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Thread: first race

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    Senior Member il professore's Avatar
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    Red face first race

    Have my first cross race tomorrow... a little worried about what to expect-other than getting worked over. I wanted to ask about tire pressure- I have vittoria evo xg's. the course, I suspect will be flat, grassy, no mud unless they make it as it hasn't rained in ages.
    and if anyone has any pointers, helpful bits for me- that'd be cool..

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    40-50 psi ought to be fine.

    With all that adrenalin and nervousness, there's a great temptation to hit that first lap really fast. Don't.

    Don't remount on an upgrade. Portage or push to the top and then remount.

    Unless the ground is really smooth, it's usually better to shoulder than to push. Suitcase only for barriers and really short sections.

    There's always a point in the race--usually in the second-to-last lap--where I think to myself, Why the F did I ever think this was a good idea? It's temporary.

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    Senior Member drumbum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by il professore View Post
    Have my first cross race tomorrow... a little worried about what to expect-other than getting worked over. I wanted to ask about tire pressure- I have vittoria evo xg's. the course, I suspect will be flat, grassy, no mud unless they make it as it hasn't rained in ages.
    and if anyone has any pointers, helpful bits for me- that'd be cool..

    How did it go??

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    Senior Member il professore's Avatar
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    Didn't happen for me. And I'm kinda bummed. I had snapped my masterlink off riding up a grade to the registration booth. I asked a few people if they could help but no one could.. became a spectator really damn fast.
    have a motorcycle race this weekend then back for attempt number 2 on the next weekend...

    Looked like fun though.. the run up was a grandstand...crazy stairs..ughhh.

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    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    ^^ Bummer. Bad luck.

    I find in the Pro/1/2 races that it's balls to the wall right off the bat. So I would advise you to kill the first lap. Typically it's a mad dash the the 'hole shot' which is where your open start lane gets closed off into say woods or something. Lots of times there will be a pile up there and you don't want to be behind that. The first guy through has a tremendous advantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
    ^^ Bummer. Bad luck.

    I find in the Pro/1/2 races that it's balls to the wall right off the bat. So I would advise you to kill the first lap. Typically it's a mad dash the the 'hole shot' which is where your open start lane gets closed off into say woods or something. Lots of times there will be a pile up there and you don't want to be behind that. The first guy through has a tremendous advantage.
    I totally agree. Your start postition and that whole shot is a huge factor. learned that last season the hard way and have applied it to mountain bike racing this season and it has made a HUGE difference. Start up front and stay up front

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    I try to think of the start as the first 1/3 of the race.

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    Dudes, it's this guy's first race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    Dudes, it's this guy's first race.


    I wish someone told me the importance of the start earlier in my first season!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92degrees View Post
    I wish someone told me the importance of the start earlier in my first season!
    If you look at lap times for a typical cat 3/4 race, you'll see most (i.e. nearly all) guys getting slower, not just between laps one and two but throughout the race. In other words, most guys start too fast for their level of fitness. Period. It's tempting to overemphasize the tactical aspects of racing.

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    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Actually some of the UCI races I did years past that had radio leg bands that recorded lap times followed a typical pattern where the first few laps were blistering fast then in the middle of the race they slowed down and the last 3 laps or so went right back up again. Another advantage to the fast start is psychologically crushing the competition and leaving the riff raff behind.

    Your right though, being the first race just go out and have fun and check it out. My very first race I came in second place.

    Second to last that is

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
    Actually some of the UCI races I did years past that had radio leg bands that recorded lap times followed a typical pattern where the first few laps were blistering fast then in the middle of the race they slowed down and the last 3 laps or so went right back up again. Another advantage to the fast start is psychologically crushing the competition and leaving the riff raff behind.
    Do you think you wouldn't have placed higher if your lap times had been more consistent?

    Obviously, tactics are important at the front of the pack, because fitness levels are very similar. But the (inevitable, statistical) reality is that most racers have folk both in front and behind them throughout the race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    Do you think you wouldn't have placed higher if your lap times had been more consistent?

    Obviously, tactics are important at the front of the pack, because fitness levels are very similar. But the (inevitable, statistical) reality is that most racers have folk both in front and behind them throughout the race.
    It's hard to say. It does seem like consistency would be better. You hear a lot of people compare a cross race to a TT. And I can see what they are saying in that it starts fast and ends fast but maintaining a certain threshold is crucial. I think lap times run like that because eventually you often times end up alone on the course and settle in. Then towards the end you may start thinking you can catch the next guy.

    I'd wager though that the better cross racers are more consistent but they still will start and end fast.

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    I'm not an expert on sports physiology, but everything I've heard/read is that steady-state is the most efficient use of resources. Obviously it's a rougher equation for cyclocross than for a time trial, but I think lap times shouldn't wildly vary.

    I'd be interested to see lap times for the elite guys in Superprestige and World Cup series. I wonder if they, sort of by common consent, take it a bit easy in the middle laps because they know they have a race the next day or whatever, and save the real serious effort for races like world or Belgian championships.

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    I think that the importance of the start depends on the size of the field. The larger the field the more important the start is.

    If you were out on the course by yourself then it would be fastest to do consistent lap times. But in 'cross it is often better to be out front and have clean lines through the tougher parts of the course. Somebody crashing in front of you in a tricky section can cost you a lot of time.

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    Did the Robertson Park race. It was nice and hot (~90F) when I got done. The standard part of this course is the bleacher runup then the long drag on the backside. But, the promoter made the backside part longer by several sections that serpentine back and forth across the area. Also, adding the sand pit was a new wrinkle.
    Usually we don't race on this course, until Dec. when the ground is wet, muddy and cold.

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    I have no doubt that lap times go down as the race goes on in many races. I'd much rather be out front getting slower and making people pass me, rather than starting conservatively off the back and having to pass the field as they slow down. Just my .02

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    Quote Originally Posted by cardstock View Post
    I totally agree. Your start postition and that whole shot is a huge factor. learned that last season the hard way and have applied it to mountain bike racing this season and it has made a HUGE difference. Start up front and stay up front
    +1,000

    EVERYONE hurts by the mid-point of a cx race. Do you want to hurt at the front or the back?
    Quote Originally Posted by BikeIndustryGuy View Post
    I guess the feel good aspect of this story is that the perpetrators did this as a couple. It's nice to see people coming together with a common love of cycling and assault.

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    If your local series publishes lap times, take a look at them. You will almost surely notice a trend: the top finishers--in each category--tend to have very consistent lap times. And as you go down the list, you see more and more slowing. Mr Twentythird started the race with a snappy 7:00 lap so he could then . . . finish with an 8:30 lap. And probably averaged an 8:00 pace overall. You can decide whether that first minute-fast lap was worth it for him.

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    Yes, I've definitely seen what you are referring to -- but what you can never see from the lap times is the guy that started easy hoping to finish strong that couldn't make anything happen after the first couple of laps because he was trapped behind groups of slower guys. Don't get me wrong -- I definitely think it's possible to burn too many matches at the start and never recover -- done that too!

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    This raises an interesting question of race etiquette. Does one, finding his or herself behind a pileup at a barrier (i.e. slow runners flubbing the bike to run transition) just blow by them, potentially knocking someone over? Or is one compelled to attempt a pass afterward, when everyone is re-mounting or riding again?

    I'm not advocating pushing someone over to get past them. but if sprinters head butt each other....

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    Just blow by them. Do your best not to step on anyone's head, but yeah...

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    Not going to start a new thread but my first cross race is in exactly one week. This thread is helpful. CX reminds me a lot of track and cross country (running, that is) with the emphasis on even lap times. Our coach was really big on that last year. I was horribly inconsistent.

    So I don't really care how well I do the first race as I'm simply trying it out, but any tips on racing ettiquete would be greatly appreciated.

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    I still don't get the even laps thing. Just saying. I don't know much about running but I don't picture you bogged down behind half a dozen runners unable to pass for half a lap while running track? Get off first, hang tough, finish strong. Just my .02! Have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92degrees View Post
    I still don't get the even laps thing. Just saying. I don't know much about running but I don't picture you bogged down behind half a dozen runners unable to pass for half a lap while running track? Get off first, hang tough, finish strong. Just my .02! Have fun.
    It's getting a bit old, but I still want to dissect this a bit.

    All else equal, a steady pace is the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. Pretty uncontroversial, that.

    I'm curious what series you race that passing after the first lap is such a huge hassle. Perhaps it's a big hassle in a mtn bike race over singletrack, but cross?

    It's inspiring when guys like Trebon or Nys lead from start to finish, and if you're that strong, God bless you. The rest of us have to be more strategic in how to spend our tank. [And if you actually are leading from start to finish, you're probably sandbagging and should cat up.]

    Perhaps there is a fundamental misunderstanding: I am not suggesting you start the race at the very back. Get a snappy start, try to avoid pileups, but then find your pace and do your work. Let the rabbits do their thing, and say hello as you reel them in on the back half of the race.

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