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Am I physically ready to attempt my first cat 5 crit?

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Am I physically ready to attempt my first cat 5 crit?

Old 09-13-16, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau
But how many 4's really ride the C race? They'd need to ride in the B race to get upgrade points, right?
Actually quite a few. In the last Thursday C crit, 10 out of 16 were 4's.

My club rider podiums almost all of the C races, but he has never sniffed the podium on a B race. He often does the C and the B.

My impression is that they don't focus on the B race until they are 3s.
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Old 09-13-16, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau
But how many 4's really ride the C race? They'd need to ride in the B race to get upgrade points, right?
You can get upgrade points in a 4/5 race, but only the 4's count for determining field size. Around here a lot of 4's will race both the C and B race. Go for the win in the C, treat the B as training/experience. Or if the better 4's who think they have a chance in the B race may treat the C race more as warmup (it's usually a pretty short race).
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Old 09-13-16, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
Ok, I'm the OP and I'm here to give an update. A lot more miles this year. My new numbers are:

5 sec power - 15.8 watts/kg
1 min - 7.44 w/kg
5 min - 3.74 w/kg
FT - 2.86 w/kg

I think I'm credibly fit to sit in a Cat 5 crit pack. I'm now doing local "A" group rides and finishing with the guys in the front. It just hasn't worked out for me in terms of my work schedule to actually make it to the crits (C crits are at 6pm). The only race-like thing I have done is a local large rally that is treated like a race (100k), and I was able to go with the lead pack for 30 miles (until a crash). I would have been dropped before mile 40 on this hilly rally. So I am now MUCH more comfortable riding inches away from other rides, compared to 12 months ago. I also now have a carbon bike and carbon aero wheels, for what that's worth.

And now as far as racing, I have to consider whether I want to try Cross (I don't have a Cx bike yet; those longer power efforts probably don't suit my strengths, but who cares) or track (I've only been on a track bike twice, but this would probably fit my strengths best--sprinter type). Or just continue to build fitness so I'm ready next spring (I didn't ride for about 3 months later winter, so I was in terrible shape when crits started up).

Getting closer!!!
You might think you're credibly fit to sit in, but until you actually try it, who knows?

Regarding your numbers and being a "sprinter type." As with the ability to sit in a pack, you're too new to training and racing - especially since you haven't actually raced yet - to really know. Yes, your numbers currently show your 5" and 1' power as being considerably better than your 5' and FTP, but two things. First, I have a similar 5" W/kg, and my jump is solidly mediocre. Second, there's a heck of a lot more to sprinting than 5" power. And a lot more to racing, too. By the numbers, sure, you can probably hang out in a Cat 5 crit. But those numbers don't measure your ability to sit on a wheel, whether you'll be too afraid to hold position through a corner or not, how well you'll be able to recover from sprinting out of the turns (this depends both on your physiology/training and your skill and comfort in the pack), and so on. The A rides are a good start, but even a "race-like" group ride really doesn't test these skills in the way a race does. At the very least, go get that 'cross bike and enter a race.
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Old 09-13-16, 09:53 AM
  #179  
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
Yes, I get that group rides are not the same thing as races. I'm merely pointing out that I now have a much improved level of fitness that I believe translates into being able to sit in on a C level crit race.
This is my first year racing. From my limited experience, I can say that sitting-in in non-technical crits is quite easy (winning is an entire different matter.) I'd say it's even easier than hard group rides (hard being very ambiguous, of course.) Technical courses, on the other hand, are much harder. I have better numbers than you (except 5 sec) but I still get dropped on technical courses. Why? Because I suck at cornering. I am sure a more experienced rider with better handling skills can do much better in those races with much lower numbers, but since I suck I have to work really hard until eventually I get dropped (not always, but still.)

Point is: You can work on fitness all you want, but unless you get to a level where you are outclassing everyone by a wide margin (like, 5 w/kg ftp or something) then it won't do you much good. What will do you some good is to learn to race. You're already 'strong' enough to sit the non-technical crits, so the sooner you start figuring out how to get results in the less time you're just wasting since I am sure you want to do more than just sit in. Technical crits will most likely kick your arse. The only way to get better is to practice and while you can do some drills and whatnot, no better practice than doing the actual thing. So, my advice is the same as everyone else's: Pin a number!

I got curious so I checked some numbers. On non-technical crits I usually average ~160-180W with NP of ~200-220W. Technical ones have averages more in the ~190-200W range with NP of ~210-230W. I'm sure you've heard it before, but it's the accelerations that kill you. In a technical course they can come every five to ten seconds - no group ride can prepare you for that.
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Old 09-13-16, 10:12 AM
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I am not good at cornering. One of the crits is very non-technical. No 90 degree corners. I'm getting a little bit of practice on the faster road rides, but I know it's not full speed on those corners (guys are trying to be safe). But there are very hard accelerations coming out of the corners.

I am good at accelerating and covering wheels.

And actually I think my numbers are an underestimation. Since in the past 18 months I haven't even tried to figure out what my 5 minute power max is. And I've never done a formal FTP test. Almost all of my data are from unstructured road rides.

My CTL is more than double what it was a year ago. I have lost 5 pounds from a year ago. If I were to lose another 5 pounds (very reasonable, as I am still a fattie), I'd be doing better.

I get it, racing is different, it's its own thing. I've noticed that many very fast, dedicated riders never race. Some cite past injuries, fear of getting injured. Some are just not interested. They just like riding.

I've noticed that the very best racers that I follow do a lot of unstructured riding (i.e. intervals on the trainer). It's a kind of dedication to just pain and boring pain at that, that a lot of the other guys don't care for. I've improved my fitness through group rides and some solo rides. But I haven't done it in an efficient, structured way. So that's something I have to figure out. Do I want to be one of the guys who is all in on improving, or am I more the social group rider who wants to ride in tough groups, but doesn't care to suffer through intervals on a trainer? I know there are some that don't do any structured riding. One of my bike friends is that guy. He's a cat 3.
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Old 09-13-16, 10:32 AM
  #181  
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My thoughts on structured training and group rides: They can be a great complement to a structured training program; or they can be junk miles that set you on the path to plateauing and mediocrity. I used to use a former teammate as a coach. He knew I loved a couple of the local rides so he designed a training program that included them. Depending on the time of the season, it might mean 2x20's during the week and then using the Saturday ride to sit in as part of a long tempo day. Or it might mean attacking, recovering, attacking, recovering, etc. until I finally got dropped. Or it might mean getting comfortable mixing it up in the sprints. Whatever it is, I try to approach every group ride with a plan.

If you're new to racing, your plan might be just to get comfortable moving around in the group. Move up, drift back, move up again, trying to be part of the flow.
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Old 09-13-16, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PepeM
I got curious so I checked some numbers. On non-technical crits I usually average ~160-180W with NP of ~200-220W. Technical ones have averages more in the ~190-200W range with NP of ~210-230W. I'm sure you've heard it before, but it's the accelerations that kill you. In a technical course they can come every five to ten seconds - no group ride can prepare you for that.
My teammate that won the "easy" weeknight crit (non-technical, weaker competition), the C one, in 30 minutes he averaged 256 watts, with weighted avg power of 300w. Usually normalized power is higher than weighted average power, so probably 310 watts NP. Maximum power 1162w.

I think I could totally hang onto your crit from a power standpoint. 230w is less than my FTP. And I can accelerate well too. I can average 1000 watts over 25 seconds.

I think my problem would be pack positioning, getting too far back, knowing when to make efforts to bridge. When to get into the wind, when to not. Understanding moves. Corners. Sprinting too soon. Understanding best position in a group sprint, etc.
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Old 09-13-16, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
I think I could totally hang onto your crit from a power standpoint. 230w is less than my FTP. And I can accelerate well too. I can average 1000 watts over 25 seconds.
It is also less than mine. It is usually not the overall pace that gets you, it's the changes of pace. You say you can accelerate well, but can you do it several times per lap? That's what gets you.

Originally Posted by Radish_legs
I think my problem would be pack positioning, getting too far back, knowing when to make efforts to bridge. When to get into the wind, when to not. Understanding moves. Corners. Sprinting too soon. Understanding best position in a group sprint, etc.
You're spot on. Not many ways of getting better at any those apart from racing though.
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Old 09-13-16, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
My teammate that won the "easy" weeknight crit (non-technical, weaker competition), the C one, in 30 minutes he averaged 256 watts, with weighted avg power of 300w. Usually normalized power is higher than weighted average power, so probably 310 watts NP. Maximum power 1162w.

I think I could totally hang onto your crit from a power standpoint. 230w is less than my FTP. And I can accelerate well too. I can average 1000 watts over 25 seconds.

I think my problem would be pack positioning, getting too far back, knowing when to make efforts to bridge. When to get into the wind, when to not. Understanding moves. Corners. Sprinting too soon. Understanding best position in a group sprint, etc.
Right, and the only way to figure that stuff out is to do it.

You know what? The olympic 1500 m running race was the slowest this year in the last 20+ years. 4 blind athletes in the paralympics a few days ago ran faster times. The race didn't come down to who had the most power or stamina, it came down to who read the situation correctly and made the right move at the right time. Obsessing over whether or not you have high enough numbers won't win you any races you don't enter.

Editepe beat me to it and said it more clearly/concisely.
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Old 09-13-16, 02:01 PM
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This is my target crit:
https://www.strava.com/activities/678749899/analysis

Flat. Curving turns. About 1 mile per lap. Wind plays more of a role than corners.
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Old 09-13-16, 02:14 PM
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When is it?
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Old 09-13-16, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin
When is it?
Spring 2017.
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Old 09-13-16, 02:34 PM
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You've been ready for a year and you'll be ready in the spring. In the meantime enjoy the riding!
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Old 09-13-16, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
Moreover, the A level group rides I do ...
If you're doing a regular A ride, why are you asking us instead of talking to the people who are actually riding with you and have a real-world notion of how good a rider you are? As others have said, but it's worth repeating - it wouldn't matter if your FTP was 500 watts and you had a 3KW sprint. Racing is the only thing that will tell you how good a racer you are.
There's a reason they have C races and cat 5 races. You've likely missed the crits for this year (unless you're in the Southern hemisphere), so circle the date of the first crit in 2017 and make plans to be there. In the meantime, spend more time talking to the flesh and blood riders you're riding with and less time obsessing over your numbers.

FWIW, one of my teammates (Cat 3) won the last crit of the year - his avg power? 208 watts. Another teammate in the same race came in middle of the pack - his avg power? - 320 watts. Both are solid racers and were state champs in Cat 4 (Crit and RR, respectively) before moving up to Cat 3.

So how do you suppose he won a race using 2/3 the power of a middle of the pack finisher? FWIW, they were both contenders, and weren't working together for the winner. Think about that a bit, and you'll understand why you should be racing instead of obsessing.
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Old 09-13-16, 03:23 PM
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I'm not obsessing. If I was obsessed with racing, I would have already made it happen one way or another.

Just because you know your wattage doesn't mean you are obsessed with them.

If I was truly obsessed, I would have actual best intervals for some of these times.

A guy from my club told me was I was ready to race, after a group ride, and that I even might do well. But honestly, most of the guys I've become casual friends with on these faster group rides--they don't race. the Group ride is the race. it's an end to itself.

There is the very most elite group ride that I haven't tried, because it's far away from me. Best riders in Dallas, including Cat 2s. South ride world championship. I talked with the rider who recently just "won" that group ride. He was on the ride I was on (slower than that). He said "you have good power, you'll never know til you do it."

Which is what everyone says. So that's what I don't ask. There's no point in asking. I already know I'm ready to do it. and no credible person is going to tell me NOT to do it.
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Old 09-13-16, 03:23 PM
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and btw, a year ago, I wasn't doing the A rides. I wasn't even sniffing them. I've only been doing A rides for about 5 weeks now.
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Old 09-13-16, 03:59 PM
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FWIW, I did my first race after a month of riding and participating in two group rides. I technically got dropped in the rollout on one of those rides, so closer to one and a half. Based on my fitness then, I'd say most anyone is ready to do their first race.
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Old 09-13-16, 04:04 PM
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so we get to stare at ewangs until next year. Or you go buy a CX bike. If I had the funds, I'd to the latter and not come back until I have a race report!
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Old 09-13-16, 07:44 PM
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Not many guys have the guts to come on here a year later and admit to total failure. I am that man.

Did a group ride tonight. Strongest guy on the ride asked me if I was doing the last crit tonight, said I couldn't due to the distance. He has done it. I asked him if I'm strong enough to do it. He basically said "duh, yes."

The real challenge for me will be keeping some measure of fitness over the winter, where I typically wuss out over the cold (yes, in Texas) and start playing basketball instead and lose all form. The odd trainer ride.
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Old 09-13-16, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
Not many guys have the guts to come on here a year later and admit to total failure. I am that man.

Did a group ride tonight. Strongest guy on the ride asked me if I was doing the last crit tonight, said I couldn't due to the distance. He has done it. I asked him if I'm strong enough to do it. He basically said "duh, yes."

The real challenge for me will be keeping some measure of fitness over the winter, where I typically wuss out over the cold (yes, in Texas) and start playing basketball instead and lose all form. The odd trainer ride.
Ha! I thought I was bad wussing out over the cold in the SF area.

But on racing... 3 years ago I came on this forum, first post asking about racing. Had never done a "race ride" and only done a few mellower group rides. The guys on here told me to just go do it, and a few heckled as well of course, so I went and did a crit. Ive done about 50 races per year since that day. Good thing I gave it a shot!
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Old 09-13-16, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
Not many guys have the guts to come on here a year later and admit to total failure.
@mattm knows nothing but.
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Old 09-14-16, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by hack
FWIW, I did my first race after a month of riding and participating in two group rides. I technically got dropped in the rollout on one of those rides, so closer to one and a half. Based on my fitness then, I'd say most anyone is ready to do their first race.




I was dropped in every race I did the year I started. Club races.. "neutral rollout"...yea, every one.. sometimes before the racing actually started.


Then I got dropped a little less the next year.






My first race I got dropped so fast I had no idea what was going on.




So to the op, just go race then worry about everything else later.
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Old 09-14-16, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs
Not many guys have the guts to come on here a year later and admit to total failure. I am that man.
Yeah coming back to an anonymous message board to confess your failure takes real courage.
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Old 09-14-16, 11:39 AM
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I actually don't feel like a failure. I'm happy with my fitness progress. I'm happy I'm riding some of the fastest group rides.

Maybe I will be fit enough by the time I start racing that I can just sandbag for a year and piss everyone off.
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Old 09-14-16, 11:47 AM
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You shouldn't feel like a failure. There are no consequences for not racing your bike, it's a valid life choice that the majority of people make. But you also shouldn't feel like coming back and being all "I totally haven't raced yet but when I do I'm going to crush it and be a total sandbagger with my <3 W/kg FTP," is some kind of gutsy brave thing. It's just words. I mean literally. Just words on a page on the internet.
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