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Bunch Positioning and General Advice

SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
edited March 2011 in Amateur race
From reading the various race reports, and adding my own 3 race experiences, I wonder if I'm not the only person who could do with a bit of advice on positioning, and maintaining position in fast moving bunches.

Personally, I seem to have a habit of drifting backwards through the pack while everyone comes around me. I'm more worried about riders crossing infront of me through the corners and I think I have a tendency to drop back a little if theres a rider on my outside as I enter a corner. Any good techniques to improve confidence in holding your line through the corners?

I'm sure I have the fitness and strength to stick with the bunch if I can hold myself up in the top 1/3 but once I'm off the back it's game over.

Last weekend for example. I held on for 6 laps, having started at the front but due to the cornering mentioned above I'd found myself on the back after that. Here's the Garmin data for my race.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/72815113

You can see where the average pace dropped from 25.5MPH down to 22MPH when I was off the back soloing my way around.
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  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Looks like you cooked yourself in the first 10 minutes (assuming your max HR is correct).
    More problems but still living....
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874
  • jocksyboyjocksyboy Posts: 135
    clearly you didn't have enough fitness!

    practice, more practice and intervals will get you used to changes of pace. as for postioning practice practice and fitness will get you there!
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells
  • dawebbodawebbo Posts: 456
    To stay near the front you need to be constantly working your way forward, it's not just a case of sitting on a wheel and holding a steady pace.
    This means that you will be doing lots of accelerations, and by the sounds of it your fitness is the limiting factor. It's early season so plenty of time to get fit.
  • If you want an informed but lightly humoured opinion, you were breathing out of your censored from the off and when you're in that state your concentration will drift and you will ( and have ) make mistakes.

    Easy way to sort things is simple. 1) Know who you are riding with, pick a few good wheels to follow and stick to them like you wished you had with your childhood sweetheart. Talk to folk - you'll work out who the experienced old hands are and who to avoid

    2) Elbows- use them to defend your position - not to make contact but defensive posturing always makes folk s**t out of encroaching on your space

    3) Talk and be aware - your nervousness may come from you not being aware tjhat folk are there- so if you're going for a gap let someone know ie inside outside etc - its amazing how this can make things a little safer and reassuring.

    4) Attack - If you're away you dont have to worry about anyone around you...

    I may head down on Saturday but then again i may not !
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Surfr wrote:
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874

    Well if you can maintain 180+ bpm for 30 minutes then you're max HR is very unlikely to be ~185.
    More problems but still living....
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    amaferanga wrote:
    Surfr wrote:
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874

    Well if you can maintain 180+ bpm for 30 minutes then you're max HR is very unlikely to be ~185.

    It's not, it's around 193. I think you are failing to read the garmin connect data correctly. the 183 Max HR is max recorded HR for this session, i.e., the race. You can view in %age of my configured maximum if that makes it easier, I never went above 94% of my max in the race and averaged 90%.

    Thanks for the comments guys. I'm sure theres a long way for my fitness to com along too.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Surfr wrote:
    amaferanga wrote:
    Surfr wrote:
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874

    Well if you can maintain 180+ bpm for 30 minutes then you're max HR is very unlikely to be ~185.

    It's not, it's around 193. I think you are failing to read the garmin connect data correctly. the 183 Max HR is max recorded HR for this session, i.e., the race. You can view in %age of my configured maximum if that makes it easier, I never went above 94% of my max in the race and averaged 90%.

    Thanks for the comments guys. I'm sure theres a long way for my fitness to com along too.

    Sorry for taking this OT but when I click on your Garmin link and change the HR to % HR for the above link it reckons your average HR was 102% max and your max was 106% max. For the link from the race it reckons your average was 98% and your max was 102%.
    More problems but still living....
  • emxemx Posts: 164
    Surfr wrote:
    I'm sure I have the fitness and strength to stick with the bunch if I can hold myself up in the top 1/3 but once I'm off the back it's game over.

    the laws of physics state that we can't all be in the front 1/3 of the bunch. I would guess the issue is your tolerance at threshold, regardless of what the garmin data tells you. If you struggle hanging on to the back of the field when the speed picks up, then it doesn't sound like you are able to dig deep enough to stay in contact. I guess the remedy is simple though - intervals, and more of them.... ;)
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    amaferanga wrote:
    Sorry for taking this OT but when I click on your Garmin link and change the HR to % HR for the above link it reckons your average HR was 102% max and your max was 106% max. For the link from the race it reckons your average was 98% and your max was 102%.

    That's really odd. It definitely shows me different percentages. I wonder, are you are logged in to GC as well? Could it be a bug where the caluclations it is making from my data are using *your* MAX HR figures to calculate the percentage from perhaps?
  • Chip \'oylerChip \'oyler Posts: 2,324
    Surfr wrote:
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874

    If you've paced yourself properly in a 10m TT you shouldn't be able to kick for the line!
    Expertly coached by http://www.vitessecyclecoaching.co.uk/

    http://vineristi.wordpress.com - the blog for Viner owners and lovers!
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    Surfr wrote:
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874

    If you've paced yourself properly in a 10m TT you shouldn't be able to kick for the line!

    I've heard differently from many coaches.

    Like here for example

    http://www.flammerouge.je/content/3_fac ... tstrat.htm
  • sheffsimonsheffsimon Posts: 1,282
    Forget the Garmin, forget overanalysing it.

    As another poster has said, you have to keep moving up. I imagine you get boxed on the inside, and there is a big drift of riders up the outside. Happens a lot in bunch races. You have to force your way to the outside, not too physically, but ask people to let you out.
  • DHTTDHTT Posts: 345
    Last year I had a problem with cornering in crits but got some advice a couple of weeks back from an experienced racer, who told me to look where I want to go instead of immediately ahead, I now find myself looking at the exit of the corner rather than whats immediately happening and It's definitely improved my corner.
  • ozzzyosborn206ozzzyosborn206 Posts: 1,340
    anyway, heart rate for a tt is easier to keep high as it is a steady effort, road racing is not, also you probably use up alot of energy just from being nervous, the more you race the better you will get. Main tip i could give you is just to relax and be confidant your more likely to crash if you are tensed up than if you go with the flow, being more confidant in the bunch will help you hold position no end
  • Chip \'oylerChip \'oyler Posts: 2,324
    Surfr wrote:
    Surfr wrote:
    I don't think I did. I can maintain 180+ for 30 minutes with enough left to kick for the line in a 10:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46122874

    If you've paced yourself properly in a 10m TT you shouldn't be able to kick for the line!

    I've heard differently from many coaches.

    Like here for example

    http://www.flammerouge.je/content/3_fac ... tstrat.htm

    "A measured ride, staying within limits at all times. Actually that last sentence isn't true. With a mile to go you give it everything you've got. Ignore averages, heart rates and aching legs. You should cross the line with nothing in the tank."

    Kicking for the line in my book isn't the same as ramping it up for the last mile.
    Expertly coached by http://www.vitessecyclecoaching.co.uk/

    http://vineristi.wordpress.com - the blog for Viner owners and lovers!
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Kicking for the line in my book isn't the same as ramping it up for the last mile.

    Well a perfectly paced ride wouldn't even have you able to ramp it up in the last mile unless the last mile was more uphill than previous.

    However a perfectly paced ride is near impossible, and you'll lose less time by going fractionally too easy and then ramping it up, than going too hard early.

    Surfr - whilst it's likely true that your fitness played a part in you being dropped - obviously if you were fitter you could've stayed in. But that's always true and it doesn't mean that you should only work on fitness and just hang at the back getting increasingly stretched by the concertina effect simply because you're fit enough to do it. If you are fit enough to do that, you should be at the front stretching people.

    Your HR didn't come down massively in the off portions, which is the biggest indicator that your fitness is the limiter, but whenever it is down, you have to use that energy to move up rather than accept the breather and drop back whilst everyone else takes their opportunity.

    There's no simple rule on how to do it - you just have to learn, it will of course be easier the fitter you are.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • rozzer32rozzer32 Posts: 3,410
    One simple rule I follow is this:

    "If you're not moving forward, then you're moving backwards"

    So you always have to keep moving up towards the front. I try to stay towards the outside of the bunch and then you can jump onto someones wheel when they move up on the outside
    ***** Pro Tour Pundit Champion 2020, 2018, 2017 & 2011 *****
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Surfr wrote:
    amaferanga wrote:
    Sorry for taking this OT but when I click on your Garmin link and change the HR to % HR for the above link it reckons your average HR was 102% max and your max was 106% max. For the link from the race it reckons your average was 98% and your max was 102%.

    That's really odd. It definitely shows me different percentages. I wonder, are you are logged in to GC as well? Could it be a bug where the caluclations it is making from my data are using *your* MAX HR figures to calculate the percentage from perhaps?

    I think you're right. I was logged into Connect at the time so looks like its getting itself all confused.
    More problems but still living....
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Frankly, it comes down to fitness and from the sound of it you simply don't have enough in the tank to last the duration. If you're up about your threshold whilst just sitting in the pack, you're not getting much recovery and can only respond to so many surges. I find if I'm having a good race, sitting in the pack takes little perceived effort and I've got enough reserve to cope with surges / hills / breaks etc. Drifting back and getting tailed off is a sign it's just not going to happen.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • MikeWWMikeWW Posts: 723
    I only started racing last year so no expert and still a cat 4 (crashed out for the season at start of July)

    Here is my Garmin data from the same race http://connect.garmin.com/activity/72611419

    You do have to be continuing to work to stay near the front and I find it best to work out where I can make up ground. At Shrewsbury the inside line on the hairpin and whenever the bunch is taking a breather plus the outside line past the start work best for me. Its very important to be out of the hairpin quickly-its really a sprint until you reach the chicane and if you stay on the gas a bit longer than most you can make up ground.

    Being able to recover quickly is important as well. Saturday was a bit steadier/constant pace compared to many of the crits. Some are more maxed out for a bit then backing off to a slow speed for a bit. You need to get used to red lining, recovering and being ready to go again.
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    Cheers guys. It's all really useful responses. I'd hoped it wasn't entirely down to fitness, but I fear that now, perhaps it was. I'll be taking on board the advice and having another stab on Saturday, then trying Llandow on Sunday for a different style of course. I'll do the following weekend too but I've got a triathlon on the Sunday so will have to miss that Llandow sadly.
  • As i hinted at earlier - be wary of taking 'advice' from someone who is scared of sticking their nose in the wind..
  • milesemilese Posts: 1,233
    I'm probably similary experienced as you (and have also posted in the race reports thread), and am trying to learn fast.

    I think confidence is a lot of it, for instance in my last race it seemed like there were 2 people trying to get on one wheel all the time, naturally as the bunch falls back from whoever is doing the work. If you show weakness and allow someone a little more space you'll find yourself in the wind whilst they're enjoying your shelter.

    As said, get to know your wheels. Spot the riders who are blocking people in and avoid them.

    You'll always get nudged back, which is fairly unavoidable, but you need to pick your time to move back up efficiently. That might mean taking a much wider but faster line on a corner when everyone else is slowing down, or waiting to grab someone elses wheel when they start to move back up.
  • mabelamabela Posts: 43
    Looking at the HR traces I would agree that you were on the rivet. Don't worry about it it is early season yet.
    I assume this is your first go at road racing, riding in a fast moving bunch is hard work you think you are doing well then somone kicks and you are blown away.
    The reason is both fitness and speed. You can be really fit but not fast. The more you ride these races the faster you will get.
    Treat these early races as training an don't make the mistake I see all the time in beginners in short crits which is when dropped ride around slower until the end, you will never learn to hold the pace this way.
    Instead when dropped easy right off and simply soft pedal until the pack re-catches you the go for it again. Basically you will be doing a proper race pace interval session.

    Trust me this works, you will find within a few weeks you will hold the pace for longer and before you know it you will be in for a pack finish, then be fighting for places.

    When I started road I follwed this advice I was lapped 4 times in my first hour race I hated it, within 3 weeks I could just about hold the pace, 3 weeks later i was always in the fron 10 until I finally won a race at the end of the season
    STICK WITH IT
  • mclarentmclarent Posts: 784
    My opinion? Forget HR, get a power meter. HR is worse than RPE for non-steady state activities like, oh, road racing... Then do lots of intervals and try and stay in the front 10 riders. If you don't like battling for position, you won't get anywhere - unless every attack you make sticks, in which case give Sky a call! :)
    "And the Lord said unto Cain, 'where is Abel thy brother?' And he said, 'I know not: I dropped him on the climb up to the motorway bridge'."
    - eccolafilosofiadelpedale
  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    jibberjim wrote:
    Your HR didn't come down massively in the off portions, which is the biggest indicator that your fitness is the limiter, but whenever it is down, you have to use that energy to move up rather than accept the breather and drop back whilst everyone else takes their opportunity.
    This is probably the most important piece of advice on this thread.

    As a woman who's fit enough to do men's races (but has to work bloody hard to stay in the bunch and not get dropped on corners and downhills where my power or weight is so handicapped), the only way I can survive them is to move up whenever there's a lull. So when I find myself 10-15 wheels further back than I want to be after a tough section where I've had to work hard, I force myself to keep working to move back up the instant things ease off BEFORE I allow myself a breather. If I didn't, I'd lose another 10-15 wheels on the next surge and then I'd have 20-30 wheels to make up to get back up closer to the front again.

    Note that I don't have to do this in women's races (though if I did go over to race semi-pro on the continent I would). I can be lazier here, but I'm also attacking a lot more here, which I can't really do so much in men's races. If you're not fit enough to be attacking off the front, then you need to use all your energy for "position maintenance" in order to compensate and give yourself the best chance at staying in for as long as possible. It's the surges that add up and really kill you in road races. Whatever you can do steady-state in TTs is sort of irrelevant if you can't handle the surges.

    So until you're fit enough to handle every surge and sit at the back of the bunch with ease without worrying about losing contact, you're going to have to be more disciplined about positioning. Don't reward yourself with any little rests in a race until you're where you need to be in the bunch. It's extremely hard, and hard mentally too, but worth it and you'll get better results and fitter in the long run from pushing yourself hard to keep good positioning (racing is training too).
  • SurfrSurfr Posts: 243
    Thanks for the advice.

    I'll be back again tomorrow and will try to remember everything.
  • ToksToks Posts: 1,143
    edited March 2011
    More of the same advice :wink: .
    1. You just can't fake a lack of fitness (the demands of the circuit or most particularly other riders will expose this)
    2. But, with better positioning - staying out of the wind, staying on wheels etc - you'll have more energy available throughout the race
    3. Relax - yeah I know sounds stupid but getting all tensed up will definitly add to racing stress levels
    4. Be aware - look around at what's going on. Someone's attacked! here comes the surge in pace (are you gonna be the sacificial big gap closer or are you gonna get that proverbial armchair ride forward stuck on the wheels of others?)
    5. Concentrate - look ahead! Is everyone upfront easing up because the breaks been caught. Are you sprinting to close a gap when there's no need?
    6. Concentrate - that lull in pace/pack shuffling before the windy or drag section happens for a reason. Are you sleeping at the back or are your primed and ready in the front 3rd.
    7. Concentrate - the racing line is the most efficient line (especially for newbies!) are you taking it?
    8. Just keep racing as much as you can, you'll get better. :D:D
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