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My first race questions

Old 02-28-15, 05:05 PM
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Surfer3287
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My first race questions

So I finished my first race today. I have a few questions, so let me get this out of the way:

I am slow, apparently. Didn't expect to win or anything, but I can't believe how fast a Cat 5/Master's B race was.

My questions are:

1. With almost everyone else on carbon bikes, carbon wheels, aero helmets, etc., is this an odd Cat 5 first race? I felt super-outclassed in equipment as well as fitness. From what I've read lurking around, I thought Cat 5 was going to be a bit easier of a transition; this was shock and awe from the start.

2. When I look at the workout recipe thread, which workout is best suited to the shelling I received today? The race was 3 loops of a 13 mile course, but there were so many 90-degree turns and it seemed we were just sprinting out of every corner on the first lap. I just could not keep up with the surging and and the elastic finally snapped. I'm not sure if that continued, as I was dropped halfway around and had to TT my way until I caught up with a group 3 others , and we worked out way around to finish the race (eventually.) Here's the map (where #2 is, we did the extra corners there to the NE of the line drawn.) I'm assuming I need to start doing more ZeCanon or Shovelhd Intervals.

Aside from the lonely bit of being dropped solo for a bit and the rainy conditions, I had a blast and I can't wait to head out again.

Ryan

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Old 02-28-15, 07:35 PM
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1) You're almost certainly not outclassed on equipment. Those wheels, helmets etc. are not going to prevent someone from being dropped. Just race whatcha got and do your best. The shock and awe will wear off in very short order.

2) Far and away the best thing you can do is race more. Riding, drafting, cornering efficiently likely was at least twice as big an issue as your fitness.

Im not saying don't train or buy nice stuff, but just getting out and trying again ASAP should be you first, second and third priorities.

PS Congrats!
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Old 02-28-15, 08:35 PM
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I'm not planning on buying anything more at this point, as I don't see it helping until I can finish with the pack.

Another question: I rode the RR today and was dropped. Should I bother racing the crit tomorrow?

*Disclaimer - it IS a 90 mile drive to get there.* Am I better going for a training ride, since I'm obviously lacking the recovery on those quick accelerations that will inherently dominant the race?

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Old 02-28-15, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hls2k6 View Post
1) You're almost certainly not outclassed on equipment. Those wheels, helmets etc. are not going to prevent someone from being dropped. Just race whatcha got and do your best. The shock and awe will wear off in very short order.

2) Far and away the best thing you can do is race more. Riding, drafting, cornering efficiently likely was at least twice as big an issue as your fitness.

Im not saying don't train or buy nice stuff, but just getting out and trying again ASAP should be you first, second and third priorities.

PS Congrats!
+1

You have to make sure you have a good base, a good foundation of miles, and miles at a good effort. Aim for some fast-paced group training rides and work your way to riding at the front. This is the best preparation. It allows you to recover "at speed" after the intervals. That's the hardest part of racing.

Then start throwing in the intervals.
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Old 02-28-15, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
+1

You have to make sure you have a good base, a good foundation of miles, and miles at a good effort. Aim for some fast-paced group training rides and work your way to riding at the front. This is the best preparation. It allows you to recover "at speed" after the intervals. That's the hardest part of racing.

Then start throwing in the intervals.
See, I didn't think the base was my problem. I spend a lot of time training solo, and while the effort is hard, it's all very steady-state riding trying to work on raising FTP. Looking at my data post-race, I set a 20- and 30-minute best power number while TT'ing after being dropped but trying desperately to stay within eye-sight of the group.

But either way, you're both definitely right about needing to go out and ride in the group more. Unfortunately, there is only one dedicated cycling group that does group rides (at a fast pace), and I can only make one ride a week with them (Sat at 7am.) The only other fast ride is at 4:30 on Tuesday, but as a middle school teacher that's nearly impossible to make.
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Old 02-28-15, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
See, I didn't think the base was my problem. I spend a lot of time training solo, and while the effort is hard, it's all very steady-state riding trying to work on raising FTP. Looking at my data post-race, I set a 20- and 30-minute best power number while TT'ing after being dropped but trying desperately to stay within eye-sight of the group.
(pack) Racing is not steady state, so you just need to work on that part.

Racing itself is really good training for racing, so just keep at it.

The intervals sticky thread is silly though, just google around a bit and/or do fast group rides.
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Old 02-28-15, 10:21 PM
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yes you should do the crit. and you should write a report about it or it didnt happen
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Old 02-28-15, 11:12 PM
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Intervals are your friend.
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Old 02-28-15, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
So I finished my first race today. I have a few questions
Congrats on doing your first race.

That map looks like a nightmare for a first time racer that wasn't really sure of what to expect. The turns with the long straights means that there will be higher speeds on the straights (typically), especially with all sorts of riders battling to be near the front. 90 degree turns are also tough because a corner is sort of like a final test on what you know about group riding - lines, drafting, gearing, shifting, braking, accelerating, you screw up a couple of those and you're done.

It sounds like your biggest weakness is that you train by riding hard. It'll be hard but you'll want to go much harder and much easier during the course of your harder training rides. It might mean finding a semi-closed loop (I used to do a loop near my high school, about a mile long, and later we used a university loop that was about 2 miles long) and doing huge efforts for a part of it (like a 200m sprint, or you sprint from a given corner to a given line 150-250m away).

You can also do the loops while doing the sprints in alternating high/low gears (53x13, 53x15). The low gear feels easy at first but within a couple sprints the low gear ones are the ones you dread.

For me I used to tell my friends to do a particular effort (I describe it here). Basically you find a flatter 200m straight preceded by a slight downhill. Ideally there'd be a cross-tailwind or no wind at all. Headwind, forget it. What you want is a simulated leadout going into a sprint so that you start the effort at a higher speed that you reached pretty easily, like 30+ mph without much effort. Then you jump and accelerate as hard as you can for the 200m. At first you might struggle to hit 32-33 mph. Shortly, though, in a very nice 200m stretch, you'll be hitting the 37-38 mph range if not higher.

Basically if your max speed right now is closer to 30 mph than it is to 40 mph, you're going to be tweaked just responding to a 32-34 mph surge. On the other hand if your top speed is, say, 40 mph (even in a kind scenario) then responding to a 37 mph jump isn't going to be a big deal.

As far as equipment I'd hold on anything major unless you have a kind benefactor or a birthday coming up or whatever. Make sure you have a reasonably close ratio cassette (12-25 or 11-25 seems to be a pretty universal one) so that you aren't skipping too many teeth when doing 20-28 mph. Make sure you have reasonable tires.

The biggest thing will be fit. I discuss fit here, sort of - it's about a friend/teammate that'd been racing for a few years and he asked me for any guidance. I basically redid his fit 100% and he went out and immediately started winning the Tues training races which he'd never won before (and he's since won the Tues A race, which I haven't done, and he also holds the Strava KOM for that lap somehow, even though pros and stuff do the race regularly). Basically a newer rider won't be in an optimized position because they haven't developed the strength required to hold what is an unnatural position on the bike. After some acclimatization the rider will be much better holding a more aero position. Do a no-BS assessment of your position and see if you can change it without affecting your power too much.

Look for coarse changes right now. The fine tuning is later.

Welcome to the sport. It's great fun, with all sorts of permutations on things, and it's a never ending puzzle. This is the start of my 33rd season and I'm about as enthusiastic as I've ever been for this upcoming year.
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Old 03-01-15, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Congrats on doing your first race.
It sounds like your biggest weakness is that you train by riding hard. It'll be hard but you'll want to go much harder and much easier during the course of your harder training rides. It might mean finding a semi-closed loop (I used to do a loop near my high school, about a mile long, and later we used a university loop that was about 2 miles long) and doing huge efforts for a part of it (like a 200m sprint, or you sprint from a given corner to a given line 150-250m away).

As far as equipment I'd hold on anything major unless you have a kind benefactor or a birthday coming up or whatever. Make sure you have a reasonably close ratio cassette (12-25 or 11-25 seems to be a pretty universal one) so that you aren't skipping too many teeth when doing 20-28 mph. Make sure you have reasonable tires.

Look for coarse changes right now. The fine tuning is later.

Welcome to the sport. It's great fun, with all sorts of permutations on things, and it's a never ending puzzle. This is the start of my 33rd season and I'm about as enthusiastic as I've ever been for this upcoming year.
I cherry-picked your answer to reply. I tried not to change the meaning you gave.

I will definitely work on the group riding (real or simulated by efforts on a loop) and see about my fit. I feel like I just had a fitting, but it was nearly a year ago now that I think about it. And I have been dealing with some neck pain now that my average daily rides have gone from 17-20 to 30-50 miles in length (since December.)

As for buying a equipment, it's ironic that tomorrow is my birthday. However, I don't want to buy anything new (not beyond the urges we all have.) My question was more about whether that seemed like a "normal" Cat 5 crowd. Like I said, I knew it would be challenging, but I really didn't see much difference between the equipment lined up for my race and the P/1/2 race after. I know this first-hand because I had to squeeze through them to finish (they were already lined up to race when my group of 4 crossed the line.)

Thank you to everyone for the feedback!
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Old 03-01-15, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
My question was more about whether that seemed like a "normal" Cat 5 crowd. Like I said, I knew it would be challenging, but I really didn't see much difference between the equipment lined up for my race and the P/1/2 race after. I know this first-hand because I had to squeeze through them to finish (they were already lined up to race when my group of 4 crossed the line.)
This is completely NOT normal, but I saw a guy in a cat 5 race a few years ago with a Pinarello with Mad Fiber wheels. He lasted 3 or 4 laps before getting dropped and then pulled.

So..while I realize you already said this..I wouldn't worry about equipment much
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Old 03-01-15, 07:56 AM
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The equipment the 5s had did surprise me in my firat races. Almost everyone had carbon rims!
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Old 03-01-15, 08:12 AM
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Old 03-01-15, 08:19 AM
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I've seen everything from a converted MTB to a Pinarello (real) with EPS in Cat5, so what is "normal"? Equipment is not a deciding factor in Cat5, so don't worry about it.

Everything that has been mentioned so far is right on the money. You asked for workouts. It seems like you have been doing a lot of threshold training to raise FTP. That will make you fast at threshold. What you need to work on is pulling your FTP up by adding in intensity. For this I recommend any variation of over unders. What you need to do is build recovery by going hard for short periods without significant rest. Tempo and SST become the rest intervals. When you do them, be sure to hit both the high and low targets. If the high is too hard, it's better to back off the high mark a little than go below the low mark. The point is to build recovery and comfort at above threshold. Other than time trials, that's what racing is all about.

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is rest. You should plan on one or two rest days every week and a rest week every 2-4 weeks. You will see Cat4's that train 25 hours a week. You will also see guys that train 10 hours or less and win a lot. You have to figure out what kind of racing you want to do and what kind of rider you want to be, and set up a training plan that meets your goals.

Good luck and welcome.
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Old 03-01-15, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
See, I didn't think the base was my problem. I spend a lot of time training solo, and while the effort is hard, it's all very steady-state riding trying to work on raising FTP. Looking at my data post-race, I set a 20- and 30-minute best power number while TT'ing after being dropped but trying desperately to stay within eye-sight of the group.

But either way, you're both definitely right about needing to go out and ride in the group more. Unfortunately, there is only one dedicated cycling group that does group rides (at a fast pace), and I can only make one ride a week with them (Sat at 7am.) The only other fast ride is at 4:30 on Tuesday, but as a middle school teacher that's nearly impossible to make.
You're confusing what base is for and how to train it. In your race, I'd be willing to bet you had no trouble responding to the acceleration out of the first or maybe even second corners (or more?). The problem came a few accelerations later. The reason you couldn't respond and got dropped was because you hadn't recovered adequately. That's where this base comes in. It allows you to ride for longer periods of time at a higher level, allowing you to not dig as deep during the intervals, and not be at your limit between accelerations. Yes, intervals are also necessary. But start with the basics. A fast-paced group ride will also train you at riding at this higher, steady, speed.
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Old 03-01-15, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
I cherry-picked your answer to reply. I tried not to change the meaning you gave.

I will definitely work on the group riding (real or simulated by efforts on a loop) and see about my fit. I feel like I just had a fitting, but it was nearly a year ago now that I think about it. And I have been dealing with some neck pain now that my average daily rides have gone from 17-20 to 30-50 miles in length (since December.)

As for buying a equipment, it's ironic that tomorrow is my birthday. However, I don't want to buy anything new (not beyond the urges we all have.) My question was more about whether that seemed like a "normal" Cat 5 crowd. Like I said, I knew it would be challenging, but I really didn't see much difference between the equipment lined up for my race and the P/1/2 race after. I know this first-hand because I had to squeeze through them to finish (they were already lined up to race when my group of 4 crossed the line.)

Thank you to everyone for the feedback!
Well then, Happy Birthday!

P12 stuff, yeah, they kick butt with regular stuff. I remember being behind one of the local Cat 1s (7 years as a pro in Europe at low level stuff) and he'd just arrived at the course after a 20 or 30 mile ride. He had regular wheels, saddlebag (we were at a training race so although USAC rules the officials didn't do anything about bags), etc. He pulled like mad for a while and that was that for me. Another guy (the former-local that got 3rd one year in the Elite RR) rode a Ti frame from the 90s, a $90 fork, Microshift/Nashbar drivetrain, and all sorts of junky stuff. I can't remember seeing him ever use aero wheels. He soloed to a P12 win against some fierce competition in a local race, stayed away for 46 or so laps out of 50. Back then his DA shifters still worked but definitely no aero wheels, just mad power.

As for Cat 5s there was one guy at my race with a Pinarello + whatever crazy wheels (Zipps?) + I think Di2. I asked him about the bike (genuinely, not facetiously) and his first response was an excuse for the bike. "I know the bike is way better than me but so-and-so (local shop owner) rides the same size as me and he sells his bikes after a year at a huge discount. I could have gotten an Ultegra bike or this one for the same price so I always end up buying his bikes from him.

It's a "why not" kind of thing. I bought a nicer car, capable of going way faster than legal, for what? Would it functionally affect my commute? No, not really, unless I went way faster than legal. But I could buy the car so I did, and I enjoyed driving it while I had it. As long as you're not saying that a particular thing will do more than it can then it's okay. I like the looks of big wheels, I like emulating the pros I admire, and I have some ideas of what ought to be more efficient, and I buy according to those ideas. My bike has big wheels, okay, and an SRM (for drawing pretty graphs), fine, but the rest of it is pretty mundane, even obsolete. I'm trying to think of any carbon fiber on the bike outside of the wheels and I have carbon rails on my saddle (bought used for $100?) but nothing else.

Also, whatever goes for a Cat 5 really goes for a Cat 3 or a 4 as well. It's not like many of us 3s are making money off of the racing thing.
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Old 03-01-15, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by save10 View Post
yes you should do the crit. and you should write a report about it or it didnt happen
Posted in the 2015 race results, just to prove I did it. Almost.
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Old 03-02-15, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
My question was more about whether that seemed like a "normal" Cat 5 crowd. Like I said, I knew it would be challenging, but I really didn't see much difference between the equipment lined up for my race and the P/1/2 race after.
Yes. You'll see a lot of nice bikes in cat 5 races, but then again the faster riders at club rides also tend to have pretty similar equipment. Just stands to reason that people who like to go fast would buy fast bikes.

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Old 03-02-15, 10:50 AM
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Seems like this has been said quite a few times, but equipment doesn't matter that much. You'll be fine on an aluminum bike with non-carbon wheels. If you watch the crits later in the day, you will see 1s, 2s, 3s, etc on alloy bikes (CAAD10...) with basic wheels. This past weekend one of America's hopes for cycling was rolling an aluminum bike for a multiday stage race.

I dove headfirst into race (did my first race about a month after buying a bike and the same week as my first group ride) and got chewed up early on. For ME, the biggest early benefit was a short set of advice from the board here. I'll paraphrase because I'm not going to search for the direct quote (think it was from botto ??):

-find a fast group ride
-participate, get dropped, keep going until you can survive the whole ride (prob on the back)
-then take pulls, get dropped, keep going until you can survive while contributing to the ride
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Old 03-02-15, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by hack View Post
Seems like this has been said quite a few times, but equipment doesn't matter that much. You'll be fine on an aluminum bike with non-carbon wheels. If you watch the crits later in the day, you will see 1s, 2s, 3s, etc on alloy bikes (CAAD10...) with basic wheels. This past weekend one of America's hopes for cycling was rolling an aluminum bike for a multiday stage race.

I dove headfirst into race (did my first race about a month after buying a bike and the same week as my first group ride) and got chewed up early on. For ME, the biggest early benefit was a short set of advice from the board here. I'll paraphrase because I'm not going to search for the direct quote (think it was from botto ??):

-find a fast group ride
-participate, get dropped, keep going until you can survive the whole ride (prob on the back)
-then take pulls, get dropped, keep going until you can survive while contributing to the ride
I remember reading that quote from Botto, when I first started riding a few years ago. Like I mentioned above, my options for fast group rides are pretty limited, by quantity and start time. However, as we hit summer I suddenly become super available during summer vacation.

The reason I brought up the equipment was curiosity. I remember seeing "stay aluminum" and "race what you can replace", and felt super anxious about showing up with a (low-end) Tarmac and extremely used SRM V wired unit. I was nothing out of the ordinary, and actually rather pauper-ish compared to many. I'm not looking to upgrade (except my seat post after Sunday's let down) or buy results, but just wondered if it was normal to see so much bling in a Cat 5 race.
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Old 03-02-15, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Surfer3287 View Post
I remember reading that quote from Botto, when I first started riding a few years ago. Like I mentioned above, my options for fast group rides are pretty limited, by quantity and start time. However, as we hit summer I suddenly become super available during summer vacation.

The reason I brought up the equipment was curiosity. I remember seeing "stay aluminum" and "race what you can replace", and felt super anxious about showing up with a (low-end) Tarmac and extremely used SRM V wired unit. I was nothing out of the ordinary, and actually rather pauper-ish compared to many. I'm not looking to upgrade (except my seat post after Sunday's let down) or buy results, but just wondered if it was normal to see so much bling in a Cat 5 race.
I'm running a pair of well used wired SRMs. If you're going to get a well used powermeter that's the one to get. Overall it sounds like you have your stuff together.

It's not just Cat 5s, there's a ton of bling at bike races. I'm lucky that as a promoter I can poke around a bit and ask people about their bikes without seeming too obnoxious. I rode around the parking lot on two different bikes at one race, one was 10 lbs, the other 12 or so, both were Cat 3 bikes. I was absolutely floored at how light they were. Did it help the riders? Not in the race. But putting your bike in the car or on the roof rack, hell yeah. My 17 lbs bike felt like a tank full of propane in comparison.

One of my dreams is (was?) to have a team bike for a hack 3 team, meaning the riders agree to a particular bike and they all get one (or two). Riders can make fit changes but they have to stay within the "theme" of the bike (brand/look, so getting a nice Bontrager stem to replace the Bontrager lead pipe stem is okay), wheel changes (aero carbon so obviously that's where you'd make a huge investment), powermeter if desired, but otherwise the bike - brakes, rear derailleur, frame, fork - stay the same. I was thinking that this would be a fun thing for a Cat 3 team if everyone went to, say, an REI or EMS or Dick's or some other big place and bought an off the shelf reasonable bike, like a $700-800 road bike. I know I saw some 105 bikes for $800 or something nutty at the local EMS, they might have been Jamis bikes, but you get the idea. I think that a team with reasonable riders that had the commitment to riding for one another (as illustrated by buying into my wacky idea) would be able to get some really solid results, and a 6 rider team would be riding bikes that collectively would cost less than one of their competitors' bikes.

My dream in more detail:
Sprinter della Casa: Racing - The "Team Bike"
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Old 03-02-15, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
Pinarello (real) with EPS in Cat5

I think this is the guy that I spoke with who buys the LBS owner's prior year bikes. Makes sense that it wasn't Di2, it was EPS.
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"...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson
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