Author Topic: How does one start racing?  (Read 6839 times)

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Offline Sir_Geek

How does one start racing?
« on: October 18, 2005, 03:21:49 pm »
Hello all. I had a question that I hope ya'll could answer. I've been getting quite a bit more interested in cycling over the past year or two (my brother calls me addicted) and I wanted to start small-scale racing. Of course, I know absolutely nothing about it. Are there races for scrawny weaklings like me? And how would I contact whomever I needed to contact? How does one start? I'd appreciate any help you guys could offer. Thanks, my fellow cycling enthusiasts.


Offline wanderingwheel

How does one start racing?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2005, 06:01:39 pm »
Let us know where are you located and we may be able to give you specific recommendations.

The best thing to do is to find a local club and get information from them.  Most recreational clubs are associated with a racing team and they are generally the most welcoming to new racers.   There are probably a number of pure racing teams near you also, but they usually assume that you have a little bit of racing experience.  A good club or team will teach how to safely race -- things like holding your line, cornering, and protecting your front wheel.  These are not skills that you will probably not pick up riding by yourself or in a tourist/club ride.

Another thing to look for are the race training rides.  Nearly every major city has an informal weeekend ride that will introduce you to the local teams and racers.  These rides are generally not sponsored by any one club or team, people just show up at some starting point and then roll out together.  These rides are as close to racing as you can get without pinning on a number.  They are very fast, aggressive, and potentially dangerous.

What kind of racing do you want to do?  The road season  ended last month and now cyclocross and time trials are in full swing.  If that's what you want to do, find alocal one and show up.  The road season will start again when the weather improves.  Here in southern California that's the begining of February, but in New England that may be April.  I believe mountain bike races will start again at the end of spring, but I'm not sure.

When you do start racing, you will be racing as a Catagory 5 on the road.  You may also enter masters races if you meet the age requirements, but these races are often as fast or faster than the pro-1-2 races because anyone, even ex-pros, can and do enter masters races.  Lance Armstrong could enter a masters 35+ race next year.

If your racing on the road, you will most likely be racing criteriums.  These are short coarses that you will race around for 30 to 90 min.  They are generally flat, held in industrial parks, and end in bunch sprints.  You're first goal will be to finish safely in the pack.  For "scrawny weaklings" like you and I this can be difficult.  The first race you do the speed will probably take your breath away but don't worry about it, you will get better and you will get faster.

That's plenty for now
Sean


Offline Sir_Geek

How does one start racing?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2005, 10:38:29 pm »
Thanks, WanderingWheel. I found that my local bike shop has a weekly bike ride on Saturdays that I think I'll try. I had another related question, though. I currently bike 75-100 miles a week at 19-21 mph average. How much more would I have to do before I had a chance of riding these local events without embarrasment?



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Let us know where are you located and we may be able to give you specific recommendations.



 Right, I should have mentioned that. South-eastern New Hampshire. To be more specific, Somersworth, NH - a small town about an hour from historic Portsmouth, NH. Thanks again.


Offline wanderingwheel

How does one start racing?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2005, 03:13:44 pm »
Your local shop ride sounds like a great place to start.  Be sure to talk to the other riders that you meet on the ride because they will be able to guide you better than anyone on this forum.

Your average speed is good and is typical of most new racers.  In a group you should be able to comfortable ride at 25 mph or more due to drafting.  Most cat. 5 races here average around 24 or 25 mph.  On difficult courses the average will drop to 22 or even 20.  You should be fine at these average speeds.  

However, racing is not about the average.  Much of the race will be run at a pace that should actually feel easy to you.  It is the other parts that make the race.  Road races are a constant series of surges and recoveries.  It is imperative that you stay with the pack during the surges because it will be almost impossible to catch back up to them once you're out of the protection of the pack.   To test yourself, ride at 20 mph, and then quickly accelerate to 25 and hold for a little while (30 sec to 3 min).  Recover at 20 mph and then do it again.  And again.  And again.  Think about how long you can hold 25, how long you need to recover, and how many times you can hit 25 in one hour. This is what racing will feel like and this is a decent way to train for it.  If 25 is easy, congratulations, go to 27.

In New England, most of the races are sanctioned by USA Cycling through NEBRA (New England Bicycle Racing Association).  USA Cycling's website is www.usacycling.org , but they have preciious little information for the new racer.  A much better resource for you will be NEBRA's website, www.ne-bra.org .  NEBRA lists all races in New England and should also be useful in finding clubs and other training rides.  The best resource is still going to be the riders you meet and your local shop.

Sean

This message was edited by wanderingwheel on 10-23-05 @ 12:14 PM

Offline Sir_Geek

How does one start racing?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2005, 03:40:26 pm »
25 miles an hour? Wow, I guess I have a lot of work to do. Do you think the hundred miles a week is enough, or should I do more then that?


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To test yourself, ride at 20 mph, and then quickly accelerate to 25 and hold for a little while (30 sec to 3 min).  Recover at 20 mph and then do it again.  And again.  And again




Hmmm...ok, I'll have to try that tomorrow. And thanks for all your help, I appreciate it.


Offline wanderingwheel

How does one start racing?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2005, 04:13:56 pm »
Remember, it's 25 mph in a pack, which is about equivalent to riding 18 or 20 by yourself.  Riding 25 by yourself is similar to being in a pack doing 30+.  100 miles a week should be adequate for category 4 and 5, assuming you are not riding all of them at 12 or 15 mph.  Intervals are an excellent way to make good use of limited training time.  I'm really not one to recommend training plans, but you should be able to find many on the web.

Sean


Offline Beep!Beep!

How does one start racing?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2006, 10:53:05 am »
Get a decent book on racing bikes and techniques then get a decent but not too expensive racer then see if you can find ways of making it go faster and perform better, what's called in my day competition spec then as you and your bike improves then join a racing/cycling club. Using a single speed bike for training and a rowing machine will enhance your performance no end. Tips can be got from me by e-mailing tyredocter@hotmail.co.uk  Richard


Offline read

How does one start racing?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2006, 05:44:54 pm »
You need a lot of experience just riding in a group before thinkin of racing in a group.

If you don't feel comfortable riding in a pack at first you might try doing a time trial by yourself and compare you time to others.

Like previosly mentioed, racing in a pack involves going many dfferent speeds so I would reccommend doing interval trainig (hard-easy-hard-easy...) to get the feel of a pack.

All racers were beginners at some point, Good Luck