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Thread: Is it Genetics?

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    Is it Genetics?

    How much of racing performance is genetics vs actual training? I'm curious because it seems the top place guys have always done well and the bottom of the pack racers always seem to stay there. Also, I know some slightly over-weight guys who don't even train that hard - show up to a race and place in the top 20 of a regional Cat 4 event (and they're in they're 40's and new to racing).

    My observation, not just from this but working with athletes for many years and competing in many sports over the last 25 years, is that when it comes to strength, speed and endurance - people are hard-wired. You can teach a boxer to hit harder, but you can't teach him to hit hard (as my old boxing coach used to say). I believe the same is true with cycling - perhaps even more so. You can increase power and aerobic /anaerobic threshold - refocus your training, buy new equipment - but actual race placement will not vary significantly from year to year.

    Thoughts on this?

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    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Cross is a great equalizer in this regard in my opinion. You can be the fittest person in the race, but if you can't handle your bike and make good decisions you're nowhere. That's what makes it challenging and fun. You're racing against people who are bringing a variety of things to the table.

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    The goal is to know where you are strong and weak and find the same in your competitors and exploit it. Old age and treachery trump youth and enthusiasm every time.
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    I'm pretty certain that no matter how hard I train, I'll never make it out of the bottom half of the Master C category. I'm also pretty certain that the reason I don't make it out of the bottom 5% is that I don't train seriously enough. In five years of doing this, my skills have improved significantly. My fitness, not so much.

    I suspect that a lot of the lack of movement has to do with the fact that people who don't train rigorously never will, and people who do train rigorously just keep pace with one another.

    I do see a lot of movement at the top of the ranks in our local fields. Usually the people winning in the lower ranks were in the 20's the year before. Probably most of the people above them upgraded, but there are always a few people who stand out every year as having made dramatic improvement.

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    Senior Member Debusama's Avatar
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    I think that some less trainable components of athletic ability (balance, coordination) come more into play with Mountain and cross racing than on road. Training does help though.
    Cat-3 Fred

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    Absolutely it's genetics. Cyclocross is a sport. Athleticism is paramount and then comes fitness and training. The healthiest, strongest, fittest guy in the world probably sucks at basketball.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsqueri View Post
    Absolutely it's genetics. Cyclocross is a sport. Athleticism is paramount and then comes fitness and training. The healthiest, strongest, fittest guy in the world probably sucks at basketball.
    Similarly, as the Great Eddie said... the best bike racer may be out back dribbling a basketball right now

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    i don't think its as big of a deal as people make it out to be. i think that genetics becomes a limiter once you're knocking on the door of the pro ranks, but anything below that, people are not bumping up against the ceiling of their potential. at the local amateur level, the difference between the top finishers and the not top finishers comes down to commitment and willingness to suffer.

    a good example of this is a local pro mtb racer in my area. he went from being a pokey clydesdale to the fastest guy in our region. on a national level he's not a standout, but he has shown how far hard work gets you. if he had genetics on his side, he'd be racing world cups now, but that only became a limiter once he reached the pro level.

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    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    A combination of both. Genetics plays a huge role. When you see some kid enter his first cross race and win it, then go on to cat 1 in one season then it's genetics. But as a cat 1 he may be racing with people at the same genetic level and so this is wear you need to rely on your training.

    And like marqueemoon said it is an equalizer. I'm a cat 3 on the road and a cat 2 in cross and I know some super fast cat 1's on the road that I could probably lap in a cross race IT takes a lot of training at any level to be good in cross unless maybe you come from a mountain bike or bmx background.
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