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Old 11-17-08, 04:10 PM   #1
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First race: Do's and Don'ts?

So I am riding in my first race on Saturday. I'll be riding the 35-mile version of El Tour de Tucson. I know I can can do the distance and I am fairly confident that I won't come in last, but I am nervous. Mostly I am nervous about riding in a group. I usually ride with a two other guys, but have never really ridden in a group.

So what I am wondering is; do you guys have some tips and information for me? What should I do or not do?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
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Old 11-17-08, 04:37 PM   #2
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Is this a race or a group ride/rally? The link suggests it's more of a charity fund raising event with rest stops and sag.

Chances are the group will splinter off into individual little groups of folks who are riding together. You shouldn't have much close quarter high speed maneuvering at all. In fact, most of the Hammerheads will probably be doing a longer distance and not a concern.

Things to remember when riding in a group and close quarters are maintain your line, do not swerve unexpectedly. Maintain your pace, sudden changes in speed are not good. Be constantly aware of what the rider in front of you is doing. If you are on someone's wheel and clip their back tire they may go down, but you will go down in all probability.

Again, chances are you are going to have families with kids entered in the ride. You will have a wide variety of skill and fitness levels riding and a wide variety of types of bikes. You will have some looking to finish in an hour and a half and others who will take 4 hours to finish. It's all good.

Relax and have a good time. You may even end up with some new friends and riding partners. Remember t post a ride report!
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Old 11-17-08, 05:04 PM   #3
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It sounds like a century ride; only be a race if you want. You'll have traffic for a mile or so. Stay right except to pass, and announce intentions, as in "on your left!" After a few minutes, just ride your own pace. Have fun, make friends.

You'll probably have some color coded signs, or paint on the road to mark your route. Make sure you know the color that represents your distance. If you blindly follow the riders in front, or miss the turn, you could end up miles off course.

Know where the "sag" rest stops are. Drink water before, during, and after, and get some electrolytes if it's hot(most likely free at the sag). I suggest a ham and cheese omlet for breakfast, and small snacks at every sag; expect peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, bananas, etc. Don't stress; it will be easy, have a good time.
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Old 11-17-08, 05:07 PM   #4
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No advice here but I'm riding in the Oro Valley start of the El Tour Saturday too. So don't worry about coming in last.

This is my first ride and I've been practicing the distance for several weeks (months?) now so I can enjoy myself on the ride. My husband's ridden the full event several times before and said it takes about 10 to 15 minutes for everyone to get going from the mass start so plan to ride 'scooter' for a while until the pack breaks up.

Oh - very important - keep smiling the entire ride! There's a photo shot somewhere along the ride that you can buy at the end.
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Old 11-17-08, 05:19 PM   #5
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It's a 'fun ride'
http://www.pbaa.com/!ETT/ETThome.html

Dude, it ain't a race. It's 35 flat miles. Go out an enjoy the ride at your own pace. You may find others doing a similar pace and want to ride with them. If they try to make it a race, let em go...otherwise rule one (race or no race) is to protect your front wheel. The person in front of you has the right of way..whether they are riding like a dimwit or not. Protect your front wheel and you'll be fine even when they are stupid.

If you want to learn to ride in fast groups and pace lines, find yourself a local group to learn with...doing so with a bunch of strangers of unknown skill level on a 'fun ride' is a recipe for having a bad day.

Relax, ride your ride, protect your front wheel and have fun!
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Old 11-17-08, 05:28 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the quick responses. I'll be sure to post a report after the ride.
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Old 11-17-08, 06:29 PM   #7
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Don't let these guys here fool ya, it IS a race. If there are two bikes going in the same direction it's a race.

Here are some tips for your first RACE. Get plenty of rest the week prior that way if you sleep poorly the night before it won't affect you too badly. You know the nerves might keep you awake the night before. Get a good meal in for dinner the night before and a sensible breakfast. Show up early to register and find the start line. Then set up your trainer and spin hard for 30 minutes so you have a sweat going and your heart rate will be up because you know there will be an attack from the start and you want be ready to part of the early attack. Be sure to show you are serious by showing up "nakid" covered in Crisco. The Crisco serves several purposes, helps to prevent sores in tender spots, helps cut wind resistance, allows beads of sweat to form and sail off your body towards those behind you, and in tight groups it allows you to slip by easier. Also, for some reason it tends to give you more space around you. Don't worry about sag or rest stops, it is only 35 miles. If you keep a 28 mph average, you will be done in 1 hour 15 minutes, anyone can suffer that long for a race.

That's how I would ride under the Tucson (Tuscan) sun, after all it is a new beginning for you.

Or you can forget all this and just show up and ride. Enjoy it! But, if you have follow the advice above I'm sure you will make more an impression and have a different ride report. And isn't that way we ride to share our ride reports and pics
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Old 11-17-08, 06:54 PM   #8
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all good advice, drink fluids when at rest stops and while riding, and eat at rest stops as well. you will be pumped for the first 10 miles they will fly by.
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Old 11-17-08, 07:04 PM   #9
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all good advice, drink fluids when at rest stops and while riding, and eat at rest stops as well. you will be pumped for the first 10 miles they will fly by.
In fact, the first 15 miles will fly by. The elevation drops from 2858' to 2089'.
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Old 11-17-08, 07:18 PM   #10
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Don't let these guys here fool ya, it IS a race. If there are two bikes going in the same direction it's a race.

Here are some tips for your first RACE. Get plenty of rest the week prior that way if you sleep poorly the night before it won't affect you too badly. You know the nerves might keep you awake the night before. Get a good meal in for dinner the night before and a sensible breakfast. Show up early to register and find the start line. Then set up your trainer and spin hard for 30 minutes so you have a sweat going and your heart rate will be up because you know there will be an attack from the start and you want be ready to part of the early attack. Be sure to show you are serious by showing up "nakid" covered in Crisco. The Crisco serves several purposes, helps to prevent sores in tender spots, helps cut wind resistance, allows beads of sweat to form and sail off your body towards those behind you, and in tight groups it allows you to slip by easier. Also, for some reason it tends to give you more space around you. Don't worry about sag or rest stops, it is only 35 miles. If you keep a 28 mph average, you will be done in 1 hour 15 minutes, anyone can suffer that long for a race.

That's how I would ride under the Tucson (Tuscan) sun, after all it is a new beginning for you.

Or you can forget all this and just show up and ride. Enjoy it! But, if you have follow the advice above I'm sure you will make more an impression and have a different ride report. And isn't that way we ride to share our ride reports and pics
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Old 11-17-08, 07:48 PM   #11
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Just make sure and hysterically shout "HOLD YOUR LINE" at random intervals.

That way everybody will know that you're a better rider than they are.
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Old 11-17-08, 08:16 PM   #12
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Have a great time! I ususally ride out and know where the next rest stop. It's a ton of fun and a nice change form my usual ride to knOW there's a happy little rest stop ahead!

Have a great time!! meet a ton of people..and ride!
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Old 11-17-08, 08:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by </intolerance> View Post
So I am riding in my first race on Saturday. I'll be riding the 35-mile version of El Tour de Tucson. I know I can can do the distance and I am fairly confident that I won't come in last, but I am nervous. Mostly I am nervous about riding in a group. I usually ride with a two other guys, but have never really ridden in a group.

So what I am wondering is; do you guys have some tips and information for me? What should I do or not do?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
Drink and eat while riding. No Need to Stop.
Stand up to pedal and stretch.
Carry Three to Four bottles.
If it is really a race don't stop.
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Old 11-17-08, 08:29 PM   #14
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Some of these century rides bill themselves as races. Most don't. On the ones that do, 90% of the people there aren't racing anyone, they're just out for a good time. So don't sweat it.

With 9,000 people riding, you're not going to have pace lines at first, you're going to have a big glob of people. Don't try to draft anyone in a mess like that, give 'em lots of room, and if you shift sideways, watch for people coming up beside you. If you're not especially fast, don't try to line up at the front.

Once you get 4 or 5 miles from the start, it should get thinned out where you can ride however you want to and not have other people in the way. By then, all the "racers" will likely be right out of sight, so it takes care of that problem, and you can enjoy your day.
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Old 11-17-08, 09:48 PM   #15
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Although it is not a race, there will be riders who are racing it. Not so much against each-other, but against the clock. Near the end, they will race each-other to try and get 1st for the 35-mile group (just as the 109-mile, 80-mile, etc groups do too). These will be the riders up front. When you get on to the "course proper", you'll be joining 7-8,000 other people already there so you won't know who the racers are unless you start up front with them. Be prepared to average 25mph in the racing group (equates to like 19-20mph solo riding).

Riding in a group is no different than riding alone IF you follow these tips:
  • Biggest advice: Don't panic.
  • Almost biggest advice: before you move left or right off your line, take a quick glance behind you to see if you are being overtaken on your left or right too. If you are, do not move out into them!! Wait for them to go by.
  • Next biggest: under no circumstances should you let your front wheel overlap the rear wheel in front of you. Do I need to explain why?
  • Last biggest advice: watch out for other riders who don't know how to ride in a straight line. Give them plenty of room and accelerate away from them.
Almost forgot: I'll be there (2nd year) in the 109-mile group. Looking at start times and anticipated pace, we'll probably be past when you start. But, I'm a big ol' Clyde, wearing a Santa Clarita Velo jersey & shorts. If you see me, say "Hi".
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Old 11-18-08, 07:11 AM   #16
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The 35 will be more of a ride than anything else. The racing will in all likelihood be on the 109 mile distance. I did my first ride earlier this year (25, 51, 80, 100) and settled on the 51. The 80 and 100 had 3 mountain climbs and I felt like only doint the single one on the 51.

My riding buddy, also riding the 51, started up front with the fast group and ended up getting quite a ways ahead and it took me an hour to catch up to him. Once I caught up, we had about 6 of us that all settled into the same rhythm and rode at a moderate to strong pace. It was a lot of fun and challenging.

Once things settle down and the longer distances split off, find a group that you can keep up with. If you are faster that those around you see if you can catch riders ahead of you.

I did stop in to one rest stop at 41 miles to fill up a bottle with Gatorade, but it was like a 15 second stop. With 3 water bottles you shouldn't have to stop unless for trains or traffic.

Above all, push yourself when you can and have fun. To learn pack riding, find a local club. It is less of a hazard to learn in practice rather than in a race.
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Old 11-18-08, 08:32 AM   #17
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The 35 will be more of a ride than anything else. The racing will in all likelihood be on the 109 mile distance.
In El Tour de Tucson, they get racers in every category. Granted, there are far more non-racers than not, but the 35-miler, because it's short(er), gets a pretty competitive group.

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Once things settle down and the longer distances split off,
The longer distances do not split off in El Tour. The shorter distances "join" the longer distance riders as they come by. The 109-mile starts first (7am) on the circuit, then, 29-miles and 2-hours later down the course, the 80-mile group starts (9am) and joins the 109-mile riders. Then, 90-mins later (10:30am), the 67-miler starts. And finally, 2-hours after that (12:30pm), the 35-miler starts. All distances finish at the exact same location, and--except for a mile or two as they "join-in"--cover the exact same route for that distance.
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Old 11-18-08, 11:53 AM   #18
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  • Biggest advice: Don't panic.
  • Almost biggest advice: before you move left or right off your line, take a quick glance behind you to see if you are being overtaken on your left or right too. If you are, do not move out into them!! Wait for them to go by.
  • Next biggest: under no circumstances should you let your front wheel overlap the rear wheel in front of you. Do I need to explain why?
  • Last biggest advice: watch out for other riders who don't know how to ride in a straight line. Give them plenty of room and accelerate away from them.
Almost forgot: I'll be there (2nd year) in the 109-mile group. Looking at start times and anticipated pace, we'll probably be past when you start. But, I'm a big ol' Clyde, wearing a Santa Clarita Velo jersey & shorts. If you see me, say "Hi".
Thanks for the tips.

I hope you are past us when we start, but I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll be wearing a Fat Tire jersey and riding a Jamis Satellite.

I'll also be at the El Tour Expo on Friday from 10-3 or so working at the Arizona Daily Star booth. If you are there stop by and say hi.

The Star is the local paper (my wife works in the sports department). And they are having a raffle and signing people up to have the special section, which lists all the riders and there finish times, sent to their home. If you are interested, they also have an online database with the results from the previous two years.

Thank to you everyone else who has commented with their tips. I went on my last little ride today and I am getting really excited.
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Old 11-18-08, 02:24 PM   #19
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I hope you are past us when we start, but I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll be wearing a Fat Tire jersey and riding a Jamis Satellite.

I'll also be at the El Tour Expo on Friday from 10-3 or so working at the Arizona Daily Star booth. If you are there stop by and say hi.
We should be. In fact, last year, I was finished (11:59) before the 35-mile ride started (12:30). The 1st place rider averaged 26mph for the course. He was done by 11:10 or so. I was a bit slower

I won't be getting into Tucson until probably 5pm or so on Friday. I did sign-up for the ADS to send me a copy of the results sheet. Make a nice memento for the scrapbook.
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Old 11-18-08, 03:06 PM   #20
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A buddy of mine and his hammerrhead friends live and train in Tuscon and treat ETT very much like a race. They pre-ride the course, leave bottles and food, and practice team tactics regularly. Based on my friends descriptions of ETT, mkadam68's answers to your questions here sound the most informed. Sounds like a lot of fun to be able to ride in an event that will have some very strong race-like features to it. Enjoy yourselves and start a race report thread here when it's over.

David
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