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Old 06-30-08, 06:49 PM   #1
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Has anyone tried racing ?

I'm 67, started biking 4 yrs ago and keep getting happier. I thought I'd like to try racing but I don't really know how fast you have to be over what distance to be able to stick to the pack. I can do 20 + average speed around central park in NY (moderately hilly-6 miles) and there are races held here by the criterium racing assoc. which have beginner c class of 25mile lengths
Anyone ever try it? How fast should I be before I dare to embarrass myself in pubic?
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Old 06-30-08, 08:32 PM   #2
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I'm 55 and started to race this year after riding solo on country roads for years. Racing for us seniors is a little more difficult due to the entry level races including all ages. I met another senior rider new to racing who is 66 yrs old and he enjoys racing also. Both of us are fortunate to be able to watch our son's race at the same events. I have had some success in races to date. I took 5th place in one 12 mile crit that had 31 racers start. That must have been humiliating to 26 other riders. In the first couple of races I felt like a fish out of water and in some of the later races I felt like a competitor and age did not factor into the race. I say go for it if you want to race. You can always go to watch the race, a week before you enter, just to get a feel of the event. Crits are pretty intense for a new racer. For crits you should be used to riding on group rides and have some of the skills needed for riding in close quarters. If you are not used to fast group rides then road races may be the best venue for you to begin racing. In either crits or road races you can always start at the back and ride the race solo or with a few other new guys who are "off the back". Another race to try are time trails. You don't need a special time trail bike or equipment to race in TT's. I have raced in two 10 mile TT's this year. What a great way see how much pain you can inflict on oneself. At a time trail you will be racing with others who are on the course but you won't need to keep up with anybody. Good luck and let us know how you do in races. Just remember to have fun!
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Old 07-01-08, 06:58 AM   #3
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The problem around here is that you have your choice of racing with the 4/5 group or with the 50+ masters. The pace of the 50+ group is REALLY punishing. It's a case of grab a wheel and hold on for dear life. The 4's and 5's are a little slower, but combine a large field with a lot of sketchy riding.

After crashing twice in one year, I've switched to triathlons.
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Old 07-01-08, 07:40 AM   #4
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Last year I started doing time trials, on a tandem, then a borrowed fast bike from my LBS. When I got a really fast bike for Christmas I decided to try some other formats.

So far, at 53, I've done 4 crits and am not a fan. Too fast, too sketchy as far as others' riding abilities, and I'm too aware of my personal space issues to tolerate the jostling. Also, it's not a matter of if you crash, more like when. Too much risk for too little reward.

I really enjoyed the road races I've done, because they're more like my club rides. Often more than one group of racers will be on the course, and there are plenty of wheels to chase. My finishes haven't been flashy but I had fun, which is important.

I still prefer TTs -- I like being fully responsible for my results.

I'm not the fastest, I'm not the slowest, and as long as I'm enjoying myself, I'm happy.

I'd suggest you define your goals, get on a training program, and be ready to find new levels of pain. Find group rides with local race teams, and try to hang on. Leave your ego at home and be open to learning, and maybe even being yelled at -- it happens. Our oldest racer is 55, he started 2 years ago, and he's amazing. Physically he's cycled himself into being a specimen, and mentally he's tough as nails.

Let us know how it goes, and be sure to post pictures!
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Old 07-01-08, 07:50 AM   #5
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I thought of this after I posted my first response. The older guy I mentioned has rode in many of the same races that I have been in. At one of the crits, he passed everyone going up a hill at the end of the 2nd lap, then got swallowed up by the swarm at the top. After the race I joked with him about leading the race and asked if he was posing for a picture for his family's Christmas news letter. He said "no", he just wanted to feel what it was like to be ahead in a race with 35 guys behind him! We get our victories in our own way.
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Old 07-01-08, 07:53 AM   #6
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I raced in my teens and twenties, and was usually horribly humiliated. The great thing about getting older is that I just don't particularly care what other folks think anymore. I say if you want to give it a try, just do it.
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Old 07-01-08, 08:13 AM   #7
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Being devoid of natural athletic ability, I have never been racing material, but I have been able to hold my own on more casual club rides.
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Old 07-01-08, 08:40 AM   #8
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My racing career was short and painful, but it had a happy ending. I trained hard and stupidly for a senior games time trial. The day before the event, I found out it was cancelled due to too few entries. Which was ok, because my knee was starting to hurt pretty badly.

However, a friend needed a cyclist for a team triathlon that weekend, and I was pressed into service. I ignored my knee pain, took one for the team, and actually won my age group (I'm guessing that's because there were only a handful of entries).

My knee then proceeded to hurt like hell for weeks. I took it as a sign to hang it up as a racer and to build my career as the king of the slow lane. On Bike Virginia last week, I rode lots of pain free easy-going miles, including a very hilly century ride. I was happy.

At one point, a guy passed me and said, "You're the most relaxed person I've ever seen on a bike." I've found my niche at last.
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Last edited by Jet Travis; 07-01-08 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 07-01-08, 09:08 AM   #9
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Dabbled in racing last year and started serious training and racing this year - racing age 59.

Here is what I did:

Joined a racing club.

Bought the equipment.

Hired a coach and did what I was told.


Having a lot of fun.

Edit: I also joined the USA Cycling.

Last edited by Hermes; 07-01-08 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 07-01-08, 09:28 AM   #10
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I'm too slow.
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Old 07-01-08, 09:30 AM   #11
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I ride with a lot of locals who race in crits and road races. Invariably they are involved in some sort of crash from the movements of other riders. One of my friends is off the bike for 4 weeks due to cracked ribs and a collapsed lung. I enjoy riding hard with my racing buds but the groups are smaller and their moves are very predictable and safe. Sometimes I'll "win" a KOM or a sprint to a County Line sign but most often I'm dumb enough to have done the hard pulls to get them there.

Red Rider makes a great point. Time Trials are a terrific way to "race" in a more controlled and what I think is a safer element. It is also an excellent way to compare yourself not only with yourself but with others in the same age group or riding condition. I help put on the Time Trial series at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte which is open to riders of all ability levels ages 10 and above. Our oldest regular participant is 81 and usually finishes in the top 2/3 of the field. I suspect there are similar events around your area as well.
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Old 07-01-08, 02:29 PM   #12
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Mid 90's and I raced. In the Vet group over here that was 45+. Had no chance but it was local racing and I felt that when you have such a small group as used to race locally- one more rider to be beaten would add to their Kudos. All went well and I normally finished around the rear of My age group but not amongst the mixed group we used to race with.

Then I went to Canterbury and found I was the only 45+ that day so "Can you race with the 35+ as it would be awkward to have a race of 1" No problems as I told them- I only make up the numbers.

So 11x 35+ers on 3 laps of a 7 mile offroad course- along with the Girls on 3 laps- The juniors on 2 laps and the Sports class on 3 laps. about 40 of us altogether. No way did I finish last but most of the sports class did lap me by the end. Went to the presentation and I came 2nd in the 35+ers.-----but no 3rd presented. Only 2 of us finished in the class. Should have ended my race career there as the following year- "Due to my Excellent Finish at Canterbury" I was put up into the open class. No problem--I could come last in the Open class- just as easily as in the Novice group.
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Old 07-01-08, 08:54 PM   #13
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Last week I was riding with a friend when we came upon some crit races, so we decided to watch for a while. After about 5 minutes I watched a crash with the blood and busted bikes. All thoughts of racing went away very quickly.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:25 PM   #14
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Hello fischman,

My primary reason for riding is to race. Been in this sport since I was 16 which I started while growing up on Long Island. The problem with mass start races is that they are not that safe -- especially when you are a beginner. Of course the only way to get experience is to race.

One advantage of being an older racer is that there are fewer of us (though the numbers seem to be growing). When there are 55+ races in my area you are lucky if there are 30 racers in the field. 50+ races typically have 50 or more riders -- more riders, more danger.

TTs are safe but are not absolutely safe. When I did the California Senior Olympics a few weeks ago one racer crashed during the 10K TT.

Staying with a pack depends on a lot of things and probably the least important factor is your average speed on a solo ride. The best way to test your race readiness is riding in a fast group ride. Intervals are a very important part of training for races.

Finally, if you're worried about embarrassing yourself in public, don't race. Getting dropped is always part of the learning and conditioning curve.

Just start looking for races with Masters races. Look for a 50+ race or, even batter, a 55+ race.

Oh, BTW, you probably confused the race organization for Central Park. Try Century Road Club Association at Hope this helps.
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Old 07-02-08, 04:03 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Dabbled in racing last year and started serious training and racing this year - racing age 59.

Here is what I did:

Joined a racing club.

Bought the equipment.

Hired a coach and did what I was told.


Having a lot of fun.

Edit: I also joined the USA Cycling.
Ditto - Hermes and I are in this together and we are having the time of our lives. Started from pretty much ground zero two years ago. Racing age 58 and just started road racing this year (other than some time trials last year). I am now competitive in my age group (with tough NorCal women who have been racing for decades) as well as with the Cat 4 women who could be my children or even grandchildren. Hermes and I are doing the district road race championships (55-59 age group) in three weeks. I have to say the 55+ men are pretty darn gnarly!
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Old 07-02-08, 05:57 PM   #16
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Funny you should mention it.

Today in Louisville, the US Senior Cycling Nationals were being held. I was trail biking in the area the races were held so I got to get a good look at things, including the podium ceremony for the 65-69 age group.

I'm pleased to report that the racers looked their ages. They sure didn't cycling their ages, though. Those suckers can haul.

What I noticed that I hadn't seen in other crits is that the folks that were jetisoned off the peloton seemed to be having a good time none the less. They rode in groups of two and three, discussing their hotel accomodations, their stock-brokers, etc. Very few seemed crushed that they weren't going to make the podium that particular ride. I thought that was pretty cool.

If I were to race, I'd want to be competitive, which means doubling my saddle time, losing weight, and doing intervals. The first two I might handle but I think I'm going to have a glory spew just thinking about HIIT. Barf.
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Old 07-02-08, 08:53 PM   #17
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+1 on the Time Trials. For me they are the best way to race. The Boulder time trial series just finished recently here in Colorado. I was no threat to win, but I trained hard and did the best I could. It does hurt. But so does getting up in the morning. 55+.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:59 PM   #18
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Have done time trials and road races in Senior Olympics.
Depending on the participants it can be aggressive road riding.
Have had a guy 50 lbs my heavy throw a body block into me in a 5-man sprint so his buds (San Diego Cyclovets) could get the medals . . . almost went down, recovered and then gave him an elbow . . . yeah, he complained "elbow!" Of course I then only placed 4th.
However, do have my share of medals.
So much for being 70+!
Go do it . . .
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