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  1. #1
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    15 Year Old Race Questions

    So start off I have a few questions that after going through many threads i haven't really been clear on. I'm currently 14 years old, im 5'4 and weigh around 115 pounds(pretty light haha). I will be 15 in February so since i anticipate to join races after February. Now i started cycling during the Summer of 2012. Ever since I've fallen in love with cycling. It has taken my mind of things and has helped my knee pain. I started around August and i live in New York near the border of Connecticut(pretty hilly). Now I know what you guys may be thinking, "Hes only been doing it for like 5 months", but in no way do i plan to join a race and expect to stay with the pack let alone even place(unless i get dropped)but like i said I would like to join to see what it would be like and see what awaiting for me later on. Ive always been that go-getter type of guy, and my love and enthusiasm for the bike has grown alot since ive started.

    First Question: I've looked up race events near my area and not many of them have a cat. for Juniors. So as a 15 year old, would i be able to join a race under a cat. 5 or would i have to look for an event with a junior category only? Then there are some races that have both. Which one would be suitable for me?

    Second Question: I've seen in some threads they told teen racers to have the Junior Gearing configuration, my current bike has a 7 speed cassette with the smallest gear being 13T and the largest cog in the front is 52T. According to the guidelines my bike doesn't meet the Junior Gearing requirements, unless i change the cassette. Now lets say I race in a Cat. 5 does the gearing configuration still need to be like the Junior Gearing because I'm basically considered a "junior"? Or can I freely use my current bike in a Cat. 5 race? Or would i just be put into a junior category?

    The third question is more of a personal question, Have you ever seen a 15 year old whenever you have raced in a Cat. 5 race? I wont lie, it would be pretty intimidating being the only teen in a race where there are people 2 or 3 times older than me, though it wouldn't stop me from joining a race; i was just curious.

    Thank you for taking your time and reading this really long post but if any of you could answer it, it would be a great help!
    Last edited by chocho13; 01-02-13 at 12:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Gearing: http://www.usacycling.org/forms/rule...DJUSTMENTS.pdf
    You need junior gearing no matter who you're racing with. You will race as a cat 5. I've seen juniors win "senior" races.

    There's a great spring race series in Bethel CT which includes a clinic each week for new racers. Come try it.

    P.s. you posted at 2 am. You should be in bed. Don't you have school today ?
    Last edited by Homebrew01; 01-02-13 at 04:41 AM.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

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    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    1. Yes, you can race as a Cat 5 and/or a Junior.

    2. Yes, you have to have Junior gearing no matter what field you are in - even Cat 1 juniors must have junior gears.

    3. Yes, I have seen 15 years olds racing in the Cat 5 field. In fact, I have seen 11 and 12 year olds racing, and racing well, in Cat 5. The two I am specifically thinking of are now racing as 16 and 17 year olds are Cat 3 and 2, respectively.
    Last edited by topflightpro; 01-02-13 at 09:13 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jsutkeepspining's Avatar
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    yippie more juniors!

    1.exactly what topflight said

    2. Yes you need junior gears until your racing age is 19 in all races, but you should be able to just block gears out if your 7 speed cassette is a straight block (ex. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19).

    3. yep theres lots of juniors in cat 5-1/2 races. Really we have the advantage in most of these races, we can see huge gains in speed and power much quicker than most adults can just because we are growing.

    Have fun with racing, it one of the best sports i've ever been involved with.
    cat 1-o-meter: wtf am i doing??????
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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Definitely come to Bethel. It's close enough to you, assuming you can get a ride that early in the morning. The clinic starts at 8am. Homebrew, CDR, or I could be your instructor. The clinics are a combination of lecture (really, they are CDR stories, and man, can he tell stories) and practical drills and race tactics. We can introduce you to racers in the area, fill your head with all sorts of useless knowledge, and scream at you from the top of the hill during your race. We are always willing to talk after the race to help you figure out what to work on next.

    On the gearing, blocking out the gears is acceptable. You don't need a new cassette, although a junior cassette is nice to have. Whatever you end up with, burn one thing into your brain. You will hear this over and over again at the start line. At registration, ask where the junior rollout area is. If it is not clear, ask an official when he/she has a moment. Once you cross the line at the end of your race, go immediately to the rollout area. Don't stop to have a snack, don't give Mom a hug, don't ask your buds if they got you on video, don't go get your pit wheels, go straight to the rollout area immediately. If you don't, you could get a DQ and all that effort would be wasted. This rule is enforced at all races but officials are especially strict about it in the early season.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jsutkeepspining's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    Definitely come to Bethel. It's close enough to you, assuming you can get a ride that early in the morning. The clinic starts at 8am. Homebrew, CDR, or I could be your instructor. The clinics are a combination of lecture (really, they are CDR stories, and man, can he tell stories) and practical drills and race tactics. We can introduce you to racers in the area, fill your head with all sorts of useless knowledge, and scream at you from the top of the hill during your race. We are always willing to talk after the race to help you figure out what to work on next.

    On the gearing, blocking out the gears is acceptable. You don't need a new cassette, although a junior cassette is nice to have. Whatever you end up with, burn one thing into your brain. You will hear this over and over again at the start line. At registration, ask where the junior rollout area is. If it is not clear, ask an official when he/she has a moment. Once you cross the line at the end of your race, go immediately to the rollout area. Don't stop to have a snack, don't give Mom a hug, don't ask your buds if they got you on video, don't go get your pit wheels, go straight to the rollout area immediately. If you don't, you could get a DQ and all that effort would be wasted. This rule is enforced at all races but officials are especially strict about it in the early season.

    Good luck.
    I've been threaten with DQ one to many times, you can wait more than 2 minutes or the official will be suspicious. Even if your taking a cool down lap, he'll still be mad. I normally jump up onto the side walk after the finish, and turn around to head back without getting run over by 50 smelly bike riders.
    cat 1-o-meter: wtf am i doing??????
    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    You're not dumb. You're just less smart.

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    Thank you all who responded. It made everything really clear. So i guess the next step is to go block out my gears. And I will try to go to Bethel in the Spring because its just an hour drive from where i live. I always have this thought that if i join a race ill probably be the last one, and most people do get dropped on their first races so i think it wont be such a big deal.Thanks everyone for your replies, and would there be anything else i would need to know before entering a race, like any other junior rules or guidelines? Thanks

    P.s. I go to a school in New Rochelle and we have a day off today . I wouldn't be going to sleep at 2 am haha

  8. #8
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    chocho13, over the winter, you should hit up the Gimbels ride often. It finishes right near your house. 100 riders every Sat/Sun. Plenty of speed and a chance to learn the technical aspects of a peloton. Plus you'll get a chance to talk to racers about racing. I lived in Scarsdale, but am now back in Florida, otherwise I'd see you out there.

    And another "yes" to the clinic/race for cat5's at Bethel.
    Go every week if you can. It'll prep you for your future in the sport.
    CDR really like to help out the new racers

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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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  10. #10
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Get your USAC license ASAP. Download and read the rulebook. You can skip the track, MTB, BMX, and cyclocross sections if you're not interested. Read it like you're going to be tested on it, like it's your worst class with your worst teacher and you have to work hard to get a good grade. The more you know about the rules, the better off you will be. It always surprises me how little so many racers know about the rules. If you hang around here, you'll see questions come up time and time again that are clearly answered in the rulebook. Granted, not everything in the rulebook is cut and dried, but I'm talking about simple stuff like upgrade rules.

  11. #11
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    I started as a 15 year old. You have a wealth of resources at your disposal compared to the Dark Ages aka No Internet Days. The link above, to the sticky in the racing forum, is great. YMCA's suggestion on the Gimbels ride is great too - it's a bit chaotic at times, follow (don't lead until you know the way), and initially go short (stay on 22 - there will be groups peeling off to the right for "super short" and left for "Long" - the regular route goes straight on 22). There's just one hill if you go short. If you go long there are two longer sections of hills plus two short power climbs. Long eventually returns to the short loop a few miles down from where they split.

    Gimbels even has a site: http://www.gimbelsride.com
    I see that "Short" is actually called "Medium" now.

    NYVelocity has a bit on Gimbels:
    http://nyvelocity.com/content/rides/2004/da-gimbels

    When I do Gimbels (I've done it just once in the last 7 or 8 years) I park near the Verizon offices in White Plains, just off of Central Ave. The ride comes down Central Ave and past the Verizon offices. It's a 30 min ride back to the cars if you start there.

    If you do decide to go to Bethel check out the page, esp the FAQ. I have to update the page for the new Cat 5 upgrade rules but basically as a Junior Cat 5 you have to meet both requirements to enter a field - age and category. No Cat 5 can enter a race that is specifically for Cat 1-4, even if it's a Junior race (in your case).

    There are some clinic links at the top - you can see the basics we cover. Cat 5s (and Cat 4 women if they choose, and Cat 4 men too if they want) get 45 minutes of chalk time, about 45 minutes of race time. Every week there is another clinic with more topics. Emphasis is on safety first. We try and do some laps where we do a pace line and draft and such. Just before you line up for the race we try and do a fast lap to give you an idea of what "fast" is like. It's fast for most new racers.

    You can also go to YouTube and look under my username there - sprinterdellacasa. I have a bunch of Bethel helmet cam clips. If you want to look at good ones, where I do well, look at 2010 ones All clips from March 2010 and later are HD. All clips from Feb 2010 and earlier are not HD. There is one 2005 clip of Bethel that is 3rd person - my brother videotaped that race. It's a good one too.

    There are few Juniors in the sport. However using the lower gears really develops you as a rider. Gearing never keeps a good racer back - a local Junior that cleaned up turned Senior, won a huge Pro-1-2? race, and for 2013 will be racing for Jelly Belly. Don't think of Junior gearing as a limitation. In fact I used a gear that is one tooth lower than the Junior gear limit to win this field sprint (behind a break and a chase group):

    A 39x11 is a 42x12 is a 53x15. You should learn how to calculate gearing - if you use gear inches it's chainring/cog x 27" (because wheels are about 27" in diameter). You can get a relative idea of gear sizes by using gear inches.

    Think of any Cat 1-4 race (like most Junior races you find) as a Cat 1-2 race because that's what they are. If I were a Cat 5 or 4 Junior I'd want to race with the regular Cat 5s or 4s because it's sooooooo much easier. When I was a Junior I had two guys that killed the field every weekend. They were brothers - Richard and George. Hincapie. You probably know of the younger brother. The first Senior (i.e. 18+ year old regular race) I entered was a Cat 4 race - I won every prime and the race. In the Junior race that same day a future pro Frank McCormack beat me to the line - I got third I think. The second Senior race I entered I led out one of my Senior teammates - he won. The third Senior race I entered I won all but one points sprints including the final one. I upgraded to Cat 3 after that points race.

    This is a good place to ask questions. Ask away. There are a few Juniors around too and they'll have better insight for the modern Junior races - smaller fields and such. When I was a Junior the fields were sometimes 70-80 racers. I haven't seen a Junior field that big in at least 20 years. I hope that in 5 or 10 years we see those fields again.

    I hope this helps
    cdr

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    One more thing - you may be able to use a smaller big chainring and retain the use of all your gears. I'll let you do the math to figure out what that chainring should be.

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Another thing. Use the gear calculators to plan your gearing, but do not rely on them as a pre-race check. Find a stretch of level ground, mark out the rollout distance, and check your bike, with the tires inflated to race pressure, against that. If you are smart, you will do the same thing after registering at every race, using *their* rollout tape. That way there will be no surprises.

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    Thank you all for your replies, CDR you were really insightful with everything, thanks. Ill view your videos to see how it all goes down and maybe build some strategies or something out of what ive seen. Everything has been answered, and been answered clearly. Now that i know all the factual side of all of this its time to keep training and keep getting better.

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    A little update, four months after. Well i decided to give out the Bethel Series a try today, sadly i couldn't attend all the races, i only participated in the last race today. I'm going to give a little reflection on the race. The staff, promoters and everyone else were very kind and patient and i liked how smooth the registration went. It was sunny and the course was very nice.

    Now to the race itself. I raced as a Cat5 and i started from the back. The first laps took some adjusting but i had the feel for it and i was riding a very easy 27mph with no effort (drafting of course). I felt like my gears ran out, even on the highest gear combo 52/15 that i have i was spinning but other than that not to much problems with the junior gearing limitations. Now as for riding in the pack, i could tell alot about the people at how relaxed they rode or even how nervous they rode. There were a couple of guys that wobbled so i tried to stay out of the way. Crosswinds got my front wheel close to a guy next to me but that wasnt pretty scary because i adjusted with no problem. Every lap the hill on that leads to the start was getting easier and easier to climb (i guess i didn't warm up well haha). Anyway one thing that i noticed that bothered me is that i felt i was doing no effort at all because every second a guy in front of me would brake or something. So most of the time i was just cruising. Now on the as we were heading into the last lap this is were it gets interesting. I went by the line and i heard the bell, i felt great, not even tired,breathing through my nose, feeling like ive been riding a recovery ride. As i approached the first corner from the start/finish line i kept my line BUT OF COURSE some guy came swerving in and cut me off and made me tumble down and therefore crashing and taking out a guy that was behind me. The scary part is that he fell on top of me and we slid maybe 3 or 4 feet? I landed like if i was swimming with my belly on the ground. At this point i couldn't get up but i managed to get up. The police lady was very nice to help me get up and offer me help. The guy(that i took down with me) seemed scared because he asked me if i was alright many times, he after all did fall on me so i guess that's why he was concerned I was fine no major injuries. Nothing broken. Just many cuts and road rashes but other than im alright. I wasnt mad about the crash i was more mad about the fact that i had a pretty good chance to finish at least idk top 5? because i felt so great, i felt so great that i knew i would be able to get myself in a good spot for the sprint. The fact that it happened on the bell lap made me even more mad -_-. My bike was fine, my bar tape ripped off but since it was an aluminum bike nothing happened to the bike. Well my first bike experience was fun, painful, and i learned alot, especially to be more aware of guys looking at their mounted ipods on their bike rather than keeping there line into a bend. The main reason i came out of Bethel smiling with torn up legs and a messed up knee was that all my training, all that hard work paid off and i have an idea of how i stand in terms of fitness. I don't think im still a super strong rider, considering im like 5'5 and only weigh 116 pounds. My fright of being dropped or lapped are almost to non existent now but im looking forward for my next race in 2 weeks.

    Overall It was a great experience and im looking forward for atleast a podium place in my next race

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    Flying Ace getaklug's Avatar
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    15 Year Old Race Questions

    We have a junior's racing forum for these kinds of questions, use it, not enough people are.
    Dedication is a *****

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    Everyone's answered the questions appropriately.

    Go get 'em kid.

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    i came here to discuss a race from 1998...

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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chocho13 View Post
    Overall It was a great experience and im looking forward for atleast a podium place in my next race
    Good Job
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    It's a bummer that you crashed in your first race, but it sure beats not being able to keep up with the pack.

    Unfortunately you will never be able to control the actions of the racers around you so I would suggest instead of leaving the story at "some guy crashed me out," replay the scenario in your head in as much detail as you can remember and try to think of things you could have done differently to avoid going down.

  21. #21
    Senior Member island rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chocho13 View Post
    Now to the race itself. I raced as a Cat5 and i started from the back. The first laps took some adjusting but i had the feel for it and i was riding a very easy 27mph with no effort (drafting of course). I felt like my gears ran out, even on the highest gear combo 52/15 that i have i was spinning but other than that not to much problems with the junior gearing limitations. Now as for riding in the pack, i could tell alot about the people at how relaxed they rode or even how nervous they rode. There were a couple of guys that wobbled so i tried to stay out of the way. Crosswinds got my front wheel close to a guy next to me but that wasnt pretty scary because i adjusted with no problem. Every lap the hill on that leads to the start was getting easier and easier to climb (i guess i didn't warm up well haha). Anyway one thing that i noticed that bothered me is that i felt i was doing no effort at all because every second a guy in front of me would brake or something. So most of the time i was just cruising. Now on the as we were heading into the last lap this is were it gets interesting. I went by the line and i heard the bell, i felt great, not even tired,breathing through my nose, feeling like ive been riding a recovery ride. As i approached the first corner from the start/finish line i kept my line BUT OF COURSE some guy came swerving in and cut me off and made me tumble down and therefore crashing and taking out a guy that was behind me. The scary part is that he fell on top of me and we slid maybe 3 or 4 feet? I landed like if i was swimming with my belly on the ground. At this point i couldn't get up but i managed to get up. The police lady was very nice to help me get up and offer me help. The guy(that i took down with me) seemed scared because he asked me if i was alright many times, he after all did fall on me so i guess that's why he was concerned I was fine no major injuries. Nothing broken. Just many cuts and road rashes but other than im alright. I wasnt mad about the crash i was more mad about the fact that i had a pretty good chance to finish at least idk top 5? because i felt so great, i felt so great that i knew i would be able to get myself in a good spot for the sprint. The fact that it happened on the bell lap made me even more mad -_-. My bike was fine, my bar tape ripped off but since it was an aluminum bike nothing happened to the bike. Well my first bike experience was fun, painful, and i learned alot, especially to be more aware of guys looking at their mounted ipods on their bike rather than keeping there line into a bend. The main reason i came out of Bethel smiling with torn up legs and a messed up knee was that all my training, all that hard work paid off and i have an idea of how i stand in terms of fitness. I don't think im still a super strong rider, considering im like 5'5 and only weigh 116 pounds. My fright of being dropped or lapped are almost to non existent now but im looking forward for my next race in 2 weeks.

    Overall It was a great experience and im looking forward for atleast a podium place in my next race
    If you felt like you were just cruising you could have come up front with me. There was no cruising up there into that headwind yesterday.

    I can't tell you how you would have finished, but I can tell you that yesterday felt different than other bethel races. It may have had something to do with people wanting to show something on the last race, the fact that the wind was different, different racers who knows. The whole thing felt much choppier than previously.

    I was a bit in front of you on your crash. I talked to the guy who you took down (let's call him orange bibs). He said that the guy with the Ipad (or the biggest damn phone I've ever seen) as his computer touched your wheel, and you ended up taking off like a shot directly into him (orange bibs). You will note that Ipad guy stayed up. I'm no expert, and I hope someone else can weigh in here, but I think that with some experience you could learn to take that bump and stay upright. All in all, slow speed crash, nobody got hurt. Hope you see you out and about again.

    For the record. Orange bibs wasn't worked up about it, and any annoyance was with Ipad guy.

    Side Note - Is there a limit to the size of the display you can have on your handlebars? This dude had a full sized android phone on his bike. He could easily have been watching a tv show on there. I was a bit nervous around him as a result and tried to stay ahead of him.
    "I think drivers become like dogs when they see a bicycle fly by at 40mph. Instinctively, they just want to give chase, catch them, and eat them." - Papa Tom

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    I know of no display size limits. You cannot have anything protruding past the ends of your handlebars in a mass start race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by island rider View Post

    Side Note - Is there a limit to the size of the display you can have on your handlebars? This dude had a full sized android phone on his bike. He could easily have been watching a tv show on there.
    Nah, I think it was American Flyers.

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    I guess i should have joined the front of the pack. Oh well :/ it was a learning experience. And that is true i probably could have tried to get some control if it had been a lighter hit. But the guy just came in swerving in, to the point where he wanted to be in the same spot i was. Whatever he was thinking i hope he keeps his line into a corner next time in a race but im not really mad about the crash, accidents happen and they teach. I also felt bad for taking that guy out with me , everything just happened so quick if not i would have at least leaned a bit to my right side to fall on the grass where no one else would have been affected or at least tried something to avoid it. And haha watching tv and racing? seems like a pretty good combination...

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    Senior Member island rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chocho13 View Post
    I guess i should have joined the front of the pack.
    Don't listen to me. My wins are numbered in the zeros, and frankly, too much time too close to the front has been highlighted to me as a reason. (Not that putting in work etc, is bad, but in terms of watching things develop, it's impossible to do from the 1-5 position or at least that's what I've been told.)

    Ipad guy wasn't the only one doing sketchy things on Sunday (if in fact he was). Ghost Wolf (you'll know him if you've seen him or looked at pics) was riding invisible aerobars in the pack at one point. Not a recipe for a safe race.
    Last edited by island rider; 04-22-13 at 04:32 PM.
    "I think drivers become like dogs when they see a bicycle fly by at 40mph. Instinctively, they just want to give chase, catch them, and eat them." - Papa Tom

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