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climberguy 03-16-14 11:10 AM

Three weeks to prep for first race?
Hi All,

I've been lurking here for a while, trying to learn from your comments and experiences until I was able to race myself. Due to a recent and unexpectedly good report from my doc at my last visit for some disk/sciatic nerve issues, it seems I am in a position to do some real training and hard riding.

I have never raced. I've been cycling about 3 years, but during the last couple have had a series of medical issues that, while not keeping me off the bike entirely, limited what I could do. I'm 59. I've done local group rides but have not been in the fast bunch.

In three weeks from today there is a local road race that I've had my eye on for a while. It's 20 minutes away. The "cat 5/citizens" race is 27 miles, just under 2 laps of 14.5 mile course on rural roads in good condition. It's a bit hilly, with two climbs, 1.5 miles in length for the first, 2.5 the second, though not terribly steep: 8% max and mostly 3-5% grade. Two years ago I went to the race as a spectator, and it looked fun and not too high-pressure an event.

But I am definitely not in ideal racing shape, either endurance or high-end fitness. My weight is fine, indeed I'm slender, but the fitness is not there since I haven't been able to train hard. I've been riding through the winter, but mostly 30-60 minute rides, some in the snow on studs (a good workout). My longest recent ride is 20 miles. Last summer I did some longer rides.

Should I give this race a try or wait a few months until I can train more? I'm sure I can ride the 27 miles (3 weeks from now) but I doubt I'll be terribly competitive. I'm planning to do a condensed (my own selection) three-week training of workouts from Carmichael's Time-Crunched Cyclist (plus some hill repeats), with sufficient rest days and last-week tapering.

I've done my homework on riding a first race, and will ride the course once or twice in the next couple of weeks before race day. I should be reasonably set for bike (Tarmac), gear, clothing and nutrition.

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

--Climberguy (CG)

Racer Ex 03-16-14 06:56 PM

Hi CG and welcome. Being de-lurked is never a bad thing.

if you feel confident in the group rides from a close quarters/bike handling perspective go for it. It will give you a taste of actual racing, you'll get to share in the splendor that is Offthebackistan, and join the fraternity of people who have pinned on race numbers upside down.

From a prep perspective I would train for the durations of the climbs, that's where the passports usually get stamped. Three weeks is not a lot of time but that's less of an issue for a first race then it is once you start planning a racing season after you have some tome under your belt.

As everyone will verify, racing and group rides are different animals, especially when you are spotting folks 4 decades, so keep expectations low and just have fun. Be sure to report back.

climberguy 03-16-14 08:41 PM

Thanks, Ex, I appreciate the advice and encouragement. The suggestion to train for the length of the climbs is a good one; I'll work on that. I'm not bad riding in close quarters, especially if I trust the other riders--but that's not the case in a cat 5 race.

You're probably right about Offthebackistan, though I hope to avoid DFL. I'm not really looking for results, but rather for the experience and fun.

shovelhd 03-17-14 06:27 PM

Go for it. Good luck, stay safe, and have fun.

sarals 03-17-14 08:17 PM

CG, I like your attitude and perspective! Keep the fun mantra foremost in your mind, and you'll have a blast!

climberguy 03-17-14 08:19 PM

Thanks, Shovel. Registered today; I'm all in. And thanks, too, Sarals! I appreciate the support.

BikeAnon 03-17-14 08:32 PM

Keep us posted on your training progress, and do a little write up of the details of the race afterwards.

You'll have fun.

My only advice.... If you're not going to win, you will lose (at some point). But that point is almost never the finish line. When you know you've done your best, and you see the rce getting away....that feeling when you know you can't hold on..... Give one last push. Tell yourself "right now is the finish line. Right now is the only thing that matters."

Hold on just a little longer, or dig deep and catch up one last time. THEN allow yourself a trip to Offthebackistan. You may blow up, and it will hurt your ability to go on, but later you will know you did your best AND dug harder than you would have on any group ride, or by yourself.

climberguy 04-07-14 06:42 PM

The race was yesterday. I wasn't in it. The best laid plans...

In my first real training ride, almost 3 weeks ago, I increased the pace a bit and did a couple of short hill repeats. That resulted in straining the nerve in my leg which had been pinched much of last year, by a herniated disk. Surgery was December, so I thought the nerve had recovered. Wrong.

I've been off the bike since then, just doing some walking. Nerve is still sore, but getting better slowly. It's likely to be 3 more weeks at least until it's strong enough for some easy rides. No racing this year, it seems. Don't want to risk chronic nerve pain. But I'll work on upper body and core strength, recover this season and try to build some base, and be ready to crush it next year.

Keep up the good work everyone.

Racer Ex 04-07-14 07:00 PM

Shoot. Get well.

BikeAnon 04-07-14 07:26 PM

Thanks for the update ClimerGuy. Take care of things.

climberguy 04-07-14 07:30 PM

Thanks, Ex. Same to you. Thanks, B-Anon.

shovelhd 04-07-14 08:19 PM

Heal first, race later. Good luck.

IBOHUNT 04-08-14 06:46 AM

Sorry to hear that CG. Heal up, train and plan for the next race; even if it is next season. Nothing like a carrot out front to keep motivation high.

sarals 04-09-14 09:11 AM

Climberguy, I was so bummed and really sorry to read that... What everyone else said - live to fight another day. There is always another day!

climberguy 04-09-14 05:59 PM

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate all the replies and encouragement. It's a very supportive place here.

My motivation for racing remains high and the spirit is willing. The flesh, however, has an issue or two. As Shovel said, I need to heal first.

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