New to racing

by Bobbys boys   April 24, 2012  

As part of my mid-life crisis I am thinking of entering some cycle races. Only ever done one timetrial before (on my road bike) so a complete novice.

I believe I can enter only 4th Cat races and there seem to be some around on British cycling.

I can average 20-21mph on my road bike on a slightly rolling 20 mile course by myself ... am I going to stay with the peloton or is my pace too poor?

Any advice?

9 user comments

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I'd join a club first, since the key isn't just outright fitness, it's being able to ride safely in a group. This can be difficult at first, but better learnt in a friendly group than within a bunch of strangers who won't hesitate to use their elbows in jockeying for position.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3338 posts]
24th April 2012 - 10:58

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i wouldn't worry too much about being able to ride in a bunch, it's pretty common sensical really, ride to earn respect and with respect to others

but notfastenough is right that it's not just about outright speed, which you should be fine with incidentally, it's an awful lot to do with tactics and racecraft, a less fit rider can beat you purely by using his brain, and that's only something that can be gained with experience

just enter the race and see what happens, it will be a bit raggedy, 4th cats always are, you might find that its not really for you, but you might just get hooked

posted by VecchioJo [755 posts]
24th April 2012 - 11:21

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I'd join a club or at least find some more experienced people to help guide you.

Have you joined BC and got a racing licence? If not you will need to look for races that will allow you to buy a day licence, but if you are going to do more than a couple it is worth getting a full licence. BC membership also gives you other benefits like 3rd party insurance.

Riding in a bunch may well be pretty common sensical but there are plenty of people lining up on the start line of races who can't.

You are much safer if you are already comfortable holding a wheel and riding shoulder to shoulder with others. You also stand a better chance of leaving those who can't behind as they wobble about in the wind and you sit tucked away in the shelter of others wheels.

edit: you will be able to enter any race which 4th cats can enter be that 4th only, 2/3/4, 3/4 etc.

There may also be Vets only races you can enter. Depending on what age you are having your mid-life crisis at Smile

posted by mustard [72 posts]
24th April 2012 - 11:41

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mustard wrote:

There may also be Vets only races you can enter. Depending on what age you are having your mid-life crisis at Smile

Ouch! I usually only hear things like that off my kids Wink

posted by Super Domestique [1626 posts]
24th April 2012 - 12:20

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if you are over 40 the lvrc, http://www.lvrc.org.uk/ is worth looking at, 3/4th racing can be a bit full on in the midst of the pack first time out

Cannondale CAAD10, Condor Terra-X and an orange Brompton.
Ride for East London Velo

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posted by zzgavin [208 posts]
24th April 2012 - 12:40

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I competed in my first Cat 4 closed circuit race last week and loved it. I have already entered my next one in a few weeks. It was a half mile flat course and we were averaging 25mph over a 15 mile race. I would agree that you need to be confident to ride in a group at speed as the main bunch stay very close together.
I had only ridden sportives and MTB marathon events before. I would encourage you to give at go.

posted by mattm [24 posts]
24th April 2012 - 19:15

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Don't be intimidated by the people who turn up on rollers, with their masseuse wives and wheel bags. I've even seen someone pitch their own gazebo, and that was at a Youth A race.

If you want to look like a pro, take a track pump, get yourself a good place before the race, like next to a wall or something, and fiddle with your tyre pressure for a while, cursing loudly under your breath, and when people walk past, just point at your valve and say "Rolling resistance!"

Aside from making you look as much as a seasoned racer as it will, it will put your mind at rest.

Make sure to take food and water, but maybe not on the bike, just before and after.

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1730 posts]
24th April 2012 - 19:42

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Raleigh wrote:
Don't be intimidated by the people who turn up on rollers, with their masseuse wives and wheel bags. I've even seen someone pitch their own gazebo, and that was at a Youth A race.

If you want to look like a pro, take a track pump, get yourself a good place before the race, like next to a wall or something, and fiddle with your tyre pressure for a while, cursing loudly under your breath, and when people walk past, just point at your valve and say "Rolling resistance!"

Aside from making you look as much as a seasoned racer as it will, it will put your mind at rest.

Make sure to take food and water, but maybe not on the bike, just before and after.

Big Grin LOL at gazebos and rollers at a youth race. If I did that it would force me to the win for fear of looking like an absolute spanner otherwise!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3338 posts]
24th April 2012 - 22:19

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Heck just do it. I did, entered my 1st race last Saturday and finished 3rd.

Find your local club and speak to them, I had a friend on another forum, took me down to a club race, introduced me to a couple of people. Joined online, and next race day, turned up with my licence and ratty old steel bike. Got introduced along with another 1st timer to the experienced rider in our E grade race. Asked if I knew what I was doing, I replied 1st 2 laps I sit at the back, watch & learn. 3rd lap help out if I can. 4th lap hang on for dear life and hope to finish in the pack, he just nodded.

A couple of guys went away on the 2nd lap and did not see them until the finish, but everything went to plan, hanging off the back means you use a lot of energy closing gaps, particularly as we lost a couple of riders including the other 1st timer.

I was sitting on the back, when we hit the finally corner with about 2.5km to go, and 2 riders took off, I waited about 3 seconds to see if anybody would follow. Nobody did, so I went after them, caught them, Less than a minute to catch my breath and then we sprinted for the line, I thought I beat one, but on the the official results, I was 3rd by 0.12 seconds.

I will be back for more as will the other first timer. Next time it is not going to be so easy for me, I will be expected to do more work, but I will not sit so far back.

You don't need to be confident riding in a pack, it helps for the first, but you will learn quick. And you don't need great speed, my solo speed is less than yours, but no problems riding 36kmh for an hour in the pack or finishing uphill with a 48kmh sprint

And my licence is an Australian Masters 5th category, so I am no spring chicken.

posted by nickobec [260 posts]
25th April 2012 - 10:52

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