How would I fare in a Cat4/5 Race?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by isdsms, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. isdsms

    isdsms New Member

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    My hometown is having their annual criterium in a week or two, but I've never raced before, so I'm not exactly sure how I would place. The Cat4/5 race takes place on a 0.9 mile loop with 15 laps; altogether 13.5 miles.

    I don't have any wattage data or past results, but every Saturday I do a 45-mile group ride (20+ guys) averaging 23-24 mph with regular accelerations of 28-30. I recently averaged 23.5 mph on a 20-mile leg of a triathlon, and usually can do solo training rides (w/o aerobars) at 20-21 mph for 30-40 miles. I've can do individual sprints up to 32mph.

    Could I hold my own in the race? If so, do I have to register with the USCF?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. ScienceIsCool

    ScienceIsCool New Member

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    Only one way to find out! :) Grab a license and join the rest of us racers in having some fun. I think that most people finish at the back of the pack during their first race regardless of strength. This is definitely true of some of the riders I've known who are now riding professionally.

    My suggestion is that if you are at all curious, go out and try it. You'll do fine and have a lot of fun. Go practice cornering at speed and you might even pull off a good result.

    Best of all, you'll be able to look yourself in the mirror the next morning and know that you're looking at a bona fide racer. And the stories you'll be able to tell... :)

    John Swanson
    www.bikephysics.com

     
  3. ToffoIsMe

    ToffoIsMe New Member

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    More or less a 95% that you won't be in the top 10 in your first race, even if you are stronger than everyone. It takes awhile to learn when/where to cut in front of people and just get used to the tactics involved. Race paces differ place to place but all of the 4/5 races I've done were around 27mph or so average. You should be able to get a one day race license the day of the event for $10. That way you don't dish out $60 for an annual license and find out you don't like racing after your first race.
     
  4. fauxpas

    fauxpas New Member

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    So I'm thinking that even if ya finish dead last, instead of quitting like other sports, you'd be thinking of ways to improve and come back in the next race?

    Oh btw, what the hell does this have to do with cycling equipment? :D
     
  5. capwater

    capwater New Member

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    A crit isn't going to really be about power as much as bike handling and some positioning tactics. Tight turns and riding all bunched up is a bit different that riding in a paceline or doing a tri. Go for it though! It will be fun. Try to stay in mid pack or where you feel comfortable for most of the race. if you feel strong towards the final 4 laps or so make your way to the front (not at the front) around 4th of 5th wheel. Being father back will create an elastic effect around the turns so be prepared for that. Most crits setlle down after the initial few laps when everyone plans for the finish. Cat 4s and 5s really aren't too different in terms of power/speed, it really comes down to bike handling. Good luck and make sure you give us a full after action report.
     
  6. rayhuang

    rayhuang New Member

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    My first Cat4 crit I had only club circuit races and one USCF road race under my belt. I won a prime for a set of sunglasses and even tried breaking away on the last lap. It backfired, but I went for it. I would say as early as possible, learn what it takes to ride up front and as others have said, its about positioning and something no one mentioned-confidence!!!


    I would not hang out back the first time because you will feel the accordian effect out of corners and will get pooped fast and probably dropped. Also-riding up front (mind you I got worse at it the longer I raced) is really an attitude because physically its easier, but mentally its harder. Learn the attitude right up front and dont let it go. YOu'll notice if you race crits all the time its always the same guys up front at all the crits and they all have an "attitude" or some cockiness or bravado about themselves. Its almost required in crits to stay up front. The other guys will try to move you out of the way or squeeze you back.

    Crits are fun in that way too-its very mental and very physical. Luckily they now have Cat 5 whihc i think does not race for money-right?

    I say GO FOR IT!!! You might be great!!
     
  7. Bobby Lex

    Bobby Lex New Member

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    First of all, make sure you find out for certain if the race is in "a" week, or if it is in "two" weeks. It would be a bummer to get all psyched up for your first race and then miss it by a week....

    Second, 13.5 miles is a relatively short race so be prepared for it to be crazy-fast the whole time, and never really slow down much like it would if it were longer.

    Third, do a very good warm-up because crits go really fast right from the start.

    Fourth, ditch the pump, saddle bag, and even water bottles. (Normally, you would bring a water bottle or two. But this race probably won't last much more than 30 minutes, so just hydrate well before the start).

    Fifth, the biggest difference between racing and fast club rides is the level of aggression. There is little or no courtesy or caution. If you drift a few inches back or to the side of the wheel in front of you, someone else is likely to take the wheel away from you. Instead of one or two orderly rows of cyclists pedalling near the right side of the lane, a race is a free-for-all with racers all over the road fighting for position and trying to gain an advantage. Getting a good position is difficult. Keeping from losing it is even more difficult.

    From a fitness standpoint, your numbers look pretty good. But, crits aren't about high average speeds. They're about sprinting to 27 mph, then braking hard for a tight corner and dropping to 19 mph, then sprinting back to 27 mph, and repeating the process over and over and over again 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 times each lap (depending on the number of corners each lap). In a 6-turn, 15-lap race you're going to do 90 sprints! (And 90 sprints in 30 minutes means you're sprinting every 20-seconds. In other words, the best you can expect is incomplete recovery between efforts. And the best strategy to deal with that is to find a good wheel, and avoid braking in the corners as much as possible).

    If nothing mentioned above scares you away, then enjoy your race and be prepared for the thrill of your life.

    And, as mentioned by another poster, be sure to give us your race report.

    Good luck!

    Bob
     
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