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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:14 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:50 am
Posts: 518
Location: Maui
Thanks for the advice everyone. I have no interest in getting hurt or getting others hurt so I'm definitely going to do some pack riding before I start racing. I doubt I can corner very well at 40kph. Once I've done some club riding there is a local crit series every summer that has a section for total newbies. I'm going to give that a go.

As far as why I have a powertap when I'm not racing.. I have been doing a training regimen for a while now to see physically what I can do. It is said to be the best way to train and so I bought one. Even if I don't end up racing I still find it helpful on long rides so I know how to pace myself better.


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Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:14 am 


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 1:26 am 
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Location: Charlotte, NC
peterpen wrote:
Please do not start racing if you have never ridden in a group! :shock: I've done four races so far this season - 3 of 4 had serious crashes, one race even had 3 crashes including one that took me down and sent somebody away in an ambulance. All of these crashes were due to people who did not have sufficient pack skills and/or over-reacted.

Hook up with a club, get used to riding in a group first, please. Give yourself at least six months of learning how to follow wheels, paceline, react calmly if someone leans on you, not swerve around potholes or traffic dots, etc. In NorCal, we have an excellent series of skills clinics and training races at the beginning of each season, maybe there's something similiar in your area. If you must race, do a time trial or hill climb or some non-mass start race.

As for your specific w/ kg numbers - lots of people have numbers well above where they actually are - I'm one of them. :oops: But, unless it's a time trial, watts are only 50% of the game. The tired cliché is that bike racing is like running a marathon then playing a game of chess - sounds like you have the capability for the running part, but it takes years to get a good chess game down.


Speaking of race's:

Our team went to do the first regional race of the season and there were five crashes the first day, one caused me to get seperated from the leaders, but one of my teamates took third.

The next day it was super windy and I got into a pretty big break and was able to finish 7th, pretty good early season results.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:47 am 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
peterpen wrote:
Hook up with a club, get used to riding in a group first, please.


Does this mean your clubs don't race?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:19 pm 
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Location: Wichita, KS
Bruiser wrote:
peterpen wrote:
Hook up with a club, get used to riding in a group first, please.


Does this mean your clubs don't race?


There is a local club here in FTW that just does group rides along scenic routes. Of course they have some members that do race but they aren't sponsored by the club.
On the other hand there are several other clubs around here (sponsored by bike shops usually) that are dedicated race teams.


Last edited by drjones96 on Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:27 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
That's where Australia is different. We have lots of small clubs (sponsorship covers part cost of printing club clothing) who do races all year round for riders of any ability.

We have races at State level which have sponsored riders and teams.

No wonder you have so many inexperienced riders.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:14 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:50 am
Posts: 518
Location: Maui
I did my first race today. :) I road with cat 4/5 group in a local crit. 15 laps of a .8 mile loop with a 140 degree turn and a steep hill. Here's my race report.

The bad: It was pouring rain. I was covered in mud afterwards and my visibility was reduced. At the start of the race people gave me a hard time about being a first timer on 303s and with a SRM. I was scared to death for the first few laps because we were going up to 40mph in the rain and the wind was blowing my front around a bit.

I had a lot of difficulty negotiating the pack. As a result of this I sat in the wind on the edges the whole time. I was concerned about making an ass of myself on my first race so I didn't fight for position. I'm not even really sure how. Also, I was so nervous I hardly shifted the whole time! I mostly mashed up the hills at 60rpm.

The good: I had to wait for everyone on the hills! I think they may have been taking it slow because of the rain but even being on the edge of the pack most of the time it was not a very hard effort. On the 9th lap I finally was able to make it up to the front and lead for a while but got bored and tried to start a breakaway. No one else came so I just stayed away from the pack for 3 laps before being reabsorbed. It felt good but I couldn't keep it up for the final few laps and I finished in the pack. I was the only first timer to finish and many of the guys on teams couldn't stay with us.

The questions: I had no problems holding a straight line or negotiating the 140 deg turns, but I had no idea what was proper behavior as far as merging into the pack. I also have no idea if people try for breakaways in crit races? Are these things always planned? Did they not follow because it was so early and they didn't think I was a threat? Or just lazy? Where do I learn these tactics? Is there a good book? Also, do I have to join a team to get a regular license?

For the curious, srm said 844watts max power, 244 watts average. 40mph max, 22.7mph average 11.3miles, 29 min 40sec.

Oh also, I had an awesome time. :-) Maybe I'll ride a little smarter next week and see if I can win.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:37 am 
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Location: A bigger rock in the Pacific (AUS)
Riding smarter is the most important thing.

Now, for some of your questions - even though some people have pointed out that racing differs between Australia and the US, these things will still be the same

"I was scared to death for the first few laps because we were going up to 40mph in the rain and the wind was blowing my front around a bit. " - Stay up the front in conditions like that, or when you're nervous, but dont do any work on the frontunless your doing it for a reason.

" had a lot of difficulty negotiating the pack. As a result of this I sat in the wind on the edges the whole time."- You'll learn these things as you gain more experience in the packs, try getting in some bunch rides for training aand learn to roll turns, move through bunches, and generally get some confidence cruising at a decent speed in a bunch. These things take some time to learn.

" I had to wait for everyone on the hills! I think they may have been taking it slow because of the rain but even being on the edge of the pack most of the time it was not a very hard effort. On the 9th lap I finally was able to make it up to the front and lead for a while but got bored and tried to start a breakaway. No one else came so I just stayed away from the pack for 3 laps before being reabsorbed. It felt good but I couldn't keep it up for the final few laps and I finished in the pack. I was the only first timer to finish and many of the guys on teams couldn't stay with us. " - First off, congratulations. But why were you pushing off the front on the climb, and then waiting? Either conserve your energy, or push on if you've got enough strength and energy to hold them all off for the rest of the race (remember, teams will work toghether to hunt you down if you seem like a threat).

"but I had no idea what was proper behavior as far as merging into the pack." Ettiquete basically goes, you screw with us, we screw with you...no, I'm kidding. But basically, act safe, and dont push in, no matter what, roll back through the bunch keeping at close to the same speed of the bunch, and look for someone to let you in - they will, because they want one extra person to adsorb the work. This is especially important in lower grades as if you do something thats not predictable, its going to cause a mass pileup.

"I also have no idea if people try for breakaways in crit races? Are these things always planned? Did they not follow because it was so early and they didn't think I was a threat? Or just lazy? Where do I learn these tactics? Is there a good book? Also, do I have to join a team to get a regular license? " Cant help you with a last question, talk to someone american, they'll help you out. But over here, you have to join a club to get a liscence, and then you can join a team (if one wants you). With breakaways, while they can be pre-arranged quite often they're spur of the moment things, someone will see you go, and rather than calling it out, wil l try and join in to narrow the odds. But yes, sometimes they will be prearanged, especially ones that go from the gun, for example. If your trying to breakaway early, then you probably wont have the legs for it, save it up and wait for laiter when you'r econfident you can hold off a fast chasing, organised group. But, since your jus tlearning, try sprinting as well as breakaways, its a skill you need to learn. For where to learn the tactics, and wheter theres a book, go to your local library and look through the non-fiction section for cycling books, many will cover tactics. Joe Friel has written a book thats considered the cyclists bible - literally, "The Cyclists Training Bible" or something like it. It covers training, racing, bunch skills and etiquette. Read online, read on the net, read everywhere. Read and observe and learn through experience, and you'll learn these things. A good coach will help you learn these things, a bad coach wil l just set you a program and not much else.

Thats about all I can think of at the moment, hope it helps


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:49 pm 
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Location: Wichita, KS
This is a great thread. Congrats jeffr on your first race. I'm considering trying a race also so this helps to know.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:34 pm 
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Location: Northern California
Congrats on your first race! @drjones - I'd recommend a road race for your first ever race - they're generally less sketchy, and if the parcours is at all selective (eg, hills) things get strung out quickly.

@jeffr - don't 'wait' for the pack. If you get a gap, try and hold it for a while, then try not to lose position when they catch you. As for being at the front but not doing work, personally I hate this tactic and think it's responsible for lots of crashes. Everybody tries to be at the front but not on it, which is sketchy. For crits, the faster it is the safer, so I always try to string things out or at the very least pull through to keep the speed high.

Of course, I'm not a true sprinter, so I'm usually going *off* the front on an attack, seeing how long I can stay away and let my sprinter sit in. Or I'm trying to bridge to an attack someone else launched. Or, on rare occasions, I'm chasing down a threatening break or disrupting a chase if I have a man in a break (these are 'negative' tactics and I'm not a big fan of them, but sometimes you gotta take one for the team. :wink: ) Personally, I try not to be in the first ten guys unless I have a purpose up there.

As for your license question, no need to join a club. Get yourself a license, then you'll feel obligated to race regularly to make it worth your $65. Go to the races, watch who works well as a team, make some friends (I *always* talk to at least one new person every race I do - makes it much more fun and you'll never know when it'll come in handy in a race.) Then find a team that's a good match and has riders you can learn from, eg higher Cat racers.

If you want to read up on tactics, check out http://www.roadbikerider.com/stc_page.htm for Arnie Baker's Strategy & tactics eBook. Baker definitely knows what he is talking about, and it's only strategy stuff, no training, unlike the Friel.

Don't forget to have fun! And don't let racing get in the way of your training. Racing is loads more fun when you have the fitness to win. 8)

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:53 am 
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peterpen wrote:
@drjones - I'd recommend a road race for your first ever race - they're generally less sketchy, and if the parcours is at all selective (eg, hills) things get strung out quickly.


There's a regular Wed night crit that happens here that's more like a road race than a crit. It's got hills and stuff. I'm planning to just go out and watch a few of them just to see how it all goes. There aren't nearly as many road races around here as crits.
I ride on tues/thurs rides with a lot of the guys that race out there(pretty quick guys) and they've been trying to talk me into trying it out.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:17 am 
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Oh, just suck it up and go do it! :lol:
Seriously, if you go watch, you'll probably see somebody crash and get spooked. If you just go out there and dive in, you'll have a blast and get hooked.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:52 pm 
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Yeah gotta go shave my legs too :P

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:02 pm 
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drjones96 wrote:
Yeah gotta go shave my legs too :P


I dunno - if you're strong enough it doesn't matter. Guy who won my Cat 3 race yesterday (soloed in with a 30" gap after being in a break for almost the whole race) had hairy legs.
He could show up in a dress with a Camelbak on and people would still mark him. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:16 pm 
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jeffr, really enjoying reading the thread.

I noticed no one has answered your questions about bunch etiquette or merging into the bunch so I will give you some tips I have learned over 3 seasons racing - including 100 strong fields.

Half Wheeling - don't do it! When following close behind riders avoid half wheeling them. This is when any part of your front wheel overlaps the rider in fronts rear wheel. In the bunch the most common thing to happen is the rider in front moving to the side. This could be for many reasons - dropped bottle, stone in the road, pothole, drain cover. It only takes a touch of wheels and you have crashed / caused a crash.

Riders moving too close - usually happens when you are trying to move up the bunch and they don't realise you are almost along side them. They probably aren't doing it on purpose (unless you are jockeying for posisition for the line or a prime). Just touch them on the bum to indicate you are there. I learnt this one of Sean Yates as he caught our group in a local handicap race last year (sorry couldn't resist the name drop).

Holding your position in the bunch - When you first see it it just seems like people are being rude and not letting you in. They are, learn how to do it and you will be able to maintain your position. Just be a bit more assertive, take the wheel of the man you want to remain behind. Stick you elbows out a little to discourage the person who is trying to nudge in front of you. Even go as far a getting out of the saddle and rocking the bike a little. Gives the impression you aren't the steadiest rider in the bunch and people will think twice about getting too close.

Moving up the bunch - The more competitive the racing (higher category) the more difficult this is. Essentially if you see a gap just in front of you, move into it. Chances are people will move to let you ease in. If you do things purposefully and without hessitating poeple will understand what you are trying to do and let you get on with it. Hugging the curb can be a good technique for moving up the bunch as a lot of riders are frightened of riding too near the gutter. The downside with this technique is you run the risk of picking up punctures.

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Posted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:16 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 4:24 pm 
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Location: Tas, Aus
Over the years this is the one piece of advice that works almost every time and yes I have won races, including one for a nice set of stripey collar and cuffs... Have a look at past results and see who the consistent top finishers are. In your first/next race don't worry about anything other than following the guy you have selected. If he sits in the bunch you sit in the bunch. If he attacks you attack. If they are winning consistently they must have a remote idea of whats going on.

By copying their behaviour for a couple of races you will work out very quickly why certain things are done. Even if this means you're within earshot when the guy says to another guy ' lets just hang them out there' or 'gee we'd better get going to catch them' you will work out how a succesfull breakaway works and also most importantly how an unsuccesfull one works.

A winner generally knows how to save energy and if you are close to their wheel chances are you will too. As far as filling into gaps after a corner ride closely to the guys underneath you and then when there is a hole half a bike plus in size drift into it at a speed that would allow the person behind to evade you if they are coming faster than you had thought previously.


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