Handicap racing in Australia

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by MPCRUSHER, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. MPCRUSHER

    MPCRUSHER New Member

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    In Australia handicap races are quite popular. For those that don't know what a handicap is, it is an all in race where the slower grades are let go first and then the faster grades.

    This type of racing is really difficult as each bunch is essentially broken away and trying to stay out in front away from the faster groups behind. It really forces you to work and they tend to weed out any baggage. This type of racing becomes even more difficult when small groups of 5-8 riders are let go at a time as you have no where to hide in the bunch.

    I was wandering if handicaps are run or are popular in Europe and the US or is it more of an Australian thing, and if it is an Australian thing, why are we so obsessed with running them?
     
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  2. davef

    davef New Member

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    Fairly popular here (NZ) as well, maybe about 25-30% of the races.

    Groups are larger here up to 20. I don't know about them "forcing you to work" as quite often the slower groups just don't really charge for the goal but end up getting shallowed up in the faster groups. Perhaps, your smaller groups might be a better way of doing them?

    I just use them for race training as the outcome depends too much on the handicapper(s) and the mood of the group you are with.

    Scratch racing is much more competitive here.

    Do you try to put a team plan together? If so, I wonder if your events end up more like team against team. Do the members of the group change with each handicap event.
     
  3. MPCRUSHER

    MPCRUSHER New Member

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    Yeh it seems about 30 percent of races are handicaps, and your quite right about the front groups sometimes waiting for the groups behind. I find this happens less as the hadicaps reduce and the riders are a little more fit.

    The size of the bunch usually depends on the race and quality of field and number of entries. In an open event, you usually have the standard A, B, C and D grades. In club races, it is not uncommon to have 6 or 7 bunches chasing each other at 1-2 minute intervals.

    In open events, team mates might work for a rider further up the road who has a good handicap or is further back, by slowing the bunch down (blocking) but this can become a recipe for abuse from the other riders who want to work together for their own glory.

    Generally in club races it is every man for himself.

    Handicaps I think are a much better workout than scratch races, provided you get in the right group or one that is willing to work.
     
  4. 11ring

    11ring New Member

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    Sort of, but it kills the competition. It becomes one big TTT. There is no point ever attacking, because you don't want to drop your helpers.


     
  5. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    I'm in the US, specifically in the northwest and I've never heard of a race like that. Sounds interesting to me.
     
  6. davef

    davef New Member

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    I find they are a better workout because you end up working with a faster group that has caught you up :)

    11ring
    >Sort of, but it kills the competition. It becomes one big TTT. There is no >point ever attacking, because you don't want to drop your helpers.

    Kills individual competition, however I thought the prime strategy here was for everyone in the group to "beat" the other groups to the end. Sounds competitive to me. The other competitive aspect is the final sprint! Its just now you are sprinting against someone of similar ability rather than someone 2 grades higher than you.

    Attacking skills are developed in the scratch races, where it is "every person for themselves".

    MPCRUSHER,
    Say you are looking at your C grade. Is that group broken up into smaller teams (by the handicappers) or do people nominate which "team" they go in?
    Does the winning team share the prize money? How do the organisers feel about lots of small groups, rather than a few bigger groups?
     
  7. MPCRUSHER

    MPCRUSHER New Member

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    Depends on the race. Some times C grade will be put together in a large group or the handicaper might break the C grade bunch up into smaller groups.

    Eg. a handicap with a large group could easily have 12 bunches of riders @ 1-2 minute intervals.

    The "teams" are never nominated. The handicaper has full control and final say as to where you start. This is usually based on recent and past performances.
    Prize money is usually given to the winner, and only if your teammates have worked for you to get the win are the winnings are shared. Most teams that work together are informal usually a couple of mates from the same club and like I said earlier, teams dont usually operate at club level racing.
     
  8. davef

    davef New Member

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    MPCRUSHER

    I might suggest some smaller groups to bring some variety into our handicap races.

    Grades split up into smaller groups would encourage some "team work". Handy training for the TTT in the national races.

    Cheers
     
  9. jerrek

    jerrek New Member

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    As a country club racer i would not say we are obsesed with them. It is often a matter of need. Only a very few of our handicaps are planned.

    If you only have 10 - 20 people it can be a bit difficult to have 3 or more grades. Rather than have rather lopsided or small grades the organiser may decide on a handicap. They can either be fun, or just be very hard for no tangable reward.

    Most handicappers seem to make the mistake of underestimating the limit bunch (slowest). Mostly the winners come from the limit or scratch bunches.

    They can be very good for the lower speeds groups that get a high speed finish if it all comes togethor near the end.

    At least in smaller fields tactics and agression come into it. Especially in hills the lone claimber can get away for a win.
     
  10. dm69

    dm69 New Member

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    they are awsum training for Lactic Threshold work. Often in HCp's I hover in my LT zone for upto 2 hours!!! Eventually you get used to them and you just deal with what the handicapper gives you...half the goal is going up in grade anyways.
     
  11. MPCRUSHER

    MPCRUSHER New Member

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    Totally agree with you. Lactic Threshold workout is full on in this type of race.
    It just aint as fun as racing scratch races.
     
  12. PhilH

    PhilH New Member

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    We use them at our club races. We normally have 35 to 40 riders of dramatically different abilities so the pursuit type race works best. Many would not show up for a mass start race because they would be dropped instantly.
     
  13. MPCRUSHER

    MPCRUSHER New Member

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    How often do you guys run them? At our club we run them every 2nd to third week. A lot of guys hate them and don't turn up for them. When you turn up for a handicap, you are usually prepared for a white knuckle ride the whole way.
     
  14. Catabolic_Jones

    Catabolic_Jones New Member

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    Well, here in British Columbia, our Masters Association runs the races in Australian Pursuit. They break it by age here: 60's, 50's, 40's, 30's. I personally dislike it because I am in the 30's group! Some of the strongest TT guys are in the 50's so there is really no hope of catching them when they get close to 10 minutes at the start.

    Still, it is fun to get a good paceline going. I've found that some attacking is absolutely necessary, however; some of the guys really don't cooperate in the paceline and so they have to be dropped. You have to get a really good group of committed guys taking strong pulls to make it work.

    I do think that putting it by ability rather than age might be a bit better solution; that way, if you did actually pull up to the lead group, you might be able to outsprint them, given the disparity in ability; however, splitting it by age, even if I did catch the 50's I'd be so stuffed I don't think I could outsprint them.
     
  15. MPCRUSHER

    MPCRUSHER New Member

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    Sounds like an odd system. Your absolutely right about some older guys being able to smoke younger riders. There are so many guys in their late 40s and even 50s that have been riding and racing for decades. 28 year old takes up cycling and gets a worse handicap than them? How bizarre!
    IMO handicaps have to be given out on form, or else they never work.

    When you say your races are run in "Australian Pursuit" what does this mean? I have to say I have never heard this term before.
     
  16. PhilH

    PhilH New Member

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    We run six club races using the "Australian Pursuit" method. The groups are all ability based and the gaps are set with regards to to the ability differences. We also have 6 (interclub) races where there are fewer (larger) groups with the aim of bringing the groups together with about 15-20k to go. So the last part of the race is more like mass start racing.
     
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