Winning Races

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by CatSpin, Jun 4, 2003.

  1. CatSpin

    CatSpin New Member

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    So I am hammering along at 32mph on the back stretch of a 1km loop in this cold and rainy crit last night. I look up, spit out some tire spray (very crunchy) and see that the winning break is about 100meters off my pace I pick up speed but it is too late. I am too far back. To add more heartbreak to the matter my calf cramps due to the cold and I pop during my sprint to try to keep in the top 15. I roll across the line holding my calf, shivering and cursing myself for not being in the right position.

    When my teammates looked at me right after the race, I knew that I should have been closer, in the lead break, on the back stretch. They expected me to finish in the top five with our other sprinter but I failed. Defeated, but not down, I plan not let that happen again.

    So I started thinking about tactics. Is a consistent crit race winning tactic to only draft behind the lead break of say 3-10 riders (that is if you can hold on), then swing around and hammer the last 100 meters. Dare I say that winning races could be that simple? I probably shouldn't, but it appears to be unless I hear about other "methods" and considerations I may be missing.


    **************
    Racing Profile:
    My Summer Crit Series race record - 2nd, 5th, 25th (?)
    My team: 5 strong racers. Field: 50-70, mostly 4s. About 5 key teams numbering 4-10 riders.

    **************

    Members,
    Looking for help not to let down my team again,


    CatSpin
     
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  2. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Catspin:

    It would be nice if there were some formula for winning races, but there is not. Racing is warfare, and battles are always fought differently based on the situation. "Situation dictates."

    It always boils down to how bad you want to win. Let's say you have a field of 60 riders on a one kilometer course. Every rider there has a 1 in 60 chance of winning statistically speaking, but in reality there will only be maybe a handful of riders who will be agressive and smart enough to win. The rest want to win, but they will be racing without any goal or objective. They just show up, pay their money, and ride in the pack until the race is over.

    If you want to win your races, you have to want to win badly. Since you have 2nd and 5th place finishes, you have the agression to win for sure. Society teaches us agression is a bad thing. Agression is mandatory for racing however.

    Positioning is critical. You noticed the winning break 100 meters in front of you. You must mark your competition and never let them out of your sight. Team tactics are much more difficult at the 4/5 level, since inexperience and upgrading "greed" are rampant, and rightly so for the most part. Who wants to get up early, pay money, and work for someone else, helping them move up to a faster category while you stay in a slower one.
    If this is not a problem for you or your teamates, get organized. Cover breaks by sending one of your riders up to the break. Rally everyone up front, and send a man off the front. Have your team block the race by riding just a tad slower while your man gets a gap. Block by taking longer lines around the corners also. Find someone who can ride super fast for 30-60 seconds and have them lead you out. Just before your leadout man blows, sprint for all you are worth. Ideally he will get you to 200 meters or less from the line, and at a speed well over 32 mph. Whatever you do, do not attemt to sprint over 200 meters. If your leadout man drops you off at 300 meters, you are probably screwed.

    If a break goes near the end, it is mandatory that you and your leadout man make the break. If you are a feared sprinter, the break may just stop working. Why should they tow you to the line so you can crush them in a sprint??? Of course, you should do as little work as possible yourself. There is a fine line between being a wheelsucker and doing too much work.

    If your team is up front at the end (it should be) and your leadout man gets you to the line first, it's possible to place your team very well, maybe 1-2-3 or better.

    Decide that you want to win the race and that you will win the race. Get your team organized. Decide well in advance what each riders role will be. Develop hand signals to communicate with your teamates. Make sure everyone knows what the race strategy will be, and make sure everyone rides and stays up front the whole race. Some team will occupy the space at the front of the race, why not have it be yours??? Someone will win the race, why not have it be you???

    Make a list of all the races you are going to do this year. Write down all your goals for the year with regard to placing, a "macro" view. write down on a piece of paper something like " I will win the "xyz" criterium on saturday," as the race gets closer, a "micro" view. Write it down several times. You can also write out things like "I will make all breaks" "I will win all sprints," etc. It is important to physically write these affirmations on a piece of paper, not type it on a computer. There is something very special about the physical act of writing. Writing down your goals is so important, but most people don't even think of it.

    Try these things and see if they work for you.

    Good luck!!!
     
  3. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    To add to JMAT's post...

    Check out the definitions of AGGRESSIVE and ASSERTIVE in a dictionary; a slight but important difference. I get some of my riders to write the word ASSERTIVE on their handlebars, there is no point in turning up to races unless you are going to ASSERT yourself. How different would football be if players were ASSERTIVE and NOT AGGRESSIVE!
     
  4. CatSpin

    CatSpin New Member

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    Thanks J-MAT and 2LAP.

    I liked the point about agression and assertion. To continue the thread, I having taken 2LAP's suggestion looked up and now posted the definition of each. Very interesting point. Seems like you need both instinct (aggression) and reason (assertion) to win races.



    -----------------------------
    AGGRESSION

    \Ag*gres"sion\, n. [L. aggressio, fr. aggredi: cf. F. agression.] The first attack, or act of hostility; the first act of injury, or first act leading to a war or a controversy; unprovoked attack; assault; as, a war of aggression. ``Aggressions of power.'' --Hallam

    Syn: Attack; offense; intrusion; provocation.

    aggression

    n 1: a disposition to behave aggressively 2: a feeling of hostility that arouses thoughts of attack [syn: aggressiveness] 3: violent action that is hostile and usually unprovoked [syn: hostility] 4: the act of initiating hostilities 5: deliberately unfriendly behavior


    ------------------------
    ASSERT (to)

    \As*sert"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Asserted; p. pr. & vb. n. Asserting.] [L. assertus, p. p. of asserere to join or fasten to one's self, claim, maintain; ad + serere to join or bind together. See Series.] 1. To affirm; to declare with assurance, or plainly and strongly; to state positively; to aver; to asseverate.

    2. To maintain; to defend. [Obs. or Archaic]

    3. To maintain or defend, as a cause or a claim, by words or measures; to vindicate a claim or title to; as, to assert our rights and liberties.


    \As*ser"tion\, n. [L. assertio, fr. asserere.] 1. The act of asserting, or that which is asserted; positive declaration or averment; affirmation; statement asserted; position advanced.

    2. Maintenance; vindication; as, the assertion of one's rights or prerogatives.
     
  5. Lady in Yellow

    Lady in Yellow New Member

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    Interesting thread.....

    I wish there was an easy way to win races. Been in the top 5 and top 10 on a consistant basis so far this year (road races) but I just can't seem to crack it. Good idea to remember the word ASSERTIVE while racing - will definately try it.

    I also lack some experience in road racing. Did duathlons and switched over to cycling October last year. How else can I learn tactics except by making all the mistakes myself ? It must be easier to learn from others by watching the pros, etc, but you can't learn it all that way. Every race I learn somerhing, but come the next race and I just make another mistake like attacking in a wrong place or getting dropped in corners because I hang too far to the back, etc.

    Or is cycling just one of those sports in which you will only start winning races after years of experience ?

    :confused:
     
  6. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Lady:

    Dualthons and triathlons are time trials. Road racing is pure battle. Many people place the same in races even after many years of racing in different categories. I can almost predict where a given rider I know will finish when I look at race results.

    You won't start winning races until you decide that it is time for you to start winning races. You won't dominate the race scene in your area until you decide it's time. Too many riders "settle" for results that are close to the win, but somehow feel they aren't worthy of the win. When you believe that you deserve to win, and you feel like you will not settle for 5th or 10th place, you will start winning.

    Fitness is important, but it is only part of the picture. Everyone who shows up at a race is fast and has trained hard. Now who is going to win??? Probably the rider that is hungry for victory. There might be a lot of riders in the race who are faster/stronger than the winner, but be too timid to do anything but sit in the pack.

    Racing requires that you be greedy and hungry for victory. Anyone with top 5-10 places is in the ballpark for victory, they just have to decide they are worthy enough to be the winner.

    Experience counts for a lot. Local knowledge of a certain course helps, etc. but you have to make mistakes to learn. You have to have a plan and you have to be very agressive. Duathlons require that you ride, as there are really no tactics compared to road racing. Road racing requires that you be a racer and a master of tactics as well. Forget thinking about being assertive. You need to be aggressive, go on the offensive and crush your competition. The rider that wins will.

    Good luck!!!
     
  7. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    J-MAT, I remember my first road race as a 16 year old. It was only 55 miles and on the first 15 mile lap, I took every prime (bonuses for sprints and climbs). On the second lap, I got dropped on the main climb. What did I learn, you can be too agressive!

    In my second race, I stayed close to the front in the top 10 and missed out on a few crashes. Instead of going for primes, I put up the pace on the hills. Every ounce of effort was used in a planned mannor and none was wasted. I finished 3rd overall and first under 18.

    My point here was that I had not changed fitness or will to win. Instead I had different tactics, far from aggressive... I was defensive. I had planned tactics and I ASSERTED them on the rest of the field, particularly on the climbs (my strength). Why did I not win, unfortunatly others had a faster finish! Neither increased aggression or assertion would have helped me win.
     
  8. Lady in Yellow

    Lady in Yellow New Member

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    Thanks for the info J-MAT. The most important thing I must do is decide that I want to (and can) win a race. I've had this perception for too long that I can finish with the top girls but that I can't win because I am just not strong enough.

    It is a case of victory belongs to the one who believes in it the most and the longest.

    I am racing again on Sunday. I will definately focus on the race from today on and truly believe that I can win the race. Will keep you posted.
     
  9. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Allow me to clarify what I mean by "aggressive." It doesn't mean you go off the front on the first lap, blow up, then get dropped. To me, being assertive means you will stand up for yourself in a given situation. Being aggressive means you are going far beyond standing up for yourself, and are actually going to have a role in determining the events outcome.

    The winner of a given race might be wheelsucking 95% of the time. Aggressive does not necessarily mean you are up front working.

    I liken winning a race to simultaneously releasing 80 people into a small room with a valuable prize in the center. Only the most determined (aggressive) will elbow their way through the crowd and take the prize from someone else who wants it.

    That's basically what a race is. Many want to win, but only a few will really be contenders, and posess the necessary drive to "take" the win from someone else who wants it badly. It doesn't mean you ride stupidly. It takes aggression to "steal" the win.
     
  10. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Similar thing happening here as in the 'strength' thread, our definitions seem a bit out. Please check the dictionary and ponder a while.

    While I don't disagree with anything that you have said, the difference between aggression and assertion is still very interesting and worth noting by all sports people.

    Your above post is interesting you state that by being aggressive you 'are actually going to have a role in determining the event's outcome'; the same can be said for assertive. You also state that 'only the most determined (aggressive) will elbow their way through the crowd'; again the same can be said for assertive. Also 'determined' and 'aggressive' are very different. Determination is a motivational issue whereas aggression is not. I happen to think that motivation is more important than aggression or assertion - because it is multidimentional like bike racing.
     
  11. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    2LAP:

    Perhaps there is a difference in the way we see the words assertive and aggressive. I think they are closely related. To me, aggression is a higher form of assertion. Either way, results are what's important to racers. Whatever gets your riders to the line first is what's important!!!

    If someone is going to try their hardest to kick your ass with physical violence (streetfighting), you better worry a LOT more about the guy who is filled with aggression rather than the guy who is assertive. Racing is no different. Racing is warfare without bullets.

    The goal of war is to crush your enemy with overwhelming force. You better be really aggressive if you want to crush your enemy with overwhelming force. If you are in a crit with a field of 60 riders, you have 59 enemies to defeat.
    The way I see it, nothing assertive does will ever match the intensity level that aggressive does. Aggression is an emotion that fills your veins with pure adrenaline.

    To win a race, you must rob, steal, deny, shut out, and deprive many others who want the win badly. You have to take it from them. Racing is a free-for-all where only the most aggressive will fight tooth and nail to the finish.

    When Armstrong won the Worlds in 1993, he was not the strongest but the most aggressive. Olaf Ludwig or Indurain would have smoked him in a sprint, but because Armstrong was aggressive, he rode across the line alone. A weaker aggressive rider is better than a stronger passive rider.

    Aggression is a mindset as much or more so than physical display. Of the three muscle types in the human body (smooth, cardiac, skeletal), skeletal muscle only responds to conscious thought. Tell your legs to turn the cranks, they turn the cranks. If you are filled with aggression, you will produce more power in your legs than if you are not filled with said emotion.

    Many people can focus on a goal until it starts to get tough, at which point they stop focusing as hard. Others, with much tougher constitutions, will focus on their goals no matter ugly things get. The only way to get them to stop focusing is to put a bullet in their head. These are the most aggressive of the bunch and the ones you need to worry the most about.

    How tough do you need to be to defeat somone who needs a round in their head to stop focusing on defeating you???

    Archie Griffin, former Ohio State football legend and two-time Heisman Trophy winner once said "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." That's what aggression is. The size of the fight inside you!!!
     
  12. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Great post J-MAT (some amusing comments in there too). You are obviously very passionate about this subject and have a big fight in you. Back to the original post, to win races you need something extra to win races... call it what you like.

    Keep them legs turning with the same same amount of passion that you write.
     
  13. CatSpin

    CatSpin New Member

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    Whoa...cyclists...

    Sounds like we need to have set up a two-man race. One jersey, "Agressive", the other "Assertive" and see who hits the line first.

    Truth is, both you seem correct. I took the finer points from both your posts and will deploy them in my next race.

    I will be assertive the entire race...letting riders know they will have to work for my wheel and not moving aside easily for others who try to work in on my line. I will also assert my self at key moments of the race to let "worthwhile" flyers know that they will not get far.

    If necessary, I will agressively counter attack weaker attacks to let the others know of my intentions. Lastly, the sprint will be nothing short of a mass of agression turned on at the right moment. Blowing by riders so fast they won't, can't, even mount a chase. I too agree that the one that wants the win the most gets it.

    Both of you added alot to my thoughts on my up and coming event, thank you J-MAT and 2LAP. In addition to my team (not to mention my own point standings) I will not let your comments go to waste and apply both your strategies in my next crit.

    Results forthcoming.

    CatSpin
     
  14. Lazy legs

    Lazy legs New Member

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    Maybe it should be a race between 2LAP and JMAT, I'm not complaining. ;) I for one enjoy their posts a lot, the advantage is (like CatSpin said) you take the best from both of their posts and run with it!
     
  15. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    Cycling is so hard and so complex, that winning a race does require something special for sure. When a race is nearing the end, the weather is bad, and your legs are getting tired, you need to have a strong and clear head to make the right decisions.

    Thinking clearly while cornering over 30 mph requires a lot of mental strength. Most people devote all their time to the physical aspects of riding/racing. Physical training is obviously important, but too many people neglect the mental aspects.

    Before the Wall came down, people were amazed at the athletic performances the Russians and other com-block nations delivered. They devoted around a third of their training time to developing "mental power," using visualization techniques. Seeing yourself out ride your competitors and crossing the line first can do wonders for your confidence. Top American coach Dean Golich says "if you never go 30 mph, you'll never go 30 mph." I say: "if you don't think you can win a race, you will never win a race."

    If you are a racer, and you are filling out your entry and release form, what is going through your head at the time??? You are filling out the "XYZ" criterium entry. Are you saying to yourself something like "I hope I do good" or "I hope I can finish?" How about changing vague, unclear thoughts into "I have trained hard, I am as strong as my competition, and I can win this race. I will win this race..." or "someone has to win, why not me..."

    Whatever you do, don't allow any negative thoughts enter your head or talk bad about your abililties. So you aren't the greatest sprinter around. Ask One of the best sprinters ever, Sean Kelly, how a lesser sprinter, Greg LeMond finished (1989 Worlds)!!!

    The bottom line is that neglecting your mental development is to neglect your overall development. A strong focused mind that will not surrender, quit or be beaten is the true foundation for athletic excellence.
     
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