4th & 7th, which wasnít as good as Iíd have liked, but better than any of the guys on the squad with 9 riders.
- Stay near but not on the front of the lead group.
This is great gang, please keep-em coming. You've got me beginning to think that with the right strategy, I could do pretty well.
Where to most of the crashes happen in CAT 5 races? Near the front, in the middle or near the back? There is a very practicle reason for my concern. I have a wife and two kids to raise. I don't need to be breakin' any bones only because I love the thrill of racing... so minimizing my chances to crash will be one of my first priorities.
08-04-03, 02:20 PM
Unless you are MUCH more fit and faster than the pack, don't attack from the start when everybody is fresh, ride towards the front and conserve energy, especially if others are trying to attack early on. Then when the race has gone on for awhile, start attacking, and do it HARD.
If you were to put 20-30 seconds on a Cat 5 group I would give you the odds to win the race, the group just won't be organized enough to make a good chase and forget about it if you pull out enough that they can't see you (around corners in Crits and such).
Remember to never go to a race to lose, always go to win.
And 2nd place is the first loser ;)
When would be too late in a 40k race to start attacking? (I'm going to try and get to the course once or twice before the race to look at the climbs, turns and straits, etc...) I have a lot going on between now and then, so I may have to do it cold. In that scenario, the only way I'll know how close we are to the finish is my odometer. If it craps out, I'll be guessing... (again this is worse case scenario)
Anyone know where I can get topographical information for the US online? That would at least allow me to analyze the course from above to gain some information.
08-04-03, 05:06 PM
Another good idea is to arrive early enough to drive the entire course prior to registering. If they start the groups in two separate waves (morning and afternoon) you may need to drive it backward to avoid being held up by racers if you're in the afternoon group.
Also, ride back from the finish line 3-5 miles for a warm up, that way you'll see it on the bike.
08-04-03, 09:02 PM
Races using the 1 day license do apply towards upgrades. Buy the license if you're going to do 10 or more cat 5 races before the license would expire, unless you expect to get upgraded before completing 10 races (by petitioning your USCF rep). The rule book is online... http://www.usacycling.org/rulebooks/2003_uscf_rulebook.pdf. You should at least give it a look.
I imagine you've been reading the similar threads in this forum all spring. If not, or even if so, you may want to review them.
As others have said, stay near, but not at, the front. Anywhere in the front 1/3rd is probably close enough.
In a typical cat 5 race, the attacks will commence from the start. Don't burn yourself out by trying to chase them all down. The attack will probably occur on a climb steep enough or long enough to give those with a little extra a chance to build a gap, and probably with 10 or 15 miles to go (no guarantees, tho). Know where the climbs are, and keep an eye out for some different riders appearing near the front before the climbs. Stay close enough to the front so that when they go, you can go with them. Collectively work your @ss off to get a good gap, then ease off enough that you can maintain it. Work with them, not against them, until your group is clear. That can be a tough chore with cat 5s, everybody is afraid to let up for a second. However, if there is someone that is just slower at the front, blow by. He's either too weak for the break, or blocking. (Same applies if you're trying to chase down a break.) If you get in the break and you feel stronger than the rest, sit in until there is a climb or some other differentiator a mile or two from the finish, and attack. If you get a solo gap, you have to be close enough that you can maintain it to the finish. More likely you'll get some company, but still will peel some of the slower riders... less to fight with at the finish. As you approach the finish, settle it amongst yourselves.
If you're in the pack in a pack finish, just maintain your pace and watch the finish. The most common cause of cat 5 wrecks is a meaningless attack from someone in the pack at the finish.
Here's a URL for topo maps:
If the race is in the southeast or central atlantic state, you can post, PM, or point me to a site with the course, and I can generate a course profile from Delorme Topo. As BikeInMN says, ride the course before the race (preferably on a bike, before race day) if you can.
I've noticed in races that I've watched on TV that near the finish, no one wants to lead out... so they weave back and forth trying to throw riders off their wheel.
If I'm close to the finish, say a mile or two, and I break away, and a couple of riders get on my wheel... is it kosher to try and throw them off my wheel like that? Or is that too dangerous to ride that erratically?
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