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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!
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