First group century...pace question...

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by BarryMc, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. BarryMc

    BarryMc New Member

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    This weekend I'll be riding my first group century, and I was curious how fast the larger groups at the front usually ride. I rode a solo 100 about a month ago, and finished it in right at 5 hours, not counting one 5 minute break to refill bottles, on an only slightly rolling course. When I do 30-50 mile group rides we generally ride 23-25 mph at the front, but this is only a group of 5 or 6 of us usually. I've neer participated in one of these big rides, in fact I've only been cycling for about 5 months, so what do I have to look forward to?
     
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  2. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    Generally the big rides split up into smaller groups - can be anything from 5 or 6 people to 20 or so.....

    To be polite always ask before you join a paceline or start drafting someone, but expect that at the pace you are keeping that you will probably collect people who don't ask or say anything, but just tag on. If you aren't comfortable with any particular person its OK to say something, but often easier to either speed up or slow down to get rid of them. Not all people who do organized rides actually know how to properly ride in a paceline, so be careful to watch for sketchy riders.

    To ride smart don't sit on the front for a long time until you tire and start to slow down, take a pull, while you are still riding strong pull off, join onto the back. The point of the paceline is to provide an even pace. If you find yourself in a paceline that is a bit quick for you to pull on the front, but you can keep up, don't sit on the front and slow it down, just pull off and let the faster guys do the pulling. They appreicate it much more if you don't slow the pace and they won't resent your not taking a turn.
     
  3. cheapie

    cheapie New Member

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    exactly. there's always riders riding at different paces. just make sure you don't skip too many SAG stops because you'll really feel it towards the end if you haven't kept fueling your body.
     
  4. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Well-Known Member

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    Been riding only 5 months....pulls at 25 mph at the front....solo century in 5 hours.....

    I find all this hard to believe.
     
  5. gcovec

    gcovec New Member

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    I was thinking the same thing. If it's accurate...awesome!!
     
  6. BarryMc

    BarryMc New Member

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    I'm not sure exactly what makes that hard to believe...The guys I'm riding with pull 30 or better a good deal of the time when they are really pushing it...I'm usually the slowest in the front group and am doing good to hang on the back at 30, so 23 or 25 seems alright. It's only pain, right? It'll feel better when it stops hurting. :D Of course, they have been riding for years, and they all race, something I don't do yet. I ride alot, and ride hard every time I get on the bike. As for a 5 hour century, that's only 20 mph, which is a pretty comfortable pace for any length of time, as long as I stay hydrated and take in a few gels every so often.

    Thanks for the info though. Good to hear that the groups are usually smaller. I was afraid I'd be stuck in the middle of 300 riders, and I get nervous in the middle of 20 still. I don't even feel real good going to the water bottle when I'm crammed in the middle of a tight group, afraid I'll swerve a little and pile everyone up. I suppose after more time on the bike and more big group rides I'll get used to that though.
     
  7. gcovec

    gcovec New Member

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    You said it....."they have been riding for years" not 5 months. I have been riding for years and raced here in the states of and on, but have yet to do a 5hr "solo" century. My fastest with a group was 5:14. Averaging 20 mph for a hundred miles is nothing to sneeze at. If you can hang with a group that's going 30 mph....get comfortable in a bunch and start racing tomorrow.

    Hope I'm not coming off as a dick because I'm not meaning it to sound that way.

    Just saying.

    GC
     
  8. BarryMc

    BarryMc New Member

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    No problem, didn't take it like that. Again, I'm just trying to learn the sport, get in shape, and start doing some longer organized rides and maybe do some racing when I get to where I feel like I'm reaching my potential...then again, I'm already in my 30s, so that potential is probably going down every day. :D

    They have been racing for years, and I'm not in their class by any means, but as fast as they are, I don't see a 20 mph average as unusual. I figured that was pretty average, but like I said, I'm pretty new to cycling. We regularly ride 40 miles in a group, and the front group usually does that in a little over an hour and a half...maybe a 25 average or a little less...but that's riding it pretty much all out (for me anyway).

    Don't get me wrong, when I rode the 100 on my own, I was competely spent at the end, and the last 10 miles were rough. I was averaging over 21 according to the computer after 90 miles or so, but I bet the last 10 I was averaging only 16...major bonk, learned a lesson about not eating on a long ride. If there is a group doing 30 in the century, I won't be there...like I said, I'm doing good to hang on the back at 30 on much shorter rides, but I think 23 or so would be doable with 6 or 8 guys in a paceline. I was just wondering if in a ride with 2000 riders, would everyone be in a TDF style peleton....but it doesn't sound like it, which is good.
     
  9. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    Eh?? For a man I don't see this as ridiculous at all or even suspicious.... My fastest century time was 4:50, not solo, but over a course with 2 fair climbs and a lot of wind. That was the year before I started racing and I certainly did not go into it as a dominant player. I can hang with a group of big guys doing 30 on the flats as long as no one expects me to take a pull on the front (not that it would do them any good to get behind a 5' tall, 100lb woman) and even so I'm going to get my butt handed to me racing in the 1/2/3 field of women next year.

    Out here if you want to win a long men's 4/5 race you need to be able to do a mountainous 110 miles in about 4:55 (thats with over 7,000 feet of climbing) That one took me 5:54 this year and I even bonked hard at the bottom of the finishing climb.- btw every guy who finished it, finished faster than me!

    Each year I've raced I've seen people come into it who are just naturals. Often they have an atheletic background, so they are already fit. There was one guy around here who had been a x-country runner, but had to give it up because of foot injuries. He picked up a bike, started racing several months later, went from a 5 to a 2 in the course of a season. Raced as a 2 (or maybe even a 1?) for a season and was picked up by a pro team for the next year. Granted this is pretty much a fairy tale entree into the racing world, but very rarely it does happen and most people make more modest claims than that. I guess I just try to give most people the benefit of the doubt.

    No doubt, some people do make ridiculous claims. If he'd said he'd done it on his old Schwinn Mt bike with the knobbies still on, eating only a candy bar and drinking one bottle of water the whole way, yeah I'd have been suspicious. Some people appear to exaggerate a bit.... and still others probably don't have their cyclo-computers set up properly, but many people I am inclined to believe.

    Anyway - have fun on your ride! Oh - and most fun rides (not races) HIGHLY discourage riding peleton style. People will most likely stay to the right and mostly in single file or doubled up, but moving road blocks are unappreciated. It's unlikely you'll find youself stuck in the middle of a big group. Sometimes its like that at the very start, but only if the ride is very big - like 1000's of people attending and even at that it usually thins out within the first few miles.
     
  10. BarryMc

    BarryMc New Member

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    Thanks for the support. I guess I'm alot like that guy you mentioned in that I also used to be a cross country runner, then had knee problems that made me stop running. I sat around and got out of shape a few years, but when I started cycling this spring at least the XC background meant I knew how to get in pretty good condition in a relatively short amount of time. I also did alot of backpacking and hunting in the mountains during that time, so it wasn't like I was starting at ground zero fitness wise. I think alot of skepticism out there is due to the type of cyclists people are used to riding with. If you don't ride with guys who race seriously, it might be difficult to see a 5 hr century seeming average. I know I rode solo for about 3 months, and had no idea where I was. The first time I went to a ride with about 40 people there, I was amazed how different the abilities are. There are people who ride everyday and still ride at 16 or 18 mph, then there are guys who are just out doing a rest day ride and I could barely stay on their wheel.

    Thanks for the info about the big rides. This one will have 1000s of people, but it's just a "ride" (although the guys I ride with say it's ALWAYS a race ;)), so I imagine it will get strung out pretty fast from what everyone is saying here. I'll find out though. I have no idea what the course is like, it may be full of climbs and be in the wind and rain and it takes me 6 hours to finish, who knows!
     
  11. BarryMc

    BarryMc New Member

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    Just thought I'd post that the ride went well and the advice you guys gave was helpful. There were somewhere between 1850 and 2000 riders (biggest jersey number I saw was 1850, and they limited it to 2000). Really nice ride, nice roads, lots of police. Even had my own police escort car for about 5 miles when I was bridging up to a group ahead of me. They didn't like me drafting though. :D Of the people who ride the whole 100 (alot took the 50 or 75 mile turnarounds), I was either the 16th or 18th to cross the line (depending if I believe the lady at the finish line or my buddy who finished a few places ahead of me). It took 4:41 to ride, and I think the leading group was around 12 minutes ahead (at least that was the time gap at 80 miles). I rode with them awhile, but couldn't hang and knew if I tried I'd be in bad trouble. Course was very hilly in the middle. There were 4 climbs between 12 and 15%, although they weren't all that long, it sucked because they were all after the 60 mile mark.

    Learned the following things:

    Riding 30 miles without water is a bad, bad idea. Missed one aid station somewhere and got stuck out from the 50 to 80 miles mark without water.

    Riding at the back of a long line sucks. Early on I was at the back of about 50 people, and the accordian effect was bad. Found it easier to just ride to the front and pull, then drop into a spot towards the front. Eventually though, like someone here said, it got down to small groups.

    Gels really, really work. After I got some water at the 80 mile mark I rode awhile, and felt a little better, but was still feeling tired. I took 2 gels and within maybe 10 minutes I went from riding 18 to being back to 23 on the flats. Was able to pick up a coulple guys who took the 75 mile route and fly to the end. Without the gels, I probably finish 10 minutes later.
     
  12. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    Sounds like you did great. Don't mistake an organized century for a race though.... its very different when you cannot stop (there are feed zones in longer races, but you gotta grab what you need on the fly! Unless you have someone there specifically for you, all you get is water.) The other difference is that usually people are pretty good about working together and keeping a steady pace on fun rides. In a real race you'd find that there is a lot of surging (attack, catch, attack, catch) which can be really wearing on a person. Tactics can play just as big a role as fitness in a road race. A 30 mile race can leave you more wiped out than a relaxed century! Aaaand you'll probably find that the people who do race are not attending these types of rides, especially at this time of the year - a lot of people have just finished the road race season and are completely off the bike for a few weeks, are doing cyclocross or like me do a ride like this, I did a 120 mile 8,000 ft of climbing ride last weekend, but NOT at race pace...

    On the other hand it does indicate that you are pretty darn fit and if you wanted to give racing a try you should be good enough to give it a go and not be the person who is always getting dropped, you may even do very well, depending on all the factors I've listed above.
     
  13. BarryMc

    BarryMc New Member

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    Don't worry, I ride every week with guys that race, so I know where I'm at in that regard. ;) Still have some work to do. I'm going to give myself at LEAST a full year on the bike before I try any racing. By that time I'll almost be able to get in some of these age 35+ races.
     
  14. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    Beware though - Masters (35+) can be HARDER! than the 4/5's.... some of the guys in the masters field may be 45, 50.... but they are also current or former 1's and 2's and they can still kick butt. Master's races tend to be faster, but more controlled (so usually safer). You'll also probably see fewer games - guys going off the front 1 mile into the race, because most of them know better...
    Keep up the riding and you'll be ready to race in no time. Getting experience pack riding will probably be the hardest part.
     
  15. gcovec

    gcovec New Member

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    Congrats BarryMc!......Sounds like you had fun. I would say once you get better and more comfortable in a group, go ahead and enter some races. Like Eden said, you sound very fit to me and should do ok.

    GC
     
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