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Newbie road race questions

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Newbie road race questions

Old 03-07-07, 10:23 PM
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BlackChop
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Newbie road race questions

Hi, gang--I hope this is the right forum for this, and let me know if not. I've Googled these questions and come up with not-freaking-much, so I thought I'd ask you folks. So here goes, and I'll keep it short:

I'm deeply enamored of riding my roadie, and it seems a natural fit for me after about a year of charity rides and a tri or two. Now I'm interested in learning whether it's realistic for me to start racing (real-deal stage races, crits, etc.). So...

1. Roughly speaking, what's a typical or average pace for a Category 5 (that's basically dorks off the street like me, right?) pack on, say, a 50-mile route? I know it's not like 26 MPH, but even if it's about 20 I'll probably need to train a heck of a lot more.

2. Any idea what a USA Cycling membership costs nowadays? Their site appears to keep that critical detail hidden until more than halfway through the application process, which just p*ssed me off.

OK, that's it. Sorry if these questions have been answered elsewhere--I promise I searched!

Gracias!
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Old 03-07-07, 10:30 PM
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50 miles in cat-5 is hard to find. It's not the average pace that kills you, it's the accelerations.

$70-ish.
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Old 03-07-07, 10:38 PM
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Thanks, Cypress. I actually think there's a two-day stage race that's got stages of like 52 and 48 (ish) miles, plus a TT, over a weekend. It's in Fayetteville, Texas, not far from Austin where I live. There's a Cat 5 option, but thought I'd see if I'm even in the ballpark for a first race before registering. Hell, it's over St. Paddie's Day anyway, so I'd probably rather drink beer that particular weekend. So there's my excuse for this one at least.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 03-07-07, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BlackChop
Thanks, Cypress. I actually think there's a two-day stage race that's got stages of like 52 and 48 (ish) miles, plus a TT, over a weekend. It's in Fayetteville, Texas, not far from Austin where I live. There's a Cat 5 option, but thought I'd see if I'm even in the ballpark for a first race before registering. Hell, it's over St. Paddie's Day anyway, so I'd probably rather drink beer that particular weekend. So there's my excuse for this one at least.

Thanks for the info.

If it's your first race, buy a one day license so you know if it's worth it to you to invest more $$$.

One day license is like $10.
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Old 03-08-07, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress
It's not the average pace that kills you, it's the accelerations.
+1
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Old 03-08-07, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress
If it's your first race, buy a one day license so you know if it's worth it to you to invest more $$$.

One day license is like $10.
Eh, the first race discourages almost anyone. Buy a year license so you have a reason to try again until December (September for you not fortunate enough to have Summer all year long )
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Old 03-08-07, 01:29 AM
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I renewed my licence a few days ago, 60 bucks well spent. As for the average speed, most races i have been in, the average was around 20 mph. Superweek was a little faster though but those were some of the best racers in the country. Go race, have fun.

btw, crits = coolist thing you will ever do
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Old 03-08-07, 06:38 AM
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Instead of Googling, do a "search" on the racing forum. You will find a wealth of info.

BTW, as to the "acceleration" comment: +1,000.

You could do a 35-mile flat Cat. 5 road race where all you did was suck wheel at 24--26 mph, finish with the pack, and end up with a 25 mph average, feeling like there is nothing hard about this sport.

OTOH, you could do a 6-corner 15-mile criterium (25 minutes + 5 laps) where the speed repeatedly changes from 16 mph on the tight corners to 30 mph on the straights, which would absolutely KILL you (even though your "average" speed could end up at about 21 mph).

Racing is absolutely not about average speeds. It's about crazy-fast, short incomplete recovery, then crazy-fast, short incomplete recovery, repeated endlessly.

Bob
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Old 03-08-07, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Eh, the first race discourages almost anyone. Buy a year license so you have a reason to try again until December (September for you not fortunate enough to have Summer all year long )
That's what I just did, BlackChop. $60. I'm gonna get lapped like a saucer of milk by a cat, dropped like a rock in the ocean. But I'm gonna keep working hard all year, and having the license will let me take advantage of every opportunity for abuse 'til I finally start earning some points.
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Old 03-08-07, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BlackChop
Hi, gang--I hope this is the right forum for this, and let me know if not. I've Googled these questions and come up with not-freaking-much, so I thought I'd ask you folks. So here goes, and I'll keep it short:

I'm deeply enamored of riding my roadie, and it seems a natural fit for me after about a year of charity rides and a tri or two. Now I'm interested in learning whether it's realistic for me to start racing (real-deal stage races, crits, etc.). So...

1. Roughly speaking, what's a typical or average pace for a Category 5 (that's basically dorks off the street like me, right?) pack on, say, a 50-mile route? I know it's not like 26 MPH, but even if it's about 20 I'll probably need to train a heck of a lot more.

2. Any idea what a USA Cycling membership costs nowadays? Their site appears to keep that critical detail hidden until more than halfway through the application process, which just p*ssed me off.

OK, that's it. Sorry if these questions have been answered elsewhere--I promise I searched!

Gracias!
The acceleration comments are all true.

Nonetheless, it may be helpful to know some numbers. As a cat 4/5 the longest race I've been in has been ~40 miles. Races I've been in tend to average 24 to 25mph. For comparison purposes, if you don't have pack riding experience, this is nothing like riding 40miles at 25mph solo though.

Just go and get dropped like most people do on their first race.
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Old 03-08-07, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by recursive
Just go and get dropped like most people do on their first race.
that's when your time trialing experience will come to play.

it's also when you get a heck of a lot stronger.
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Old 03-08-07, 11:12 AM
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I'm having the same sort of trepidations... I'm a BIG fan of centuries, but I've never ridden in a race, and I worry that I'm too slow. I think I'm just going to suck it up and show up for a race and get my ass handed to me. Maybe I'll show up with hairy legs so they'll understand (i.e., that I'm not a "real" racer).

Also, other than BikeReg.com, is there a good clearing house of info for races in my region (Mid-Atlantic)?
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Old 03-08-07, 11:22 AM
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Uhhh, I'd really suggest doing a cat. 5 race between now and the stage race. Generally stage races are not open to cat. 5's for several reasons. There are so many skills that you need to develop. Are there any 15-20 miles road races, or crits in your area before then?
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Old 03-08-07, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by was7g

Also, other than BikeReg.com, is there a good clearing house of info for races in my region (Mid-Atlantic)?
In my opinions Bikereg is the best, but there is also racelistings.com and spokepost.com
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Old 03-08-07, 02:14 PM
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Hey BloackChop there is link at the top of the road forum page for racing questions. You may get best replies there(not that these replies are bad at all)

The pace of a cat 5 race is the same as a cat 1 race IOW the pace of the race is going to be the pace of the field on any given day. I've done some races that felt easier then a Sunday stroll and others that made me wonder if I can even hang on. It's all relative to the field psychology.
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Old 03-08-07, 02:50 PM
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group rides

find the group rides in your area. try all of them you can find. most of those people are the ones you will be racing with. They're free and it will let you know where you stand. Even though there may be masters, cat 3's and eveyone mixed in, you'll get good experience.
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Old 03-19-07, 09:16 PM
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Good lawd, first time back on this post since starting the thread. I get distracted easily, this time by some minor upgrades.

Excellent information, folks--seriously. I'm taking the "go race, get dropped, get better" advice to heart. Group rides will really help, too. It's one huge shame they all tend to start before my normal weekend rise-time of ten a.m.

Thanks again, gang. I dearly love this forum.

BlackChop
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