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Old 01-27-07, 12:21 PM   #1
dentalman
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questions about the race i did today.

Today we had a crit for Cat 4/5, 40mins + 2 laps around a speedway track (2/10 mile long).

This was my first Cat 4/5 crit/race ever. I've done collegiate C races before (2 races). I had problems clipping in at the beginning so I started at the tail end, the group started really fast but eased off a little bit after a lap. Rode around for a while and found myself off the back, tried to catch up but couldn't. By the time the group lapped me 3 times I pulled off and called it quits. Other club members that I ride with were also in the race all of them finished, a few of them I can easily keep up with during group rides and occasionally drop them on climbs.

Looking back I wish I were more in the middle of the group instead of towards the back, but then again I'd probably get dropped from the middle anyways.

Avg pace of the group was 24.5mph.

I had been training a moderate amount in the winter (8hrs/week, sometimes 11 sometimes 6-7). We have a coach for our team. But these last two weeks I took off because of my board exam last saturday and just not having enough time this week and getting a head cold a couple days ago. When I woke up this morning I was still feeling kinda sick. During the race, man my lungs hurt and so did the back of my head.

Stats:
5'8" - 142 lbs
Coach had us do a 5km time trial:
Avg: 22.6mph, avg hr: 185, wattage: 245.

Questions:
1) Could my illness be related to my poor performance at today's race or is it just an excuse?
2) What about taking the two weeks off, would that be long enough for me to perform so poorly in the race?
3) What about training, I've read friel's book. But really how should I be training? The coach wants us all to do these intervals where I build up to zone 4 which is like 178-181 for me. It's incredibly hard for me to reach this zone unless I'm all out sprinting. And he wants us to hold it for 8-10 minutes.

I'd like to do better at the next race so any advice would be nice.
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Old 01-27-07, 12:30 PM   #2
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When starting at the back, it can be impossible to stay latched on to the group, especially if there are a lot of turns on the course. Starting position is half the race with crits.
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Old 01-27-07, 12:55 PM   #3
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Both the illness and a lack of training for two weeks could have very large effects on your performance.

Position and tactics have a huge impact in how a crit goes. Being in the right place can save you a phenominal amount of work. You were not in the right place. In the back you get an accordion effect which demands that you sprint after every corner and have to brake often.

As far as training...that's a bit of a big subject. If you make yourself a training plan based on friel's book and then go over it with your team coach, that would probably be the best option.
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Old 01-27-07, 01:37 PM   #4
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1) Could my illness be related to my poor performance at today's race or is it just an excuse?

Very well could be. I've noticed my strength & power-output doesn't degrade will illness, but the aerobic system is certainly impacted severely.

2) What about taking the two weeks off, would that be long enough for me to perform so poorly in the race?

Two weeks wouldn't hurt fitness in anyway. It's actually a good idea to get some rest before a race.

3) What about training, I've read friel's book. But really how should I be training? The coach wants us all to do these intervals where I build up to zone 4 which is like 178-181 for me. It's incredibly hard for me to reach this zone unless I'm all out sprinting. And he wants us to hold it for 8-10 minutes.

That's the idea behind training. You want to train harder than you'll ever go in a race. If average pace of that race as 24.5mph with peaks of 30-32mph, you want to train doing sprints of 33-35mph, 1-minute intervals @ 28-30mph, 5-minute intervals @ 26-28mph, 8-10 minute intervals @ 24-26mph. Yes, training should be difficult and painful. Talk to the guys that place in the top 5 consistently and see if you can tag along on their training rides. I bet they hit max-HR at least 30x a week.
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Old 01-27-07, 01:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
2) What about taking the two weeks off, would that be long enough for me to perform so poorly in the race?

Two weeks wouldn't hurt fitness in anyway. It's actually a good idea to get some rest before a race.
I have to disagree with Danno here on this one. Two weeks "Off" means something different to me, and that's for the last two weeks you haven't been on the bike. Yes, that's certainly going to affect your fitness. Two weeks tapered for peak performance: good. Two weeks, no riding: not good. I know the time frame is a little different for everyone, but I don't know any cyclists that take more than a few days off that don't feel a bit tight getting on the bike again.

All that said, starting at the back probably did the trick.
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Old 01-27-07, 06:46 PM   #6
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I'm glad I posted here. I was really discouraged from the results today. Starting tomorrow I'll start training extra hard. Doing so poorly today has encouraged me to train harder. Thanks for the advice guys!
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Old 01-27-07, 09:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dentalman
I'm glad I posted here. I was really discouraged from the results today. Starting tomorrow I'll start training extra hard. Doing so poorly today has encouraged me to train harder. Thanks for the advice guys!
I'm glad you are encouraged. My first track race in high school was similar to what you experienced (save the exams)...I was training hard, clocking decent times in my sessions and then come race day...nerves got me--not something decent like a cold. I finished last and got lapped. My time was 30s slower than a pace I had set in training. I won my group next race, though placed 4th overall.

Getting up for practice the next day is what it is all about...

Go get em next time!
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Old 01-27-07, 11:42 PM   #8
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I'm glad I posted here. I was really discouraged from the results today. Starting tomorrow I'll start training extra hard. Doing so poorly today has encouraged me to train harder. Thanks for the advice guys!
Awesome! Go train hard, just remember to rest harder.
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Old 01-28-07, 04:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadVW
I have to disagree with Danno here on this one. Two weeks "Off" means something different to me, and that's for the last two weeks you haven't been on the bike. Yes, that's certainly going to affect your fitness. Two weeks tapered for peak performance: good. Two weeks, no riding: not good. I know the time frame is a little different for everyone, but I don't know any cyclists that take more than a few days off that don't feel a bit tight getting on the bike again.

All that said, starting at the back probably did the trick.
Do you really think that you'd get slower by not riding for two weeks? You may not have increased fitness and gotten any faster as if you did train for 2 weeks, but you certainly can't get slower than your last training ride 2-weeks earlier. You don't lose fitness that quickly.
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Old 01-28-07, 11:20 AM   #10
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I don't know, too hard to figure much out. Obviously, the illness, and who knows what's going on for a warm up? Anyway, a 22.6mph solo TT effort indicates enough power to "sit in" on 24.5mph group, so who knows --- the question is what kind of "speed/conditions" caused the separation in the first place?
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Old 01-28-07, 11:56 AM   #11
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Getting back to OP:

Racing, esp crits (vs. road race or TT) in my humble, limited experience (perhaps I'm new enough to identify with what you're experiencing), is a lot different from training and what you do in a workout is relative to yourself to the extent that you can gauge your fitness vs. another point in the season or another season. But racing is all about position and there is a lot to learn regarding techniques and tactics.

That was a relatively short course and by starting on the back you were almost doomed from the beginning to rubber band off the back at every turn until the rubberband snapped.

Regarding not clipping in, if you don't clip in smoothly on the first try, keep the foot on the pedal and push a few revolutions around and then retry clipping after you're rolling a little, much better than standing in place while everyone gets away.

Most everyone gets dropped from their first races. I still have a goal of not getting dropped and usually if you make it half way through the race in decent shape you'll make it.

Regarding conditioning, the people at the front were doing MUCH less work (in an unscientific use of the word work) than you. Everyone will tell you stay at the front of a crit, the top 1/3 of the pack at least. Problem is everyone in the race knows that and that's where the fun begins.

I have the following set of goals for every race:
1. don't crash (I'm old and would rather lose or not finish than get hurt, lose time at work, etc)
2. don't get dropped
3. go for finish position

sometimes #1 will interfere with #3 but that's a priority I'm willing to make.

Have fun, don't give up and be fearless (watch videos of Robbie McEwen for inspiration [of course he's got a few crash scars on his face])
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Old 01-28-07, 12:04 PM   #12
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very good advice guys.

what happened during the first few laps were:

i couldn't get clipped in right away so I was at the very tail end of the group (nobody was behind me). And man the first lap was fast as freak. I was constantly trying to move up to the midfield. But I guess I wasn't aggressive enough because I'd still be at the back. On the corners I'd try to gain a few spots by cutting in on the inside, but by the next corner a couple guys could get in front of me from the outside.

Then I felt like I was following the wrong wheel, cause the guy in front of me kept drifting back from the pack. I went around him and needless to say I was feeling the burn in my lungs from the cold air and being sick. A couple more times around the track and man I just couldn't keep the pace anymore.

As for the warm up, I went around the track 3-4 times at an easy to moderate pace.

I'm just out of shape. I'm going to punish myself with intervals now. At least I now know that the intervals should hurt me pretty badly. I feel like I just haven't trained hard enough [intensity].
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Old 01-28-07, 01:50 PM   #13
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I was in that race yesterday, not riding for two weeks was your biggest problem, also how long did you warm up before the race?

That race was tricky because being on the inside you could get trapped in pinched then passed. Ride this weekend and go back next weekend.
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Old 01-28-07, 01:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dentalman
As for the warm up, I went around the track 3-4 times at an easy to moderate pace.

This was a big mistake, I warmed up for 30 minutes and did some short intervals to get my legs warm and my lungs working.
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Old 01-28-07, 03:48 PM   #15
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Also, sometimes you have to cut to the inside of a corner, but trying to pick up spots on the inside of a corner will be tolerated the first time you do it and after that the pack will look for ways to cut you out of the herd so they don't have to deal with that the next lap.
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Old 01-28-07, 07:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Do you really think that you'd get slower by not riding for two weeks? You may not have increased fitness and gotten any faster as if you did train for 2 weeks, but you certainly can't get slower than your last training ride 2-weeks earlier. You don't lose fitness that quickly.
I don't think you'll lose huge amounts of fitness, but I do think you lose some of the freshness on the bike. I know my legs FEEL tighter when I've taken any real time off. I think most people would agree that if you take even a week off the bike, the first day or two back on you're a little stiff. I might be wrong *shrug*
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Old 01-28-07, 07:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadVW
I have to disagree with Danno here on this one. Two weeks "Off" means something different to me, and that's for the last two weeks you haven't been on the bike. Yes, that's certainly going to affect your fitness. Two weeks tapered for peak performance: good. Two weeks, no riding: not good. I know the time frame is a little different for everyone, but I don't know any cyclists that take more than a few days off that don't feel a bit tight getting on the bike again.

All that said, starting at the back probably did the trick.
I agree. As a matter of fact today I went to my normal trail ride after a two week break and I felt in pretty bad shape. I bet the two weeks account for at least 75% of your performance drop.

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Old 01-28-07, 09:32 PM   #18
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Even after a 2 day layoff I can feel a significant difference in my fitness. Much higher HR to maintain a much lower effort.
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Old 02-04-07, 05:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kadowaki
Getting back to OP:

Racing, esp crits (vs. road race or TT) in my humble, limited experience (perhaps I'm new enough to identify with what you're experiencing), is a lot different from training and what you do in a workout is relative to yourself to the extent that you can gauge your fitness vs. another point in the season or another season. But racing is all about position and there is a lot to learn regarding techniques and tactics.

])


being fit only gets you in the game. then you have to learn how to play the game.

you can stife everyone in that pack... but if you dont have the smarts to jockey for position- the right position at the right times- and you cant read the other riders and anticipate who'll do what and when...

then you wont win.


every race you learn something new.
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Old 02-15-07, 11:50 AM   #20
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Your first Crit race experience sounds like my first Crit race experience. When I did my first Crit I was nervous and sat toward the back of the pack on purpose to try to get a feel for the pace and dynamics of the whole thing. Big mistake. I got dropped about half way through and narrowly avoided being lapped. I raced that same race in successive weeks (it was a series) and did much better the next couple times because I was more confident and aggressive. Getting in the first 1/3 of the pack and staying there is CRITICAL. I was not nearly the strongest rider in that series but on the last race of the series I lead the pack for about half of the last lap because I learned to draft in the front of the pack and save energy. I think just the experience of racing in a crit gives you priceless info about what to expect and how to go with the flow without excessive breaking and wasting energy. You sound like a strong rider and I am sure you will do fine in your next crit. However, I would not want to take 2 weeks off the bike. I am on board with others who promote a week or so of shorter workouts and a couple easy "recovery" rides in the last week before a race. Let us all know how your next Crit goes!
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Old 02-15-07, 12:41 PM   #21
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As for the warm up, I went around the track 3-4 times at an easy to moderate pace.
Not enough. But really it is a cluster of things that did you in.

Poor warm up + mild illness + two weeks off of the bike + lack luster intervals + poor positioning at crit = DNF
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Old 02-16-07, 12:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dentalman
Stats:
5'8" - 142 lbs
Coach had us do a 5km time trial:
Avg: 22.6mph, avg hr: 185, wattage: 245.
This is a typical field test, but how many times have you done a 5km field test? Average speed, HR, and wattage is inconclusive. What was the completed time? For accuracy, two 5km efforts with 10 minutes recovery is a good average fitness baseline.

Everyone's input is on track. For me, Crit racing = trainer before start + 35 minutes efforted warm up.
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Old 02-16-07, 11:08 PM   #23
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One other possibility is that viral illnesses and heavy exercise in cool weather
can induce a bit of asthma that would severely limit your max output. Even
those with no history of asthma can be affected. Once the viral infection
clears up the air way reactivity tends to resolve as well. This sort of thing
is quite sporadic in its occurence, and not predictive of future problems.
If it had just been a bad clip in then I would think you would have been able
to keep up with the field when lapped once, the fact that you went off the
back 3x makes me wonder about other explanations.
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Old 02-17-07, 02:39 PM   #24
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i think my fitness is just not there

after all the replies, i think i was just looking for excuses for my poor performance.

there's a ride that leaves from the performance store here in carrboro every Saturday. i try to use it to gauge my fitness and i've been dropped off of it twice now. i can maintain the pace, but during the accelerations of the group, i tend not to do so well. the accelerations tend to last about 1-2 minutes. today i got dropped off a road called "orange grove" the group accelerated up this hill and i made it over the first half the hill, but it was just too much.

so i'll work on 2 minute intervals during my training.
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Old 02-17-07, 07:05 PM   #25
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This was recently talked about elsewhere too. (kinda similar situation getting dropped from group ride/races)

I think sometimes we're too quick to say "I can't hang with the group for that 2-5 minute burst" so I should do 2-5 minute intervals. The real fact might be your functional threshold. If you're operating nearer your functional threshold than the rest of the group for the majority of the ride, those 2-5 minute bursts are going to hurt a lot more and your ability to recover post-burst will be much worse off.

Wise to ask if you're able to PULL while at steady pace with the group. If you're doing that with no problems, the next thing I'd wonder is how hard a time you're having while in the paceline/draft. If you're working hard in the paceline/draft throughout the ride, 2 minute intervals aren't going to keep you in the group when they accelerate.

Quote:
3) What about training, I've read friel's book. But really how should I be training? The coach wants us all to do these intervals where I build up to zone 4 which is like 178-181 for me. It's incredibly hard for me to reach this zone unless I'm all out sprinting. And he wants us to hold it for 8-10 minutes.
If Zone 4 is incredibly hard for you for 8-10 minutes, it's not zone 4 - not by any training zones I've seen/applied. Friel's Zone 4 is sub-threshold, which means you SHOULD be able to maintain zone 4 for up to and sometimes over an hour. Coggan power zone 4 is threshold, 1 hr/40km TT power.

This also makes me wonder why only 8-10 minutes in zone 4 as the most commonly adopted requirement for zone 4 adaptation is out beyond the 10 minute mark.
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