How fast should someone aim for on a first Cat 5 race?

CyclingPiper Posts: 14
edited October 2015 in Amateur race
I'm getting a road bike soon, and am interested in trying out a race or 2. A $700 Specialized road bike should be enough to get my feet wet. I ride a hybrid now and soon getting a new bike. I ride daily, done a couple loaded tours, and I'm not much slower than road cyclists when my bike is naked (not loaded with panniers). On a first Cat 5, how fast should someone aim for, to not totally suck?

I'm planning on joining a club, and learning more about this stuff. I just want to join when I get a nicer bike than the hybrid I'm riding currently.


  • gavbarron
    gavbarron Posts: 824
    Really very difficult to tell as it depends on the course and the race. Chances are you'll suck in your first race anyway, it's a bit of a right of passage!
    Just go, try hang on and see how it goes, you'll learn a lot. A large part of road racing is in the head really, a lot of fit guys have turned up and blown off the back because they didn't know how to race.
    Bit of a broad statement and I'm making it sound like a bit of a science, but essentially, your first time you might struggle to take bends fast when elbow to elbow with 50 other guys, or waste energy closing gaps or trying to stay out of the wind, etc. It's all really rather very good, don't worry about fitness or average speed, the fittest/fastest guy there won't be the winner, there's more to it than that.
    Go, have fun. Regular racing will boost your fitness no end anyway
  • philbar72
    philbar72 Posts: 2,229
    average speed is irrelevant. you need to stay in the wheels of the main group, and influence the race from there (possibly by getting into position for the bunch sprint or to offer a lead out for a club mate), or if you are strong get in a break and contribute to that. either way just get involved and make sure you stay on track.

    Good luck.
  • jgsi
    jgsi Posts: 5,062
    Are these Cat5 races in Wallmart car parks by any chance?
  • UPDATE: Tell you what, check this out. This was our race last weekend, and should give you a good idea:

    Here's what you won't be used to:

    Hard surges: These happen constantly, then the pack slows down. At some point if you aren't used to that intensity it will get difficult.

    Surrounded by other riders close by: This is a bit nerve-wracking at first.

    Otherwise, races are a weird mixture of really hard, and pretty calm. Stay in the draft as much as you can, ideallly towards the front. And the best advice I've received is: If you start feeling uncomfortable with the riders around you, move! You may assume it's just your inexperience, but it could also be your instincts telling you that you're too close to riders with bike handling issues.

    Good luck!
  • jgsi
    jgsi Posts: 5,062
    You o n closed roads there, bud? We can only dream over here.
    Tickles me that you can call the just over 35 as 'Masters' though.
  • mpatts
    mpatts Posts: 1,010
    as above suggests, average is irrelivent really, its the "full gas" then "still going really quite fast" that will catch you out. Also, if you havent ridden in a group before, biggest tip is don't be afraid to waste engery getting onto a wheel as quickly as possible - if you gap you are stuffed!
    Insert bike here:
  • You o n closed roads there, bud? We can only dream over here.
    Tickles me that you can call the just over 35 as 'Masters' though.

    Yes, this race was actually on the Ft. Hood military base; our race was delayed for 30 minutes because they were moving tanks on the race course :D

    The "Masters" comment is a good point, it actually wasn't listed that way. Have now corrected the title to 35+, thx.