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Old 05-20-07, 08:04 AM   #1
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Older guy races with the young

Every year, the high school where I teach has an end-of-year outdoor assembly. Special attention is given to the senior graduating class.

I teach seniors, and they all know I an avid cyclist, so this year they have "thrown it down" with me and challenged me to a bike race on the school track at the assemly--four laps, eight lanes, eight riders (seven students and me). I want to show these guys that youth is no match for age and wisdom (?), but I've never done a track race before and I need any tips anyone can give. And this will be in front of the entire student body and staff!

Since the kids are all in their teens, they'll have a lot more fast-twitch muscle than I have anymore. I need to offset that with good strategy and gear. I'll be riding my '04 LeMond Buenos Aires, not a time trialing bike but probably better than the wheels they'll be riding. So should I pedal hard out of the gate, possibly running out of gas on the last lap, or should I just try and hang with the pack, then breakway in the last third or so of the race? Any experienced track racers out there?

The race is all in good fun, but there's my reputation on the line here . The only real competition I think I'll have will be from the 9th-grader who went to the CycloCross national championships in Rhode Island last year and didn't do too badly. Just hope my road bike can beat his cross bike!

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Old 05-20-07, 08:19 AM   #2
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Remember the words of the great Fausto Coppi: "Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill".

Bicycle pump to the wheel; CO2 cartridge to the face; have a hot-looking coed expose herself around a sharp turn.

You get the idea.
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Old 05-20-07, 09:10 AM   #3
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Helmets are a must...this is a great idea but needs a little management and thought. You do not want a crash. Eight inexperienced riders on a short track riding fast as a pack without pack and racing skills may be a problem. Let's forget about who is going to win and get everyone accross the finish line safely.

With you current format, one thing you can do to have an advantage over the others is get a good warmup. I would suggest at least 20 minutes getting your heart rate up to race pace a couple of times. Under normal conditions, this is a sprinters race with the best sprinter winning in the end. So if you are the best sprinter, hang near the front and sprint to the finish.

There are a couple of other formats that you could use. One is a time trial format where each rider is timed for 8 laps and is on the course by himself. This is the safest but not as exciting. The other could be two men on the course with heats and a ladder. The winner moves to the next phase. Instead of 8 laps you do 2 or 3. Less chance of crashing with fewer riders. Good luck.
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Old 05-20-07, 09:25 AM   #4
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I'd get in some practice time on the track to get a feel for the turns,etec., in advance of the race.
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Old 05-20-07, 10:10 AM   #5
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Good idea to do that warm up. Get the HR up to 90% of your max 10 minutes before the race and then stay warm. Then what sort of track? Grass- or running track- Whichever it is make certain the tyres will grip on that surface.

Most distance is lost at the start- hence the warm up- but one lap in and you will find out who to watch out for. But remember- 18 year olds do not normally have stamina- They may have explosive power but stamina is another thing. If you are in touch after one lap- then you have it in the bag.

Either you will win or you are going to get whooped
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Old 05-20-07, 12:41 PM   #6
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If it twer me, like the other guys said, be REALLY warmed up and ready to go at the gun.....I'd give it everything I had right at the start and build up an immediate lead. Catch them by surprise. Then hope they blow up trying to close the gap. Practice some one minute sprints followed by five to ten minutes of threshold work....What a hoot! I'd love to do that!
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Old 05-20-07, 01:06 PM   #7
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If it were me, I'd find and quote some obscure rule or school policy that forebade such nonsense, and let them wonder forever what would have happened if they'd raced the old goat!
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Old 05-20-07, 01:35 PM   #8
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Wow, loads of good suggestions.

Yeah, the warm-up is a must, and while the field is trying to figure out where I've gotten off to just before race start, I'll be doing a warm-up on side streets around the school, show up at the start line with my heart rate up.

Safety is a concern, so I've set a few rules: helmets must be worn, all bikes must be in good operating condition, no passing in the opening turn, and we'll have spotters all around the track to keep spectators off and to help in case there is a mechanical. Rumor is that some of the guys will be riding BMX bikes. As they're pedaling madly with their knees flapping around their ears, I plan to blow by, keeping a cautious eye out since, dog gone it, I'm not going to risk having my Buenos Aires hit by a Wal-Mart special.
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Old 05-20-07, 04:57 PM   #9
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Good luck. Sounds like you have a good shot at coming in 2nd. I'd hate to think about trying to beat a 15 y/o with experience and success as a cyclocross racer.
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Old 05-20-07, 05:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rideon7
Wow, loads of good suggestions.
You could sand bag it - let them all beat you, then talk about "Life is not always about beating the other guy".

Nah - warm-up, hang near the front and sprint like hell to win. Pump in the spokes to the strongest competitor might help against the crosser.
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Old 05-20-07, 05:47 PM   #11
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Perhaps you can use their newly found manhood to your advantage. If you can goad them into increasing the distance to something like 30 or 40 miles or more, you'll likely increase your chances.
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Old 05-20-07, 06:01 PM   #12
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The cyclocross guy sounds like some tough competition. However I would suggest incorporating some drafting into the plan-letting them do some work for 3 laps or so and then sprint like heck......
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Old 05-28-07, 08:40 AM   #13
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Race results:

Okay, the cyclocross kid beat me. I came in second. The kid jumped out fast and stayed strong. I was catching him in the final half lap. If it had been a longer race I would have whipped him, but it wasn't and I didn't.

It was kind of cool the way a lot of students came up to me afterward and said, "What happened, Mr. D.? I was cheering for you!"

A couple of backstories. I know how sneaky kids can be, especially seniors, and *in particular* seniors who have a week to go before graduation. I got word that some of the racers were going to block and "bump" me during the race so I quickly put out the word that it had to be a clean race.

The race was supposed to be four laps, but before the start one of the assembly organizers, a senior student, came up to me and said, "The race has been shortened to two laps." I asked if that was to save time. He said, "Yeah, to save time." Then he went to the head assembly organizer, also a student, and said, "Mr. D. has decided to shorten the race to two laps."

Seems that that particular student just wasn't happy about the race being four laps, so he made that manipulative move to change it. Sneaky little munchkin. He graduates next week, has already been admitted into a high-powered university, and I expect he'll end up going into politics. I've been teaching for a lot of years. For me, with my value system, honesty is important. But for many students, cheating is just another strategy to get ahead (and the internet has been a windfall for that). Like I said, I reckon some willl end up in politics, the oil industry, or as land "developers." Others who are into "performance enhancement" may end up riding the Tour de France.
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