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40+ Cat 5

Old 12-25-10, 02:26 PM
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40+ Cat 5

I'm looking for some suggestions for a beginner's race schedule for 2011. How many should I attempt? I'll be starting with a couple of the Early Birds clinics and races in January. I'd appreciate anyone with experience in Bay Area races to provide info on specific races, road race or crit. My most important goals are to be safe and have fun, so I'm especially keen on avoiding sketchy courses.
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Old 12-25-10, 05:08 PM
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Sounds like you're in a similar position to me last year - I'm knocking on the door of the big 4-0 and did San Bruno Jan 1 2010 as my first cat 5 outing, followed by a few of the early birds and then I did the Ronde van Brisbeen crit before the rest of my life got in the way of me constructing a race schedule. I'm intrigued by your premise though, that certain courses are more liable to have crash-fests than others. I heard a few comments about how the Ronde was going to be sketchy because it features a 180 hairpin followed by a technical chicane - however I got through that incident free (along with most of the pack 5 field, save for one guy who endo'd.....solo....on a straight ). I suspect that the biggest predictor for good vs not good outcomes from a race is a) do the people you're racing with know what they're doing? and b) do you know what you're doing?. Going to the early birds can really help you with b) and hopefully the rest of the field with a).

I know I haven't answered your question - others with more racing experience than me should chime in, but IMO you can't necessarily divide the calender into "safe" and "dangerous" races. Crashes can happen at any of them, for any given reason as far as I can see - but you can learn how to ride sensibly to minimize your risks.

BTW - enjoy it, it's a blast and the early bird mentored sessions this year did more for my riding skills than anything else I've done in the last 3yrs on a bike.
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Old 12-25-10, 05:23 PM
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I would recommend trying to do all the Early Bird clinics as each week they build upon what was learned the previous week. As far as a race schedule goes just pick the races that you find interesting. Cherry Pie is considered the real opener to Crit season in the bay area and Snelling is the classic opener for the road racing season. If your not part of a team it may be a good idea to join one in your local area.
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Old 12-25-10, 11:38 PM
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+1 on what mebaxter said, also your first year try and go into with an open mind. If you can not focus on results and just take the whole thing as a learning experience, you will be setup for mental success in the future. The other thing, is don't go out and race every weekend. Lots of people do that and get burnt out by June, missing out on lots of good Late Summer racing.

As for specific races, it kinds depends on what your into. Road races, crits, somewhere in between, etc... Snelling is a good place to start.
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Old 12-26-10, 02:32 PM
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Here are some suggestions for beginner races -
Wards Ferry Road Race Road Race Sonora California March 19, 2011
Wente Vineyards Road Race Road Race Livermore California April 30, 2011 PG&E Criterium Criterium Livermore California May 7, 2011 San Ardo Road Race San Ardo California August 20, 2011Modesto Criterium Criterium Modesto California May 14, 2011 Modesto Road Race Modesto California May 15, 2011
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Old 12-26-10, 05:25 PM
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First tell us about you then we can help you with races that fit your body type and skill level.
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Old 12-26-10, 11:29 PM
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Cherry Pie is a great race... but this year's Cat 4 was sketchy enough that I'm out in '11. Snelling, on the other hand... gotta love the closed (and sometimes flooded) roads.
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Old 12-27-10, 12:14 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I'm a fast climber but need work in the hammering department and am anything but fearless in corners. So I'm intimidated by crits but will try some anyway. I think I'll enjoy road races better, especially hilly ones. Unfortunately, my wife won't approve of many day long excursions, so East California races are out.
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Old 12-27-10, 04:07 AM
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Find a local group ride thats unruly (equivalent of spectrum or noon ride on the peninsula, dont know of any in your area). They give you great strength training and bike handling too. If you can make it down you should do a few of the SJBC winter series races https://www.teamsanjose.org/ws/2010/, they have mentors who'll help you figure things out (I won the cat 4-5 crit on a 8.5 lap solo breakaway ).
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Old 12-27-10, 12:50 PM
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There is no shame in not doing crits. I'm a trackie and I make no apologies for not racing crits even though they overlap quite a bit. I'd suggest Wente RR, Pescadero, Berkeley RR and a CCCR race or two. In addition to hill climbs, like San Bruno Mtn, Mt Tam & Diablo. Basically, any race I wont sign up for

Def, do the early birds if you can though.
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Old 12-27-10, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Aiken
Find a local group ride thats unruly (equivalent of spectrum or noon ride on the peninsula, dont know of any in your area). They give you great strength training and bike handling too. If you can make it down you should do a few of the SJBC winter series races https://www.teamsanjose.org/ws/2010/, they have mentors who'll help you figure things out (I won the cat 4-5 crit on a 8.5 lap solo breakaway ).
+1

If you can't do group rides, find a century and try to ride with one of the faster groups. Get on the back, keep your head up at all times, and if you get dropped find another group. Somehow you've got to get comfortable riding in a group - and those in the group will have to be comfortable with your bike handling. Practice makes perfect - or at least better.
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Old 12-27-10, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by BudFox
Thanks for the replies. I'm a fast climber but need work in the hammering department and am anything but fearless in corners. So I'm intimidated by crits but will try some anyway. I think I'll enjoy road races better, especially hilly ones. Unfortunately, my wife won't approve of many day long excursions, so East California races are out.
Unless you only do TT's and hill climbs you will need to get comfy cornering in a tight group. It really isn't that scary once you understand the basics. I find that many of the corners on road races can be more treacherous than crits. Many times your racing on narrow, beat up farm roads. Throw in a few guys not paying attention and bad things can happen. At least in a crit you see the corners over and over again so you know what to expect. Plus you will be surprised to find out how many wrecks happen on the straights anyways.
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Old 12-27-10, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mebaxter
Unless you only do TT's and hill climbs you will need to get comfy cornering in a tight group. It really isn't that scary once you understand the basics. I find that many of the corners on road races can be more treacherous than crits. Many times your racing on narrow, beat up farm roads. Throw in a few guys not paying attention and bad things can happen. At least in a crit you see the corners over and over again so you know what to expect. Plus you will be surprised to find out how many wrecks happen on the straights anyways.
+1
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