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  1. #1
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    (why do) i suck (?)

    I am in my first year of racing (mtb and 'cross), and I dont understand what I am doing wrong. At the starts I see guys who are "heavy," if not overweight, and these guys beat me every time. I almost always finish at the back, and in some 'cross races I get lapped.

    I am 30, 5'8", 145 lbs in the summer, 155-157 at my heaviest in the winter, and I train regularly (riding 13 - 15 hrs a week), lift 2-3 a week eat a "balanced" diet, no drinking/smoking, i have good handling skills, decent gear, etc.

    I do not train with a HRM, but I know I cant blame my poor performance on that alone.

    On group / training rides I can hang with the pack, and I can smoke most of my friends who are more "recreational" riders.

    My question is...why are these seemigly out of shape guys beating me in races and why am i finishing at the bottom?

  2. #2
    slower than you Applehead57's Avatar
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    I spent two summers in Iceland, wonderful place to visit. Icelanders were very nice, it was fun to wander Reykjavik.

    I have a friend who rides alot, but can't stay with me. BTW, I also have a short summer riding season, I managed just 1,000 miles last year. Anyway, he rides with a HRM and follows it religiously, i.e. he doesn't push, he just goes whatever speed keeps him in his target zone. I ride without a HRM, I simply ride with whatever strength and energy I have that day. I complete my ride with the hope that I will be able to stand up once I'm home.

    So thats my guess, it is the intensity of your ride. I'm sure you recover quicker than those other riders. Hope this helps.
    "Lack of opportunity does not constitute virtue". Diana Tickle.

  3. #3
    Omega Fan BryanW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    My question is...why are these seemigly out of shape guys beating me in races and why am i finishing at the bottom?
    Must be dispriting ...

    Low body fat isn;t everything. Could be that the flab on their legs is covering some really powerful muscles ... perhaps they're really strong, but just like to eat?

    Or maybe you're not pushing yourself hard enough. In racing, you have to expect to go through a hell of a lot more pain than you would on a recreational ride: even if you think you're pushing it hard on a group ride, you're probably not, compared to what you have to do in a race. Those other guys might have a higher pain tolerance than you. If you can still stand up at the end of a race, you have spare energy you should have been spending in the race!

    Keep at it though! You said this is only your first year. No one who actually has the guts to go out and race can "suck", in my opinion!

  4. #4
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Big guys tend to have big engines, so they can do damage to us little guys on a flat course. Technically, their power to frontal area is bigger than yours.

    In the hills, the winners have the highest power to weight ratios. How do you manage on the hills? Maybe you need to pick races that better suit you.
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by terrymorse
    Big guys tend to have big engines, so they can do damage to us little guys on a flat course. Technically, their power to frontal area is bigger than yours.

    In the hills, the winners have the highest power to weight ratios. How do you manage on the hills? Maybe you need to pick races that better suit you.
    I'm not exactly sure what you mean by: power to frontal area. Can you explain?

    I am ok on climbs. Basically what happens to me in a race is that shortly after the start, say anywhere from 1-5 minutes into the race, I get REALLY tired. My muscles feel stiff/heavy and my whole body feels like it was dipped in lead. I warm up quite a bit before the start, too, so its not as if I'm hitting the starting line cold. Then, after about 10-25 min into the race I feel much better, but by then most ppl have passed me and its impossible to catch up. By the end of a race I am hurting, but I feel much stronger than I did in the beginning -- still, at that point its too little too late. I have noticed this pattern in the 'cross races that i have done as well. I feel like crap on the first 1-2 laps....then i loosen up and get into a rhythm...and my 3-5th laps are much better ie. i feel better, and in some cases I am even faster...but as you know, in a cross race if you back off even a little bit, its all over.

  6. #6
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    Kinda sounds like you might not be warmed up when you start?

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    How many hours a week do you ride? How much sleep do you get? How much do you eat? If you are sure you arent over trained, you need to warm up more.

    Cycling is something you get better at over the years. VERY few first year guys are gonna have the legs to hang with seasoned guys, even ones that outweigh them. Takes years and years to build up a riders legs. Beating guys in a club ride (if they are recreational) doesnt mean you can hang in a race.
    Its all downhill from somewhere.

  8. #8
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    Maybe, it's about finding your particular gift/strength. Sounds to me like you're an all around athelete (i.e. the sort that might take the gold in a decathlon but would never get a podium finish in any of the single sport). Don't beat yourself too much over it. And like teamawe said, it does take years (certainly more than 2 unless you're totally gifted).

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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    I am 30, 5'8", 145 lbs in the summer, 155-157 at my heaviest in the winter, and I train regularly (riding 13 - 15 hrs a week), lift 2-3 a week eat a "balanced" diet, no drinking/smoking, i have good handling skills, decent gear, etc.

    Sorry, just re-read your first post and saw this. When is the last time you took a week off? How long have you been training at this level? I ask because at about your age I was doing 4 days in the gym and riding 12-15 hrs a week and got so over trained it wasnt funny. Now its entirely posible to train this amount, but a person really needs to get some rest in there too. Obviously I'm coming at this from the overtraining point, if you know you arent overtrained, keep training and racing till you beat those 'fat' guys. /grin
    Its all downhill from somewhere.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by teamawe
    Sorry, just re-read your first post and saw this. When is the last time you took a week off? How long have you been training at this level? I ask because at about your age I was doing 4 days in the gym and riding 12-15 hrs a week and got so over trained it wasnt funny. Now its entirely posible to train this amount, but a person really needs to get some rest in there too. Obviously I'm coming at this from the overtraining point, if you know you arent overtrained, keep training and racing till you beat those 'fat' guys. /grin
    I don't think I am overtrained, although its possible. Sleep, however, is a problem. I get maybe 5-6 hours a night, sometimes less. The night before a race I try to get more like 8 hrs. I rarely take a whole week off, maybe 4-5 days at most (usually not by choice, but that's how it goes sometimes).

  11. #11
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    You need more experience. Also sounds like you should get a trainer or something and spend some time warming up before the race. That will get you through that heavy muscle phase before anyone is passing you. I made this same mistake early in my racing career.

  12. #12
    Climbing Fool terrymorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    I'm not exactly sure what you mean by: power to frontal area. Can you explain?
    Sure. When climbing, the bulk of one's effort goes into overcoming gravity. The guys that weigh less have an advantage. We can beat big guys with more power on the hills, because they have to carry a bigger load.

    But on the flat, weight is a non-factor. The biggest factor is wind resistance. The force of the wind is determined by speed and CdA, a product of your "aerodynamic shape" and the area that your body outline presents to the wind.

    Big guys with big engines do relatively better on the flat, because they have only slightly larger CdA than us littler guys. To keep up with a big guy on the flat, you almost have to match his power output.

    If that doesn't explain it, let me know.
    Managing Director, Undiscovered Country Tours

  13. #13
    Softcore Cyclist Hanzo's Avatar
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    This might not apply but when I was running track in HS and college I had a similar sensation to how you describe feeling dipped in lead. I had great endurance and could run all day. The thing I was lacking was balls out speed and power. I started asking my coach about it and he put me in a day or two a week with the sprinters in the mornings and that really helped me learn how to uncork my legs and get into a good posistion.

    Races started out at a much higher speed at first than anything I'd do in the distance training and after the first 5 min or so everyone would find their gear and then the endurance would kick in. I just didn't know how to run right in that initial 5 min until I started doing sprint work. After that I wasn't so set back by the fast start and when it came time to do what I was good at I was now in a posistion in the field to do some damage.

    Maybe it's just time to reevaluate your training and focus on your weak areas.

  14. #14
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    Five or six hours of sleep a night is not enough for a heavy load of training.

  15. #15
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    Some people are natural born sprinters, others are made for longer distances. You may be the former, and the fat guys the later. I'm a sprinter type. I can train forever, and never be competitive at anyting that last more than 30 seconds.
    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. M.L.King

  16. #16
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    race more.
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    Girls like to play in the dirt, too!

  17. #17
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    add invertals. my sense is that you can go at a steady pace for great lengths of time >> your 13-15 hrs of training might me telling me that you have trained your aerobic/cardiac well. But speed comes from intensity and intervals.

    monday: off
    tuesday: steady pace (25miles)
    wednesday:intervals (25 miles)
    thursday: fast, bust ass (25 miles)
    friday: walk the bike. just tool around (20 miles)
    sat & sun : intense group rides. (60-70 miles)

    that is around 13-15 hours of training.
    message out the thighs, carb up and get after it.

    13-15 hours a week is a good amt of riding. if you are not getting results, then you are training wrong. you've got to be smart about your training. just putting in time will not cut it.

    i always trained at the same steady mph, speed and couldn't keep up on the fast group rides and races. then i was taught about the example of training i listed above and got results.

    many triathletes cannot possibly keep up on races, and will get dropped because they are used to going at a steady pace, in a steady heart zone.

    fitness is your ability to go all out for great lengths of time, then be able to recover quickly and do it again.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack'n'fail
    You need more experience. Also sounds like you should get a trainer or something and spend some time warming up before the race. That will get you through that heavy muscle phase before anyone is passing you. I made this same mistake early in my racing career.
    this "heavy muscle phase" is exactly what i am experiencing. is there any literature on this?

    btw, thanks everyone for the suggetions -- they are are very helpful

  19. #19
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Maybe I should chime in here.

    When I first started racing I was doing intervals, etc in a fixed HR zones. Ya that was great but I was not getting the power that is required to keep up with the "racers". About 1 month ago with some advice I started going on percieved exertion, intervals were right at or above lactic acid threshold, 10 minutes then 3 off then repeat. I also started hill intervals.

    I can now stay in much better in cat 5 races, my speed has increased tremendsly in the last month. Last race I was with the pack most of the race, finished the race on the same lap as the pack, bridged a huge gap, etc. I am not small either and this was a hilly crit.

    It is all about how you train, i.e intervals and rest. I agree, if you are riding 13 - 15 hours per week and you are not getting major results you are not training the right way. It could be overtraining, etc.

    Good luck
    Just your average club rider... :)

  20. #20
    sundy hopeful berny's Avatar
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    you ARE overtraining because you don't get enough sleep. You need 8/9hrs every night if you are 'in training'.

    You also need to warm up more. You should arive at the start ready to go with a light sweat happening. It may take 15/30 minutes but you have to ready to go on the wistle, not 15/20 minutes into the race, it's too late then.

    Get some good sleep and warm up and you'll be fine.
    The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

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