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Group Ride

Old 06-17-09, 07:07 PM
  #1  
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Group Ride

I am Cat. 5 and have raced 3 times (dropped, top 10, crash). There are two group rides from my local bike shop.

Intermediate Ride - Monday Nights
Pace is around 19-20 mph for 30-40 miles. I've been once. The pace is not very challenging, nor is it intended to be. The core of the group are enthusiasts, not necessarily racers.

Fast Ride - Wednesday Nights
Pace is 26-27+ mph for 40-60 miles. Racers come out from a grand tour level pro to .. well, me. I have not stayed with the main group for longer than 30 minutes on this ride in the 5 or so times I've tried it.

I believe I am firmly in "No Mans Land", as far as these rides are concerned. So I have a few questions.

1. Is there value in attending the Monday ride, as a racer?
2. Is the Wednesday ride overkill? My races have not averaged faster than 23 mph. My strategy has been to go and hang on for dear life, and I think its made me faster. Would a slightly slower ride benefit me more?
3. Is it unrealistic to aspire to be one of the guys responsible for decimating the pack on the Wednesday ride? Has anyone in here made the jump from being dropped regularly on such a ride, to breaking legs? In other words, are guys like that born that way?
4. I'd be thrilled to just hang with the group for the whole ride. Any tips to get there?

Thanks.
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Old 06-17-09, 07:28 PM
  #2  
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1. Some. It's probably fast enough to get you some benefit. It's probably a decent SST-level workout, which might actually make it your best bet.
2. Maybe, but if there isn't an in-between choice, that's what you've got. A slightly slower ride might benefit you more in that, if you get popped, you're not going to get the same training benefit because you won't be working as hard. If you barely hang on, but manage to hang on for 40 miles, you'll get more benefit than hanging on for 15 at a higher pace. Assuming that hanging on longer isn't causing you to get too fatigued to get the benefit. See how this can get complicated?
3. Not necessarily - it depends upon the riders, the terrain, and other factors. On one ride, I have become one of the riders that can break legs. It has hills that are well-suited to my abilities - I'm not a pure climber, but I can climb reasonably well if I haven't been burned out in the wind. Also, the local big guns (Pro, 1, 2, strong 3s) show up less frequently on this ride. On another ride, I tend to be fodder, partly because the really strong racers are more likely to attend, partly because most of the ride is ridden at an extremely high pace on the flat, which tends to fry me before I reach the climbing section.
4. Keep riding, keep training, keep trying to hang onto that group. One day you'll make it the whole ride.
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Old 06-17-09, 07:32 PM
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IMO, 30 min. of the Wed ride is better training than 2 hours of the Mon ride. One will make you faster, the other won't. 30 min. will eventually turn into 40, 50, 60, etc. You just have to have the willpower to get dropped and still show up again. Kind of like racing.
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Old 06-17-09, 07:38 PM
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If you have to choose between the two alternate on a weekly basis. At cat5 i think it's hard to go wrong in your training, unless you jump in with too much too soon (think 4+hrs/day everyday), and these rides won't do that.

If it were me, and I had nothing else going on, I'd do both rides.
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Old 06-17-09, 07:38 PM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by ljrichar View Post
IMO, 30 min. of the Wed ride is better training than 2 hours of the Mon ride. One will make you faster, the other won't. 30 min. will eventually turn into 40, 50, 60, etc. You just have to have the willpower to get dropped and still show up again. Kind of like racing.
I don't completely disagree, but there's something to be said about training volume.

My performance has increased tremendously since I've started doing longer rides more often.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:01 PM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
I don't completely disagree, but there's something to be said about training volume.

My performance has increased tremendously since I've started doing longer rides more often.
Volume is important in that you need enough to support your higher intensity workouts. However, to take advantage of the benefits you get from higher volume, you need to throw some intensity work in there eventually - 100% high volume rides won't make you fast.

As for the OP, keep doing both rides, with priority to the faster one. Perhaps use the Monday ride as recovery and practice riding smoothly with a group. The more you ride with others, the better you'll become. I find it's actually harder to ride smoothly with a group that is going easy than one that is going all-out.

Try like hell to stick with the fast group for as long as possible. Riding with people faster than you is great training to get faster.

Re: your question 3: Last summer I had trouble sticking with our local Saturday A group, which usually averages 21-23 mph for about 50 miles. This summer, I'm one of the 3 or 4 strongest riders in that group. There's a Tues/Thurs evening ride that is a real hammerfest, and while I am not the strongest rider in that ride, I can make people hurt occasionally. There is no chance I could have even tried that ride a year ago.

I guess the short answer is that it's definitely possible to get a lot faster than you are right now. BUT, it takes time - don't expect to see improvements overnight. And if you have pro-level riders in your fast ride, chances are you are never going to be able to make them really hurt, so don't get discouraged if they're always faster than you.

Have fun, don't push yourself too hard, and most of all, don't get discouraged. The speed will come with time and training volume.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:19 PM
  #7  
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Bought my bike in June last year... started group rides in August... promptly got my ass handed to me, and regularly watched the group ride into the sunset.

One year later, I can regularly hammer with the Cat 3's of our group for the duration of our rides.

26 mph for 60 miles... damn. I'd be dropped quick. Crispy said it best... have fun, don't get discouraged. You're doing the right thing by continuing to show up and ride.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:21 PM
  #8  
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Lather rinse repeat Wednesday night. It does a body good.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:28 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by mollusk View Post
Lather rinse repeat Wednesday night. It does a body good.
+1, I had a ride like that that I kept getting dropped from, now (about a month or two later) I can hang and sometimes even make and work in the break.
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Old 06-17-09, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tc83 View Post
I am Cat. 5 and have raced 3 times (dropped, top 10, crash). There are two group rides from my local bike shop.

Intermediate Ride - Monday Nights
Pace is around 19-20 mph for 30-40 miles. I've been once. The pace is not very challenging, nor is it intended to be. The core of the group are enthusiasts, not necessarily racers.

Fast Ride - Wednesday Nights
Pace is 26-27+ mph for 40-60 miles. Racers come out from a grand tour level pro to .. well, me. I have not stayed with the main group for longer than 30 minutes on this ride in the 5 or so times I've tried it.

I believe I am firmly in "No Mans Land", as far as these rides are concerned. So I have a few questions.

1. Is there value in attending the Monday ride, as a racer?
2. Is the Wednesday ride overkill? My races have not averaged faster than 23 mph. My strategy has been to go and hang on for dear life, and I think its made me faster. Would a slightly slower ride benefit me more?
3. Is it unrealistic to aspire to be one of the guys responsible for decimating the pack on the Wednesday ride? Has anyone in here made the jump from being dropped regularly on such a ride, to breaking legs? In other words, are guys like that born that way?
4. I'd be thrilled to just hang with the group for the whole ride. Any tips to get there?

Thanks.
From one Cat 5 to another...

I would do the Wednesday night ride if you are serious about racing. Your best bet, however, would be to find a ride somewhere else that is close to the pace of the Wednesday night ride, but is no drop, meaning that the riders group up and wait at certain points along the route. That is what I did last year in my first year of racing and I found that I did a lot better on my local hammerfest ride. Just make sure that you are well rested before every Wednesday and that you have eaten and slept well that day so that you are at your peak. Also, make sure you get a good warmup in before the ride, with some short but intense efforts so that you are warmed up when the fast riders hit the gas. It may sound silly, but it wouldn't hurt to bring your trainer with you to the meeting point and spending 20 or 30 minutes doing a warm up.

Question 3-With a decent amount of training, I'm sure you'll be able to hang with these guys and even attack them at certain points. What you have to understand about these other riders is, usually, these riders have seasons upon seasons of racing in their legs, seasons that you just don't have. To get to their level, race lots and get used to digging deep to close gaps, win sprints, etc. Once your legs get used to the effort, hanging with these guys will be a piece of....okay, maybe not cake, but at least a piece of Big Red chewing gum. You know, tasted kinda good but too much can burn you.

Question 4- Here's what I do. If you know the spots where the pace really picks up, make sure you are on the wheel of a fast rider by the time you get to those spots. It may be a short hill or a long flat, whatever, just make sure you hold that wheel. If some other rider tries to pressure you off that wheel, just rub elbows with him to show him you're not moving. Also, before those attack points, make sure that you are well rested and haven't been working hard. You want your legs fresh and ready to go for the 30+ mph attacks that you know are coming. And, most importantly, stay at the front. If you are in a pretty big group, the accelerations from the front are going to amplify as each rider reacts to the acceleration. You want to be know further back than 15th or so if you're in a 30 man group. Trust me, this helps alot. Also, the back is where a lot of the slower riders hang out, since they aren't aggressive and don't want to fight for wheels. A lot of these slower riders won't have the jump to keep with the group during the accelerations, and if you get stuck behind one of these riders, you're hosed.

Hope at least some of this helps, man. Keep us informed on how you do on the next ride.
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Old 06-17-09, 09:34 PM
  #11  
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exeter ride?
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Old 06-18-09, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tc83 View Post
I am Cat. 5 and have raced 3 times (dropped, top 10, crash). There are two group rides from my local bike shop.

Intermediate Ride - Monday Nights
Pace is around 19-20 mph for 30-40 miles. I've been once. The pace is not very challenging, nor is it intended to be. The core of the group are enthusiasts, not necessarily racers.

Fast Ride - Wednesday Nights
Pace is 26-27+ mph for 40-60 miles. Racers come out from a grand tour level pro to .. well, me. I have not stayed with the main group for longer than 30 minutes on this ride in the 5 or so times I've tried it.

I believe I am firmly in "No Mans Land", as far as these rides are concerned. So I have a few questions.

1. Is there value in attending the Monday ride, as a racer?
2. Is the Wednesday ride overkill? My races have not averaged faster than 23 mph. My strategy has been to go and hang on for dear life, and I think its made me faster. Would a slightly slower ride benefit me more?
3. Is it unrealistic to aspire to be one of the guys responsible for decimating the pack on the Wednesday ride? Has anyone in here made the jump from being dropped regularly on such a ride, to breaking legs? In other words, are guys like that born that way?
4. I'd be thrilled to just hang with the group for the whole ride. Any tips to get there?

Thanks.
ted king brings the cervelo test team along?
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Old 06-18-09, 04:45 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
ted king brings the cervelo test team along?
A grand tour level pro, not plural - from what I've seen so far. Maybe Sastre will be there one day.

Originally Posted by whtmtnpellda
exeter ride?
Indeed.
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Old 06-18-09, 06:32 AM
  #14  
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I'd recommend you hit that Wed ride when you can. At first, you should plan maybe some 10' intervals after you get popped. Maybe 3x10. Every 15' longer you last in the field, take off one of the 10' intervals. Once you get to where you can hang for an hour, then only do intervals if it feels right.

For the Monday ride, it doesn't sound like it's worth much on its own. If you go to the front and drive the pace, you can get a good workout out of it, but there won't be any structure.

What you should really do is determine training goals to address your race limiters. Make a training plan, and see how that lines up with these two rides. A really fast group ride is generally a good thing though.

At one point I was coaching a Cat 2 woman, and would join her for the B race at our Tuesday Nighter. Talking to her during the race, I actually got dropped from the Bs, maybe six years ago, and had to circle back to pick them up on the next lap. I wasn't training seriously at all, and it showed (I had semi-retired from racing and was finding a lot of enjoyment from coaching and mentoring).

Once I decided to get a little more serious about my racing, I got fast in a hurry. Last year I won one of the 27mph A-race Tuesday Nighters. I'm not even remotely dominant out there, but I'm a player.

You can get there.

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Old 06-18-09, 06:43 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
ted king brings the cervelo test team along?
I saw NH and was going to say the same thing...
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Old 06-18-09, 06:46 AM
  #16  
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Yeah, I guess our Tuesday Nighter has had a Pro Tour winner a few times/year. Yes, I attacked.
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Old 06-18-09, 06:50 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by tc83 View Post

3. Is it unrealistic to aspire to be one of the guys responsible for decimating the pack on the Wednesday ride? Has anyone in here made the jump from being dropped regularly on such a ride, to breaking legs? In other words, are guys like that born that way?
4. I'd be thrilled to just hang with the group for the whole ride. Any tips to get there?

Thanks.
3. You will get a lot of answers that vary on this one. I don't believe in personal limitations. A lot of people will disagree. F them. It's up to you to stay positive. Trying to stay positive among enormous negativity can be like swimming against a strong current, but you have to keep going. We have a guy like that. Over the past two years he went from getting dropped by the A's to being sprint champ and overall leader.

4. Learn to draft at 3 inches from the wheel in front of you. Also stay closer to the front of the pack to avoid accordions. Work on explosive speed to help close gaps, especially at corners.
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Old 06-18-09, 06:55 AM
  #18  
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do both
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Old 06-18-09, 07:03 AM
  #19  
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Another thing I have learned about how to close gaps. Never sacrifice aero for comfort. Even when sprinting out of the saddle, get a bend in those elbows and get your head down. You will be surprised at how much easier it is to get back to that wheel. Then you can sit up.
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Old 06-18-09, 08:11 AM
  #20  
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I vote for sticking with the fast ride. I don't know the Exeter ride but do the following:
1 - figure out where you get dropped (flats, hills, wind, everywhere). Figure out how long that section is, like a 3 mile climb or 5 miles of really fast wind-blown stuff or the "35 mph section" or what.
2 - Map out the obstacles like the one above in #1, as well as other ones (ask guys where the tough sections are).
3 - Work on getting to the next tough section, whatever one you can't get to this week or last week.
4 - Save and conserve as much as possible during the non-tough parts. I'm talking sitting next to and behind guys so you have no wind hitting you. etc etc. I'm good at this last bit I figure I see real wind for a minute in an hour crit. You should see NO WIND for any part of the ride (again, I don't know Exeter so that might be unrealistic, but I think it's possible if they are normal roads). Use every single match you have to stick with the group, waste none.

The above steps got me to the finish of Gimbles Long. I had to deal with the Steps at the beginning (that took a year), the midway hill (dunno the name of it, but it took another 3-4 times), the fast section after that midway hill (another month), and suddenly I was at the end of the ride. Granted it's not hilly (Steps = 2 miles, midway hill = 400 meters) but for me it was a triumph to finally make it to the end of the ride. Now there's another set of hills in there and I've never made it past that.

good luck
cdr
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Old 06-18-09, 10:51 AM
  #21  
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Indeed.[/QUOTE]

ok.. i am very familiar. what club do you ride with, if you don't mind me asking?
i think i could be of some assistance to you...providing some advice and constructive criticism.
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Old 06-18-09, 12:02 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by tc83 View Post
4. I'd be thrilled to just hang with the group for the whole ride. Any tips to get there?

Thanks.
Go back for more punishment! At least that's what I would do. You probably go from 30 to 40 to 50min. to 1 hour and poof, before you know it, you hang with 'em.
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Old 06-18-09, 02:07 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by whtmtnpeddla View Post

ok.. i am very familiar. what club do you ride with, if you don't mind me asking?
i think i could be of some assistance to you...providing some advice and constructive criticism.
Currently unattached. I've been looking around at clubs like Noreast and CCB, but I haven't talked to the people from clubs much. I haven't seen a huge need to have a team in the 5s so far, so I'm kind of taking my time. But yeah, PM me if you have any insight.

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Old 06-18-09, 02:30 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by chevelle2291 View Post
From one Cat 5 to another...

I would do the Wednesday night ride if you are serious about racing. Your best bet, however, would be to find a ride somewhere else that is close to the pace of the Wednesday night ride, but is no drop, meaning that the riders group up and wait at certain points along the route. That is what I did last year in my first year of racing and I found that I did a lot better on my local hammerfest ride. Just make sure that you are well rested before every Wednesday and that you have eaten and slept well that day so that you are at your peak. Also, make sure you get a good warmup in before the ride, with some short but intense efforts so that you are warmed up when the fast riders hit the gas. It may sound silly, but it wouldn't hurt to bring your trainer with you to the meeting point and spending 20 or 30 minutes doing a warm up.

Question 3-With a decent amount of training, I'm sure you'll be able to hang with these guys and even attack them at certain points. What you have to understand about these other riders is, usually, these riders have seasons upon seasons of racing in their legs, seasons that you just don't have. To get to their level, race lots and get used to digging deep to close gaps, win sprints, etc. Once your legs get used to the effort, hanging with these guys will be a piece of....okay, maybe not cake, but at least a piece of Big Red chewing gum. You know, tasted kinda good but too much can burn you.

Question 4- Here's what I do. If you know the spots where the pace really picks up, make sure you are on the wheel of a fast rider by the time you get to those spots. It may be a short hill or a long flat, whatever, just make sure you hold that wheel. If some other rider tries to pressure you off that wheel, just rub elbows with him to show him you're not moving. Also, before those attack points, make sure that you are well rested and haven't been working hard. You want your legs fresh and ready to go for the 30+ mph attacks that you know are coming. And, most importantly, stay at the front. If you are in a pretty big group, the accelerations from the front are going to amplify as each rider reacts to the acceleration. You want to be know further back than 15th or so if you're in a 30 man group. Trust me, this helps alot. Also, the back is where a lot of the slower riders hang out, since they aren't aggressive and don't want to fight for wheels. A lot of these slower riders won't have the jump to keep with the group during the accelerations, and if you get stuck behind one of these riders, you're hosed.

Hope at least some of this helps, man. Keep us informed on how you do on the next ride.
people preach stay at the front, but no offense, I don't think that's a good plan here. Fighting for wheels is all and grand when YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE THE FIGHT and hang in the wind for 30 seconds or whatever. Also, this isn't a crit. Let me repeat, this isn't a crit. The accordion effect isn't much if anything on the 'open road'. Sure a nasty corner here and there might matter, but nothing like a crit w/ 5s. Also, this sounds like a fast group and in my experience fast group = smoother group. You can hide in the back and guess what -- you don't have to match the accelerations. If you see the front of the pack (and it is important to keep your head up) start to accelerate/string out -- START HAMMERING. by the time the rubber band like effect gets back up to you, you'll only have to speed up 1-2mph to close the gap not 5-10.
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Old 06-18-09, 02:51 PM
  #25  
mmmdonuts
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Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
do both
^^ this
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