Am I ready to race?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by ccrnnr9, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. ccrnnr9

    ccrnnr9 New Member

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    I am very new to this sport and recently bought a Masi Alare as my first bike (I had ridden on a really old schwinn for awhile that was about 5cm too short for me). I have the bike, look pedals, shoes, shorts, and jerseys. I am really interested in competing but I hear a lot of folks say that my bike (or all entry-level bikes for that matter) are not "race-worthy". What exactly makes a bike "race-worthy"? I am in great shape (although I'm still getting used to cycling). I have been riding a little over 100 miles per week since I got the bike and typically ride at around a 19mph average on 20-30mile rides. I just want to know what else is needed to make my bike "race-worthy". I understand that a higher end bike will have some advantages, but for a college student like me who cant afford more than an entry-level bike at this time I figured a bike was better than no bike.
    ~Nick
     
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  2. robkit

    robkit New Member

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    i guess you mean one of these...

    http://www.masibikes.com/alare.html

    In which case i dont see anything unraceworth about it.

    I did my first races on a £300 ($500) bike fitted with the cheapest shimano groupset of the time, and it did me fine.

    just as long as its safe, the gears are well calibrated, and youve got it set up well, i dont see a problem.

    of course you will get a small advantage from a more expensive bike, and more "cred", but in reality its a tiny factor as compared with fitness.
     
  3. rainrider

    rainrider New Member

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    Bike looks fine to me mate ,average speed seems ok to me(i am a newbie too).
    Having said that i was out with a few guys from the local club for a steady ride and after about 50 miles they stepped up the pace from 14-17mph to about 20-23 ave.[may have been more wasn't looking ] and that was HARD WORK :eek: ,ace fun but wow i was jiggered after 7 miles of that, one of the guys reckoned that (20-23)was about race pace,i'm guessing if you entered a 10 mile race you won't be too dissapointed????,the worst that can happen is that you get dropped off the back.Do you ride that pace by yourself or is that in a group?
     
  4. ccrnnr9

    ccrnnr9 New Member

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    That pace is by myself. I havent ridden at a hard pace in a group before. And to answer yours questions, yes that is the bike pictured in the link.
    ~Nick
     
  5. Catabolic_Jones

    Catabolic_Jones New Member

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    Ditto on robkit's comments.

    I'd also add: if you haven't done a hard ride in a group, I'd recommend first finding your local club ride and practicing in a 'friendly' environment some of the skills of pack handling.

    Best of luck.
     
  6. rainrider

    rainrider New Member

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    Yeah quite agree, there is a fair bit of 'tailgating' to get a good drafting effect and having riden in a pack i wouldn't fancy racing in one without a bit of practice first:eek:
    Riding that pace without drafting, i would think you'd do ok in a race ,where drafting will make quite a difference[this coming from someone who's never raced though :rolleyes: ]
     
  7. KeSs

    KeSs New Member

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    i think the bike is only about 15% of the battle me friend. Last year I was competing on a 1980's steel frame bike and it did me just fine.......7 speed and tube shifters. Cat. 4-5 races are pretty much determined by how good of shape you are in
     
  8. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    note: you don't need to start in collegiate - you can just do Cat 5 USCF races to start.

    I think most new racers are more fit than, say, me (Cat 3 who can win or place occasionally). However they have troubles in races due to lack of speed, drafting ability, and just plain inexperience, not lack of fitness.

    A Jr that started racing asked me how hard a race is. I told him to think of the time that he was totally on the edge on a hard climb. I told him that the easiest part of the race would remind of that. And in a Junior race, that's true since they are Cat1-4 usually. After his first race, he agreed with me.

    Speed - your average speed is higher than mine on most of my training rides - and I race 3's. Work on your peak speed. Find a flat, straight section of road immediately preceeded by a shallow descent. use the descent to accelerate without killing yourself and sprint as hard as possible for 100-200 yards. you might find that your top speed is 32-33 mph. consider that a sharp attack in a race will be 35-38 mph - you won't be able to keep up if you can't break 32-33 mph. do high rpm low gear sprints and go back to that stretch of road and take progress checks. If you can hit 40 mph you'll be ready for virtually any race this year.

    drafting - drafting correctly saves a lot of energy. I've read that a pro in the Tour de France can average 90 watts for a stage in the Tour if he's just sitting in. now granted the finale might be fast, but 90 watts, that's how hard you ride when you're riding your bike to the car. the problem with drafting is that you're behind people and probably next to people. it's hard to maintain such a postion in a relaxed way and it can be more dangerous if you're in an inexperienced group. if you're strong enough, maintain a position on the side but towards the front. people say "stay in the top 10" but it's more like "stay 10th-20th". doing group rides before your first race will be priceless. but in a race things will be tighter and more aggressive.

    note - drafting will enable you to go a good 5 mph faster but when someone attacks and the field gets all strung out, you might not get enough draft to help significantly.

    inexperience - knowing when to go hard, when to take it easier, not to forget your license or helmet or shoes or shorts or jersey or to eat enough... these are all common errors. it's all okay though - racing is really fun, really exciting, it's hard, and it can be incredibly rewarding.

    good luck
    crd
     
  9. ccrnnr9

    ccrnnr9 New Member

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    Awesome reply with some great info! I really cannot wait to enter in some races. I just have to figure out where I can find a schedule for this spring. I have looked on that national website but they must not have released anything yet, because I dont see any list of races.
    ~Nick
     
  10. joule

    joule New Member

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    I agree with carpediemracing for the most part, but I have to add that having a high sustained speed is also important as if you do, that means that you are racing at below your lactate threshold (LT) burning fat instead of carbs. The more time you can spend below your LT, the easier it will be to sustain any higher output breaks / sprints. The guy next to you that is pushed to his limit at pack speed, will have little chance at the end of the race when all the stops are removed. I'm a bit surprised by carpediemracing comment about you being already higher than his cat 3 race speed as I just competed in my first Masters 30+ and found the average speed over the entire relatively flat 20 mile race to be 45 kph (28 mph). The previous cat 5 race (same course) had an average speed of 25 mph.

    Another good way to compare how your sustained average speed measures up is check the web for time trial results. For a often raced course in the Middle Atlantic area (Boonsboro), it's pretty common for cat 4/5's to complete at 39k, rolling course at an average speed over 25 mph.

    My 2 cents is depending on the terrain, you should be averaging anywhere from 18 to 20 mph over a distance in excess of the expected race to be able to hold your spot in the pack. I am no expert for sure having just finished my first year racing, but I started the year averaging 19.2 mph over at 40k rolling course solo and finished out the year averaging 22.7 over the same course. I ended up placing in the top 10 in 5 of my 8 cat 5 races.
     
  11. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    I agree with the comments here. Your bike is the smallest part of the equation. Fitness, attitude and riding skills, combined with race knowledge are what will see you through. When it comes to race knowledge, those you are riding with are likely to be at a similar level to yourself (ie little-to-no race knowledge). As you are already fit and can maintain decent speeds on your own, the critical factors are how well you can handle your bike (particularly bunch-riding) and how well you can ride your own race.
    Close drafting is necessary to be able to compete at the higher levels, but you need a degree of caution when riding in close proximity to riders who are less experienced. The ones you are likely to be racing against may have difficulty holding a line, and may be prone to panic braking and swerving manouevres.
    In terms of riding your own race, you are likely to be in with some who will go hell-for-leather from the start, and others who will take a Sunday picnic ride. Try to keep contact with the front group, but don't be doing all the work for them. Sit in, take a pull at the front when it's your turn, and try not to get pushed to the back of the group. If you're at the back of the peleton and the peleton splits, guess where you are...
    If you feel good and want to take a jump off the front, be aware of how much you've got in the tank, and try to make it decisive (eg when the bunch has just pulled in another break). If you make a hard jump, only the strong riders will catch up to you, and you may be able to work together to put some distance in. If your break is not decisive, all you'll be doing is tiring yourself out, dragging the whole peleton up to a higher speed.
    If you make a break and are going to get caught, be aware that the peleton is likely to be honking along at the time they catch you. You need to have enough left in the tank to be able to come up to their speed or they'll go straight past you.
    Over and above all this, enjoy yourself. The first time you race, even if you win, you'll see so many area's in which you can improve. The suggestion of hooking up with Club or LBS training rides is a good one. Even if you don't need it in your first few races, you will soon find yourself having to ride in close proximity bunches and the sooner you develop those skills, the better.
    Let us know how you get on (and have fun).
    Eoin
     
  12. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    a couple clarifications - my training rides are usually 15-18 mph average. I might chase a truck or three or sprint for a town line but I also end up doing 10 mph on climbs and such - so in the end, I don't average a high speed. my training rides range from 10-120 miles long, most of them in the 20 mile range.

    however, some of the races I've done averaged over 30 mph and I know that bridging to a break sometimes requires me to sustain 35-37+ mph for half a lap or so.

    re: looking up a schedule - USA cycling has everyone (racers, teams, etc) renew their membership each year. This involves new release-of-liability forms for each year. So most promoters (myself included) cannot get a permit for a 2006 race yet. you'll need to wait till Jan to start seeing races through April or so, and perhaps March before you see a lot of summer races. You can look at the 2005 schedule as a guideline though - most promoters use approximately the same date from year to year. major changes are unusual, like a local stage race changing dates etc.

    depending on where you are, you might join a local shop's team and maybe help out with "their" race. a local team will have knowledge of the races they like, the terrain, group rides, etc. and helping out with a race is very educational - if nothing else it will make you much more patient the next time you go register for a race.

    it seems like you have the enthusiasm to make a good go at racing - good luck!
    cdr
     
  13. LeojVS

    LeojVS New Member

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    Nick, theres nothing wrong with that bike. It looks like a road bike, it probably smells like a road bike, so I dont see how it cannot be worthy. some people are idiots. Plain and simple. I purchased an Orbea Enol (entry level Orbea) chucked the tyres and put on some Seca Serfas after 5 flats in 5 rides, some Shimano pedals, and joined a road club. I had ridden a road bike once before when I was 10. I do ride mountain bikes, so I am fit-ish. Was I ready to race? Dunno. Thats what E grade riding is about (the lowest grade, for newbs) With an average of 31.4Km/h (mph anyone?) by myself I was going to try my luck. Turns out it was worth the try. I placed 3 rd in my first race, and 1st in my second race on Sunday just gone. I have learnt heaps in the two races. More than you can learn by reading, so get out there, and have fun. As carpediemracing said, it can be very rewarding. Yup. I couldnt agree more
     
  14. SquadraOvest

    SquadraOvest New Member

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    Your speeds are all out of whack. Most of the Cat4s and 5 who are on the podium aren't touching 40mph. 37-38? Sure. It's the very rare newbie who can do 40+ at the end of a race.
     
  15. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    I agree that most racers (Cat 5 to even Cat 3) won't hit 40 mph in a final sprint. But that's not what I said. I said that with a downhill road giving a boost to an individual rider, a rider contemplating racing should be going faster than 32-33 mph when sprinting on the flat section. I also said that 40 mph would indicate readiness for virtually any race. I still stand by that.

    kph - 31.4 kph / 1.6 = mph = 19.65 mph. for a solo training ride that's a very good pace. Your resulting placings show that your pace is not a fluke.

    again, to clarify - training speeds and racing speeds are two different creatures. I train at slow avg speeds with very high peak speeds and race at higher avg speeds with lower peak speeds than in training.

    cdr
     
  16. San Remo GT

    San Remo GT New Member

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    ***in hell! The fastest I have ever been on my bike (claud butler san remo) was on a downhill at only 42mph, although low gear ratios played a large part in that. Are you saying people can hit 40 on a flat?
     
  17. blueturtle241

    blueturtle241 New Member

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    No one ever thinks they are ready just get out there and get your butt beat. Then you will know what you need to work on. Racing is alot of fun and will definetly motivate you to becoming a better rider. Good luck
     
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