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4th cat races

AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
edited July 2012 in Amateur race
Good evening.

I have been cycling for some time and have a relatively high level of fitness. I have taken part in some charity races etc and now after yesterday I would like to step up and try something more official. I was looking for some advice on how to get started and what the standard is like at the lower cat's.
cheers
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Posts

  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,075
    Get yourself a BC racing licence and have a go... best thing is to try
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    Please, please, please join a road club and ride in a group for a few months before racing. The last thing 4th cats need is another rider that doesn't know how to ride in a group. After you've done this, apply for a licence and enter a race. The standard is harder than you would expect from the bottom level of racing but you wont know if you're 'fit enough' until you race.
  • greeny12greeny12 Posts: 759
    DavidJB wrote:
    Please, please, please join a road club and ride in a group for a few months before racing. The last thing 4th cats need is another rider that doesn't know how to ride in a group. After you've done this, apply for a licence and enter a race. The standard is harder than you would expect from the bottom level of racing but you wont know if you're 'fit enough' until you race.

    Cannot endorse this comment strongly enough!

    Bunch riding is a whole different ball game to anything else you've done on a bike; it took me months to get comfortable on a club run, let alone once I started racing. Crashes are part of the game, unfortunately, but so many could be avoided if people changed direction smoothly instead of jerking across and just had more awareness of what is going on around them.

    For a few more pearls of 'wisdom' feel free to have a look at this: http://cyclingapprentice.com/2011/11/11 ... le-racers/
    My cycle racing blog: http://cyclingapprentice.wordpress.com/

    If you live in or near Sussex, check this out:
    http://ontherivet.ning.com/
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    But riding in a bunch on a friendly club run is very different to riding in a bunch in a race where everyone thinks they can win as they come into the final straight for the obligatory 4th Cat gallop....
    More problems but still living....
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    I have spent time riding in a bunch like you suggest. Im going to apply for the BC racing licence, this month. Any other advice?
  • As others have said, you'll need a licence first of all, which means that you'll need BC membership too. The lowest level of BC membership you can hold a full licence on is Silver (you can get a provisional licence with Bronze membership, but you can't accumulate points, and you may have to pay for a day licence at events). You can often get subsidised BC membership (in your first year) through your club, if you're a member of one. A full race licence will cost an additional £36 (I think) on top of that.

    Beyond that, it's easy to overthink things. I only started racing in the spring this year and I went through the whole, "Am I good/fast/skillful enough?", dilemma in my head for weeks beforehand. Ultimately the best way to find out is to turn up and have a go. I turned up with no expectations: Obviously I *wanted* to do well, but I was more keen to see how things work in the bunch, to ride as safely as possible and if I ended up being shelled out the back on the first lap and finishing last, I knew it wasn't going stop me from trying again. I was pleasantly surprised, and managed to finish in the bunch, though I was never really competing for points. Bunch riding is a necessary skill to have, but as already mentioned, there is a definite difference between club bunch riding and 4th cat bunch riding. Practising your cornering skills will also stand you in good stead.
    Twitter: @FunkyMrMagic
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    sjmclean wrote:
    I have spent time riding in a bunch like you suggest. Im going to apply for the BC racing licence, this month. Any other advice?

    Just have a go lad. Don't go expecting to win. You won't, you'll get dropped or get excited and blow your onions too early. Use your first few races to get accustomed to the pack and prepare to hear some offensive language ;)
  • MikeWWMikeWW Posts: 723
    Good luck- I am sure you will enjoy it
    Typically the 3rd 4th cat races will average 24-25 mph. The important thing to bear in mid though is that the actual pace will vary between say 18 and 35 mph. So try and position yourself in the front part of the bunch and be prepared to dig in as the speed increases. Also always look to be moving forward or you will end up at the back of the bunch very easily
  • MikeWW wrote:
    Also always look to be moving forward or you will end up at the back of the bunch very easily

    ...you can't emphasise how important this bit is....frequent small(ish) efforts will help prevent you making very large and ultimately self-defeating big efforts if you end up and the back as the pace increases.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    MikeWW wrote:
    Also always look to be moving forward or you will end up at the back of the bunch very easily

    ...you can't emphasise how important this bit is....frequent small(ish) efforts will help prevent you making very large and ultimately self-defeating big efforts if you end up and the back as the pace increases.

    Poor advice for first timers IMO. Get a feel for riding in the bunch first. No wonder there are so many crashes when all the inexperienced riders are fighting to sit in tenth place all race long.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Unless your club put on a skills type day, then really riding in a club run is totally different to the real thing. I was lucky in that our club put on a skills days at Hillingdon two weeks before my first race, at Hillingdon, which I happened to win (nothing to do with race-craft though, I've learned a bit more of that since). So if you really are up to it then just stick it for a few laps and ride away near the end to avoid the bunch sprint :)

    OR more sensibly, just roll around and see how you feel. Most of the crashes on small closed circuits happen near the last lap or so as people have more legs than they have spacial awareness.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • JamesFreeJamesFree Posts: 703
    For my first few races I'm just planning to sit near the back and get a feel how things work in these races before I start risking crash by going for the sprint in my first race. Though if I find myself well positioned I will find it very hard not to have a dig at the end :) Roll on the 2nd!
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    "Tom wrote:
    Poor advice for first timers IMO. Get a feel for riding in the bunch first. No wonder there are so many crashes when all the inexperienced riders are fighting to sit in tenth place all race long.

    Couldnt agree more, it takes time and skill to ride safely in a bunch.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Don't sit at the back if you feel strong. What's the point? I can assure you that most people in a 4th cat race no matter how long they have been riding won't be that safe just because of the other idiots about. If you're strong enough then go for a long one. Its safe, and gets you out of the melee in one race.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • JamesFreeJamesFree Posts: 703
    okgo wrote:
    Don't sit at the back if you feel strong. What's the point? I can assure you that most people in a 4th cat race no matter how long they have been riding won't be that safe just because of the other idiots about. If you're strong enough then go for a long one. Its safe, and gets you out of the melee in one race.

    Will I be able to get on the circuit for a few laps to check it out before the race ?
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    At Hillingdon, as long as you're early there's usually time for a good few practice laps yes. Guess the same can be said of Hog Hill and Palace...
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    JamesFree wrote:
    okgo wrote:
    Don't sit at the back if you feel strong. What's the point? I can assure you that most people in a 4th cat race no matter how long they have been riding won't be that safe just because of the other idiots about. If you're strong enough then go for a long one. Its safe, and gets you out of the melee in one race.

    Will I be able to get on the circuit for a few laps to check it out before the race ?

    Depends mate. Most races have a junior race before the 4th cat races so you can't go out obviously.
  • JamesFreeJamesFree Posts: 703
    Just checked the BC website for Hillingdon that day and seems like the 4th's are the first on, so will arrive with plenty of time to spare to have a little practice on the track.
  • It's also worth mentioning that if anybody is looking to get into racing, and there are any BC "Go Race" events near you, then they're well worth checking out. You don't need a licence, you don't need to be a club member and because there are no points on offer, it tends to mean that the field is reduced in size and better mannered. There are still crashes and don't think that the level of skill will be any lower, but it's certainly worth investigating if you have the opportunity.
    Twitter: @FunkyMrMagic
  • acidstratoacidstrato Posts: 945
    Check out all the pimpin pros in this thread. Cav could learn a thing or two here I think
    Crafted in Italy apparantly
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    acidstrato wrote:
    Check out all the pimpin pros in this thread. Cav could learn a thing or two here I think


    Good input, helmet.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    JamesFree wrote:
    Just checked the BC website for Hillingdon that day and seems like the 4th's are the first on, so will arrive with plenty of time to spare to have a little practice on the track.

    You can also ride on the Hillingdon circuit any time there isn't and event on.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    In the majority of races I've been in, if it comes down to a blanket finish >90% of the winners haven't been on the front all race but biding their time in he middle of the bunch and only coming to the fore on the last lap or so, by which time the guys jostling for position all race at the front have simply expended all their energy. Off course this doesn't account for splits / breakaways, but in 4th cats, the circuits are rarely hard enough to make this viable. Club rides and sportives rarely have the insensity of races either but at least help give you confidence at riding in a bunch.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Unless you're in a break for a long time then 3rd cat road races are rarely hard enough to really take it out of people either and you end up with the exact same situation. Its why most of the races I've done have uphill finishes, to take the sting out of it a bit and minimise crashing!
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    acidstrato wrote:
    Check out all the pimpin pros in this thread. Cav could learn a thing or two here I think

    But thankfully you've saved the thread with your detailed and thoughtful input...tool.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    This is a bit do as I say not as I do but think about why you are racing - is it just to win or is it to have fun ? It's much more fun being active and having a few digs. If a break goes away try and bridge across to it rather than dragging the bunch across. If you don't fancy a bunch sprint then clip off the front with a mile to go - it wont work 99.9% of the time - or just open your sprint early - in my experience you'll lose a few places but maybe hang on well enough to grab a few points which is always nice.

    I tend to race mostly LVRC now but I reckon in 3/4 events on the road a race will be won from a break more often than not - it's course dependent of course and maybe circuit races that is less the case but even so it's not so rare so as to be not worth trying to get in or establish a break.

    Of course there will be some races where you just don't have the legs to do anything other than sit in the bunch and survive - though my memories of 4th cat races are that they are significantly easier than 3/4s as you get some very good 3rd cats and there'll always be a few former first cats etc in the field.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • Zoomer37Zoomer37 Posts: 725
    OP be worth checking out if you have a local chaingang in your area. Be a good starting point to getting used to riding at a decent pace with other riders around you.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    I tend to race mostly LVRC now but I reckon in 3/4 events on the road a race will be won from a break more often than not - it's course dependent of course and maybe circuit races that is less the case but even so it's not so rare so as to be not worth trying to get in or establish a break.

    Not my experience of 3/4 races last year. Some are, but far less than half. 2/3/4 races and E/1/2/3 on the other hand are almost always won from breaks IME.

    But I do agree - have a go, but try to get away without blowing after 1min! And once you do get a gap, get into a nice rhythm and if you're with others work together straight away and give it 100% for a while. Breaks in 3/4 races usually fail because you don't have a group of string riders with everyone prepared to work HARD to make the break work. Usually one muppet thinks he'll just take easy turns and save himself for the sprint....
    More problems but still living....
  • petemadocpetemadoc Posts: 2,667
    I did my first 4th cat race last week. A quick report

    I went in with two goals; 1 don't crash, 2 don't get dropped

    So off we went, pretty fast from the start but nothing to hard so I thought I'd creep up to the front and do a few turns. Then after I thought I'd fall back and take a rest ready for a big effort towards the end, make sure I was able to keep up. The big effort I was expecting never came until the final corner but I wasn't planning on contesting the sprint so I finished feeling like I had loads of energy left. Av speed was 25.8.

    It's a learning curve I expect. Next time I'll know what it's all about and have more confidence. Most of the races are mixed in with the 2/3/elites so things might be different.

    As long as you are confident of your riding skills just have a go I'd say
  • Well I'll add my experience in here...

    This is my first season racing, having had a few years as a club member going on plenty of club rides, training rides and a few chaingangs too - but wanted to give competitive cycling a go before age caught up with me!

    I have riden 6 local criteriums so far and managed to get some race pace/fitness through this, recently finishing 10th, 9th and 2nd (so now got my 10 points to move into 3rd Cat - one of my target aims for this year). Next week it is in with the 2's and 3's though which I am expecting to be a big step up in terms of pace and accelerations...

    I also competed in my first road race (the NW Championships - nothing like starting at the deep end), which this year was a flat course (I am not built for hills!) and had the same 2 aims as PeteMadoc.

    I felt comfortable in the bunch and managed to put a few efforts in at the front of the group also during the first 4 laps and was also able to stay near the group on the last lap until the final sprint started about 5 miles from the finish where I didn't have enough to bridge the gap.
    However, I did finish mid bunch and was just ~50seconds adrift of the winner - so I'm satisfied with that for a first time.

    One thing I have found now though is that the competitive edge in me has flourished, and I am now spending a few hours more a week riding than previously, but this time it is a more structured riding - intervals on a local hill and trying to push myself within my usual commute (sprinting away from lights etc, chasing down commuters ahead of me) and taking a longer loop home!

    I just now need to get some extra RR experience in, to ensure that my endurance is sufficient to go more than 50 minutes of crit racing
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