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Which Cat to register for first race?

Old 03-18-21, 11:07 AM
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Chris O
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Which Cat to register for first race?

Want to try my first race at age 46. The options for registering are Cat 5 or Masters (45+) with no cat options given for the masters. Which one do I sign up for?

Chris
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Old 03-18-21, 11:23 AM
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5. It will be hard enough.

Master 45+ will be 'open' which means you'll be blown off in just a few laps.

A lot of races will let you sign up for multiple, so there's no harm in doing both, though if the Master's is first you may be too toasted for another race.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:27 AM
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I'm not a racer and never will be. But from what I've heard, you definitely want 5. That's the 'beginner' class. If you do well there, you can always move up next time.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:27 AM
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There are three other subforums that would be better places to ask your question:

"The 33"-Road Bike Racing would be my first recommendation

Masters Racing - All Disciplines would be second, and

Road Cycling would be third.

This general cycling subforum has a higher percentage of non-racers.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by superdex View Post
5. It will be hard enough.

Master 45+ will be 'open' which means you'll be blown off in just a few laps.

A lot of races will let you sign up for multiple, so there's no harm in doing both, though if the Master's is first you may be too toasted for another race.
+1 to all of this.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by superdex View Post
5. It will be hard enough.

Master 45+ will be 'open' which means you'll be blown off in just a few laps.

A lot of races will let you sign up for multiple, so there's no harm in doing both, though if the Master's is first you may be too toasted for another race.
In addition, one reason everyone starts as a CAT 5 is so they get some experience racing before they're thrown in with (and endanger) more experienced riders.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
There are three other subforums that would be better places to ask your question:

"The 33"-Road Bike Racing would be my first recommendation
Masters Racing - All Disciplines would be second, and
Road Cycling would be third.

This general cycling subforum has a higher percentage of non-racers.
Although true, the OP's question is a simple one. I'm a non-racer but have volunteered at enough races to confidently answer the question asked.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:53 AM
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Agree with Cat 5. Most of the 45+ riders will be 2's and 3's, and they will likely post faster laps. Also, they won't be happy with a squirrelly noob potentially wrecking them... although there's a good chance you'll be off the back in short order on your first race.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:56 AM
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As mentioned, don't let the Masters 45+ fool you, those guys are strong af. So unless you're really strong and just don't race a lot, I'd start with the Cat5 race and see how it goes.

I did my first (and only lol) road race last year in Cat 4/5, and did well. Same race is coming up again next month, I've improved enough (I'm not licensed, but would prob be a strong Cat3, maybe hit Cat2 with more focus/racing), so I'm going to do Masters this time (I'm 46), and it will def be a tough race.
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Old 03-18-21, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris O View Post
Want to try my first race at age 46. The options for registering are Cat 5 or Masters (45+) with no cat options given for the masters. Which one do I sign up for?

Chris
I was in the exact same boat as you when I signed up for my first race, although it was M35+ Open. I thought "it's a bunch of old guys, how hard could it be?" Turned out, HELLA hard.

The masters race is going to be full of Cat 1s, 2s, maybe a former pro or two. Around here, the 45+ is almost always harder than the Cat 3 race.
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Old 03-18-21, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by superdex View Post
5. It will be hard enough.

Master 45+ will be 'open' which means you'll be blown off in just a few laps.

A lot of races will let you sign up for multiple, so there's no harm in doing both, though if the Master's is first you may be too toasted for another race.
That's what I was going to suggest, especially if the Masters race is later in the day. Just race that one for experience and fitness. Your goal will be to stay attached for as many laps as possible.
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Old 03-18-21, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
As mentioned, don't let the Masters 45+ fool you, those guys are strong af. So unless you're really strong and just don't race a lot, I'd start with the Cat5 race and see how it goes.

I did my first (and only lol) road race last year in Cat 4/5, and did well. Same race is coming up again next month, I've improved enough (I'm not licensed, but would prob be a strong Cat3, maybe hit Cat2 with more focus/racing), so I'm going to do Masters this time (I'm 46), and it will def be a tough race.

True story right there. Discipline and familiarity with suffering is all it takes to be faster. And natural talent. Incidentally, I thought about a user name change of “Pedals_for_Whisky” but it seemed like a ripoff.
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Old 03-18-21, 01:32 PM
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As others noted, the Masters race will be much, much faster and more difficult than you expect.

That said, do not expect Cat 5 to be a cake walk either. There may be some very strong guys showing up for their first races and blowing the field apart. But don't let that discourage you. The truth is, Cat 5 is where they have everyone start, and some people are legit Cat 1s or 2s doing their first races. As you race more and gain more experience with racing, you'll find out where you fit.

Be sure to read through some of the beginner racer threads in the 33 Racing forum and check back to let us know how you do.
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Old 03-18-21, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I was in the exact same boat as you when I signed up for my first race, although it was M35+ Open. I thought "it's a bunch of old guys, how hard could it be?" Turned out, HELLA hard.

The masters race is going to be full of Cat 1s, 2s, maybe a former pro or two. Around here, the 45+ is almost always harder than the Cat 3 race.
100% this ^^^!!!

Masters racing (any age group) is filled with guys who are experienced racers with a crap-ton of miles in their legs, and sharp tactical savvy. M45+ would be a very rough place for a newbie to start.
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Old 03-18-21, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I was in the exact same boat as you when I signed up for my first race, although it was M35+ Open. I thought "it's a bunch of old guys, how hard could it be?" Turned out, HELLA hard.

The masters race is going to be full of Cat 1s, 2s, maybe a former pro or two. Around here, the 45+ is almost always harder than the Cat 3 race.
I mostly race gravel now, not road. Most gravel races (at least, the ones I've done) have only age categories. My age category is usually 50-60, or 55-65, something like that...And I often would've placed HIGHER in a lower age cat. I can recall one race a couple years ago, when I was 4th in the 55-65 cat, and I would've won the 45-54 cat.

There are a lot of fast old people out there. I theorize it is because (1) their kids have long since left home and (2) most marriages have grown comfortable, and so there is plenty of time to train. And since earnings tend to peak in the 50s, more money for gear and race fees.
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Old 03-18-21, 02:34 PM
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I agree that the masters race might be harder, but I believe that it might be safer. The more inexperienced guys you have in a pack the more disorganized and squirrely it will be. I would rather race with guys who know how to avoid trouble than a bunch of inexperienced people who may never have ridden in a pack before
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Old 03-18-21, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
I agree that the masters race might be harder, but I believe that it might be safer. The more inexperienced guys you have in a pack the more disorganized and squirrely it will be. I would rather race with guys who know how to avoid trouble than a bunch of inexperienced people who may never have ridden in a pack before
Valid point. Also, riding solo after you get mercilessly ejected from the back of the group is very safe.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
I agree that the masters race might be harder, but I believe that it might be safer. The more inexperienced guys you have in a pack the more disorganized and squirrely it will be. I would rather race with guys who know how to avoid trouble than a bunch of inexperienced people who may never have ridden in a pack before
Well, that's one perspective. I think all of those Masters racers, confronted with a newbie racer, might have a different perspective.

Though as Eric F notes, it might only be a problem for a short time.
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Old 03-18-21, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Well, that's one perspective. I think all of those Masters racers, confronted with a newbie racer, might have a different perspective.

Though as Eric F notes, it might only be a problem for a short time.
It's true that experienced masters might show disapproval of an inexperienced beginner, but I will take a few harsh words over somebody who has no idea about how to hold his line in a pack taking me down when he cuts in front of me
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Old 03-18-21, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
It's true that experienced masters might show disapproval of an inexperienced beginner, but I will take a few harsh words over somebody who has no idea about how to hold his line in a pack taking me down when he cuts in front of me
If your wheel was exposed so he could move over on you, it's your fault you went down.
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Old 03-18-21, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
It's true that experienced masters might show disapproval of an inexperienced beginner, but I will take a few harsh words over somebody who has no idea about how to hold his line in a pack taking me down when he cuts in front of me
But you have to keep in mind that the OP is quite possibly one of the guys who "has no idea how to hold his line in a pack"
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Old 03-18-21, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
As mentioned, don't let the Masters 45+ fool you, those guys are strong af. So unless you're really strong and just don't race a lot, I'd start with the Cat5 race and see how it goes.
I don't race in real life, just on Zwift. When I look at results on Zwift Power it's filled with old people (I'm 47) who are crazy strong. When I've had a good race or group ride I'll friend them and they're all in their 40s or 50s or even 60s when I check out their profile. One long Zwift group ride (Haute Route 2020 with a few thousand riders) when I bonked up a long hill I got caught by a woman who is in her 60s.

In other words, I'd sooner race against Cat 5 in real life than other people my own age.
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Old 03-18-21, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
It's true that experienced masters might show disapproval of an inexperienced beginner, but I will take a few harsh words over somebody who has no idea about how to hold his line in a pack taking me down when he cuts in front of me
You missed my point.

Cat 5 exists for a reason: it is for "inexperienced beginner" racers. In other words, racers who are not "masters."

Last edited by Koyote; 03-18-21 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 03-18-21, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by guachi View Post
I don't race in real life, just on Zwift. When I look at results on Zwift Power it's filled with old people (I'm 47) who are crazy strong. When I've had a good race or group ride I'll friend them and they're all in their 40s or 50s or even 60s when I check out their profile. One long Zwift group ride (Haute Route 2020 with a few thousand riders) when I bonked up a long hill I got caught by a woman who is in her 60s.

In other words, I'd sooner race against Cat 5 in real life than other people my own age.
Not sure that I'd call that "racing," but perhaps that is a subject for a different thread.
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Old 03-18-21, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
You missed my point.

Cat 5 exists for a reason: it is for "inexperienced beginner" racers. In other words, racers who are not "masters."
Masters are classed by age, not by experience or ability. They used to call us veterans, but they changed that about 20 years ago not long after I started racing as a "master"
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