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Compared to 5 years ago, are Cat 4/5 racers faster now?

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Compared to 5 years ago, are Cat 4/5 racers faster now?

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Old 04-25-18, 04:28 PM
  #76  
caloso
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Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
the 35+ seems to have gotten faster, but I think maybe i've just gotten a lot slower
Yeah, me too. But it probably has more to do with the fact that those guys who stick with it into the masters keep training, and they've got more experience so they're not wasting as many watts as the strong but clueless young 5's.
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Old 04-25-18, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Enthalpic View Post
Utah. Can't say semen and it's a vile substance.
Hey man, i just don't play for that team. (also wasn't sure what the forum censors were).

Re: announcers.. Once you know a sport really well, announcers just get on your nerves. I can't stand to listen to most soccer commentators since I grew up playing the game and have reffed at a pretty high level. They're (even the guys commentating at the top level) just flat out wrong a lot.

Re: speed. The Clif bar team podcasts that have been done with the Trainer Road crew describe it as a ticket to enter. Punch your ticket at some level to get in. Everything above that level is about winning. Pete morris (on the podcasts) likes to say he punches his ticket when his threshold is around 400W. Anything after that is enough to help him handle surges better or make the moves that can help the team win/race.
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Old 04-26-18, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Personally I respect those who stick with the sport, even if they never upgrade at all. I get annoyed at the people that fly through categories and then quit racing after like two years (it happens).

To me, the respect part is about "the struggle" (lol if you can call it that.. not really but I think racers get what I mean), not how fast you are or which category your license says you are.

There's always a bigger fish out there, ready to swallow you up.

I bet the domestic elite guys who end up doing Tour of Utah & CO probably get yelled at and pushed around by the World Tour pros. (ok except for when they win, but still)
in this sport everyone faces setbacks. It's not if, but when, and when they happen it's about how you respond to them.

Gary's gnawing his cast off with his teeth so he can ride a trainer that he hates. I rode a week after clavicle surgery with my thumb hooked in my jersey, etc... anyone who's achieved any measure of success in bike racing has overcome something to get there or stay there.

It seems like young guys who breeze through the 3s, get their 2 and find out it wasn't competing that they liked, but winning. If all someone cares about is winning and not the competition, it's going to be pretty hard to stay fulfilled.
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Old 04-26-18, 12:40 PM
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Gunga, gunga galunga.
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Old 04-26-18, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in this sport everyone faces setbacks. It's not if, but when, and when they happen it's about how you respond to them.

Gary's gnawing his cast off with his teeth so he can ride a trainer that he hates. I rode a week after clavicle surgery with my thumb hooked in my jersey, etc... anyone who's achieved any measure of success in bike racing has overcome something to get there or stay there.

It seems like young guys who breeze through the 3s, get their 2 and find out it wasn't competing that they liked, but winning. If all someone cares about is winning and not the competition, it's going to be pretty hard to stay fulfilled.
When I punctured my lung, the doctors made it clear I was very susceptible to another puncture, and if that happened I had a 25% to have a heart attack. I decided the best course was to forget about cycling and walked away but paid for it (gained a ton of weight, etc). I could have very easily rode the trainer for 6 months, but more than likely I would have rode outdoors on the bike too early. I'd see people's results on Strava, read the 33, watch racing, get antsy and totally ignore the risks.

Of course, I haven't achieved any success in this sport so I guess this doesn't apply. Nonetheless my point is sometimes its better to walk away.
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Old 04-26-18, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in this sport everyone faces setbacks. It's not if, but when, and when they happen it's about how you respond to them.

Gary's gnawing his cast off with his teeth so he can ride a trainer that he hates. I rode a week after clavicle surgery with my thumb hooked in my jersey, etc... anyone who's achieved any measure of success in bike racing has overcome something to get there or stay there.

It seems like young guys who breeze through the 3s, get their 2 and find out it wasn't competing that they liked, but winning. If all someone cares about is winning and not the competition, it's going to be pretty hard to stay fulfilled.

I've decided personal growth and experience mean a whole lot more to me than winning. That's why I'm upgrading. And who knows I may never win again, but that's okay.
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Old 04-26-18, 02:16 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by ancker View Post
I'm not wildly underestimating anything. I know upper category riders are much better than lower in almost every way. But I think there is a degree of "I'm at Cat 1/2/3, so Cat 4/5s suck and couldn't possibly know something or be skilled, so I won't entertain the idea that they might." Further, the OP title was "...are Cat 4/5 faster now?". I've seen plenty of Cat 3 races that were faster than the P/1/2. The Cat 3 stayed mostly together, the P/1/2 had an early break that stayed away. Speed isn't an indicator of effort required or difficulty, I know this and never implied it was.

Also, this announcer is supposedly a former racer/hotshot, so he shouldn't be clueless. It's not the local radio DJ or something.



I don't think that and never insinuated that at all. As I said above, I don't believe average speed to be an indicator of difficulty of a race. But I do think there is a perception that lower cats are just slower, which isn't always the case.



A handful of posts above jump straight to the "Well, Cat 4/5 pack skills suck". The OP question was about 'faster' not 'better' or 'more skilled'. I'm responding to the implied correlation of "less skilled == slower".

I believe, as my posts above state, that today's Cat 4/5 racers are very likely 'faster' than they were 5+ years ago. This is due to Zwift/powermeters/coaches/aero bikes/etc.
I do _not_ believe the are 'better/more skilled' than riders were 5+ years ago.
I would guess the opposite. The average Cat 4/5 riders are probably SLOWER than those from 5 years ago. I'm guessing that membership peaked right about 5 years ago. Fewer riders mean a smaller talent pool, and fewer riders and races result in slower races, smaller challenges, and subsequent less growth. In addition, I'd guess that there's also the continuing demographic shift among the ridership -- more masters fewer younger racers -- that contribute to the decline of racers in the 19-34 year old category. That's not to say that there aren't strong cat 4/5 or vibrant local racing scenes, but I'd posit overall the racing has gotten slower. I'd even say it has for even the upper categories in the domestic scene.
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Old 04-26-18, 03:40 PM
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Fewer riders doesn't necessarily mean slower. If the riders who aren't coming are the more casual guys who don't train as much, then it's just losing dudes who are pack fodder on a good day.

I don't know how the scene has changed in the past few years. It seems like our weekday crits are doing fine, and perhaps even growing. But the weekend "big" races seem to be suffering and declining.
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Old 04-26-18, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
Gunga, gunga galunga.
100% agree
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Old 04-26-18, 08:20 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by ancker View Post
I think there is a lot of 'get-off-my-lawn' from the older/higher-cat racers on this whole topic. They don't want to believe that the lower categories are as fast/skilled as them, so they purposely downplay their abilities to make the higher categories seem better.

An announcer at one of my first Cat 4 racers was consistently giving out terribly incorrect numbers to the crowd.
"These Cat 4 racers aren't as powerful as the higher categories, they'll average about 19-20mph around the lap....blah blah blah."

Dude....I was just dropped/pulled from the Cat4/5 race and my average before being pulled was 24mph.

I asked around after the race and total 45 minute average was like 23 mph with the last lap around 26 mph.
I approached the announcer later and mentioned it in casual conversation, his response was "Nah, they're Cat 4/5, they didn't look like they were going that fast." So apparently his eyes are a better judge than our GPS/Speed sensors.
23 is a good century pace...
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Old 04-27-18, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in this sport everyone faces setbacks. It's not if, but when, and when they happen it's about how you respond to them.

Gary's gnawing his cast off with his teeth so he can ride a trainer that he hates. I rode a week after clavicle surgery with my thumb hooked in my jersey, etc... anyone who's achieved any measure of success in bike racing has overcome something to get there or stay there.

It seems like young guys who breeze through the 3s, get their 2 and find out it wasn't competing that they liked, but winning. If all someone cares about is winning and not the competition, it's going to be pretty hard to stay fulfilled.

thanks. This is actually helpful right now. Been having a hard time watching form and fitness slip. That innate felt sense of being on top of things. Not just racing, but just in general things were in a very smooth patch. Ebbs and flows and so it goes, of course. Still, when there’s an ebb we need to find our way back to the flow.

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Old 04-27-18, 06:15 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in this sport everyone faces setbacks. It's not if, but when, and when they happen it's about how you respond to them.

Gary's gnawing his cast off with his teeth so he can ride a trainer that he hates. I rode a week after clavicle surgery with my thumb hooked in my jersey, etc... anyone who's achieved any measure of success in bike racing has overcome something to get there or stay there.

It seems like young guys who breeze through the 3s, get their 2 and find out it wasn't competing that they liked, but winning. If all someone cares about is winning and not the competition, it's going to be pretty hard to stay fulfilled.

This. I desperately want to win but like everyone who competes, but if that was what gave me fulfillment, I would have been out so long ago. I've learned that for me it's all about the process of finding how far I can push myself and how I can continue to find ways to get better in the face of age/life/genetics etc. Today's participation reward mentality makes it harder for younger kids to maintain interest when there is only one winner and the smallest thing can mean the difference between 1st and 30th.
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Old 04-27-18, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by tobukog View Post
I would guess the opposite. The average Cat 4/5 riders are probably SLOWER than those from 5 years ago. I'm guessing that membership peaked right about 5 years ago. Fewer riders mean a smaller talent pool, and fewer riders and races result in slower races, smaller challenges, and subsequent less growth. In addition, I'd guess that there's also the continuing demographic shift among the ridership -- more masters fewer younger racers -- that contribute to the decline of racers in the 19-34 year old category. That's not to say that there aren't strong cat 4/5 or vibrant local racing scenes, but I'd posit overall the racing has gotten slower. I'd even say it has for even the upper categories in the domestic scene.
There may be some truth to this. There was a recent discussion on the local listserv about the hey days of the local Saturday hammer ride. The consensus was the ride peaked about 6 years ago.
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Old 04-27-18, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
There may be some truth to this. There was a recent discussion on the local listserv about the hey days of the local Saturday hammer ride. The consensus was the ride peaked about 6 years ago.
Of course, these are all just generalizations. Some of the hardest races I can remember (at least in my mind -- who knows about power since I didn't have a meter back then) have been Nor Cal Velopromo road races in crappy conditions with 10 riders on the start line. "let's just take it easy truces" usually last for about oh, 5 minutes and after that it just turns into a mano y mano slug fest with no where to hide.
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Old 04-27-18, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in this sport everyone faces setbacks. It's not if, but when, and when they happen it's about how you respond to them.

Gary's gnawing his cast off with his teeth so he can ride a trainer that he hates. I rode a week after clavicle surgery with my thumb hooked in my jersey, etc... anyone who's achieved any measure of success in bike racing has overcome something to get there or stay there.

It seems like young guys who breeze through the 3s, get their 2 and find out it wasn't competing that they liked, but winning. If all someone cares about is winning and not the competition, it's going to be pretty hard to stay fulfilled.
Friedman. Joel.
Starts with nothing. Stops by and I get him into the sport. This would be younger brother of Mike "Meatball" Friedman - US Olympian on the track at Beijing, Racer on TIAA Cref, Slipstream Chipotle, Garmin Chipotle, Garmin, Jelly Belly, Kelly Benefits, Optum, etc. Somewhere I documented on this forum - meeting him and getting him into the sport.

He was the first real true "natural" I had even seen up close. When on his first outdoor ride with the team and the first time he had ever ridden more than 20 miles in his life he lasts to the end (80 miles) with the 2 cat 1's and has dropped everyone else (about 30 guys - mostly 3's).

His first race he raced every lap looking at me for an indicator of what he should do. When he finally went he won by 30 seconds over the field. A gap he put on them in the last 2 turns of an industrial park crit. After the race Brad Huff called him to ask how everything went and to congratulate him.

He won and won and won. Everything. All day any day.

Upgraded to a 3 for Downers Grove when it was still US Crit Championships. Won by attacking on the back hill on the last lap. Rode/jumped so hard there was nothing but carnage behind him. Watch the video:

Went to a 2 before the end of the season. 1 year in racing. Had to have a conversation with him that winter about him getting serious and actually trying as up to that point he had just been "riding along". His brother told him not to. Said it was no kind of life and that he was actually jealous of him because he had a job, house, and girlfriend. ......the same guy who was roommates with Zabriskie, raced Paris, Roubaix, and Milan San Remo (placing in the top 20 1 year I believe), and most of the other classics.

Joel trains a bit. Has mixed results in the 2's. Isn't really winning much anymore. Is in the right place but is getting in wrecks. Taking the fun out of it.

We hook him up with uber Zen coach and masters national road champ, multi-time state champ, etc 50 yr old badass Wayne Simon. Wayne takes him and trains him. Makes him work. Best form of his life and in the first race of the year is able to toy with everyone. Is in the final sprint train in the last turn and things go south quick. Hits the deck and does about $400 damage to the bike his brother had just given him - the last team issue Garmin bike he had received. Forgot to bring his protein for after the race after having been warned multiple times by coach. Head isn't in the game. Is "fired". Walks away.

"it was super fun as a 3. I kind of wish I just could have stayed there."

Waits multiple years. I finally talk him into downgrading to a 3. He does and comes out to race 1 time. No training. Still racing the 1/2/3 but has fun rolling and hangs on and has some fun, but was warned that if he started winning he would be upgraded again to a

Natural with genetics but not the head. Walks away. Could have been a pro. Was easily a 2. stopped having fun when he stopped wining everything.
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Old 04-27-18, 11:59 AM
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1:20 That pissed me off. Nasty crash but too bad gotta to the finish line. Something serious could have been wrong with one of those guys and 1 or 2 extra hands is crucial but whatever.
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Old 04-27-18, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
1:20 That pissed me off. Nasty crash but too bad gotta to the finish line. Something serious could have been wrong with one of those guys and 1 or 2 extra hands is crucial but whatever.
Yeah I don't know who the guy was. I don't even think I was at the race at the moment. I was racing that day as well....in the masters 4/5 where the guy that won was an ex-cat2 that they made be a cat 5 when he came back to the sport so our race was on his stop on the way to being a 2 again. Probably one of my highest placings.

See being a lifelong cat4 I get to really look at the issue. The problem with our system is that it is structured as though everyone is a beginner and has to acquire skills and work their way up. The reality isn't so. There are people who come to the sport as athletes that will be 2's but they have just never raced before. As you move through the ranks the disparity between the highs and the lows in the category narrows. It then gives it the impression of being more consistent as you move up...because it should be.

The fact is - you were all cat 4's or 's at some point and you blew up fields and left damage in your wake. There is ALWAYS someone doing that in the 4's and 5's. When one upgrades the next one shows up or comes along. Those of us who really would be there for life and just want to compete with the normal humans in the 4's can easily get discouraged and leave. Yes i have been in many 4's crits that were 24-25 mph average speed crits. I have done that on days where the masters were running 22-23. It wasn't the "4's" that were driving it. It was the handful of guys on their way through...just like every race every time.
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Old 04-27-18, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
1:20 That pissed me off. Nasty crash but too bad gotta to the finish line. Something serious could have been wrong with one of those guys and 1 or 2 extra hands is crucial but whatever.
I know the guy that took the video. What's he supposed to do, really? I mean, those crashes are a dime a dozen at that race (and most national championships). That was essentially at the neutral service tent, anyway. Plenty of people there.

Don't really want random people jumping on the course in the middle of the last lap anyway. At least I don't.
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Old 04-30-18, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I have been toying with an idea. i ran it by some of our officials. I might end up doing it. The just is that I put 2 cat 5 races on the schedule. One is labeled "beginners" or "citizen". In order to race in it you have to pre-reg. That gives me time to look up past results, check out your social media, etc. If I believe you're simply new to the sport but in reality an athlete that has already been training with a power meter and coaching, etc but are just now starting to race then you go into the "other" cat 5 race. If you're truly new and not even sure you should do this then you get to race beginner. If you do well (podium) in beginner - you're over to the other cat 5 race for the next day in the omnium.
this gets to whats's different these days. The people who win Cat 5 races aren't markedly faster than they were 20 years ago. But the overall level of people coming out to do Cat 5 races is much higher. When they started Citizen's/Cat 5 years ago, a recreational cyclist could come out, try racing and not just get totally blown away.

These days, to even hang in most 5 Cat crits, you've got to be reasonably well trained.

i think we'e got a problem with providing an entry point to the sport. And I think that emphasis on training, as opposed to learning to ride a bike, is causing two seperate problems; 1) creating riders that are way faster than their bike handling skills, and 2) dicouraging recreational cyclists to even try racing.

Psimet's solution might be a partial answer to this.


And, Get off my lawn.
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Old 05-01-18, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
this gets to whats's different these days. The people who win Cat 5 races aren't markedly faster than they were 20 years ago. But the overall level of people coming out to do Cat 5 races is much higher. When they started Citizen's/Cat 5 years ago, a recreational cyclist could come out, try racing and not just get totally blown away.

These days, to even hang in most 5 Cat crits, you've got to be reasonably well trained.

i think we'e got a problem with providing an entry point to the sport. And I think that emphasis on training, as opposed to learning to ride a bike, is causing two seperate problems; 1) creating riders that are way faster than their bike handling skills, and 2) dicouraging recreational cyclists to even try racing.

Psimet's solution might be a partial answer to this.

And, Get off my lawn.
This is a better way of saying what I was trying to say earlier. People have this notion that Cat 5's are citizens trying it out for the first time (because that's what it was like when they were new). Most are not and have spent all winter training and doing Zwift races. Neither build pack skills, cornering speed, or teach racecraft, but it creates stronger riders. Instead of recognizing that speeds and difficulty of today's Cat 5 races has indeed gone up, the response is always "nope, speed and skills in the 5s still sucks." The overall winning speed hasn't gone up, because the guys that are winning are still the types of racers that were winning back then. But start time to lapped or start time to pulled is probably a lot shorter than it used to be.
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Old 05-02-18, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ancker View Post
This is a better way of saying what I was trying to say earlier. People have this notion that Cat 5's are citizens trying it out for the first time (because that's what it was like when they were new). Most are not and have spent all winter training and doing Zwift races. Neither build pack skills, cornering speed, or teach racecraft, but it creates stronger riders. Instead of recognizing that speeds and difficulty of today's Cat 5 races has indeed gone up, the response is always "nope, speed and skills in the 5s still sucks." The overall winning speed hasn't gone up, because the guys that are winning are still the types of racers that were winning back then. But start time to lapped or start time to pulled is probably a lot shorter than it used to be.
I never had a notion that cat 5s were citizen races. In fact, I was under the distinct impression when I began (and I still hold this belief), that you should be a fairly experienced (and good) group rider before attempting a race. My go-to advice for anyone thinking about racing is to go do the fastest group rides you can do, primarily for the group dynamics and safety issues.

I honestly don't think I know a single bike racer who just thought "hey, a race sounds fun, why I don't go jump in one." In fact, I've heard more than a couple of weekend warrior types state they thought they'd be dropped from the gun when it was suggested they give racing a try because they rode so well. Probably not the norm, but certainly different from the idea that a bike race is for anyone idea.
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Old 05-02-18, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I never had a notion that cat 5s were citizen races. In fact, I was under the distinct impression when I began (and I still hold this belief), that you should be a fairly experienced (and good) group rider before attempting a race. My go-to advice for anyone thinking about racing is to go do the fastest group rides you can do, primarily for the group dynamics and safety issues.

I honestly don't think I know a single bike racer who just thought "hey, a race sounds fun, why I don't go jump in one." In fact, I've heard more than a couple of weekend warrior types state they thought they'd be dropped from the gun when it was suggested they give racing a try because they rode so well. Probably not the norm, but certainly different from the idea that a bike race is for anyone idea.
I certainly agree with this. I may have taken this to heart more than most (over-prep compared to underprep). You do the hammer ride twice a week with cat 3 and 4 racers, you're going to be way more prepared for that first crit.
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Old 05-03-18, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I never had a notion that cat 5s were citizen races. In fact, I was under the distinct impression when I began (and I still hold this belief), that you should be a fairly experienced (and good) group rider before attempting a race. My go-to advice for anyone thinking about racing is to go do the fastest group rides you can do, primarily for the group dynamics and safety issues.

I honestly don't think I know a single bike racer who just thought "hey, a race sounds fun, why I don't go jump in one." In fact, I've heard more than a couple of weekend warrior types state they thought they'd be dropped from the gun when it was suggested they give racing a try because they rode so well. Probably not the norm, but certainly different from the idea that a bike race is for anyone idea.
Unfortunately this is the case. I really wish, as a promoter and general lover of racing, that I could easily walk up to anyone and say, "HEY - give it a shot!"

You'd be amazed at how many times I have been in a meeting with a local government talking about race logistics only to have the Public works guy or even the police chief say that thy were thinking of trying it as they have been getting into shape....only for people on our side to scare them off with all of the things to consider. 5k's don't do that. We will never be running but sometimes I think we need to be more like them.
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Old 05-03-18, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Unfortunately this is the case. I really wish, as a promoter and general lover of racing, that I could easily walk up to anyone and say, "HEY - give it a shot!"

You'd be amazed at how many times I have been in a meeting with a local government talking about race logistics only to have the Public works guy or even the police chief say that thy were thinking of trying it as they have been getting into shape....only for people on our side to scare them off with all of the things to consider. 5k's don't do that. We will never be running but sometimes I think we need to be more like them.
The average cyclist (not the average racer) would be dropped in the first lap of the crits I do. No doubt about it. In all the 4/5 crits i have done this year, I was on the podium 3 times, and my FTP is near 300w. That's 3 out of many, many.
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Old 05-03-18, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Unfortunately this is the case. I really wish, as a promoter and general lover of racing, that I could easily walk up to anyone and say, "HEY - give it a shot!"

You'd be amazed at how many times I have been in a meeting with a local government talking about race logistics only to have the Public works guy or even the police chief say that thy were thinking of trying it as they have been getting into shape....only for people on our side to scare them off with all of the things to consider. 5k's don't do that. We will never be running but sometimes I think we need to be more like them.
It's because we take ourselves too seriously.
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