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Women's racing and peloton politics

Old 07-12-16, 07:38 AM
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Poonjabby
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Women's racing and peloton politics

My wife is a Cat 3. This season has been pretty low turn outs for the local racing in NE Kansas. Using only 5-6 girls racing in Cat 3. The problem is one local team has a pretty steady turn out of three to four Cat 3 girls. The get pretty vocal about who should be pulling during the race. If it's 3-4 team members against her how much work should she be doing?




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Old 07-12-16, 07:50 AM
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None. None work.

There is another thread somewhere on this exact subject, I think started by @canuckbelle.
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Old 07-12-16, 08:41 AM
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0.
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Old 07-12-16, 08:48 AM
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Absolutely zero. It's their job as a team to drop her, if they don't want her around at the finish.
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Old 07-12-16, 09:30 AM
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None. And learn to make funny explanations as to why. Be prepared to use them often in response to lots of goading.
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Old 07-12-16, 10:07 AM
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Zero ... if the other team doesn't understand that, oh well. If the other team understands why she's not working and still give her grief, oh well, too. She's not obligated to do anything unless she wants to.
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Old 07-12-16, 10:12 AM
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Man, I've seen this exact scenario play out around here too.

Riders from the big team have even complained to officials because they didn't like how other racers were riding, and in one case, made a woman cry to the point that she almost quit racing. I really don't get it.
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Old 07-12-16, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Grumpy McTrumpy View Post
None. And learn to make funny explanations as to why. Be prepared to use them often in response to lots of goading.
Start watching Woody Allen movies for some good examples. "My racoon has hepatitis".
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Old 07-12-16, 10:35 AM
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Only as much as it takes to win.
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Old 07-12-16, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Poonjabby View Post
My wife is a Cat 3. This season has been pretty low turn outs for the local racing in NE Kansas. Using only 5-6 girls racing in Cat 3. The problem is one local team has a pretty steady turn out of three to four Cat 3 girls. The get pretty vocal about who should be pulling during the race. If it's 3-4 team members against her how much work should she be doing?




Poon
Personally, I'd probably take token very short pulls, being sure not to go deep. The local team should be repeatedly attacking and making your wife (and any others not on that team) pull back the attacks. By the way, if I was in a breakaway of that composition from a larger field I'd do zero work.

Funny that I've been in many races where people are yelling at each other to do work and belittling other riders and teams trying to get people to work, only to congratulate the other riders on a good race once they all cross the line. I've been on both sides of this and I think this is perfectly acceptable bike racing. The only thing unacceptable is to take it personally (or to use foul language in front of spectators).
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Old 07-12-16, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Poonjabby View Post
My wife is a Cat 3. This season has been pretty low turn outs for the local racing in NE Kansas. Using only 5-6 girls racing in Cat 3. The problem is one local team has a pretty steady turn out of three to four Cat 3 girls. The get pretty vocal about who should be pulling during the race. If it's 3-4 team members against her how much work should she be doing?

Poon
Your wife should pull very hard if one of the other team's riders is in trouble, if it's a tailwind, if it's a crosswind (and ride on the gutter). If there's a hill without much of a headwind she can pull on the hill. By making a show of pulling, even if it doesn't benefit the others, she can deflect some of that "She never pulls!" stuff. "I pulled every single lap on the backstretch!" Which had a 45 mph tailwind but still, she pulled.

She shouldn't pull easy, ever, unless she's going so easy it's ridiculous, like 10 mph or 50w or something. If she can coast and go the same speed then that's easy enough. However if she coasts and slows down then she's pulling too hard (if it's not one of the situations up above).

She should never pull into a headwind, especially not a headwind uphill. She should never lead out the sprint, unless that's the only way she can win a sprint.

She should conserve energy like mad and then expend it generously if it means eliminating one or more of that dominant team's riders.

Here's the thing. If the other team works well then your wife should only go after one of their attacks. The other team's rider should work, if so then work together. Now it's a 2 rider race.

However I'm guessing the other team's rider will say "I'm not working" in which case your wife should sit on the wheel and refuse to pull.

Depending on how ugly it is your wife may want to mark just one of the other team's riders, whoever is the strongest one (meaning places well or can drive a break). Ignore the other teammates for a bunch of races. What it does is focus all the attention on the strongest/whatever team rider. It forces the other team to be more active, like wear out some of their other riders. For example if the rival team had a Leader and Helper1 and Helper2, and the Leader was marked like mad, then Helper1 and Helper2 would need to do stuff, like attack or something. At some point those Helpers will tire and it'd be a good time to even up the odds.

Figure out your wife's strengths and weaknesses and try to leverage her strengths and mask her weaknesses. It's hard in a field of 5 or 6 but if she can finish with the others then she has very good fitness.

Without knowing anything about her riding profile I'd work on maximizing drafting benefit. Means doing front wheel touching drills so she's comfortable sitting really close on wheels. Work on reading wind and hiding from it. I call it Wind Management, basically you stick your head up to get wind direction and place a rider there. She may have to move from one side of a wheel to another in one straight, then move to the other side the next one. Whatever she needs to do she needs to do it - staying out of the wind is critical for saving enough to make a move. Work on using gears to maximize her jump so that she isn't closing gaps as much as she's just staying on a wheel (like if someone attacks she can be on the wheel immediately). Teach her patience, to bide her time until it's a good time to work.
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Old 07-12-16, 01:43 PM
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Wow thank you all!


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Old 07-12-16, 02:20 PM
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I'm going to disagree with most.

I think she should pull. With 5-6 riders in a field, and a cat 3 one at that, what else will she doing? You're not going to get much out of sitting on the back of a paceline every race.

Get in there, take your turns, try some moves, actually race. Get some fitness and race experience at the same time.
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Old 07-12-16, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Poonjabby View Post
My wife is a Cat 3. This season has been pretty low turn outs for the local racing in NE Kansas. Using only 5-6 girls racing in Cat 3. The problem is one local team has a pretty steady turn out of three to four Cat 3 girls. The get pretty vocal about who should be pulling during the race. If it's 3-4 team members against her how much work should she be doing?

Poon
Funny that they'd complain about her not pulling. With numbers like that, they could easily use a rider in front of her to purposely let a gap open in the pace line, forcing her to do the work to leap frog and chase back on while the other just grabs her wheel. I've seen a local team here use that tactic every time they have two or more riders in a breakaway - cycling's version of rope-a-dope.
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Old 07-13-16, 05:08 AM
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she's there to win and nothing else, do whatever that means; that day
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Old 07-13-16, 08:43 AM
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Guys, women's racing is VERY different. The politics are entirely different. Poonjabby: your wife's experience exactly parallel my own. Non-elite women's racing is treated as a GROUP RIDE with the expectation that everyone contribute equally to the pace. Those who don't get yelled at and it's like high school 'mean girls' after that. It's ridiculous, because it's racing. But as I said, women's non-elite racing is just different. Not in a good way.

At the elite level, this doesn't happen. The weird thing is that even some people who ride at the P12 level participate in this 'group ride' mentality. I don't get it. But if she just sits on, she'll get a terrible reputation, and she may be socially isolated for it.
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Old 07-13-16, 04:38 PM
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I've been in your wife's shoes. It's up to her really in this situation, the team think they are controlling but really your wife can do what she wants. Does she want a hard workout? Then attack, attack or TT off the front. If she wants to test her sprint, sit in and only sprint for primes or the finish. It's a good way to practice race tactics. If she gets bored, maybe she would be interested in doing some men's races. I typically try to do a men's race for every 2 women's races, it gives me a bigger field in which to practice skills and a much harder workout.
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Old 07-13-16, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I'm going to disagree with most.

I think she should pull. With 5-6 riders in a field, and a cat 3 one at that, what else will she doing? You're not going to get much out of sitting on the back of a paceline every race.

Get in there, take your turns, try some moves, actually race. Get some fitness and race experience at the same time.
Unfortunately I have to race in small fields quite often. Last weekend I raced in a field of 6, 4 the week before (winter here), so I've had quite a lot of experience in that situation.

You only do work when you're getting something out of it. Rolling round in a paceline isn't it. Like CDM says, this is in tailwind or crosswind sections. It's almost the opposite of getting a break going in a big field - you're trying to drop people out the back of the bunch as much as you're trying to get off the front. There's not really a "bunch" when it splits into 2 groups of 3.
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Old 07-13-16, 05:49 PM
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...maybe we need a sticky or something for a women's racing thread?
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Old 07-13-16, 11:54 PM
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Just attack them for the lulz.
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Old 07-14-16, 06:00 AM
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The question is, what is she capable of doing? What is her advantage? Can she beat most of them in a sprint? Can she win solo with a kilo attack? There's not too many other options with those odds. Figure that out and adjust strategy accordingly.

I'd play nice at the start of the race. Take real pulls, a little shorter than the others, just to keep things moving smoothly. Once they attack her, work goes to zero. If they yell at her, she should tell them to stop attacking her and she'll play nice. That is, if she has the sprint to beat them. If she doesn't, then she should attack as soon as their strongest rider pulls off the front, preferably when she is wasting her energy yelling.
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Old 07-14-16, 06:17 AM
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At Lime Rock this spring it was miserable, cold, raining hard, and the masters field had 7 starters. It was way worse being at the front so everybody spent the first lap trying not to pull. One of the racers, who is actually a national level coach, started yelling "this is what the women do! nobody wants to pull and then they all yell at each other for not pulling! you guys are racing like women!"

I assumed he was just being a dick but maybe he was trying to be literal. Anyway, on the 2nd lap he attacked and won the race.
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Old 07-14-16, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by canuckbelle View Post
...maybe we need a sticky or something for a women's racing thread?
I renamed this thread, so this can be the go-to thread on the subject if it's suitable.
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Old 07-14-16, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by canuckbelle View Post
Guys, women's racing is VERY different. The politics are entirely different. Poonjabby: your wife's experience exactly parallel my own. Non-elite women's racing is treated as a GROUP RIDE with the expectation that everyone contribute equally to the pace. Those who don't get yelled at and it's like high school 'mean girls' after that. It's ridiculous, because it's racing. But as I said, women's non-elite racing is just different. Not in a good way.

At the elite level, this doesn't happen. The weird thing is that even some people who ride at the P12 level participate in this 'group ride' mentality. I don't get it. But if she just sits on, she'll get a terrible reputation, and she may be socially isolated for it.
If this is the dynamic then use it to your advantage. When they tell her to work, she should tell them they're racing like little girls. STUPID little girls.

If they can't figure out how to use their 3 on 1 advantage to win, then she certainly shouldn't do it for them!!! Sit in and save energy and then use them as a lead out at the end. It doesn't sound like they're even smart enough to keep on girl fresh by the other two working for her.

Stage 10 TDF this year, Sagan is on the break... Orica has 3 riders, they keep making Sagan close the attacks... so of course he's softened up and can't hold off Michaels (who got to sit in and save energy while Sagan chased down Orica attack after attack after attack) in the sprint.

Bob Roll is like "well nobody can beat a 3 on 1 so Sagan did good grabbing second."
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Old 07-14-16, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by nycphotography View Post
If this is the dynamic then use it to your advantage. When they tell her to work, she should tell them they're racing like little girls. STUPID little girls.

If they can't figure out how to use their 3 on 1 advantage to win, then she certainly shouldn't do it for them!!! Sit in and save energy and then use them as a lead out at the end. It doesn't sound like they're even smart enough to keep on girl fresh by the other two working for her.

Stage 10 TDF this year, Sagan is on the break... Orica has 3 riders, they keep making Sagan close the attacks... so of course he's softened up and can't hold off Michaels (who got to sit in and save energy while Sagan chased down Orica attack after attack after attack) in the sprint.

Bob Roll is like "well nobody can beat a 3 on 1 so Sagan did good grabbing second."
I'm sorry, but this really isn't a helpful suggestion at all.

CB is right, women's racing is very different. I've seen it with my wife. Most of these suggestions are fine in men's racing, but not so much for women's.

Also, while men are pretty good about shaking things off and being friendly with each other once the race is over, women aren't. What happens in a women's race, doesn't stay in the race.
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