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Mildly cathartic post re race progress

mpattsmpatts Posts: 962
edited June 2014 in Amateur race
This is my first season racing - and I've only be riding a road bike properly for a year (was a runner before), and only been doign a focused training plan for 6 months (minus 6 weeks for bronchitis). I've done 7 races so far, with mixed results (my best placing is 11th).

I can live with the pack with reasonable comfort, but I as soon as I try and do anything else, I tend to almost die. I don't see the point in sitting in the pack and hoping for the sprint, so I always try and take my turn to contribute to the race. In other words, I make it my aim to attack a bit, and get on the front and contribute and at least make it interesting. Last night at the very wet MK bowl race, I decided to attack and try and get off the front (to avoid the bloody oil if nothing else), but as soon as I got into the windy/downhill/flat section I just die. I'm light (64kg), and probably lack power.

But anyway, I suppose what I am saying is I feel like I am much worse than everyone out there, and everyone else is finding it much easier than me. This is probably not true, but this is how it feels!

The good points:

- I love training
- I love racing
- I love that it's harder than I expected

What has surprised me most is that I can't translate my running pace (I'm a good club runner standard) to cycling pace. But I'm loving the challenge.

So....I suppose what I am saying is.....if I stick with the training plan, and stick with the racing, will I get any better? I'm never going to be a pro rider, but I'd love to get to cat 3.
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Posts

  • marykamaryka Posts: 745
    Hillier races... that's your answer. At 64kg you need tougher courses to make best use of your abilities (I'm guessing power-to--weight is your strength). Also, "get on the front and contribute" translates into "wasting energy pulling the bunch along"... not very useful.

    Road racing is generally either very very hard (off the front, in a break) or very very easy (in the bunch, drafting). You're not going to have 400w to pull the bunch along or 1200w to win a bunch sprint probably, so you need to race smarter. Think about where to attack, then commit when you do it, full-on. If you get caught, go again. Watch other riders go off the front, and rather than get on the front to pull them back, hang back a few wheels til the bunch slows a bit, then try to jump and bridge over to the break. Attack and attack and attack without heed for your result -- treat these early races as learning/training, who cares if you roll in 15th or 25th really? Use them as ways to try things out and push your limits.

    And train smarter. If you struggle when the road turns downhill, then get out and train to be stronger in those situations. Look at your bike, your position, and get more aero.
  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 962
    maryka wrote:
    Hillier races... that's your answer. At 64kg you need tougher courses to make best use of your abilities (I'm guessing power-to--weight is your strength). Also, "get on the front and contribute" translates into "wasting energy pulling the bunch along"... not very useful.

    Road racing is generally either very very hard (off the front, in a break) or very very easy (in the bunch, drafting). You're not going to have 400w to pull the bunch along or 1200w to win a bunch sprint probably, so you need to race smarter. Think about where to attack, then commit when you do it, full-on. If you get caught, go again. Watch other riders go off the front, and rather than get on the front to pull them back, hang back a few wheels til the bunch slows a bit, then try to jump and bridge over to the break. Attack and attack and attack without heed for your result -- treat these early races as learning/training, who cares if you roll in 15th or 25th really? Use them as ways to try things out and push your limits.

    And train smarter. If you struggle when the road turns downhill, then get out and train to be stronger in those situations. Look at your bike, your position, and get more aero.

    Thanks - good advice and I think you are right. Will try it all out next time!
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  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    The thing you learn after racing for a while is everyone is suffering.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 5,998
    What do you call good club runner standard?

    How much training are you doing?

    Only because cycling does take a lot more commitment than running because it's far less of a mass participation sport.
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  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 962
    What do you call good club runner standard?

    How much training are you doing?

    Only because cycling does take a lot more commitment than running because it's far less of a mass participation sport.

    I'm an 18 min 5k, 37 min 10k, sub 90 half runner. I'm following a structured training plan, which broadly consists of specific 'race stress' sessions like intervals and force sprints, with a recovery and endurance base. I rode 1200km last month.
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  • ProssPross Posts: 23,788
    maryka wrote:
    Hillier races... that's your answer. At 64kg you need tougher courses to make best use of your abilities (I'm guessing power-to--weight is your strength).....

    I can help you out with this next season. I've got a lovely new course that should suit you down to the ground!
  • damocles10damocles10 Posts: 340
    It takes a while to get those race legs..but I think you are doing the right thing - you need to attack, even if you fail you are training the mind and body to go for it.
  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 962
    damocles10 wrote:
    It takes a while to get those race legs..but I think you are doing the right thing - you need to attack, even if you fail you are training the mind and body to go for it.

    Thanks - I think I'll stick to attacking. If nothing else, it gets my head around "jeez this is difficult"
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  • alihisgreatalihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    You can't expect to start winning straight away if its your first season... Especially if you haven't got a decent sprint.

    Just keep training and race smarter. You should be able to pick up minor placings and points to get 3rd cat even if your sprint isn't amazing.
  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 962
    You can't expect to start winning straight away if its your first season... Especially if you haven't got a decent sprint.

    Just keep training and race smarter. You should be able to pick up minor placings and points to get 3rd cat even if your sprint isn't amazing.

    I *think* I have a decent sprint, but mistime it. I gain a lot on the lead riders, but run out of space. We'll see tonight!
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  • whoofwhoof Posts: 756
    Firstly, you seem to be doing pretty well since you have recently started race. It takes time.

    You need more speed and the ability to be able to sustain this. Sounds obvious but running and cycling differ greatly. Distance running you tend to do a your set pace and then you may sprint approaching the line but in mid race the changes of pace are barely percievable. In a bike race, especially a relatively short circuit race you need to attack in a way so only a few people come with you then settle down to a good working pace with that small group. However, it might not be until the 10th or 20th such attack by someone that forms a group.

    In order to achieve this you need to do interval training (search for advice on here) to give you that top end. Also find a club/group that does a chaingang so you can learn to ride at speed once the break forms.

    Lastly try some longer races on the road with a few hills. More interesting, you may (or may not) find you go better with a few hills. Best to sit near the front wait for someone to attack going up the hill and then you attack over the top of the hill when every one relaxes as they feel happy with themselves for getting to the top. .
  • grawpgrawp Posts: 46
    You can also try to form an allegiance.; note who looks keen and quietly suggest going for a break together. Along with hillier courses, ones with lots of tight turns and hence accelerations can suit lighter riders also.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    mpatts wrote:
    I *think* I have a decent sprint, but mistime it. I gain a lot on the lead riders, but run out of space. We'll see tonight!

    No, if you have a decent sprint in a 4th cat race, you win comfortably, sorry to say this, but those people with an actual decent sprint disappear down the road very rapidly.

    You have an average sprint I suspect, and you always gain on the lead riders in a sprint, they're in the wind at over 50kph, you're in a huge draft, 40% less watts has you gaining on them. But it probably means you'll do okay from a smaller group.
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  • jibberjim wrote:
    mpatts wrote:
    I *think* I have a decent sprint, but mistime it. I gain a lot on the lead riders, but run out of space. We'll see tonight!

    No, if you have a decent sprint in a 4th cat race, you win comfortably, sorry to say this, but those people with an actual decent sprint disappear down the road very rapidly.

    I guess this depends on what you mean by "decent". My intrepretation of mpatts' "decent" was "decent within the catergory I'm racing". Your definition seems to cover a much wider range of riders, but logically, one shouldn't be able to win comfortably with a merely decent sprint.
  • Mpatts...

    I'm not sure who you are, but we appear to raced together regularly at the bowl, so Hi!

    I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but similarly having done 6 races, my placings have been (in order) 13 - 15 -14 - 3 -6 -2. As you can see, there is a distinct point where I worked out a a game plan.

    Firstly, break's in the 4th cat at the bowl don't get away. No-one is willing to work together, and people are eager to chase down, that's just how it is. Secondly, people are right in that you can get a high placing without being a sprinter, in the bowl 4th's anyway, it's all about positioning.

    I usually try and stay up near the front for safety, but it's easily possible to stay at the back, putting one big effort to nip round the outside at the top of the hill and get into the top 10 about 2 or 3 laps to go, putting you up there but giving time to recover. As long as you can hold in there and get into the top 5ish entering the last lap, wait for everyone to sprint too early, which always happens, follow one of them and then start your sprint as they falter. Ok, there might be a stronger sprinter or 2 that will come from behind you, but you'll easily place. It's hard to resist going flat out when everyone else does, but make sure you follow a wheel that allows you space to nip round and you'll be sorted. I

    Of my better results, one has been from a decent sprint, the other 2 have literally just come from being in the right position and holding back whilst other's burn out. You have to force yourself not to go too early, but that final hill seems very long when you start sprinting before halfway!

    Hope it helps! I've gone up to the 3rd's after Thursday so time to get a battering and rethink a new plan!
  • ongejongej Posts: 118
    Mpatts...
    It's hard to resist going flat out when everyone else does, but make sure you follow a wheel that allows you space to nip round and you'll be sorted.

    Well said, and the bold bit is very important! Being stuck behind a blown out sprinter with nowhere to go will result in either having to take dangerous risks to squeeze past (don't do this please) or end-up finishing near the end.
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