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To be (cat 4) or not to be (cat 4)

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View Poll Results: Cat up or no?
HTFU already and upgrade you sandbagging pantywaist!
86.54%
Nah...you have the bike handling and racing skills of a squash. Get more experience!
3.85%
Cat what?
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Voters: 52. You may not vote on this poll

To be (cat 4) or not to be (cat 4)

Old 09-07-11, 12:39 PM
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To be (cat 4) or not to be (cat 4)

Iím debating on whether I should cat up to 4. I know the only requirement is 10 mass starts. Thatís done. But I told myself that I would upgrade when I thought Iíd learned all I needed to as a 5.

I now have a grand total of 16 races in (11 this year). Truthfully I donít think Iím a naturally gifted bike racer. But I donít care. I have made some nice, hard fought, improvement this year in being able to hang with the pack on 20-30 minute crits by the end of the season. Most of those races I was just hanging on and then finally cracked a top 10 in the last race of the year. I didnít do any road races this year, though last year I was destroyed in the one that I did. So I guess what this information is leading to is that Iím in no danger of coming in and dominating the cat 5 races next year. Though maybe I can be competitive earlier in the season.

Pros to upgrading

This would present a new challenge in the off season. Maybe a little extra motivation?

I think I could at least hang with the 4ís in the crits next summer though it may be a struggle.

I will probably get to race with many of the guys I raced with this year.

I will be racing against some faster riders which would really challenge my limits.

Cons to upgrading

The cat 4 road races pretty much double in distance compared to the cat 5. I will likely get pummeled on these.

This year I havenít noticed the 4ís being any less crash prone than the 5ís. In fact, in the races I attended there were more crashes in the 4ís.

Though Iíve gotten more comfortable, I havenít really spent all that much time riding with the pack in races as I mostly got dropped before the last half of this season. Might it be good to get a little more experience before upgrade?

It might be nice to gain a bit more experience at the front of the pack and maybe be in a position where I would have a chance to podium before upgrading. Or in other words, gain a little more experience in actually ďracingĒ than just hanging on.

I won't really have time to increase my training volume. Though I think the hours I have available may be enough to drag me through cat 4 races.

Iíve talked to a couple of guys who upgraded to 4 and had trouble and at least one of them doesnít race much anymore (though I think they mostly did road races).

So I guess what it comes down to is Iíve gotten used to working hard and being in the back of the pack and Iím OK with that. Iím trying to decide whether I should just suck it up and, in all likelihood, repeat that MO in the 4ís or hang back and gain a bit more experience and confidence (and maybe better results) in the 5ís.

I know I need to make the decision but any thoughts are certainly welcome.
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Old 09-07-11, 12:43 PM
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Upgrade.

In my experience, although a limited one, the jump from 5 to 4 is pretty small. Not anywhere near as hard as the jump from 3 to 2.
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Old 09-07-11, 12:45 PM
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Upgrade! Otherwise you aren't making progress..
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Old 09-07-11, 12:50 PM
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Agreed. Cat 5 is to get your feet under you, and you're there. Upgrade and you'll also notice a different racing style. Not a great difference, but some teamwork will start to reveal itself.

That 3 to 2 jump was no joke for me (which is why I'm back to 3), but I'll bet you'll improve results going 5 to 4. As you race smarter, Cat 5 actually gets a little harder. It's almost like it's not really bike racing because of the mindless chasing down of everything.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:05 PM
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Did you do any 4/5 races last year, and if so, how did you do?

There is no rush to cat up, and if you are concerned, you could start next season and cat up after a few races.

I struggled a lot when I first started racing, and was being dropped in a lot of Cat 5 races. As such, I didn't cat up until I was competitive as a 5, which took close to two dozen races. Now, I am working toward moving up to a 3.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:18 PM
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upgrade... you will not find a better motivator for winter training than the certainty that you'll be racing with 4's next year.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro
Did you do any 4/5 races last year, and if so, how did you do?

There is no rush to cat up, and if you are concerned, you could start next season and cat up after a few races.

I struggled a lot when I first started racing, and was being dropped in a lot of Cat 5 races. As such, I didn't cat up until I was competitive as a 5, which took close to two dozen races. Now, I am working toward moving up to a 3.
Thanks for the discussion so far! I enjoy hearing your experiences. It's more information to throw into the decision making process!

topflightrpo - No - no 4/5 races. And your suggestion is one that crossed my mind. The road races that I would likely do are in the very beginning of the season. So it might be a good possibility to do those as a 5 so it the race doesn't turn into 1/2 race and 1/2 solo tempo ride like the cat 4 race would likely be. . Then as soon as that last road race is done - upgrade for crits. A distinct possibility...
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Old 09-07-11, 01:31 PM
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Upgrade to 4 ASAP
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Old 09-07-11, 01:39 PM
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FYI, I noticed a fairly large increase in intensity moving from Cat5 to Cat4 earlier this season.

However, with that said, I had a fairly significant increase in power and fitness because of upgrading. The only way to improve sometimes is to ride with faster people.

Go ahead and upgrade. If you struggle at the beginning of the year, don't get down on yourself, you'll probably get better and enjoy it more by the end of the year. Overall you'll be a better and faster cyclist that way.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:48 PM
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can you do 2-3 races at 5 before cat-ing up so that you've stuck with the pack for the whole race and know what your "race conditioning" is before you go back to being blown off the back?
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Old 09-07-11, 01:49 PM
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Where we race, Cat 4/5s are often combined races unless the field is over 100. So, why not? You are riding with the same people often either way. Plus, they just upgrade you whenever they fell like it sometimes. I don't know, 6 starts, hey you are a Cat 4 now! You have no choice, unless you specifically ask to be downgraded.
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Old 09-07-11, 01:53 PM
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Get more bang for your buck in the 4s. Plus, you might be eligible to do more races on the same day as a 4.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:01 PM
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Im having th same problem. Id like some opinions also.
I have been on a bike all of 5 months. Done 6 crits and a time trial and a overall stage race.
finished 3rd out of 37 in road race missed 1st by 1hundreds of a second.
have 3 top 10 finishes in crits
Finished 4th in overall cc stage race.

I have another stage race next week and ill have my 10

I have been gettig alot of pressure to upgrade to 4 to help the team. The problem is I feel like I have a good shot of a good finish in th state road race in october if I stay a 5 then upgrade the next day for next years season.

What do I do? Upgrade right away or finish out the year at state road rac thn upgrade and go into next year skin a new category
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Old 09-07-11, 02:04 PM
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5>4 and 4>3 are no brainers, get out as soon as possible.

3>2 would give me pause only cuz theres no 2 only fields around here, just Pro,1,2.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:14 PM
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As far as what you have to learn, you'll learn a lot more upgrading to 4 than you will by staying in the 5's. I was much better as a 4 than a 5 because I found better people to race behind.
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Old 09-07-11, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by JAMES_AMTRAK
Im having th same problem. Id like some opinions also.
I have been on a bike all of 5 months. Done 6 crits and a time trial and a overall stage race.
finished 3rd out of 37 in road race missed 1st by 1hundreds of a second.
have 3 top 10 finishes in crits
Finished 4th in overall cc stage race.

I have another stage race next week and ill have my 10

I have been gettig alot of pressure to upgrade to 4 to help the team. The problem is I feel like I have a good shot of a good finish in th state road race in october if I stay a 5 then upgrade the next day for next years season.

What do I do? Upgrade right away or finish out the year at state road rac thn upgrade and go into next year skin a new category
Go get the Cat 4 state jersey! I'm kind of surprised that there are state champs for Cat 5s, actually.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:04 PM
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Yeah. Cat 5 state champ jerseys are silly.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:17 PM
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Upgrade. Challenge yourself. What's the worst that can happen? You get dropped. It happens to everyone. Cat 1 2 3 4 5 . Everyone gets dropped.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro
There is no rush to cat up
Yes there is. 5->4 is an upgrade on experience, not skill. In 10 races you have demonstrated the ability to register, hold a license, pin a number on, listen to officials, race without bringing great endangerment to all who surround you. Job done.

The rush to cat up is that in areas such as ours the small 50 limited cat 5 fields fill way early in pre-reg. If you don't cat up you are taking a spot away from someone looking to enter the sport.

Again - 5->4 is experience based....NOT SKILL. Join me int he 4's and we can get shelled together. I've got lots of great stories and we'll have plenty of time to share them.
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Old 09-07-11, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro
Did you do any 4/5 races last year, and if so, how did you do?

There is no rush to cat up, and if you are concerned, you could start next season and cat up after a few races.

I struggled a lot when I first started racing, and was being dropped in a lot of Cat 5 races. As such, I didn't cat up until I was competitive as a 5, which took close to two dozen races. Now, I am working toward moving up to a 3.
incorrect.
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Old 09-07-11, 04:30 PM
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Well if its a consolation th cat 5 state championship road race you can't ride on a 1 day license.
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Old 09-07-11, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JAMES_AMTRAK
Well if its a consolation th cat 5 state championship road race you can't ride on a 1 day license.
that's like having a dick measuring contest in kindergarten.
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Old 09-07-11, 04:35 PM
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my last 4/5s race the c5s took 1st, 2nd, 4th in a primarily-4s field.
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Old 09-07-11, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by badhat
5>4 and 4>3 are no brainers, get out as soon as possible.

3>2 would give me pause only cuz theres no 2 only fields around here, just Pro,1,2.
Agreed. Wait, whats Cat 5?
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Old 09-07-11, 05:09 PM
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I voted upgrade.

Two other pros are that your races will usually be in bigger fields which tends to smooth things out somewhat, and they usually aren't the first race on the docket at o'dark thirty.

I'm a big proponent of doing your ten before upgrading to Cat4. You've done 16. You've also shown the ability to objectively look at yourself and assess your performance and your capabilities. Someone who can do that has no business racing in a pack of wild dogs who chase anything that moves. The next step for you is to figure out how to meter and measure your capabilities in a field surrounded by riders doing the same thing. That's when things get interesting, and a lot more fun. I bet you will find that Cat4 will be easier once you get used to, and train for, the pace. Look into an offseason FTP improvement program.

After Cat4, I'm a proponent of upgrading only after winning at the current level.
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