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Hanging out in the Pack

Old 05-04-08, 10:12 PM
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Hanging out in the Pack

I raced today and passed up all my teammates in the final sprint. After the race they were making jokes that I never go to the front of the pack to pull instead I just hang out in the middle until the final lap. Is it considered chicken sh$t for someone to not ride in the front of the pack and end up placing high in the race.

After a few races I come to know my weaknesses and a major one is recovery. For some reason it is pretty hard for me to recover from riding in front of the pack. Knowing this, I choose to stay hidden until the final lap. It's been working for me so why change it.

Last edited by tbrown524; 05-04-08 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 05-04-08, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tbrown524 View Post
I raced today and passed up all my teammates in the final sprint. After the race they were making jokes that I never go to the front of the pack to pull instead I just hang out in the middle until the final lap. Is it considered chicken sh$t for someone to not ride in the front of the pack and end up placing high in the race.

After a few races I come to know my weaknesses and one major one is recovery. For some reason it is pretty hard for me to recover from riding in front of the pack. Knowing this, I choose to stay hidden until the final lap. It's been working for me so why change it.
I would consider it very smart.
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Old 05-04-08, 11:01 PM
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It is smart, but the question is, what were the teammates doing? Was there a team plan that you were not taking part in, or was it one of those lower cat "every man for himself" situations?
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Old 05-04-08, 11:06 PM
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tell them that its a race... and unless, as dr.wjodonnell alluded to, you were supposed to be working for a certain team member or goal.. you did the right thing.
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Old 05-04-08, 11:08 PM
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Only pull if you have a reason to pull.

Why would you have a reason to be at the front?

If you can't answer than question, sit in.
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Old 05-05-08, 01:49 AM
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You do what you can. If you can't, you don't.

http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...el-sucker.html

I can't TT to save my life so I'm not someone who goes to the front, except when it's really slow or I accidentally roll past the front. I typically show my face once, near the beginning of the race, if I feel awesome. Otherwise I hide.

In a bike race you should hit the front only if you have a specific reason for doing so:
1. Moral - you feel obligated to pull for some reason.
2. Team/friends - you need to chase, you're doing a leadout, or some other "active work" is necessary (steady pace to prevent breaks due to protecting GC leader for example, or pulling to get your climber to the big climb near the front of the field, etc). Or, if you'd doing "negative work", you're blocking and people are going so slow that you can't help but end up at the front. Hint for blockers - in a headwind, this should be at below 15 mph, in normal conditions it should be sub 20 mph... if you're going faster, you're helping people like me - touch your brakes and move back 5 positions, no matter how slow you have to go to do that. Your "easy" effort is shielding other riders because, in reality, they're at such a state that your "easy" effort is faster than they want to go. If they didn't think so, they'd be in front of you. In general, if you're blocking, you should not be at the front.
3. Individual - you're training for a more important race. You're trying to set up for a picture. Your new love is at the next turn and you want to impress that person (particularly good knowledge in collegiate races for predicting attacks). Your family is at the next turn and you want to impress them (particularly useful in Masters races, esp those with kids who love to cheer for a parent). Etc.

I preach ruthless sprinting but I'll be the first to admit that if I'm in a break, the lessons pounded into my head when I was 14 years old will prevail - I'll respond a bit late to all attacks in the last couple laps, I'll be a little less vigilant about marking the strongest guys, and I'll just tag along for the sprint and pass whoever sits up or slows up dramatically. In all (3 or 4) normal breaks I've ever stuck with till the end, I've gotten mid or back of the group places. 3rd out of 3, 7th out of 12... I can't think of any more off the top of my head. I won one race out of a break but that was unusual:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...meone-out.html

However, in the field, I've been either off the back (by 10 feet) or at the back, and I've won or gotten second respectively. If I can win from being off the back of the *field*, I will. If I can get second from being literally the last guy in the field, I will. In the latter's case, I even told the guy next to me, someone with whom I've been racing for over 20 years, "It's miracle time!" before I started moving up. Afterwards he asked me how I did, and when I replied, he smiled and shook his head.

cdr
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Old 05-05-08, 02:29 AM
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I don't practice what I preach. I should though. Someone told me (a friend/competitor) that if I wouldn't attack or go off the front so much, I would win most of the races.

Like the gents have said before me, only be at the front if you are working for the team.
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Old 05-05-08, 03:59 AM
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Was this San Lewis Rey? Which category did you race in?

Edit: nevermind, looks like it was the CBR crit...
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Old 05-05-08, 06:45 AM
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Hanging out in the pack is a lot more fun than being on the front. I try not to be near the front unless I need to be. In crits, I do like to be in the top 10-20 wheels or so, but in road races I am happy to suck wheels until the critical time, like we're about to hit that big climb or something. In the races I've been doing (Collegiate C), a lot of guys are still trying to gain themselves position in the first 15-20 miles, before the decisive parts of the course have appeared. Let 'em. The draft you get behind 30-40 other people is fantastic. Meanwhile, the other guys are burning energy trying to move up, especially since most of the guys at my level of racing don't know yet how to move up efficiently and do things like move up on the outside, etc.

So unless you have a reason to be up there, it's definitely a good idea to hang back until you're needed, or the decisive part of the course is approaching soon, or there's some dicey elements to the course (turns, pavement, narrowing road) and you want to reduce your chance of a crash. Remember that a race is like a mullet. Business in front, party in the back! Why go to work before you have to?

All bets are off, by the way, if you're planning an attack or want to mark other guys who might be attacking. But attacks that go before the important parts of the course aren't as likely to stick. It's important to know what's going on, no matter where you are in the field.
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Old 05-05-08, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by VosBike View Post
Only pull if you have a reason to pull.

Why would you have a reason to be at the front?

If you can't answer than question, sit in.
sums it up well. more should heed such advice, me included.

tbrown - I think your a cat 4 or 5, at this point in your racing, your "job" is to learn what you do well by trying a bunch of different approaches and to upgrade. same could really be said of Cat 3 also. except at that point you're starting to incorporate more of a team concept as your competition's fitness levels are starting to even out and some rider specific strengths are being discovered.
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Old 05-05-08, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by tbrown524 View Post
I raced today and passed up all my teammates in the final sprint. After the race they were making jokes that I never go to the front of the pack to pull instead I just hang out in the middle until the final lap. Is it considered chicken sh$t for someone to not ride in the front of the pack and end up placing high in the race.

After a few races I come to know my weaknesses and a major one is recovery. For some reason it is pretty hard for me to recover from riding in front of the pack. Knowing this, I choose to stay hidden until the final lap. It's been working for me so why change it.
does this mean that you placed?
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Old 05-05-08, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
does this mean that you placed?
Yes, Finally!!!!
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Old 05-05-08, 08:06 AM
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Sorry to say it, but anyone who thinks that you're obligated to do any work in the 4s and 5s is out of their mind. A 4/5 race is like a free for all. A gigantic, fast, very dangerous game of musical chairs. Sure, you feel good if you friends end up being in it at the end, but if not, well, their loss. They should have played smarter.

You did the right thing.

Team tactics will start appearing in the 3s to one degree or another, most 2s will know how to work/not work, and by the time you're a 1, unless you're just soloing off the front of every race, you'll know how to play the game.
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Old 05-05-08, 08:56 AM
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So, TBrown... did your "team mates" explain their position? Or were they simply joshing?

Kind of reminds me of people who are jealous of others who have / make more money. "Hey that's not fair, you studied and work harder than me and didn't make stupid mistakes"

Riiiight.
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Old 05-05-08, 09:15 AM
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Just joshing... Of course they kept bringing it up.. I told them after the race that they shouldn't be in the front of the pack the entire time(learned that on here). Three of them were on the front the entire race. One teammate actually broke away and it seemed like my other two teammates decided to increase the pace. I wanted to yell at them to slow the pack down so he could get away. The way I figure it is it's best to allow one of our teammates to win rather than someone else.
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Old 05-05-08, 09:41 AM
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Good job, tbrown. How was the turnout? We had a huge field of 4's and two full fields of 5's at San Luis Rey. I kinda wish i'd done Garden Grove instead, but wanted to support the club. Even if it meant I got a cruddy road race finish.
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Old 05-05-08, 09:51 AM
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Smaller turnout than usual yet there was still a sufficient number of riders in each group to make the races worthwhile. Overall, it was a typical CBR race but you could notice that a few well known teams were missing.
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Old 05-05-08, 09:55 AM
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Sounds exciting to sit in the pack all day and race for 500 meters. If you are in cat 4 or 5 you should be trying different tactics and seeing what works and what doesn't. Sitting in to get results will get you upgraded only to get shelled in the next cat.
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Old 05-05-08, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by marin1 View Post
Sounds exciting to sit in the pack all day and race for 500 meters. If you are in cat 4 or 5 you should be trying different tactics and seeing what works and what doesn't. Sitting in to get results will get you upgraded only to get shelled in the next cat.
correct.
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Old 05-05-08, 10:32 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by marin1 View Post
Sounds exciting to sit in the pack all day and race for 500 meters. If you are in cat 4 or 5 you should be trying different tactics and seeing what works and what doesn't. Sitting in to get results will get you upgraded only to get shelled in the next cat.
Sure, but there are times when it's smart to try different tactics and times when you shouldn't need to try a tactic to know that it will end in miserable failure. Why bother trying to go off the front in the first ten miles when there are 40 miles and a couple of monster climbs still ahead of you? Unless of course you are much stronger than the pack and can get a good gap and make it stick, in which case you need to upgrade anyway. I'm an attacking rider, but I prefer to try tactics that aren't obviously hopeless. I sit in the pack, yes, but I've also dragged back the pack back up to a solo break intentionally, just because I could and I wanted to see what it was like. In the same race, I attacked in an attempt to bridge late in the race. Botched it (went over the yellow line) and got nothing but tired. I did plenty of work, and tried things out, but the rest of the time I was hiding in wheels, because work requires recovery.
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Old 05-05-08, 10:59 AM
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I was on the front for the first three races this year and the people that I ask for advice suggested that the different tactic that I should be trying to learn is how to sit in and be a factor later in the race.
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