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  1. #1
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    First race tactic question

    I'm going to try out racing with this cat 4/5 road race in a couple weeks from now. And of course, why register for a race if your not going to try to win, so I've been thinking about how I could go about doing this. I've talked to a couple people who have done this race in the past and the average pace sounds pretty easy, so I'm fairly confident I can go in the end with a good amount of energy left. The race is 2 laps around the attached map. The finish line is at the top of the hill at the end of the loop.

    I attached my strava best efforts power curve, I think my biggest strength is probably my 5-10 minute power, but I'm also around 80kg, so I'm sure I won't be anywhere near the lightest rider. I was thinking about possibly attacking with about 2 miles left up the hill, trying to do about 350W up the steep sections, dropping to about 250W for the small drops, saving maybe 600W or so the very last up section.

    Is this a decent strategy? Will this even be enough to open up a gap, or will everyone basically just keep up with me (or leave me in the dust)? Should I just try and keep up with the top 5 or so until the last ~200m then sprint for it (I don't think my peak power is all that impressive, don't think this plays to my strengths)?
    First race tactic question-map.jpgFirst race tactic question-power.jpg

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiznake View Post
    I'm going to try out racing with this cat 4/5 road race in a couple weeks from now. And of course, why register for a race if your not going to try to win, so I've been thinking about how I could go about doing this. I've talked to a couple people who have done this race in the past and the average pace sounds pretty easy, so I'm fairly confident I can go in the end with a good amount of energy left. The race is 2 laps around the attached map. The finish line is at the top of the hill at the end of the loop.

    I attached my strava best efforts power curve, I think my biggest strength is probably my 5-10 minute power, but I'm also around 80kg, so I'm sure I won't be anywhere near the lightest rider. I was thinking about possibly attacking with about 2 miles left up the hill, trying to do about 350W up the steep sections, dropping to about 250W for the small drops, saving maybe 600W or so the very last up section.

    Is this a decent strategy? Will this even be enough to open up a gap, or will everyone basically just keep up with me (or leave me in the dust)? Should I just try and keep up with the top 5 or so until the last ~200m then sprint for it (I don't think my peak power is all that impressive, don't think this plays to my strengths)?
    If you were racing a time trial this might be a good approach. Unfortunately, other riders will have other ideas and while you are focused on your power meter, they might be riding away from you. Racing is a lot about responding to the unexpected, so I would suggest a better approach would be to stay in the wheels, a few bikes back from the front and save your energy as much as possible. The final climb is LIKELY where it will all blow up, but you never know as someone might charge off the front and then you'd have to decide whether to go with the break. In any case, if you have saved your energy you want to do the best you can on the climb. At your weight you will probably be shed by lighter riders, but you never know until you try it.

  3. #3
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    no, it's not. For reasons Kerry explained in his first few sentences.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    At your weight you will probably be shed by lighter riders, but you never know until you try it.
    Dang, I'm already down to like 10-12% BF, I'm pretty close to my floor.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiznake View Post
    Dang, I'm already down to like 10-12% BF, I'm pretty close to my floor.
    yeah, cycling is funny like that for people who come from athletic backgrounds other than cycling itself or distance running.

    I still remember once showing up for a long mountainous ride and being totally "intimidated" by all the stick figures also doing the ride. As someone who grew up with hockey, football and baseball being my sports it struck me as being kind of funny. I would have laughed these guys off in those sports.

  6. #6
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    If you peel off from the main pack with 2 miles to go, you (and whoever you tow with you) will be the break (assuming one hasn't taken place already).

    If indeed you get to the 2 mile mark, and everyone is still in the bunch, and you are feeling good, go for it! As the saying goes "When in doubt, lead out!"

    Good luck!

  7. #7
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    Those don't look like too much of a hills. But at 25, I know. You may have a chance, suck wheels till I couldn't hang on, or if I was still on, go 50m out.
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  8. #8
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    350 watts won't get you anywhere. Everyone behind you will be doing closer to 250-300. I'd say you'd need a jump of 800-1000+ for 5-10s and then probably another 500+ for 30+ secs to actually create separation.

    Gotta remember how big a part the draft plays in cycling. All it takes is one dude to chase and the rest of the field will sit on them and get dragged back to you with hardly a hair out of place.

    My advice: do your race, expect little, be safe and aware, then sprint at the end. Then evaluate and go from there.

  9. #9
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    2 laps, right?
    Sit in the draft for the first one and watch. See who surges ahead on the hills and who drifts back. If anyone goes, see who responds first. Pick you wheels for the second lap and see where it goes.

    Use as little energy as possible, keep your eyes open, and be ready to jump when the move goes. Chances are there's going to be some attrition on the second lap, so move towards (but not to) the front to avoid having to bridge a split.

    Cat 5 is about learning, so take advantage of the opportunity.

  10. #10
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    Yeah, max grade is only 5% for a very short bit, average grade is like 2% on that last hill. I think your approach seems like a pretty safe bet.

  11. #11
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    That sounds like a good idea. One thing I got from talking to someone who raced it last year was that the front plays a lot of games, slamming on the brakes right before hills then surging trying to spread out the bunch like an accordion. He recommended trying to stay in the front 1/3 as much as humanly possible to minimize the effects of this. So first lap I'll try and hang around there and just pay attention as much as possible, make some mental notes.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiznake View Post
    That sounds like a good idea. One thing I got from talking to someone who raced it last year was that the front plays a lot of games, slamming on the brakes right before hills then surging trying to spread out the bunch like an accordion. He recommended trying to stay in the front 1/3 as much as humanly possible to minimize the effects of this. So first lap I'll try and hang around there and just pay attention as much as possible, make some mental notes.
    Under no circumstances should you be trying anything of that nature. And you should promptly ignore any fool that would intentionally do that. You pull that and someone crashes and you should absolutely be held liable. That's flat-out absurd.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedalbiker View Post
    Under no circumstances should you be trying anything of that nature. And you should promptly ignore any fool that would intentionally do that. You pull that and someone crashes and you should absolutely be held liable. That's flat-out absurd.
    Sorry if I wasn't clear. He wasn't advocating this behavior, he was telling me to be looking out for it, and how to position myself to be less effected by it. We in fact talked about how dirty it was.

  14. #14
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    First race, I would advise sitting somewhere near the front, about 6th wheel, tell everyone you're a beginner and never take the front unless you intend riding at the front until the finish line. Stay safe and ignore the people trying to intimidate you. Learn from the experience and again try and stay out of the confusion. I like your plan, BUT, you can never script how a race will unfold. Good luck. report back how it went. Oh and I wish I could be (a) 80kgs or (b) 12% BF.

  15. #15
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    4s and 5s (5s especially) have a high potential to be nervous and squirrelly. So, from the very start of the race, stay in the front 1/3. When the front eases up, the back of the pack will be on the brakes (and yelling SLOWING!)... a lot. Then, the back will be hammering to close the little gaps. In short, the back 1/3 of a 4/5 race is a brake-hammer-brake-hammer fest. And, that is not a recipe for saving energy for the finish.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    4s and 5s (5s especially) have a high potential to be nervous and squirrelly. So, from the very start of the race, stay in the front 1/3. When the front eases up, the back of the pack will be on the brakes (and yelling SLOWING!)... a lot. Then, the back will be hammering to close the little gaps. In short, the back 1/3 of a 4/5 race is a brake-hammer-brake-hammer fest. And, that is not a recipe for saving energy for the finish.
    In general this describes most every race from Pro/1 to cat 5. Obviously the P1 have crazy intense and longer accelerations but, the yo-yo effect occurs at every level. The only difference is you may hear stupid **** like "SLOWING" in a cat 5 race but not in upper cats.

    FYI IMO the most squirrelly races are newly minted (strong) cat 2's. Inexperienced but, super strong usually leads to really dangerous racing. They make cat 5's look good.

  17. #17
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    Had a race yesterday. My plan was well executed.

    I stayed in the top 1/3, moved up when others were doing the same (free tow to the front). Approaching the final corner I was in 12th place or so. Soon after I was in 6th as some people took odd lines.

    At that moment I had a clear view of the finish line and was beginning my sprint when everyone (and I mean everyone) seemed to swarm around me. I got boxed in, felt a shoulder/handle bar on my thigh...more people passed me during all this...managed to get out of the mayhem and see the winner fist pump the air in jubilation as he crossed the finish line.

    All in all my well executed plan went to sh1t when I needed it most

  18. #18
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    The elevation profile you posted doesn't lend itself to a sprint finish. It will likely be like Kerry Irons said, a race of attrition, as the lighter guys drop the heavier ones on the final undulating climb.

    Your tactics really depend on how you think you will stack up during the final climb. Total watts don't really mean much when comparing it to other racers, as weight varies. Have you done any local group rides? If you can do a group ride with varying levels of local racers, this will likely be good test of your relative fitness. Not too many people could execute the power numbers you are suggesting in a Cat 5 race - meaning that in a race setting, you go hard enough to create a gap and then go hard enough to sustain, or increase, the gap. Since others (in a Cat 5 race) will likely respond to your attack, you will probably have to go much harder and longer than you anticipate (unless you are in much better shape than your competitors). With that knowledge, it is probably best to sit in and figure out who will be strong on the final climb. Try to stay with them.

    Even if you do everything perfectly, there is always a chance of everything falling apart at the end (just like with arai_speed).


    Good Luck!!! Post back to let us know how it went!

  19. #19
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    Update #1: Race is this Saturday. I was waiting for a weather report, and it looks perfect out, high of 82, light breeze, no rain, so I'm registered and ready. The rider list has been starting to fill up and I've been looking everyone up on Strava, most of the them have public accounts. The one with the best points rating is private though, but everyone else looking at some of their rides, and even races, and I'm pretty darn confident I can keep up and be there for the finish. There are 2 guys on the same team that are the 1st and 3rd on the point ranking (463 and 526, anyone want to explain if these numbers have any real significance?), I'm going to be sure to identify who they are before the race, if they go on a break late in the race I would be definitely tempted to try and go with them.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiznake View Post
    Update #1: Race is this Saturday. I was waiting for a weather report, and it looks perfect out, high of 82, light breeze, no rain, so I'm registered and ready. The rider list has been starting to fill up and I've been looking everyone up on Strava, most of the them have public accounts. The one with the best points rating is private though, but everyone else looking at some of their rides, and even races, and I'm pretty darn confident I can keep up and be there for the finish. There are 2 guys on the same team that are the 1st and 3rd on the point ranking (463 and 526, anyone want to explain if these numbers have any real significance?), I'm going to be sure to identify who they are before the race, if they go on a break late in the race I would be definitely tempted to try and go with them.
    Good luck! Definitely report back and let us know how it went.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiznake View Post
    Sorry if I wasn't clear. He wasn't advocating this behavior, he was telling me to be looking out for it, and how to position myself to be less effected by it. We in fact talked about how dirty it was.
    Its possible he could be telling you the truth, but I'd put that possibility at like 2%. My guess is that he was in the middle/back of the field and was simply seeing the natural reaction of the peloton as it hits a climb. On the flatter stuff, into the climb, the pace is usually being pushed by the stronger riders, but once the peloton hits the gradient, those stronger and usually bigger riders will slow considerably and the filed will bunch up a little... at that point, the guys who are more suited to climbing, will begin to accelerate and move around those riders going slower. The further back you are, the more dramatic that accordion effect is and it is also more detrimental to your own riding because the slowing and accelerating is more taxing on your body. If you're not great on the hills, my advice would be to be toward the front of the group as you hit the bottom, or even off the front if you can get a slight gap. Yes, you'll have your nose in the wind a little bit, but it will give you some buffer as the better climbers begin to come up the hill and it may mean that you manage to stay in contact with the group for the whole climb. If you're mid-field or at the back, you risk being dropped on the climb and it will be very hard to pull that gap back by yourself.
    Its always worth trying a break in a Cat 5 race because the riders are usually inexperienced enough to not know what to do.... this has too possible results 1. They all get nervous and they chase hard to bring everything back 2. They're totally unsure what to do and they let you go.... at that point, its on you to put your head down and work. Most importantly, stay safe.... don't be afraid to speak up. There will be riders with little to no race experience, including you... so if you see someone doing something unsafe, say something.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jiznake View Post
    There are 2 guys on the same team that are the 1st and 3rd on the point ranking (463 and 526, anyone want to explain if these numbers have any real significance?),
    Those numbers can be significant later on, but they're pretty high (ranking numbers in the 50s and 60s are what cat 1s with good results typically have, then 60s-80s for good cat 2s, etc) to really indicate anything for your races. Just shows they've done a few races (ranking is based on five highest ranked finishes) and have finished higher than some of the others they raced against.

    Doesn't necessarily mean anything more than that at this point, though.

    Each race is ranked by the best ranked rider. The more higher ranking riders, the higher the points available for your ranking. Beat all of those guys with the rankings and your ranking increases.

    Later as you get into the 4s and 3s those numbers stabilize a bit relative to the competition so they can let you know who has the results and who doesn't, though that still doesn't necessarily mean anything in regards to one particular race. Gives you an overview, though.

  23. #23
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    Well, that was fun. I finished in the middle of the pack. I think I was in decent position with 2 miles left but then I kind of f'ed up. I was something like 3rd wheel, and some guy start attacking, I was pretty sure he was going to blow up before the finish, the last hill was bigger than I gave it credit for (and not where I thought the finish was), it's a solid 1 minute all out climb, so I wanted to save as much energy for that as possible. But the rest of the bunch did react to him, and I should got on it a little faster, but didn't and ended up at the very very back of the bunch with 1.5-2 miles left. I did pass at least half of the people back up leading up to and up the last hill, but, I was just in such crap position at that point it didn't really matter. Not really sure my exact finishing position, how long does the UCA cycling site usually take to update?
    Last edited by jiznake; 05-06-2017 at 02:38 PM.

  24. #24
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    Well done, you finished, avoided any carnage and most importantly you had FUN. Time to put in another entry.

  25. #25
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    Congrats on getting the first one under your belt!

    Racing is indeed fun stuff.

    Posting of results depends on the organizer...usually they get results posted about 30mins after the race (near registration on a piece of paper) and a day or two later on USAC website...assuming this was a USAC sanctioned event.

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