Am I Ready for Cat V Racing? & How to Find Clubs/Races?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by jonathanburris, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. jonathanburris

    jonathanburris New Member

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    I am interested in beginning to race. My first question is am I ready for Cat V racing? My FTP is around 3.25w/kg (218W/67kg). I hope to at least be able to stay with the main group before I enter my first race.

    Secondly, how do I go about finding races in my area? I looked on USA Cycling's website, but have found little information. I live in Asheboro (south of the Piedmont Triad) North Carolina. I have not found any clubs in my area either. I am interested in just about anything in North Carolina.

    Thanks as always,

    JB
     
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  2. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    Strength is only one part of being able to stay with the pack. Bike handling, comfort level with pack riding and some, even a little knowledge of tactics can take you just as far. I've know very strong riders (folks who can probably cream me in an ITT) to not be able to stay with the pack when I can, not because they are not strong enough, but because they position themelves poorly or are too uncomfortable to draft well.

    The only way you'll be able to tell if you are ready to race is to go out there and try it. Even if you do not finish with the pack in your first race its not the end. You will get more comfortable with it and stronger if that is what you need by getting out there and doing it.
     
  3. gregkeller

    gregkeller New Member

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    Agree with the above post. It's hard to give you a definite answer. While numbers are important, they are far from everything in mass start events. If it was all about FT's we would just compare cycling peaks files and pick the winner from those. Just go out and give it a shot. There is a learning curve, but that's why there are categories, and all of the other cat V's will be in the same boat as you.
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    JB,
    The previous posts are right on target. There are a lot of skills necessary for sucessful racing and many can't really be learned without throwing yourself into the fray. Still, bike handling in a group is key to staying upright in the Cat Vs so try to find other fast cyclists to ride with. Read Thomas Prehn's book on racing tactics: http://www.amazon.com/Racing-Tactics-Cyclists-Thomas-Prehn/dp/1931382301 pay particular attention to the sections on wheel overlap and protecting your front wheel in the peloton. Learn to hold your line in a corner and avoid braking when you can, it'll go a long way towards keeping you upright and near the front which is where you want to be.

    If online searches are coming up blank I would try calling the local higher end bike shops and asking about races and local clubs or teams. Even odds there are experienced riders working in some of the shops and even if there isn't a strong local racing scene they can tell you what's happening in the region. My folks live in Durham NC and I used to do weekly TTs in Carey and frequent crits and road races around the state while visiting. Asheboro is a ways from there, but I'll bet you can find a healthy racing scene if you ask the right folks.

    Good luck and keep the rubber side down :)
    -Dave
     
  5. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Just a p.s. to the previous post. The other Cat Vs may or may not be in the same boat as you in terms of fitness. Every year runners, triathaletes, serious XC ski racers and fast club riders take the plunge and get a racing license. They all start in the Vs and some of them start with Cat II fitness. I rode in the senior IIIs for over a decade and every year saw a new phenom start as a V, come rapidly up through the ranks and often finish the season in the IIs.

    Just don't let this get you down, there will always be fit riders with better aerobic sports backgrounds or better genetics or more time to train. They'll move through the Vs fast enough and often get off the front in races. Take the long view and race for your own best results, enjoy the process and realize that like most things in life racing aint fair in terms of the hand you're dealt. You might be one of the fast responders and move right up or you might build over time, no way to know without stepping up to the starting line. Just don't get discouraged if it's harder than you expected and some folks make it look easy. Commit for the long haul and you'll see improvement.

    -Dave
     
  6. gregkeller

    gregkeller New Member

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    when i meant that everyone was in the same boat as you, i was more talking about being new to bike racing. Once you get 10 mass start events under your belt you move up to 4's. So everyone is a rookie, no matter how much they talk like they are a Euro pro, or what their bike looks like. Just try and stay towards the front, and away from anyone who looks uncomfortable or visably scared.
     
  7. Frigo's Luggage

    Frigo's Luggage New Member

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    I agre with everything that has been said.

    Very few people are ever ready to race as a Cat 5 because racing is so far outside of the normal bike riding experience that you have to learn by doing. Group rides help but they are not really the same thing.

    Don't worry if you are ready. Just get in there and do it and make sure you learn from your mistakes. Don't worry about what other people think because everybody was a rookie at some time.

    I strongly recommend finding a club or other racers in your area, if possible. I think there are some in Greensboro if that is not too far.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
     
  8. cpantherfan

    cpantherfan New Member

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    Dave has given you some very good advice! Although fitness is a major factor in racing don't overlook the importance of experience and the mental aspects of racing either. When I felt that I could physically compete at my first race, I failed to prepare myself mentally. I was so nervous that I just seemed to lock up and finished dead last! In my opinion, the only way to get past this mental block is simply to do more races. My second race wasn't as bad as my first and my third was even better.

    If you can't find any clubs in and around Greensboro then you are not looking very hard. There are many clubs in your area (Triad). Just check with your LBS. Right now our club rides on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Saturday rides are longer (40+ miles) and slow (16MPH) and starting locations vary from week to week. Our Sunday rides begin at the Farmer's Market (exit 208, I-40) at 1:30 and consists of 2 groups (C Riders and B riders). There are always a few A riders looking for a faster group to hook up with too. When the days start getting longer we'll add an "A" group ride on Tuesday nights and a "A & B" ride on Thursday nights. Go here and join this group for email ride updates http://groups.google.com/group/triadcycling

    Cycles De Oro in Greensboro has a team/club http://www.cyclesdeoro.com/ and Paul's Cycling and fitness in WS also has a racing team http://www.paulscyclingfitness.com/events/. I know that there is a big club/team in Thomasville (I can't remember it's name). There are several Crit's and Crit Series held every year. Do some research and you'll find'em.
     
  9. jonathanburris

    jonathanburris New Member

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    Thank you very much for your advice and for your suggesting some clubs. I greatly appreciate it. I actually plan to ride my first group ride in the morning (Saturday). I will let you guys know how it goes. I certainly hope they will be patient with me.
     
  10. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    I know the feeling you're experiencing as I was a newbie last summer. I had the forethought of jumping into my first cat 5 crit 2 weeks after getting my first road bike ever! Got dropped after 3 laps; heartrate beyond measurable limits:D ! It was a blast though for those 3 laps.

    As has already been mentioned, stay near the front during the race. The easiest way to get dropped is yo-yoing in the back. Stay in the front 1/3 until you can no longer maintain the pace (IF that happens). The second most important piece of advice is to make sure you finish the race if you do get dropped. The officials may or may not pull you off the course, but if you get dropped and they don't pull you - FINISH THE RACE. This is as much for psychological experience as physical...my $0.02 worth...
     
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