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  1. #1
    Junior Member jimmybicycle's Avatar
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    Not sure if I should look into the competitive side of cycling...Please help!!!

    I know I'm a bit young (38) for the fifty plus threads. But I figured people here would be bit more intelligent & experienced than the more 'elitist ego driven' road racing forums. Figured the advice here would be much more efficient and practical for my particular situation. brief athletic history - I was a competitive distance runner as a kid, never took to the bike. mile pr 4:50, 2 mile pr 10:45. decent enough, probably could've held my own at a small division III. but 20 years away from competition is a long time. Took up cycling about 8 months ago. Started out with basic mountain bike. found myself putting in over 100 miles a week within 1st month. That muscle memory phenomenon was an amazingly crazy concept to me. all the hours upon hours as a kid training, the muscles started remembering, took over my brain and just started doing their own thing. it was like my brain was just along for the ride if that makes any sense. This was just supposed to be a hobby for nice days. I wasnt planning on investing any money into it. But I was pretty enamored with this whole 'muscles doing their own thing'. and the endorphin highs didnt hurt either. So about a month later I upgraded to a hybrid Giant. Much lighter, professionally fit at the shop, built a bit more for finesse & could handle the increase in the miles that the muscles kept demanding. This was in July. I started this journey in May. August, I did my first half century in 3 hours solo. I wasnt even really pushing myself although granted it was flat terrain. But Im still a novice here. Sep/Oct/Nov were rainy & cold so I backed off a bit maybe 50 miles a week average. but by dec/jan, the muscles caught fire again and I now find myself hitting 20 miles (15mph pace) every other day in temps of 10-20 degrees. so the hobby is apparently is not showing any signs of fading out. My next goal is do a century. Im currently in New England and their all looking at me crazy that nobody even thinks of doing anything like that until mid-summer. But Im still trying to figure out if its worth trying to get involved with the elitist road racing folks and pursuing the different race categories. I've been monitoring my pace/mileage through this whole thing. In warm weather, I can hit a 17/18 mph pace on the 20 mile trail I ride that has some decent rolling hills. And thats riding solo on a hybrid that is not completly built for speed. and theres about 10 different stops where you lose a lot of momentum. So I dont think its reaching to think I could hit a 20-22mph average with a group who knew what they were doing using the right equipment. I have not had any formal training whatsoever. Put in about 1500 miles these past 8 months. So the effort is there. its just wondering if the base I created myself just off instinct would show enough promise to dish out 2k-5k on a real road bike to pursue this even further to get maybe a cat 2 or cat 3 level. Any intelligent thoughts would be greatly appreciated. thanks!

  2. #2
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmybicycle View Post
    I know I'm a bit young (38) for the fifty plus threads. But I figured people here would be bit more intelligent & experienced than the more 'elitist ego driven' road racing forums. Figured the advice here would be much more efficient and practical for my particular situation. brief athletic history - I was a competitive distance runner as a kid, never took to the bike. mile pr 4:50, 2 mile pr 10:45. decent enough, probably could've held my own at a small division III. but 20 years away from competition is a long time. Took up cycling about 8 months ago. Started out with basic mountain bike. found myself putting in over 100 miles a week within 1st month. That muscle memory phenomenon was an amazingly crazy concept to me. all the hours upon hours as a kid training, the muscles started remembering, took over my brain and just started doing their own thing. it was like my brain was just along for the ride if that makes any sense. This was just supposed to be a hobby for nice days. I wasnt planning on investing any money into it. But I was pretty enamored with this whole 'muscles doing their own thing'. and the endorphin highs didnt hurt either. So about a month later I upgraded to a hybrid Giant. Much lighter, professionally fit at the shop, built a bit more for finesse & could handle the increase in the miles that the muscles kept demanding. This was in July. I started this journey in May. August, I did my first half century in 3 hours solo. I wasnt even really pushing myself although granted it was flat terrain. But Im still a novice here. Sep/Oct/Nov were rainy & cold so I backed off a bit maybe 50 miles a week average. but by dec/jan, the muscles caught fire again and I now find myself hitting 20 miles (15mph pace) every other day in temps of 10-20 degrees. so the hobby is apparently is not showing any signs of fading out. My next goal is do a century. Im currently in New England and their all looking at me crazy that nobody even thinks of doing anything like that until mid-summer. But Im still trying to figure out if its worth trying to get involved with the elitist road racing folks and pursuing the different race categories. I've been monitoring my pace/mileage through this whole thing. In warm weather, I can hit a 17/18 mph pace on the 20 mile trail I ride that has some decent rolling hills. And thats riding solo on a hybrid that is not completly built for speed. and theres about 10 different stops where you lose a lot of momentum. So I dont think its reaching to think I could hit a 20-22mph average with a group who knew what they were doing using the right equipment. I have not had any formal training whatsoever. Put in about 1500 miles these past 8 months. So the effort is there. its just wondering if the base I created myself just off instinct would show enough promise to dish out 2k-5k on a real road bike to pursue this even further to get maybe a cat 2 or cat 3 level. Any intelligent thoughts would be greatly appreciated. thanks!
    I think these three things are unrelated: the base conditioning, promise in road racing, and dishing out 2k-5k on a road bike.

    I don't race, but like you I'd probably be tempted if I thought I could win consistently. Unfortunately the only way to judge that is to actually train and compete, and human nature is such that no matter how much potential we believe we have we'll find that in organized competitions the level is a step or two beyond what we thought it would take. So in your shoes I'd first start riding with fast, organized groups - basically training with people who race or want to race, and then enter the first race that comes up. You don't need a $5000 bike for that, or even a $2500 bike. Just get a decent entry-level road bike that fits well.

  3. #3
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Go on some fast club rides with your current bike
    to get a "feel" for things. If you want to invest
    money on a "race" bike, it's your money. You can
    always go back to solo rides if you find that racing
    or group riding is not for you.

  4. #4
    Junior Member jimmybicycle's Avatar
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    thank you for the advice. Im not really tempted with the winning per say. its more the temptation to find the right fit with other people who have the same passion and dedication to the sport. I've outgrown my novice friends yet no where near to the point of having the ability to slide right in with the more competitive folks. I think I understand the reality of being a step or two beyond what I think Im capable of. I would have said a 4:50 would have been competitive in a D1 school as opposed to holding my own in a small DIII and knowing where to seperate the two from a competitive level. So I think I still have a decent view of what realistic competition is, just not really yet when it comes to cycling. But I do agree with your suggestion of finding the right organized group. Thank you again.

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    Junior Member jimmybicycle's Avatar
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    Thanks interceptor. you're right. let the muscles make the decision for me. I agree. thanks again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmybicycle View Post
    Put in about 1500 miles these past 8 months. So the effort is there. its just wondering if the base I created myself just off instinct would show enough promise to dish out 2k-5k on a real road bike to pursue this even further to get maybe a cat 2 or cat 3 level. Any intelligent thoughts would be greatly appreciated. thanks!
    Based on your running #s it appears you should have sufficient capability to be competitive at least in Cat 3. Only you can answer whether you enjoy riding enough to put in the training. Most Cat 3s are probably riding 400-700 hrs/yr so you would likely need to increase your training time.

    I suggest you buy a road bike and find some group rides and see how you like it. Once you're comfortable riding in a group you can get a license and try racing.

    And get rid of the chip on your shoulder regarding 'elitist' bike racers.

  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I ran cross country up till I was 34 and was competitive. Took up cycling at 44 and did my first MTB race when 48. I found that although I was fairly fit still- I could not compete with those that had been bike racing for 25 to 30 years. They had fitness on a bike that I would never attain so I just went along for the ride(s) and enjoyed myself.

    Racing is great fun but do not expect to be up the front as you may have been as a runner. Things will improve though but the place on the podium may be a long way in the future.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  8. #8
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    I'm not a racer myself, but based on your description, you have a few more stations of the cross before you can make the leap, if you decide to do it. Were I in your shoes, I would buy an entry-level road bike (Al-framed, tiagra or 105 level components -something like a Cannondale CAAD or a Specialized Allez, but there are many to choose from) and then find a club to ride with. First, club rides will push you in distance and speed far beyond where you are - and you're going to need that before you race. The daily/weekly/yearly distances and average speeds are going to have to become something entirely different from your current numbers. And, almost as importantly, apart from the fitness, you can't start racing until you have good road handling skills and you're not going to get those from solo riding.

    If you become a dedicated club rider, in a year or two you can think about racing.

  9. #9
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    There is a sticky thread with basic information in the Road Racing forum:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...s-a-tip-or-two
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    So Tom only hires people that are nutty? Is part of the requirement to be a moderator on this site is that you have to be nuts??
    Forum Guidelines *click here*

  10. #10
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Read the sticky. There is a progression to all this. I strongly urge you do some group rides before you start racing, but they are not an absolute requirement. See if there is a Cat5 clinic in your area, USAC or otherwise. You will learn faster with the help of others.

    Don't use your running numbers to predict where you will end up racing a bicycle. Some guys do well, others do not. It is idiotic to predict performance in a sport one has never competed in.

  11. #11
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    +1 for the replies by cBad Rider and Shovelhd, the sub-forum can provide you a lot of information and encouragement and group rides will help you adjust to riding in a pack, a pace line is not as easy as it seems to the layman. I'll add that finding a club in your area that does group rides and some pace line rides can be beneficial, work your way up the ladder in speed and experience as you progress. USA Cycling is great for clinics, as Shovelhd said and the license opens some doors for you. When I joined our local club I found out the USA Cycling membership is part of my dues along with my state organization for racing.

    The members that participate a lot in the 50+ racing and training forum are really helpful and encouraging to all that want to race or just ride better and faster. Shovelhd is there a good bit and many others that use it for their place to swap tips and questions. try them out and follow the advise they have for you. Best of Luck!

    BTW, welcome to BF and don't sweat using the 50+ forum, but watch out for someone telling you to "Get off our lawn you darn kid!"

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

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    No matter the sport there is only one way to see if a person is competitive and enjoys the reality versus the idea of competition. Put down the computer and find a place to compete and people to compete against. It is Only by the act of competing that a person learns what competition is.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  13. #13
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Everyone has made all the points I was going to make, so I'll just have the conjure up some Latin phrases to toss around.

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    Junior Member jimmybicycle's Avatar
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    Thanks Greg, you gave me numbers which I really like. I'm currently on pace for 240 hrs a year but thats all solo. the 400-700 makes sense. and pushing off other people would knock hours out much more easily. thanks again. thats heads up.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    The good news is you are young enough to get better rather quickly. You will need a road bike and that can simply be a N+1 deal anyway. Yes get with some local clubs and see how well you can learn pace line skills and pacing, climbing and sprinting. Then after about 5000 base miles see if you still want to Race. More good news is you can give it a shot at what are called public or open races. They don't require a license and are broken down simply by age brackets. There are also TTs in just about every area so you can check on those.

    But you can always give it a shot and see what you like. There is a down side however. The 40 to 55 year old group is packed with Masters Ex pros and Cat 1 or Cat 2 riders.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

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    Junior Member jimmybicycle's Avatar
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    Thanks shovelhd. I was not predicting my performance. an estimation on possible potential maybe. I do have a competitive desire for personal growth in the sport. And I'll kindly and gladly accept your advice. It is very much appreciated.

  17. #17
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Good luck with it all.
    Clubs are not always about racing, and club rides are not necessarily fast, well-organized, in a paceline, etc., so you may have to shop around a bit to find what you're looking for.
    For a non-racer like me, it was pretty informative to just go watch some of the crits and see how they worked things. (Also, timing guys around the crit course, I found some of them were hitting 28-29 mph on a mile loop.)
    Something you may not be aware of is that there is also competitive distance cycling. That may fall more into line with your running experience than crit racing. Look up the Ultramarathon Cycling Association and check on 24-hour-type races in your area if that's of interest. I think in a lot of that kind of racing, there's also a wider range of abilities in an event, so it's not like a crit where they pull you out of the race if you're a half-lap behind. It's also typically, but not always, non-drafting, so it's more you and the bike, rather than bumping elbows with the guys like chariot racers.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    It can be addictive and a lot of fun. It also serves as a reason for doing a lot of smart training, that can otherwise be hard to motivate for.

    I raced Cat 5 then Cat 4 for a few years when I was 36 to about age 43 or so. I was racing Cat 5 (beginner) initially as the local - NYC area, Masters group were a bit too competitive (fast). I was happier moving up to 4, then found some of the races were mixing the 4's and 5's together if there weren't enough racers in a particular event. Pretty much every Masters groups i saw were as Mobile155 stated, former Cat 2's and the like who were way out of my league.

    I stopped at that point as I was caught up in enough crashes with the Cat 5's, many of whom were very inexperienced 20 year old's taking stupid chances. Thus I had a hard time explaining to the wife why I was at the emergency room. Mind that there are often a LOT of riders in a Cat 4/5 event in the NYC area, which can increase the chances of crashes.

    Riding with a local club and with a group that's generally faster then you was enough of a challenge. Safer as well.

  19. #19
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmybicycle View Post
    'elitist ego driven'
    That's not been true of more than a handfull of the people I've met in 15 years of serious road riding and racing. If everyone in it was a jerk I'd find another sport.

    If you don't have an attitude, the race forum, and people on group rides, will be very helpful.

    +100 for the clinics. You will learn a lot. In some districts you get 5->4 upgrade points for completing a clinic.

  20. #20
    Junior Member jimmybicycle's Avatar
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    Thanks Stephen. Yeah thats a good point you bring up about the longer distance competition. I like the aspect of being out there with only me and the bike.

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