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Virgin Race; Advice appreciated

Old 04-07-05, 10:28 AM
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Hipcycler
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Well, in two weeks on Saturday April 23rd I am entered in my first road race. Let me explain my situation to you first.

I have no desire to do this often. I have been told that because of my hip replacement it is probably too dangerous for me to be in a race situation at all. Crashing is not an option. But this is not a crit. This is a 24-mile course that they say is great for beginners.

I simply want to be a part of it all and be able to say that I at least once in my life, was in a real bike race.

My plan is simple enough:
Line up at the very back and just ride my own ride as best as I can. If I do not pass a single person, so be it. I've been in my race. The goal is to stay safe.

I've been told that the peleton (should be about 130 to 150 people entered) will be going over 20 mph ave. I let them all go without trying to stay up in there. Instead, maybe I focus on someone going at about my pace and ride on their wheel?

I figure my usual training ride of 26 miles average speed of the upper 16's will be good. I expect to get a bit of a bump up too just because of adrenaline? So maybe I could do it in around 17 mph ave.

Any thoughts on my plan and any advice as to what to expect in my first-ever race would be much appreciated.
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Old 04-07-05, 10:54 AM
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Mars
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I have a few thoughts to share with you about this. I haven't been in many bike races but I have a long history of sailboat races and am also a psychologist. First of all, congratulations on taking this bold and affirming step. I think that it is fabulous that you are going out for this great experience.

Lining up at the back, letting the pack go, and then riding your own race is an excellent plan. Not only will it keep you safe, but allows you to set personal goals that are obtainable and will make the experience fun. The other racers will figure out that you are a beginner and will be by you and gone in an instant. We see that in sailing a lot, a new skipper, nervous that they are going to mess up. The others can see that they have less experience, stay clear, and 15 yards from the start line, they are ahead and gone.

A 17mph average will be a good personal goal for you, I think. It is a fast pace for where you are now and will give you satisfaction. The other racers, especially the serious ones, will be doing in the upper 20's+ at the beginning of the race, so they will be long gone.

So, in sum, I believe your plan is well thought out and sound. It will be fun and keep you out of trouble. You can say that you were in a bike race and were part of the scene. You will probably learn tons of stuff. Now, don't back down, you can do it! I guarantee that you will regret it if you chicken out! Go hip go!
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Old 04-07-05, 11:01 AM
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The day will be total chaos... and then the race will begin.

To fear crashing is one of the best ways to crash.
Sure, your hip will feel like it's a giant crystal goblet perched on the nose of a drunk elephant just waiting to be smashed. Still...
Relax. Be alert. Give yourself a wider cushion between you and the guys next to you (and in front of you). Look ahead and be ready to respond to what happens.
Always leave yourself an "out". If a crash occurs, don't panic. Aim for something soft and try to hit it...even if it's another rider. (sorry, but that's a tactic taught by some of the top coaches. Don't fight it.)

I totally understand your trepidation, but I don't see a need to resign yourself to riding the entire race by yourself off the back. That's just a hard solo training ride.

And finally, when you're in the middle of it all, don't forget to look around and breathe it all in!
However briefly.
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Old 04-07-05, 11:01 AM
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Is your training ride on a flat circuit? If so, I'm afraid you may have a hard time keeping up with the group. Then again, who cares if you can't. Your goal is to enter the race and cross the finishline without dumping, so your average speed will not matter. However, if you want to stay with the group, the back of the pack is often the most challenging place to be. Depending upon the dynamics of the pack, the back can accordian forcing you to speed-up and slow down excessively. Better to stay toward the front if you have the legs and the stomach. Being your first race and knowning your interest in protecting your hip, I would hang on the back and take my chances. Regardless, always be wary for way to bail. Grass is softer than concrete.

Best of luck!!

-Mark
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Old 04-07-05, 11:18 AM
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Sure, your hip will feel like it's a giant crystal goblet perched on the nose of a drunk elephant just waiting to be smashed.
Event...Very well put. That's EXACTLY how it's gonna feel!

I totally understand your trepidation, but I don't see a need to resign yourself to riding the entire race by yourself off the back. That's just a hard solo training ride.
Even if it is only a hard training ride to my body, my MIND knows I did it in a race. Make any sense? It's still better and way much more cool to do it in a race.

Is your training ride on a flat circuit?
No, I work some hills too.

Now, don't back down, you can do it! I guarantee that you will regret it if you chicken out! Go hip go!
Mars...thanks for the great encouragement. If I pull this off without getting hurt and finish anywhere but dead last I will be talking about and thinking about this all summer!
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Old 04-07-05, 12:53 PM
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Go out and enjoy your race. Tell us all about it when it's done.
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Old 04-07-05, 01:10 PM
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I can understand you being nervous about damaging your hip. However, I would say that you'll be able to maintain 20mph if you can get on a wheel. Maybe you won't be with the main pack, but early on a bunch of people will come sailing out of the back. Talk to them and work in a small group if possible. riding in a paceline is nowhere near as bad as riding in a pack. Make sure you don't overlap wheels.

Let me guess, your left hip is the Ti one? If so that sucks - apparently cyclists are much more likely to fall to their left side than to their right side. Have you ever fallen off of a bike at speed. It helps to know what its like, you can protect yourself.
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Old 04-07-05, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by jbhowat
I can understand you being nervous about damaging your hip. However, I would say that you'll be able to maintain 20mph if you can get on a wheel. Maybe you won't be with the main pack, but early on a bunch of people will come sailing out of the back. Talk to them and work in a small group if possible. riding in a paceline is nowhere near as bad as riding in a pack. Make sure you don't overlap wheels.

Let me guess, your left hip is the Ti one? If so that sucks - apparently cyclists are much more likely to fall to their left side than to their right side. Have you ever fallen off of a bike at speed. It helps to know what its like, you can protect yourself.
Actually, it is my right hip, and YES....I have crashed twice.
Once, my first one, was an endo that was a nasty crash. I planted my mouth on the pavement, kocking out a front tooth, breaking my right wrist and road rashing myself just about everywhere.

The next year I crashed onto the hip side and thought I was done. The thing swelled up huge...ugly black, blue and green....went to get an X-ray and the surgeon said I dodged a bullet....that the replacement looked good as new and the damage was all muscular and would heal.

I know what it feels like to go down, and I made it all 3,200 miles last year with both wheels on the ground all season.

I know about riding in pacelines and would love to find someone--or a few people--riding at about my speed to work with.
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