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I didn't get dropped!

I couldn't tell you where I finished. Maybe I was about 15th, certainly I didn't get any points, because when the time came to sprint the legs said that sprinting wasn't really something they were up for. But still, it went very well. Better than I ever could have predicted before I started all this.

Spin back to the summer and my first and second Cat 4 races at Odd Down circuit and I was out the back on my own in short order after a small number of laps. In my head it's about half a dozen, although looking back at the actual data suggests it might even have been less than that. Maybe as few as four. I wasn't really able to compete because I was too heavy, at 104kg, and not quick enough. So I made a plan, to lose some weight and get fitter, to the point where I could at least compete at the lowest level of the sport. Small steps, and that.

In my head that work was going to come to fruition some time next summer. I'd never really managed to lose weight and keep it off, and I was guessing it'd be a long battle and a good while before I'd be fast enough to mix it in the Cat 4s. But first race back, and 11kg lighter, I was quick enough to stay near the front of the race – even on the front of the race, on occasion – and finish in the bunch. Out of nearly 40 on the start line maybe 25 were there at the end to contest it. So I've gone from sprinting for last to comfortable mid table, inasmuch as a race is ever comfortable. It's much more than I hoped for.

I've got Dave Smith to thank for this, mostly. Getting a proper training and nutrition plan is undoubtedly the best money I've ever spent on anything to do with cycling, in terms of the return on investment. For the same kind of cash you might expect to throw at a set of training wheels, I've knocked a minute and a half off my time up Bathwick Hill, and I can get my money's worth at the circuit. You do have to factor in the extra cost of buying a bunch of new clothes, though. There should be some kind of note about that in the small print.

To not get dropped was my first, lowly, goal, and so now there's a big tick next to that. I'm aware that there's still a lot of headroom for the position I'm occupying in the racing food chain. The next goal is to score a point, then some points, and then the goal after that is to make it to Cat 3. I'll be asking Dave for help with those goals too.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

21 comments

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Dave Smith [47 posts] 4 years ago
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You put the work in and you got the results.

Have some cake (with cream)

Onwards and upwards!  1

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notfastenough [3734 posts] 4 years ago
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Wow, it's not even the end of the year yet! Well done. Although, given your new level of fitness, do you now put in the long slow winter miles as per most others, or does your winter look different as a result of this?

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dave atkinson [6528 posts] 4 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:

Wow, it's not even the end of the year yet! Well done. Although, given your new level of fitness, do you now put in the long slow winter miles as per most others, or does your winter look different as a result of this?

dunno, really. there's racing at odd down all winter, weather permitting, so i'll probably do a few more. booked in for next week but as it's the day after the road.cc christmas party there's every chance i'll be hanging out the back on that one  1

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SamShaw [275 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done, Dave. I know how hard it is finishing off the back then getting yourself to a bunch finish. I'd recommend getting along to your local chaingang for race-pace preparation once it starts up - ours run from spring onwards when the evenings get lighter. It was the best thing for me in terms of dealing with changes of pace and learning to read what a bunch of riders is doing.

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BikeBud [262 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done Dave. I'm planning to try 4th cat racing next season, with the aim of finishing in the bunch by the end of the season. You may have inspired me to think that putting some hard work in could see me achieving that a bit earlier.

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Iwein Dekoninck [64 posts] 4 years ago
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Never doubted it would happen, the way you've been riding recently. Bloody well done.

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therevokid [1023 posts] 4 years ago
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nice one ...  1

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James Warrener [1086 posts] 4 years ago
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Good skills Dave  41 41 41 41 41

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Gkam84 [9139 posts] 4 years ago
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Nice work (not so fatty)  41

So next season the aim will be points and Cat 2/3 then??

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dave atkinson [6528 posts] 4 years ago
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I don't think i'll be cat 2 any time soon  24

i'll have a crack at getting enough points to move up to the 3s though, who knows

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backflipbedlem [1201 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done Dave!!!!

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backflipbedlem [1201 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done Dave!!!!

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hdb [20 posts] 4 years ago
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Good job - I've been there myself, spat out the back, then in the bunch and finally first across the line - chances are good you'll win one of these races in the near future  41

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alotronic [633 posts] 4 years ago
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Nice one Dave, well done.

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dst [50 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done Dave. I'm about to start on a similar journey and want to start racing in the new year.

Out of curiosity, can I ask how old you are?

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Oolon Colluphid [44 posts] 4 years ago
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Good work. Keep at it and you'll have your 3rd cat before you know it  1

I came back to road racing this year after a rather considerable time away from the sport (a mere 25 years although I never really stopped riding, just racing) and was royally shot out the back of the first two 3/4s I did. I immediately revised my season's objectives from getting my 3rd cat, to finishing a feckin' race. However, it got easier quite quickly and I was a 3rd cat by the end of June  1 Going for 2nd cat by end of 2015.

I'm in my mid forties, but I started feeling like I was 18 again this past summer! Had a blast, I hope you do next year  1

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mike the bike [1253 posts] 4 years ago
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Seriously impressed, well done.

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Beefy [379 posts] 4 years ago
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Respect to you

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J90 [430 posts] 4 years ago
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Great effort, you'll be super fit by next summer.

notfastenough wrote:

Wow, it's not even the end of the year yet! Well done. Although, given your new level of fitness, do you now put in the long slow winter miles as per most others, or does your winter look different as a result of this?

He should do both, mix it up a bit.

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mtbtomo [292 posts] 4 years ago
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Its good to know there are people on a similar journey and that some hard work does get results! Perhaps not the weight loss in my case, but from getting lapped/dropped through to staying in the bunch through to getting some points and 3rd cat.

I managed to get 3rd cat in the summer, now going to see if a winter of more focussed training might improve my competitivemess in 3rd cat.

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abudhabiChris [691 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done, great effort to make that improvement.

FWIW My advice as you get a bit more fitness - always try to get in the break.

It won't always work but if you're in a break of five or six you're guaranteed points, and you don't have to be sprinting with 20 other guys.

You should keep racing over winter if you are feeling in good form. The fields tend to be smaller and you've got more chance of picking up points and getting some in the bag before summer.