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The newbie's perspective from the first race

burnthesheepburnthesheep Posts: 675
edited March 2018 in Amateur race
I always see these "surviving your first road race" stickies on the forums, but usually written by the racing vets. Not the noobs.

Here's the noob's account........cliffs notes, not in a 6 man break, finished just ahead of mid-pack. We did lap two riders.

Race prep:
I took more kit than necessary as it was cold and very windy. Spare wheels, spare kit, embrocation etc... This was a good idea. I got there about 1:15 before start. Enough time to get your bearings, setup the bike to the trainer, grab your number and thoughts. Spun for 10min before the start to get good and warmed up. This worked fine. Then they flubbed the start and we stood freezing for 10min not moving. Just roll with it. Chat a bit, etc.. You will forget something or have something not go as planned. Just chill and look for a solution. I listened to the sign in desk say to pin up on your right, then they changed it while I was mid warmup with 5min to go. No biggie. The morning poop was at home, home run there. Not waiting on site for that is a plus. I woke up early to eat and wakeup nicely also, worked out well also. If I had to do something different I didn't take a gel as it was about an hour 20 min race. I just did gatorade. I was fine, but probably should have.

The race:
Like a hammer or P ride. More teamwork among team members than I thought would happen in a 4/5 race. A strong solo rider would do fine, and even win. But, it's a consideration and something to watch. They did help each other in ways a solo rider couldn't. But had to move together when a solo rider could do what they want. I chose not to blow up bridging the break. I was the last person who could. They blew over the 2min hill and I had them within 100 yards when I tried to cheat a corner powering out in a sprint too early and put a pedal down and nearly ate censored . But that was the last hope to catch the break. The second I pulled up, the chase group behind me lost a ton of time. The break won. Don't be surprised if people pretend they forgot how to paceline if you're in the chase group (or the break). Had people all over the place. They also wouldn't tuck or put decent watts downhill for some reason. No single person could bridge, so dropping people on the 2min hill wasn't gonna work. I could if I wanted to. At the end, I was a bit disheartened to die up the 2min hill for like 12th or something knowing the break finished 3 to 4 min ago. Didn't get dropped, didn't make the break. Had fun, didn't die. Only one guy got cussed and it wasn't me. A cat 4 guy in our non-break group said that if it was his first race he'd probably of never done it again. Not kidding, there were guys trying to screw with us in the chase group. The group with no chance to win. Just trying to "beat you" for a better spot. Sure, but I'd of rather caught. If it weren't my first ever race, I'd have tried the bridge alone and just blown up trying. But I wanted more experience than doing that and heading back to the car early.

The fitness:
IMHO, take that ftp chart thing on the internet and toss it in the trash. Forget you saw it. This 4/5 race, if you didn't have at least a 3.4 or so w/kg (20min), you were getting dropped. I've got a 4.0 and did fine in the non-break group. I probably wasted some of that ability being a noob in a road race. Especially thinking we could catch the break on lap 2 and working harder than I should have. The power intervals and under/overs got me to the point I could hang with the race. What it didn't do was I felt a gap in the "hit it, recover at steady state power, hit it again". I say that as the power intervals I'd done were "hit it, spin at 100 to 120w, hit it". But now I know. The issue? I think instead of "endurance miles or group ride" that workout should say "find a p-group ride that WILL drop you". Why? You've gotta be able to dig on minimal recovery and know what your body feels like when you do get dropped. I didn't have that. I've NEVER been dropped. From an A ride or this race. I probably left some power on the course worried I'd burn one too big a match and get shot out the back. Now I need to go find out. The local p-ride WILL drop me a few times the first go around knowing who goes to ride it. I mean, I'll get shelled. There's 2's and 3's in that group.

To give an idea of how "noobish" I was despite placing mid-pack, here were the power numbers:
time: 1:23:09
dist: 28.7mi and 2300 ft
Time over 340w: 7min
300-340: 6min
250-300: 10min
215-250: 12min
tempo: 15min

Meaning I wasn't too smart yet. Worked too hard a few times. Had to catch stuff a few times not paying attention to the guys in front of me falling off pace.

Fatal flaw: I was in front 1/3 till the hill area where since we were going slow I didn't worry about a crash (you want to be up there not just to avoid crashes, but be in position to respond). None of the online "stickies" say that. They say the crashes happen in the middle/back. That was where the break went. I was trapped. Should have gotten up there on that hill and gone with it, then skipped a turn to recover if necessary. That first big hill split the pack in thirds: break, mid, dropped. I was in the pointy end of the mid as the break went and could just watch. I got damn close to bridging.

Last take:
I feel like the stories of getting shelled or dropped like a rock the first race ever are HIGHLY dependent on how much and how focused a person trained. The competitive group rides will equally help, but if you're just a below average A group'll get rocked. You'll have to be able to think while handling your bike and following wheels, sure. But if you can't meet the basic fitness level, you're toast. And that's not your ability to cruise at 85% for 3 hours, it's your ability to recover at 85% and only a minute later hit it and die again. If you're not getting dropped on the group ride at first, it's too slow or easy.

That ftp chart I said to throw in the trash? It says you could have hung in this race with a 3.0w/kg. At the middle of Cat 4's and 5's. That's cute.

The difference between a participation event and this is worlds apart. There is no participating.

If you want to look at it really harshly, 2/3 of the field DID get dropped on the first lap to those 6 or so guys. It was only about 30 of us. If there were 100 of us, you could maybe call that a "break".

If you look at it "softly" instead of harshly, there were two guys who fell off and got lapped. There were about 6 more that formed a third group that finished about 2min behind our group.

I'll take mid-pack for first race. I didn't get lapped or head to the car early. Or more importantly, I didn't die.
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