cat 4 masters
This doesn't really merit its own thread, but there doesn't seem to be a catchall/misc thread in here.
Assuming I don't crash out next weekend I'll be a 45 year old cat 4. My race results have not been earth shaking, but decent enough in 4/5 fields that if I had been racing as a 4, I would be over halfway to cat 3 already.
I like to think I am an good bike handler although I am aware of the statistic that 95% of people believe they are above average drivers. I think my relative strengths are strategic; my results have come more from being in the right place at the right time, rather than by overpowering people.
What I am debating is whether I should register for the rest of this season's races in cat 4 fields or M40+/45+ fields. (I race RRs so "both" isn't usually an option.) I would expect to continue to get decent results in cat 4 fields, and I would expect to get slaughtered in masters fields. The appeal of racing masters is I think I would enjoy the racing more, although repeatedly getting crushed might dull the fun somewhat. On the other hand I hear masters griping about new cat 4s in their field mucking things up, so that is a factor.
I am inclined to try out the masters fields but would welcome any advice.
In NorCal, we have M45+ 4/5 fields from time to time in road races. We have a couple of racers who belong to teams that post here, have success and race in the 45+ Cat 1.2.3,4. They can speak about that field.
Our racing club has a development team that has had a lot of success in the Cat 4 races and we have a couple of 45+ racers on the team and they seem to like the teamwork and their contribution.
It sounds like you are experienced enough to manage the faster pace i.e. cornering and bike handling in the 45+. If one is a new Cat 4 that just competed 10 races in Cat 5 and now wants to race 45+, then I would say one needs more experience, IMHO.
Faster isn't necessarily harder, at least so long as you have your cornering act together. In my experience, the Masters fields are so much smoother, from a power application standpoint, that it can be easier to hang with the pack than a Cat 4 race. That also makes the races more enjoyable. My racing age is 59, and I primarily race either 50+ or 55+, but there are times when I mix it up with the M45+ crowd. One of those crit's was absolutely a blast, because we were going through some sweepers, in a pack, at a very impressive rate of speed. Of course you do need to be able to handle the pace. I routinely train, and race, with guys in the faster cat's, and that experience has been invaluable. It took a long time improving my skills, and my strength, to be able to hang with a pack of mostly 2-3, with a few 1's, in our Tuesday Night Worlds. And if I'm off my game for whatever reason, I take a trip to Offthebakistan (Insert Racer-EX Trademark here). In our region, the M45+ is usually the second fastest field (behind the P-1-2), especially in road races.
I'd give it a go, and just be very aware of holding the line of the guy ahead of you. 9 times out of 10, what starts the disaster chain of events is someone moving laterally when it isn't needed/expected.
And one other factor. Check with your region about how they handle upgrades. Ours requires that half your points, when going from 4 to 3, come from category races. The other half can come from Masters. As Shovel often points out, nobody should be in a rush to upgrade - it's not a great focus to have. When you are ready, you will collect the points, and you will upgrade. I agree with him, but with a bit of a caveat for Masters who are working their way up. Racing Cat 4 with a bunch of really young guys is frankly just not a great mix. Hence the offering of the Mxx+ 4-5 races you see in many areas of the country. I did a M35+ 4-5 Saturday before last. It was an interesting mix - not as fast as the M50+ the same day, but required a higher average power output. A pure 4 is even more extreme in that regard. So, I'll be glad when I move into the 3's, and until then on a typical race day I'll race one Masters race and one category race. This Friday I do a 3-4 twilight race, then Sunday it's a 50+ and pure 4.
If my math is correct you're going to have your 10th race as a 5 this weekend? And where are you BTW?
I'd give a Master's race a shot. See how it goes. If you can barely hang then do some more 4/5 races; you're not going to learn anything hanging on the back by your finger tips and it's easy to become one of "those guys" when you're blown up and start veering around.
If you're comfortable with the pace then keep going with the Master's. If you keep your head up and your mental notebook out you'll learn more, and it'll be a safer race as a rule.
Reading between the lines, you are just about to get out of Cat 5?
I am sort of in the same boat - there aren't 5's for women, but I started racing last year as a 4, and I could race in 45+ if want to. I did 22 races last year, counting everything including weeknight training crits. So I am a little further than a 5-moving-to-4 man would be, in terms of number of races.
I made a decision to stay in the 4's until I am a 3, and then decide if I belong in 45+ or 3. It is almost never that there is a 45+ Cat 4 women's race. If there was such a thing, I would have different parameters for my decision.
The main reason FOR ME, is that I want to compete against my peers, and I think that the racing-experience categorization over-rides the physical-age categorization, at my level.
I think that even though I've been riding for longer than some of my competition has been alive (eek!), I am a beginner as a racer, and I have a lot to learn about how to race before I masters is my peer group. I did do a couple of masters races last year, one where there was no SW4 offered (masters state crit championships, I rode for my team mate) and another where the 4s was full so I entered 45+. Both times, I was completely out-classed, fitness-wise, technically and tactically. SO, that would be another reason not to race masters - it's too hard. But that's secondary, for me. It's the peer-group/experience factor that is the main one.
I think if I was a Cat 2 or possibly even a Cat 3, the physical age might be more of a factor results-wise. So if and when that happens, I will re-evaluate.
Thanks for the replies. Sorry if I wasn't clear: I am a 5 and my 10th race is a week from Saturday. I am in the Hudson Valley, which is hilly RR country.
Big races (like Battenkill) do have age+category fields like cat 4 40+, but mostly the choice is between a straight 4 field and M40 or M45.
I'm not aware of any regional restriction on a certain percentage of upgrade points coming from category races, not even sure how I would find that out. It's probably academic though, as I would not expect to be collecting points at all in M40 races.
All else being equal I'd like to get to 3, and given that I've been collecting phantom points in 4/5 races I think I could get to 3 if I focused on it as a goal, but I like the advice about enjoying the ride rather than worrying about upgrades. I sometimes train with friends who are 1s and 2s and enjoy the confidence those guys have. At a certain level pack riding skills seem to be as much about confidence and relaxedness as they are about focus and concentration.
If I have a future as a masters cat 4 lifer, so be it. I think I will ask some of my experienced racer friends for some cornering clinic time though. The very last thing I want to be is a public health menace.
I am a 46 year old Cat 3. I would recommend doing both races if fitness and time allows. I don't know about your district but I find the 35+ and 45+ races to be much harder than the 3s. Well, much harder to place in. As others have mentioned, it is a smoother race so if you have good pack skills it is usually not a big deal to just hang around. But the pointy end is much harder.
So far this season I have been working for a 19 year old teammate who has some potential. We are trying to get him noticed. That is my role in the E3 race. And then I race the M123 race for fun and fitness and a prime or two.
He's from my neck of the woods, about 2-2.5 hours away. Different district, though. I don't believe that there are any Masters/category restrictions but you will have to verify your Masters results to prove your category finish. www.road-results.com is your friend.
I would take Caloso's advice and race road in your category and in crits, do both the Cat4 and Masters races. Once you get a base of experience, racing up in ability, which Masters will be, is only good for you.
All the above points are valid and if you find yourself, as Ex said tail-gunning and just hanging on I'd go back to cat based racing.
My first experience in a M45 field was an eye opener. The speed wasn't a a lot higher just that it never let up. By half distance I was cooked. I decided to to race C4 and was more comfortable with the effort but far less comfortable with the race tactics (non existent) and the skill level of the racers. Once I got my upgrade to a 3 I never raced my cat again.
I learned more in my first 3 M40 (we are 40/50/60 here in TX) than all the 4-5 races I did. The great thing about masters is that you are racing with 1's a d 2's There are race tactics and teams who know how to implement them. There is generally far less yelling (I can count on one hand the times I've heard Hold your line in a masters race). Although I have had minimal results in masters I have enjoyed my racing far more. There is something to being surrounded by guys your own age with similar life experiences.
The team aspect raises a good point. Do you have teammates, and what are they racing. You might want to favor signing up for the Category where you'll have the most teammates.
Originally Posted by The Red Devil
For me, I did mostly Cat 4 Races, doubling up in Masters on occassion, then upgraded to Cat 3 at age 52. Now that I've pretty much given up chasing a Cat 2 upgrade, I'm more likely to do the Masters race.
It sounds like you'll be competitive in the 4's. It's a lot more fun racing when you're in the mix, trying to win, figuring out what moves to make, than it is hanging on the back of a race over your head.
OP, I'm in a similar situation except I'm 58, not 45. I'm in my second season racing as a 4 here in the UK. Getting competitive, but not likely to be a Cat 3 any time soon. And this year I'm going to race in our 55-59 veterans class. Everyone tells me it won't be any easier (one of the regulars won the Tour of Britain about 30 years ago) but wotthehell, I'll be giving it a go. But I'm also going to continue to do some Cat 4 stuff. Quite apart from anything else, the more talented newcomers tend to breeze through Cat4 without touching the sides, so the competition seems to get a bit less severe as the season wears on!
Let us know how you get on.
A lot of the appeal of racing masters is being able to race with one specific teammate, a former pro who is helpful, friendly, and continues to be very successful. Of course none of that matters if all I'm doing is watching the back of pack disappear, but we'll see. I have lots of friends in the 4s.
I'm used to that view. Listen, I feel your pain! I'm a W4 and M35+. Out here, the women's fields are small and almost always combined. The bulk of the fields are young(er) gals, 2s, 3s, and 4s with occasional 1s. The 35+ are in there, too. My racing age is 61. I usually race as a W4, but really, that doesn't matter. I may be as strong as many of the younger women, but they recover faster, and that is not big, it's huge. Therefore, they attack, I cover, next thing I know I'm struggling to hang on, and poof - OTB. I'm better than I used to be, but still. My only hope is to be able to race with women my age, but they are few and far between. I'm aiming at the Senior Games; that's where I think I'll have a chance to race against peers - and really race, not hang on.
Originally Posted by globecanvas
I forget, did you qualify for Cleveland?
If I do the pro race as my second race after a hard first race, I may pop, too. Look at it as great training. Sooner or later you are going to find yourself in a W3/4 field, and you will be able to do what you are capable of.
No, I haven't raced a SG event, yet. This summer I will!
Originally Posted by shovelhd