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I feel silly asking this question, as I'm sure the topic comes up fairly often. But I'm gonna start racing this year. What do I do? I've been riding all winter, so I'll continue just doing base training for the time being. But what books should I read? I know the basics of periodized training, but I probably need a little instruction if I'm gonna race. Where do I get a schedule of events (I live in Chicago)? Do I need to register for a liscense before the start of the season? Should I seek out a team to start, or not worry about it right now?

I already have a heartrate monitor. I don't have money at the moment for a PowerTap. (That's what those watts-monitor-thingy's are called, right?) I wanna do roadracing and crits. With my commuting, I've maintained 200+ miles a week on average, so I'm in pretty good shape.

Thanks!

--timfire
 

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timfire said:
I feel silly asking this question, as I'm sure the topic comes up fairly often. But I'm gonna start racing this year. What do I do? I've been riding all winter, so I'll continue just doing base training for the time being. But what books should I read? I know the basics of periodized training, but I probably need a little instruction if I'm gonna race. Where do I get a schedule of events (I live in Chicago)? Do I need to register for a liscense before the start of the season? Should I seek out a team to start, or not worry about it right now?

I already have a heartrate monitor. I don't have money at the moment for a PowerTap. (That's what those watts-monitor-thingy's are called, right?) I wanna do roadracing and crits. With my commuting, I've maintained 200+ miles a week on average, so I'm in pretty good shape.

Thanks!

--timfire
If you're sure you are gonna race more than a few times I'd look into getting on a team and getting your license. If you just wanna check out a few races you can race unattached and just buy a day lic the day of the event. Joe Friels Cyclists Training Bible has some gooof training regimens for racers. Be prepared to have your a$$ handed to you the first few races--esspecially the crits. Stick with it. It will get easier.
 

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hi, I'm Larry
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Just do it!

I don't like Nike but I like the saying.

Don't get too hung up on equipment and training just find a race and do it. You will learn a lot about racing by racing. Once you get a couple of races under the belt then reading a couple of books and training will be more productive.

If you can find an oval type circuit race go to one of those. Around here they have one on a 1/2 mile paved stock car track. You get to do 4-6 types of races of lengths between 2 to 8 miles in a single evening (at the cost of one entry fee). You get to see what works and what doesn't work, You can replay the last race in your head and make changes in tactics and techniques on the next race. One of the problems with long road races, once you drop off the pack you may as well be riding solo, the race is over for you.

I go to this type of race whenever possible, I always leave knowing more. Here they break the field up into two groups, you can watch the other (more experienced) group race an learn by watching what they are doing. I love watching them rest and jockey for position on the last lap in preperation for the final sprint.

To answer some questions. You can get a one day license at most events for $5. You can also get a yearly license for $50 at the event or at http://www.usacycling.org/ this is a good link. It has a lot of info you are looking for. It is the governing body for cycling in the US. I would get a couple of races over with and then look for a team if you like being part of a team (not really mandatory until you get good). Talk to people at the races, like most other racing sports, bicycle racing attacts folks with egos and they love to talk about themselves, their races, their equipment, their training, and their wins.

I know there are a lot of folks from Chicagoland on this board, they can dirrect you to the races in your area.

PS: Racing is 80% legs, 15% experience and at most 5% equipment (this might start an arguement)
 

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The web is a MUT
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books and watts and such

I'm a long time cyclist and no time racer starting off this year in racing (that's the plan anyways). There are several good books for beginners, one I'm flipping though that I've had for several years is Beginning Bicycle Racing by Fred Matheny. Even though it's from the early 1980's it still has good beginner info in it, just ignore the fact that all the bicycles have downtube friction shifters in the pics. Another book I like that's also a little outdated (hey, I'm outdated too) is the one by Eddie Borysewicz titled Bicycle Road Racing: The Complete Program for Training and Competition. Just go to the Amazon.com book search page and type in bicycle racing for the subject and you'll get plenty of hits.

I'd probably avoid doing anything serious with books like Friel's Training Bible, except to look through and plan for next year. You can get heavy into the program planning phases towards the end of the season and set up a program for next winter. It may seem weird to think it's a little too late to start a full training program, but in reality a lot of hard core people are actually done with their base training already and are starting to ramp up for the season already. Some regions are also already racing.

Use the first year to get experience and exposure and to find your niche or breadth in cycling. Up north of you here there is wisport.org and wicycling.org for finding local races. I recall that there is another web site or two down your way for IL races. There are also several good cycling shops in the greater Chicago area which sponsor/base training rides.

I tend to type more than I ride, which I'm in the process of reversing, so I'll stop here.
Just ride, and work out the details later. ;)
 

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NeoRetroGrouch
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Chicagoland racing...

timfire said:
I feel silly asking this question, as I'm sure the topic comes up fairly often. But I'm gonna start racing this year. What do I do? I've been riding all winter, so I'll continue just doing base training for the time being. But what books should I read? I know the basics of periodized training, but I probably need a little instruction if I'm gonna race. Where do I get a schedule of events (I live in Chicago)? Do I need to register for a liscense before the start of the season? Should I seek out a team to start, or not worry about it right now?

I already have a heartrate monitor. I don't have money at the moment for a PowerTap. (That's what those watts-monitor-thingy's are called, right?) I wanna do roadracing and crits. With my commuting, I've maintained 200+ miles a week on average, so I'm in pretty good shape.

Thanks!

--timfire
Local races see:
http://www.ambikerace.com/
http://www.peteslist.com/

I live in a northern suburb and just started racing last year. You aren’t going to believe how much you don’t know. Forget the equipment. The poster above says 5% is equipment - he’s way too high. Lungs, legs, mind and heart. I would also recommend going with a club. They can tell/show you in an hour what it would take years to learn. What area of Chicago?

Currently there are indoor time trials going on in Wheaton. 2 down, 2 to go. Good way to check your fitness and meet some people. Next one is 2/22. See the links from www.prairiepathcycles.com. There is a Citizen class (non-licensed, though you still have buy a one day license) but I would recommend getting an ABR license right away. You can still race Citizen at USCF events.

After that is the 3 “practice” crits up at U of WI – Parkside (just north of Kenosha 3/14,3/21,3/28). Very easy-going and fun. You will find that the ABR events, in general, are much lower keyed than the USCF events.

From there, the summer is full of Time Trials, Road Races and Crits. And don’t forget the Friday night at the Northbrook Velodrome. You can race your street bike (no shifting) in two or three races a night. Invaluable experience. There is also a velodrome in Kenosha. You can track race 5 days a week (Mon – Fri) all summer.

Drop me a note at wheelsmithy at sbcglobal dot net if you want more info, etc.

TF
 

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Squirrel Hunter
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Smart Cycling

Smart Cycling by Arnie Baker. This book is written for a cyclist. It covers buying, training, racing, tactics... The racing chapter even starts out with a section on your "first" race.

Another book that looks pretty good so far but that I have not read completely is Bike Racing 101. The Training Bible is way to complicated and detailed. It gets you trained but doesnt really tell you how to race.

Remember that racing is supposed to be fun! If you feel like you are about to get dropped gut it out for a couple of more minutes, it will only hurt a little and the pace will slow down again (you hope).
 

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Category Four Racer
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Circuit and crit races are great. If you get lapped you can sometimes hop back onto the end of the pack, just stay out of the way of the folks who lapped you. If there are not that many racers they may not pull lapped racers.
 

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bimini said:
PS: Racing is 80% legs, 15% experience and at most 5% equipment (this might start an arguement)
at the lower levels, this is true; in fact, experience may account for even less than 15% at cat 5. as you get up the hierarchy, experience becomes more important. equipment ... I think it's usually around 5% no matter the category.
I raced cat 4 last year, and there was one race where I went on a solo break 16 laps from the finish (actually, I got in the early break, and everyone else crashed). I held on to win, but they nearly caught me at the end, and it was that close that I suppose I would not have won if I'd had, say, 'standard' wheels (I was on semi-aero custom wheels, Ritchey aero rims). the vast majority of all races are won by margins larger than the difference in equipment.
 

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"Just go out and go hard" Rene Wenzel

I started racing last year as a way to accelerate my overall cycling conditioning. Due to my personality style, I read and did a lot of planning. I attended the OBRA cycling conference in January. The most valuable information I heard was from Rene Wenzel. There were a few of us newbies in the room seeking the secret. His exact words were, "you don't know anything. Just go out and race hard." His point was that your racing experience will determine what kind of training you need to do and what kind of strategy works for you.

I learned a lot last year. I had good enough endurance. I found I could not match the intense speed bursts and my hill climbing sucked. Therefore, I had a more specific plan for my training objectives for this year.

I was also fortunate to hook up with an up-start team of guys that just want to get the most out of our cycling experiences regardless of individual event results. That allows us to practice and plan for a variety of team strategies which are uncommon in cat 4/5. Training with others and practicing different team tactics has dynamics that enhance my conditioning beyond what I could do alone.

All of the cool training technology such as HRMs and Power Taps, are way too sophisticated for what I need to improve. I continue to make huge leaps and bounds by just continuing to ride and tweaking a few things here and there.

We will see how it goes this Sunday for the first race of the season. It was also my first race last year.
 

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scruffy nerf herder
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where to begin....?

well, seeing that you probably haven't done a whole lot of structured training to this point, since you are saying you are in "base" which many of us are... you might consider looking at Friel and just start with the 5M TT at the end of base 2, and then go through base 3.. .and then hop into build 1. Friel is pretty structured, but if you have the time, it is not bad, and you can just start anew next off season.

As far as racing goes, keep in mind that a PowerTap is not a racing tool, it is a fitness tool and wont make you race anybetter, nor will a HR monitor. Save the money you were going to use on the PowerTap and get a good set of race wheels, or at minimum a good set of training wheels you can use for racing ... I have no clue what you currently ride, but a nice set of stiff wheels that accelerate fast and arent excessively heavy will help more than any single investment you can make on your bike. Plus, an extra set will help when you wreck 3 or 4 times in the 5s in your first season... ooops, did I say that?

You need experience and getting the lingo down and just seeing what happens, how to corner, wrecking and all that so you dont blow up or freak out. Get in your first race, do what you can to hang onto the back of the back, and expect to get blown off. Learn corners, and the pros and cons of sitting on the inside vs sitting on the outside. From a fitness perspective, intervals intervals intervals, and work on accelerating after every corner and what I consider heavy spinning.

Lastly, once you have the base fitness and you have the racing opportunities around you... consider the "racing for training" methodology. A race pace mid week ride ( a fast club, or weekday crit series) followed by a saturday/sunday race would likely get you in shape pretty fast... but then again will burn you out pretty quick if your base training is not up to snuff.

Just my two cents....
 
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