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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to start competing next year and need to know the kind of level I would need to be at, if at all 1 year is enough to achieve it in?

The typical race distances and times / average speeds for instance.




Many Thanks,

Dean.
 

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Lexicon Devil
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Can you hang, and take good pulls, in fast, drop "Worlds" group rides? If so, then you're probably in good enough shape for Cat. 4.

Can you drop other racer-types? If so, you're probably in good enough shape for Cat. 4.

If not, start riding with faster, but more importantly, patient cyclists, who will wait for you at the top of a hill or after a sprint. You'll get stronger and learn how to ride in a group.

Also, depending on where you live, sometimes the Cat. 4 races are faster than Cat. 1/2 races. As an example, the Glencoe Grand Prix Cat. 4 race saw lap times exceed the upper category races due to the presence of semi-pro Cat. 1 CX racers who are Cat. 4 road riders due to the idiosyncracies of the USAC licensing and upgrade system.

Regions of the country with large pools of talent have lots of folks with big engines who can't get upgrade points for whatever reason -- Chicagoland is one. However, in Ohio and Indiana, with their smaller scenes, the races are sometimes a little slower and forgiving.

Your experience may vary, basically.
 

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Start racing Cat 5 and worry about their average speed. However, average speed doesn't tell you much and it's not the average speed that makes racing difficult. It's the attacks and accelerations that'll crack ya.
 

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I see this question all the time.

Speeds and distances don't really tell you much about how fast a race is. The race could be completely flat with an average of 30mph, and you might think that'd be difficult, but there could be 60 people in that group so it'd be easy. A lot of Cat 4 and Cat 5 races are combined into 4/5, so it won't make much of a difference anyway. You really only start seeing jumps in performance once you get to Cat 3.

If you're not already, start doing hard and fast group rides. Those are going to be very similar to the races you'll be in.

The only way to find out if you're fit enough to race is to go out and do it.
 

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Last crits of the season were 26-28mph straights with 30++ out of the corners. 35, 1k laps. These were pack speeds as the breaks were up the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry I should have said I have only just started out. Got my bike 2 weeks ago. I used to do a lot of weight lifting / bodybuilding and know how to stick at a regime but I would need to know what the goals are :)
 

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30-40 miles / 23 - 24 miles per hour. Group rides are easier than riding alone, and knowing how to ride in a pack is a more important part of racing.
 

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Dean Carr said:
Sorry I should have said I have only just started out. Got my bike 2 weeks ago. I used to do a lot of weight lifting / bodybuilding and know how to stick at a regime but I would need to know what the goals are :)
Get your bike fitted and ride in a group that will teach you how to rotate nicely and handle yourself. Speed is nothing without handling.

For now, learn to spin and try to build your distance while participating in some group rides.
 

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In the United States, Cat. 5 is the lowest. To become a Cat. 4, you've got to do 10 races as a 5 before you can petition for an upgrade from the licensing body, USA Cycling.

Britain's different -- but the points we're making about training and group riding are still the same.

Right now, i think the most important thing you can do is get base miles on your legs before you try any super hard efforts. I had a year of base before I gave racing a go -- you'll probably need less, but doing base miles helps stave off injury and helps your musculature and joints adapt to the unique strains of cycling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Doctor Who said:
In the United States, Cat. 5 is the lowest. To become a Cat. 4, you've got to do 10 races as a 5 before you can petition for an upgrade from the licensing body, USA Cycling.

Britain's different -- but the points we're making about training and group riding are still the same.

Right now, i think the most important thing you can do is get base miles on your legs before you try any super hard efforts. I had a year of base before I gave racing a go -- you'll probably need less, but doing base miles helps stave off injury and helps your musculature and joints adapt to the unique strains of cycling.
This is exactly what I plan to do. After doing some 10 mile sprints over the last 4 days I can feel some of the muscle memory I have left over from 200kg squats I used to do. I need to get my weight down currently 200lbs at 5ft 8 and plenty of that is fat from a sedate lifestyle the last 5 or 6 months. My plan is to work my cycling fitness up so hopefully I am in good enough shape to start thinking about competing next year. But I need some raw figures as I can't keep doing 20 miles at 15mph thinking it's OK if you get me.
 

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Consider trying to find a local cycling club with a weekend ride (if that fits your schedule). The club here where I live runs multiple routes on Saturday. There is one group that tends to ride consistently at 22-24mph, and there is another group that rides 24mph +; with that (+) often being 30mph + sprints. Not only will this give you group experience, it will also help you gauge what your speed and handling ability currently is.
 

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Don't worry about Racing until you have some group riding experience. Listen to the other riders in the group and never take a negative comment as an insult. They are just helping you and themselves. A kid that had no skills took me out in a 4/5 race in May. I am still not fully recovered
 

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Chances are you won't be ready for racing for at least a year. Weight lifting is poor preparation for an endurance sport like road racing.

Just riding around will be fine for a while. Once you are confident and have enough endurance, try group rides. Do that until you're going well (i.e. not just hanging on at the back). Then find a more racing oriented group, and do their rides until you're going well. Then it's time to start racing. While you are improving your endurance and fitness you'll be learning about group riding. There's a lot to learn to be a safe and effective racer.
 

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Being able to handle surge, after surge, after surge is the key to road racing.

Find the fastest group ride in your area and prepare to suffer and get dropped.
Eventually you will get faster and be able to hang on.
 

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Make the first few races crits instead of road races. That way, when you get dropped, you're not out in the middle of nowhere riding alone.

It's near the end of the season now. I'd plan on training through the winter and start racing in the Spring. Tune-up races usually start in Feb or March (in my area, Washington DC).

As noted above, the average speeds are quite high (relative to a solo training ride), but the real hard part is the accelerations. Out of every corner in a crit. And at road races, the fast guys will pick key corners or hills to try and shatter the pack.
 
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