Old 10-01-17, 01:27 AM
**** that
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I see group rides like junk food: sure, you could survive on junk food, but it's not the best idea. And sitting in a draft isn't really training, unless you're behind a car or a scooter. It's better than nothing, but that's not saying much.

But, I do eat junk food - and I do the local race rides.

"Spectrum" is the big local one down here in the south bay, every Saturday @ 9 AM. 50+ people, mostly racers, open two-lane roads, about 45 miles long with some town-line-like sprints. I would guess the average racer is cat 3 on this ride, but there are some cat 6's too for sure. Last time I did it I noticed that it's mostly an older crowd, I'd guesstimate 40 as the average age. (wait - I'm 40 next year.. ugh)

For me, it breaks up the monotony of doing solo 2-3 hour z2 or high-cadence rides during the week, which is mostly what I do during the Base period/winter. It's partially a social thing too - I see a lot of friends there, and a few people I race against.

When I do Spectrum, I'll use the sprints as practice for real sprint - although they're way easier. (I win a lot of them on this ride, which mostly speaks to how few legit cat 1s do it). So I'll try out different gearing, jumping at different times, or practice leadouts with a teammate or two. I'll also try to get in some breaks here and there, since @Ygduf is usually there and usually in the break.

As for pack-handling I get plenty of that in races, and this is way more like a road race than a crit, so I don't really count Spectrum as helping that. Mostly I try to avoid the cat 6 squirrels and the occasional crash.

When I do Spectrum's 45 miles, I'll usually tack on another 40+ after it. If I try to keep the (z2) power on after a race ride like that, I figure that's when I'm really getting a benefit in. The race ride is just an easy way to get some quick miles in, but I don't count it as true "training."

Fwiw I never did race rides in Seattle when I was a cat 6,5,4,3,2 - I only did the summer weekday crit and team rides which were much slower. And no, I don't think group rides helped me get to cat 1. But who knows, maybe they did? It was mostly @Ygduf's coaching that got me to cat 1 probably.
cat 1.

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