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  1. #1
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Keeping my Dream Alive

    I've always wanted to race a bike. Watched every televised race I could even through the decades when I didn't own a bike. 3 years ago I started cycling again at 52 y/o and 252 lbs. I've dropped 51 lbs and my speed has come way up, just not enough. I've held onto my dream of racing, even finished 3 Triathlons but it's not the same. It's not bike racing.

    I do pace line and group rides. At a big ride I always start up front and ride with the horses until I can't, just to get used to the close quarters and the speed. The first few miles of these big rides, hanging with the local teams are the most exciting time's I've spent cycling.

    Recently though I feel my dream slipping away, too fat, too slow, same old group rides at the same speed. I feel myself resigning to the reality of being a "B" group rider at best. I'm not willing to accept this and Saturday it changes. I've signed up for the Mississippi Grand Prix, specifically the 27 mile road race (Cat 4/5/public) and later in the day the 5K TT. My plan is to hang with the pack until I can't and then enjoy a training ride. Next event I'll hang a bit longer. Repeat until I'm at least a field stuffer.

    Results to follow

  2. #2
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Good luck and please post your results and thoughts.

    I was in the same boat as you 7 years ago except I weighed 231 lbs and was 53. I loved group rides and the competitiveness in me wanted more than just surviving with the young dudes. I began racing at age 54 and thought I could train myself but over trained and burnt out, or possibly just got to overload due to the increased workload during the season. For the next season I retained the services of a coach and embarked on my racing program. Due to the demands of racing I keep my weight under 190 lbs.

    Itís been a good ride and I love everything that comes with it.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  3. #3
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    First, congrats on dropping all that weight. When I turned 40 I was 200lbs and looking at BP meds. I know of these things.

    You'll find that folks here are pretty forthcoming with advice and help.

    We're all "B" group riders, there is almost always someone faster. The guys riding the Tour of France? Most of them are "B" group. That's got a lot to do with math, and doesn't improve past 40. That said you can still look around and find a lot of people who wish they were as fast, slim, or as young as you are.

    Keep us posted, and feel free to chuck any thoughts or questions our way.

  4. #4
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    Congratulations on your weight loss, that was a big drop! And it's nice to see another Louisianian here - this place is almost solely bicoastal.

    You think you're crazy? I'm 61, and this is my first year racing. Unfortunately, I'm in Tampa this weekend, working 12 hour shifts, so the MS GP is out for me. My next race is in June, the Tour de Louisiane in NOLA, unless my employment situation improves.

    Like you, I decided I could either dream on the couch or find out what it's like on the road. It's humbling on that road. But I've learned a lot so far this year, and I'm faster than I've ever been...which is not to say I'm fast. The racers in our area seem to be good folks across the board. You're going to enjoy it, regardless of the result. If you haven't gotten your license from USA Cycling, I recommend that you do prior to this weekend. That way those two races count towards your upgrade.

    Best of luck this weekend!
    Regards,
    Chuck

    Demain, on roule!

  5. #5
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Good job. One thing that has worked for me when I am in danger of getting dropped is to say to myself it's okay to sit up and get dropped, but only after 30 more seconds. 30 more seconds, man! You can do anything for thirty seconds. And I'd just bury myself to stay latched to the last wheel. Then more often than not, somewhere in the 20-25 second range, the pace would ease or the wind would shift and I would get a slight break and I'd hold on.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  6. #6
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    My coaches thoughts on the getting dropped thing have helped me. The gist of it is: "If you are getting dropped, there is no reason whatsoever not to turn yourself inside out to stay attached. The worst that can happen is that you get dropped, but that was happening anyway."

    Another recent piece of advice (for this coming Saturday) was: "When you attack, don't fall off your bike and throw up 100m from the finish. Win the race first, and then fall over vomiting."

  7. #7
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post

    Another recent piece of advice (for this coming Saturday) was: "When you attack, don't fall off your bike and throw up 100m from the finish. Win the race first, and then fall over vomiting."
    He should coach some of our kids. At one of our recent youth races, the winner got off his bike halfway round his warm-down lap to throw up, and the third placed rider only waited until just before the presentations to follow suit. That's commitment.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  8. #8
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    Congratulations on your weight loss, that was a big drop! And it's nice to see another Louisianian here - this place is almost solely bicoastal.

    You think you're crazy? I'm 61, and this is my first year racing. Unfortunately, I'm in Tampa this weekend, working 12 hour shifts, so the MS GP is out for me. My next race is in June, the Tour de Louisiane in NOLA, unless my employment situation improves.

    Like you, I decided I could either dream on the couch or find out what it's like on the road. It's humbling on that road. But I've learned a lot so far this year, and I'm faster than I've ever been...which is not to say I'm fast. The racers in our area seem to be good folks across the board. You're going to enjoy it, regardless of the result. If you haven't gotten your license from USA Cycling, I recommend that you do prior to this weekend. That way those two races count towards your upgrade.

    Best of luck this weekend!

    Hey Chuck,

    I'll be at the June race also, gray Honda Element, white Trek, or just look for the guy who looks out of place

    See you there!

    Guys.... thanks for all the encouragement! Whatever the outcome, I'm sure I'll have a blast. As soon as I know the questions I'll need plenty of advice. First thing will be training to race instead of training to survive group rides.

  9. #9
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Win the race first, and then fall over vomiting."
    The first time I puked was a TT where I had Lance starting a few minutes behind me. I made it past the crowd then threw up in the bushes.

    I also ended up laying on the ground with cramps at Gila one year while his fanboy/fangirl crowd stepped over me.

  10. #10
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    He should coach some of our kids. At one of our recent youth races, the winner got off his bike halfway round his warm-down lap to throw up, and the third placed rider only waited until just before the presentations to follow suit. That's commitment.
    They sound like great kids..

  11. #11
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    Nice work on the weight loss. Don't worry about getting dropped on the group rides, and don't worry about getting dropped in your first race or two. If you follow through with your plans, and keep the same attitude towards learning and improving, then "This too Shall Pass"

    Good luck, and enjoy the ride.
    Last edited by nacler22; 04-11-13 at 12:56 AM. Reason: typo

  12. #12
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Welcome and congrats on your weight loss and motivation to race. Group rides are pretty interesting. The group leader selects the route(s). Do you think someone will select a route that does not offer a competitive advantage? I am going to host a group ride at the track. We all line up and do 500 meters.

    Racing is different. We train for specific events and choose races where we have a competitive advantage or specific goals. Starting out racing, one has to learn how to race and determine competitive advantages and and limiters.

    Everyone gets dropped. Hammer and nail rides are fun and usually it is better to be the nail. Many of the racers in our club ride in the B ride so they can be the hammer when they should be on the A ride as the nail.

    And the other problem with group rides is that typically being the hammer or the nail is not the correct prescription for training. I do very few group rides.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  13. #13
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    And the other problem with group rides is that typically being the hammer or the nail is not the correct prescription for training. I do very few group rides.
    I've suspected this, I've got much to learn but that's part of the fun.

  14. #14
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Re group rides: The competitive aspect and the camaraderie make group rides addictive, at least for me. But it is easy to allow them to interfere with good structured training. You might go too hard on a ride when you should be doing recovery; you might be sitting in when you should be on the front stressing yourself. I have a coach who has put together a plan for me that incorporates group rides, with the expectation that I use them as race training.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  15. #15
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    I am going to host a group ride at the track. We all line up and do 500 meters.


    Count me in.

    bbeasley, you will hear many, many stories of Masters racers a lot like yours. Lots and lots of guys (and gals) have done what you are about to do, and they are doing it well. You can do this. All it takes is commitment. You seem to have that. It takes a lot of commitment to lose 50 pounds. Get your license and take the next step.

    My racing age is 56. I raced as a Cat2 back in the 80's during the 7-Eleven era. I got burned out with the team stuff and the 20+ hour training weeks and quit cold turkey. My racing weight at the end of that stretch was 134 pounds. Fast forward to 2010. I had high cholesterol and a genetic disposition to heart disease. I weighed a plump 174 pounds. I bought a bike and started riding. Man, it hurt. I could not believe how hard it was. All I could remember was how I used to keep up with Davis Phinney. I could barely keep up with a commuter. But I rode. And rode. And rode. Joined a club. Got dropped on B group rides. Kept going. Kept returning. Started commuting to get more miles. Started making people hurt. Decided to return to racing in 2011. I've had nine wins since then. My racing weight is 145 pounds.

    You can do this.

  16. #16
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    It's the most frustrating sport there is, yet also the most rewarding, in too many ways to count. And the best way to approach it is with the Nike cliche: Just Do It. There is nothing like a bike race, except a bike race. Many people approach it very tentatively, or want to feel like they will be competitive before they do their first race. Unless you are extraordinarily gifted, you will not be competitive in your first race, and the more you race, the more competitive you will become. It's a big learning curve - the sooner you start climbing, and the more climbing you do, the better you become.

    Congratulations on what you've accomplished!

  17. #17
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    I'm the girl (well, "a") here. I started racing last year, at age 60. Seven years ago I weighed 183 (I'm 5'4"). Yes, many, many of us have similar stories! You're in a good place here, we get it, we've been there, many of us are headed in the direction you are now, and WERE headed the wrong way. Welcome!
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  18. #18
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    bbeasley, it's clear that you enjoy the group rides, which is fine, but don't mistake them for training for racing.

    I'm not much further down the track than you. A bit older, a bit lighter, started racing last season as a 57 year-old. I could hang with the racers in group rides, tick along at 20 mph in my recovery zone, all that stuff. But the intensity of the races simply blew me away. It isn't the speed, it's the accelerations and the racing skills. Interval training is what you want, and (like AzT has said) practice in a racing environment.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  19. #19
    Senior Member climberguy's Avatar
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    Good on you, bbeasley (as they say 'down under'). I would like to race; it's a dream of mine also. But due to some injuries and an on-going medical condition (next surgery for it is July), I have to watch from the sidelines for now. Best of luck in your racing career, and report back here often so I can enjoy your adventures vicariously.
    And I did it all clean.

  20. #20
    Idiot Emeritus sarals's Avatar
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    What Chas said and then some. Structured training will get you to where you need to be - you need to have a plan, you need targeted training, and you need to adhere to it. Again, group rides can be fast with close quarters riding, and they are good for part of your training regimen. Races are another level entirely, as Chas said. You need to be able to withstand the attacks and be able to sustain high efforts.
    Racer Ex..."Don't know if the shop is under new ownership. If not feel free to shoplift stuff and break bottles in his parking lot."

  21. #21
    Blast from the Past Voodoo76's Avatar
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    Weight loss can do amazing things! Myself, went from 195 to 170 over the last year, what a difference. Makes me think about getting back in the game. I would add to the structured training discussion, especially as an older rider, to monitor your recovery closely. I think as you age it's easier to fall into the over training trap. Don't sweat getting dropped, and always remember that bike racing doesn't get any easier just faster.

  22. #22
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the encouragement!

    15 hours to go until I turn my first pedal in a bike race, I'm so excited I can't work. It's great to feel this way at my age! I'm allowing myself to enjoy every moment. As much as I dig Triathlons, I'm way more excited about this.

  23. #23
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbeasley View Post
    Thanks for all the encouragement!

    15 hours to go until I turn my first pedal in a bike race, I'm so excited I can't work. It's great to feel this way at my age! I'm allowing myself to enjoy every moment. As much as I dig Triathlons, I'm way more excited about this.
    As we all like to say: "Keep the rubber side down."

  24. #24
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    I'm 2 hours post race and waiting for the TT this evening.

    WOW! what a blast and I should have started this last year!

    I'm a bike racer

    40 min warm up, man did I need this.

    52 in my group, narrow two lane road with centerline rule in effect. At 0.8 miles in we were hitting 27 MPH, nowhere to go. Couldn't speed up, slow down or move. Big boom announced the wreck as a carbon frame snapped. Bike and riders flew everywhere, I stood on my front brake as the guy in front of me locked up his rear and skidded into the pile. Man did I ever have beginner luck, later a race official on a motor cycle told me I was the first one through in an upright position.

    I cleared the wreck and found myself alone with the remainder of the pack fading into the distance. Not much I could do but grind it out. 6 miles in I heard "on your left" and got passed by a bleeding guy with a shredded kit. I got on his wheel and we worked together for several miles. I pulled a bit but truth is he did most of the work. We picked off a couple of blown up folks and he eventually dropped me. I worked this strategy 4 more times with wreck survivors and huffed and puffed to the finish.

    Did I mention I'm a bike racer? I'm so happy to type this.

    What I learned:

    I've got the right dream, I love this stuff.

    I'm still too fat, biggest guy BMI wise in the parking lot, and too slow. But, I now know what I've got to do to fix this and that it's doable. I completely see myself being able to hang with these guys in the future. Age is no excuse, train smart, continue the weight loss, enter every race possible, have fun.

    As you folks report over and over, just go try it. Stop over thinking this and go enter a race, duh.

    While my bike and gear is as out of place as a Prius at a Formula One race, it just doesn't matter. It's all about the engine.

    Nobody cared what I or my stuff look liked. Nobody cared I'm a bit off the pace, they were glad to pull me along as it worked out.

    Met a bunch of nice folks and made some new friends.

    Now I've got to go true up my rear wheel, it took a hit in the wreck and get ready for the TT. My goal is to blister the 5K course at every bit of 21 MPH

    Did I mention I'm a bike racer?

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Way to go!
    Regards,
    Chuck

    Demain, on roule!

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