Thread: What hope?
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Old 11-10-14, 08:01 PM
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kbarch
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What hope?

Soooo.... Kind of a long post here, but really a simple question, and I hope others will just take it as a springboard for describing their own success story as much as they might give some advice and encouragement.

What hope do I have to ever upgrade from Cat 5? I've finished enough races to qualify, but I refuse to ask until I've at least finished with the field a few times!

I ask this here (rather than the road cycling forum, where I normally hang out) because, a year and a half ago, racing age 49, I picked up my first bike in decades for the express purpose of taking up racing, with the added benefit of being able to get some aerobic/cardio/whatever-they're-calling-it-these-days kind of exercise in a more pleasant atmosphere than the gym. (in case you're wondering what prompted it, I'd been moto official for a while, and when on a stationary bike at the gym after working a race one day, it struck me how obvious the choice was).

I've never been any kind of athlete, but I've definitely made some progress. I've done a couple of centuries, and of course participated in a number of races. I even got my first Strava KOM the other day, though admittedly that was on a silly cobbled street that only 150 others have bothered to record. I continue to improve a little, I think, but I am often disappointed to find myself not doing as well as I thought. I've managed to get pretty good at sprinting up hills, but I'm terrible at maintaining an even effort above a lollygagging level. Like today, even though I managed to sprint up a hill at 22 mph, faster than any of the 72 others who tried it today, I only managed an average of less than 17 mph for the whole loop! On the flat 6-mile route to and from the park (only a couple of stop lights), I barely managed 14 mph. I just took my time! I've done group training rides where we average 20 for 18-19 miles and it feels good. I try to hang with a group that does 21 mph? I last maybe 10 miles before I get dropped like a rock. And it could be anywhere, but surprisingly more often than elsewhere, on descents. I think it's mental.

I asked a friend once how long it took from the time she started racing to the time she became competitive, and she said about a year and a half. But she wasn't much more than half my age. Can anyone here confirm whether that might be a reasonable expectation at our age? Do I have a realistic chance of not getting dropped from every race next season?
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