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jbenkert111 10-24-13 07:56 PM

Age-group racing
 
When it comes to deciding age-groups in bike racing, which came first, the chicken or the egg. When you are 60+, being able to race against your peer's is very, very rare. I am 73 and every once in a while I can find a TT with my age group. The basic question is: are there few older age groups because there are not many older racer's OR are there not many older racer's because there fewer age groups. I know as a former competitive runner, most races have age groups into the 70's and 80's. When I was 50 I didn't care, but as I got older I stopped entering races that did not have my age group. I am disappointed in the bike community not giving older (but willing racer's if given a competitive chance) folks a fair shot. I really would like to hear your thoughts on this and maybe get a movement going.

John
Wanna be racer from Severna Park, MD

Racer Ex 10-24-13 11:32 PM

Hi John,

I see from the high post count you're a regular so what took you so long? ;)

I think it's less racers. Looking at the events where all the age groups are offered, it's a downward curve. Even looking at the general cycling population, that holds true.

I do think some of that is cultural though, shifting attitudes towards exercise and all that.

revchuck 10-25-13 03:58 AM

John - In the Southeast where I live, the highest age grouping I've seen is 60+ in USAC racing. The Senior Olympic Games do have higher age grouping for cycling. Since you're in a more densely populated area, races might go higher.

AzTallRider 10-25-13 10:15 AM

If the numbers were there, the promoters would run the class, likely combined with a younger group but scored separately.

Cleave 10-25-13 10:19 AM

Hello John, I think it's more that there are fewer older racers. You noted, "...as I got older I stopped entering races that did not have my age group." Doing that kind of ensures that a promoter won't have races for older Masters. Promoters hold races to make money (for themselves or for a charity or...). If an age group does not have enough competitors to make money, they hold races that will make them money. I'm talking about mass start races versus time trials, since every race on the day's schedule costs an increment of money in some way. Time trials are a different story. However, I've seen time trials with 10 year increments for men and women all the way to 80+ and some of those age categories have zero or one competitor.

New promoters often look at established races to see their breakdown of competitors and build their schedules based on that.

SoCal has been having a lot of controversy in the 55+/60+ ranks the past couple of years. In short, people think that boycotting promoters will help. Instead, promoters just drop the older categories and add younger categories, such as Masters 35+ Cat 4/5. Those races get big turnouts.

My advice? Race whenever and wherever you can, regardless of the race category. We have a 70+ racer who usually races twice each day in criteriums in the oldest categories available; even if the oldest category is well below his age. Granted, he's an anomaly even in SoCal but he is out there inspiring others.

shovelhd 10-26-13 03:58 PM

I think it's both. What I see out here is falloff after RA 55. There are very few M55+ races, so I have to race up, which is getting harder every year. When I get to the point where I'm not competitive, I'm out, off to ride with the B group and commute to work. I'm still able to hang in a pro race breakaway for 15 laps so that may not be too soon.

jbenkert111 10-26-13 06:35 PM

Age-group racing
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cleave (Post 16191491)
Hello John, I think it's more that there are fewer older racers. You noted, "...as I got older I stopped entering races that did not have my age group." Doing that kind of ensures that a promoter won't have races for older Masters. Promoters hold races to make money (for themselves or for a charity or...). If an age group does not have enough competitors to make money, they hold races that will make them money. I'm talking about mass start races versus time trials, since every race on the day's schedule costs an increment of money in some way. Time trials are a different story. However, I've seen time trials with 10 year increments for men and women all the way to 80+ and some of those age categories have zero or one competitor.

New promoters often look at established races to see their breakdown of competitors and build their schedules based on that.

SoCal has been having a lot of controversy in the 55+/60+ ranks the past couple of years. In short, people think that boycotting promoters will help. Instead, promoters just drop the older categories and add younger categories, such as Masters 35+ Cat 4/5. Those races get big turnouts.

My advice? Race whenever and wherever you can, regardless of the race category. We have a 70+ racer who usually races twice each day in criteriums in the oldest categories available; even if the oldest category is well below his age. Granted, he's an anomaly even in SoCal but he is out there inspiring others.

Hi Cleave, you have a good point about the race (for whatever reason) making money. In a running race, having to run a lot of heats (age group races) is not a problem. They can run as many runners in one heat (some races are 40 to 50,000) as they want and simply separate finishing times in age-groups and award the top finishers. This way I race with thousands of runners. but compete only in my age-group, which provides me with incentive. I assume, in bike racing that would be impossible. However, I don't see why all TT's can't do that. Especially, when the more rider's entered the more money you make. If they feed the age group awards do not fit into their budget, they can say upfront that awards will be prorated to the number of entries. I have directed many races where I knew the older age group like 70-74, 75-80, etc. would not have many entries, so I said upfront the these age groups would be awarded certificates instead of what ever and I would give them a small price bread also. Most older guys don't care what they get they just like to get recognized for a good effort.

Another point I think plays a role. Older runners just have to train hard to be fast and have endurance. Older biker's have a lot bigger problem, and that being your reactions slow down as you age and that can be a disaster in bike racing with a lot of rider's around you. So I think, even though many senior's ride bike's, many of them shy away from racing. Having said that, I think if race director's advertised TT's and made it clear that the main thing is speed and endurance (kind of like running) and not bike handling, many more senior's would give it a try. I know I would and have already.

Another thing, I think FORWARD looking director's should give things a try and not just look at past history, that just repeats mistakes.

I agree with your "get out there and compete" philosophy and will do just that. I see that the USA Cycling website has rankings in 5 year age group's in all discipline's, so I will not worry about local results and see how high I can get rated as incentive.
l

jbenkert111 10-26-13 08:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shovelhd (Post 16194426)
I think it's both. What I see out here is falloff after RA 55. There are very few M55+ races, so I have to race up, which is getting harder every year. When I get to the point where I'm not competitive, I'm out, off to ride with the B group and commute to work. I'm still able to hang in a pro race breakaway for 15 laps so that may not be too soon.

Don't get too cocky Shovelhd, when I was 54 I was still running 5k's in the 16's and my last 5k in the summer of 2012 was 23:24. The point being that some where in your 50's you really start to go down hill. If your like me, your will be not be happy with recreational riding once you have been an elite racer in your age group.

shovelhd 10-26-13 09:48 PM

Me? Cocky?

I have always said that if I had to choose between riding and racing there would be no contest.

revchuck 10-27-13 04:53 AM

I wonder if there's a relationship between geographic location and age group participation? The 60+ grouping I saw was in Pensacola. Might it be that in places people move to when they retire, the higher age groupings are more prevalent, just due to the higher proportion of fogeys?

shovelhd 10-27-13 07:48 AM

The M55+ fields are full in Southern California. The M60+ 40K winner at NSG was third overall and comes from Florida.

sarals 10-27-13 11:38 AM

Good thing you're not a girl! We have four active 60+ women racers in NCNCA right now, and we are never given our own field, except in ITT's. We/they usually race with M35+. The kicker is that I'm a Cat 4, and I can't race most M35+ races - they are Cat 3 and up only. So, I get to ride with the kids in 90% of the races I do. If it doesn't kill me it will make me stronger - or something like that.

Cleave 10-27-13 02:06 PM

I shouldn't have put the 'however' into my TT sentence. (It's a bad habit that I have.) My point was that TTs generally cater to having more age groups because there is no additional time deficit unless the venue is time restricted as it is at our Fiesta Island course in San Diego. Even there they have most age categories and just do the first-come, first-serve approach.

In terms of forward thinking, there is a lot of conflict surrounding older Masters (55+), Women, and Juniors. In the scheme of things for the sport, I'd rather see them try to attract younger riders because they are the future of the sport.

Cleave 10-27-13 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shovelhd (Post 16195662)
The M55+ fields are full in Southern California. The M60+ 40K winner at NSG was third overall and comes from Florida.

Actually, not quite. ;) M50+ fills regularly early in the season. M55+/60+ has over 50 rider fields early in the year but by the end of the year we had fields with only about 20 racers. :(

sarals 10-27-13 02:46 PM

Cleave, I agree on attracting younger riders. That does seem to be happening up here. However, there are older women who try the sport and then quit because of the way the fields are populated. I know, I know - we've been down this road before.

jbenkert111 10-27-13 05:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by revchuck (Post 16195469)
I wonder if there's a relationship between geographic location and age group participation? The 60+ grouping I saw was in Pensacola. Might it be that in places people move to when they retire, the higher age groupings are more prevalent, just due to the higher proportion of fogeys?

Chuck, there is no doubt in my mind that is a MAJOR factor. I know for sure it is in the running community. I use to run in Florida and Georgia and older folks ruled, but we let the younger folks run anyway. :-)

John

Hermes 11-11-13 12:26 PM

Locally, it is my observation that those who want to and can race...race independent of age. And there are a lot of ways to skin the cat. However, the first thing that one has to do is manage expectations. New masters cyclists are going to get crushed no matter what field they race in until they learn how to train and race. There are always exceptions but that is what I have observed and experienced.

There are a lot of local races that offer specific age group racing - Senior Games, District Championships (TT, crit and road race) as well as a few that have older age groups. And one can always race in the 55+ age group although that is a very tough gang to hang with. And one of the faster guys is one of my teammates who is 65+ who usually wins. He was won over 70 national titles in cross, track, time trial, road and crit. And one of my teammates, who is 70+, goes to the Sierras and trains for a month at altitude in preparation for the TT championships. My observation is our older masters are insane, ridiculous, obsessed, awesome, tremendous athletes that are highly motivated. So I do not see any easy picking in this group. One can enter a time trials in the 55+ and score yourself against others of similar age.

Also, IMO, racers become specialists as they get older and cherry pick what races they do to maximize results and minimize risk.

Locally, each year we have a low key hill climb series. http://lowkeyhillclimbs.com/2013/ Local hill climbs are chosen for the series and there is individual and team competition. Last year, the promoter added weight adjusted scoring and age adjusted scoring. This creates additional leader boards that makes the racing more interesting and fun. IMO, this is the best run and promoted racing series in NorCal. Plus in Saturday's race, four racers did the climb FASTER than the Tour of California pros and one of them was a 50+ racer. Besides being a great event, the competition is amazing and even though I am low on the totem pole, being around and competing against really good cyclists makes it all seem normal. I perform better when I am surrounded by superior competition so I seek it out.

sarals 11-11-13 01:26 PM

I've never been able to understand the "cherrypick" mindset. My idea of racing is first see where I stand against peers and then improve. Competition is more about me aganst myself than it is against others. Sure, it's great to have success, but success when you stack something in your favor is sort of hollow.

Cleave 11-11-13 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hermes (Post 16237491)
Locally, it is my observation that those who want to and can race...race independent of age. And there are a lot of ways to skin the cat. However, the first thing that one has to do is manage expectations. New masters cyclists are going to get crushed no matter what field they race in until they learn how to train and race. There are always exceptions but that is what I have observed and experienced.

There are a lot of local races that offer specific age group racing - Senior Games, District Championships (TT, crit and road race) as well as a few that have older age groups. And one can always race in the 55+ age group although that is a very tough gang to hang with. And one of the faster guys is one of my teammates who is 65+ who usually wins. He was won over 70 national titles in cross, track, time trial, road and crit. And one of my teammates, who is 70+, goes to the Sierras and trains for a month at altitude in preparation for the TT championships. My observation is our older masters are insane, ridiculous, obsessed, awesome, tremendous athletes that are highly motivated. So I do not see any easy picking in this group. One can enter a time trials in the 55+ and score yourself against others of similar age.

Also, IMO, racers become specialists as they get older and cherry pick what races they do to maximize results and minimize risk.

Locally, each year we have a low key hill climb series. http://lowkeyhillclimbs.com/2013/ Local hill climbs are chosen for the series and there is individual and team competition. Last year, the promoter added weight adjusted scoring and age adjusted scoring. This creates additional leader boards that makes the racing more interesting and fun. IMO, this is the best run and promoted racing series in NorCal. Plus in Saturday's race, four racers did the climb FASTER than the Tour of California pros and one of them was a 50+ racer. Besides being a great event, the competition is amazing and even though I am low on the totem pole, being around and competing against really good cyclists makes it all seem normal. I perform better when I am surrounded by superior competition so I seek it out.

I knew I was doing something wrong! :D

revchuck 11-11-13 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sarals (Post 16237655)
I've never been able to understand the "cherrypick" mindset. My idea of racing is first see where I stand against peers and then improve. Competition is more about me aganst myself than it is against others. Sure, it's great to have success, but success when you stack something in your favor is sort of hollow.

Sara - I think he's talking about folks who started when you and I should have, about 40 years ago. :rolleyes: I'm still trying to figure out what I suck least at.

sarals 11-11-13 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by revchuck (Post 16237873)
Sara - I think he's talking about folks who started when you and I should have, about 40 years ago. :rolleyes: I'm still trying to figure out what I suck least at.

I know what I suck at - everything!

Allegheny Jet 11-11-13 03:58 PM

I will do cherry picking. :thumb: I'll pick apples, grapes and bananas just to keep my cherry picking skills intact.:D

caloso 11-11-13 04:13 PM

If cherry pick is defined as avoiding hill climbs and mountainous road races, then yes.

Racer Ex 11-11-13 07:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sarals (Post 16237655)
Sure, it's great to have success, but success when you stack something in your favor is sort of hollow.

Nah.

I stack stuff in my favor in every TT I do. Pretty much every race I try to stack things in my favor. There's a big difference between that and hiding behind a category or handicap system, or avoiding the best when you think you can be challenged. That is cherry picking.

You SHOULD try to stack things in your favor if you're competing. It's called "trying your best". I'm pretty sure I've won more races by being smarter (training+equipment+preparation+focus) than by being gifted. Actually I'm sure of that.

I've got a bunch of medals and jerseys in a bunch of different disciplines. I've never been afraid to try and fail when I know I have even a punchers chance.

But if I lack even that then unless something's fun, I'm going to take a pass. To me the Everest Challenge isn't fun. I'm not going to win it. I would have a better weekend riding with Mrs. Ex and watching football.

Stepping out of a comfort zone is a different conversation.

sarals 11-11-13 08:52 PM

Age-group racing
 
I can't argue with you guys, and you know I won't anyway. But, when I was talking about stacking things in your favor, I was considering something else. I meant side stepping competition all together to get a win over all else - example, being the only person in a category or age group on purpose. That's along the lines of what I was thinking. And to me, that's not winning, that's backing in. And it's hollow. Yes, I have done that, not intentionally, but even so in the end I didn't enjoy it.


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