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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Question How Do You Know You're Ready For Your First Race?

    So I'm new to cycling and think I'm almost to the point of entering my first race.

    So how do I really know?

    Should I look at the times posted for last year's results and go off those?

    The problem is that I can't exactly ride the same length without stopping, so the actual time is meaningless. (not too many stoplights in a race LoL)

    Also, I usually ride alone, so I can't really compare my avg. speed to what the race results are either.

    Is there any real way of knowing other than just going for it?


  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Generally speaking, whenever someone gets around to asking the question they're actually ready to race.

    Don't get discouraged if your results aren't great at first. But the sooner you start racing the sooner you'll learn how -- which is really more the issue than your speed or fitness.

    You can practice pack riding by finding a group ride to join. You can try a time trial or two to test yourself. But there's no shame in being DFL in a mass start race if it means you're out there in the action.

    Sign up and race.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I actually mentored one of our younger racers (19 yrs old) to do his first race this season. He wanted to start racing but also wanted to kick some butt.

    We did the following:
    -Wrote out a winter training plan he started in January. 5 days a week of typical stuff.
    -Starting early March, he rode with our Tuesday group rides which developed both his engine and group riding skills. We even worked on echelons and TTT type rotating pace lines just for his benefit. Luckily, he was a total natural at group riding.
    -We also went on some long base rides where we talked about what to expect in a race, tactics, when is the best time to commit to a break, race course descriptions, etc. He asked a lot of questions and I answered them best I could.

    So far he's done well. Mostly top tens in the Cat 5s and he got his first podium in a crit weekend before last.

    So joining a race oriented team/club may be a good place to start. Hopefully you can find some dudes that are open to helping.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 05-21-2013 at 02:07 PM.

  4. #4
    Token Sprinter
    Reputation: RaptorTC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    I'd say just go for it as long as you're comfortable riding in a group. If not I'd go on group rides (probably a good idea anyway) until you develop those skills so you won't be a danger to yourself and other racers. Comparing times to the race times is pretty much worthless as a group in a race will be able to go way faster than you ever will solo. For example I can average around 20-21 solo on my best day, but I've done races that averaged around 25 and I didn't have much trouble staying with the pack.
    Amassing Miles - My Little Cycling Blog

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    This is my first season racing and I thought I was ready for my first practice crit. That was where I discovered I had an issues with cornering at 24mph with someone on my inside shoulder, now I pass riders in the corners. Here are some recommendations from my experience:

    It's halfway through the crit/road season. Find a race in your area that isn't too technical(you might be able to find some go pro footage from previous years on youtube or a course route with elevation on strava). If possible find one where the cat 5's race last so you can practice the course in between the other races.

    Know the rules: free lap for mechanical issues? Which official flags riders off( dropped riders will be waved off to keep the course clear for the main pack. If an official waves you off you get a Did Not Place if you quit it's a Did Not Finish)? How many laps will there be when they switch from time.

    The race: It will probably accelerate faster than you expect. The strategy is to continuously move up while staying out of the wind. You do this by catching the wheel of riders passing you. If you're in the back of the pack and a rider 10 ahead of you can't keep pace you won't be able to see pack split. Have fun, don't crash, don't quit!

    Find the team that looks like they're having the most fun and ask them how to join(they'll either be jerks or awesome, if former try another team). If it's a local race you'll probably recognize someone on a team. Ask how to get in on their practice rides, how to get a jersey, what races are coming up, how to get faster?

    In summary you are ready for your first race. And once you get out there you'll learn real quick what you need to do for your second.
    That's the longest I've ever ridden without a beer stop.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by HanSol000 View Post
    So I'm new to cycling and think I'm almost to the point of entering my first race.

    So how do I really know?
    Lots of people focus on the fitness question but the stuff everyone else has raised is at least as important. From a fitness standpoint I got some advice 45 years ago this still is not that bad - you should be able to ride solo for an hour at 100 rpm in a 72 inch gear (a bit over 21 mph). That will take care of the base and then you need to be able to do several 2 minute intervals full gas so you can deal with the surges.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Wow, thanks for the info!

    This is exactly the type of information I was looking for, things I can do to work on and prepare.

    Much appreciated!


  8. #8
    Bikes, Guns & Metal...
    Reputation: Rusted Angel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    I was so afraid to race but I finally signed up for a local citizen's race last year in July, got second place there and I decided to race a little more seriously and I eventually found a team that would take me in and started racing this season. So far, after that citizens crit last year, I have done a couple of crits and a RR, got 62 place or so on my first crit, 28th on my first RR and 7th on my second crit last weekend.
    I don't really care much about I get a top 10, that's just the cherry on top...

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    The 20mph solo average for an hour is a good barometer. Add the intervals and get to 22mph and you'll do fairly well in a cat 5 race.

    However, get some group riding in there or you'll be scary in the pack. You can read and talk about it all day (which is a good start and video is better), but you dont want to corner at 25-30 with someone on each side of you for the first time in a race.

    I started racing again this year at 45 and it's a lot of fun.

    Colnago Master Athena 11 / CAAD10 3 / Cannondale Tandem / Civia Loring / Ibis Mojo

    Nothing is free.

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Re: How Do You Know You're Ready For Your First Race?

    I agree with me of what has been said. Once you can average 20 MPH for an hour or two, you'll do fine as a CAT 5

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    You are ready to race when you take $20 out of your pocket and enter a race. If it is a crit you will probably get dropped. If it is a road race with a decent size field it is easier to sit in. Just do it.

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