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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm 16 and have biked casually for most of my life. Last fall, I got into cycling and I'm looking to get into a couple road or MTB races this summer. What should I be looking for in terms of distance and intensity? I seem to be blessed with pretty good endurance but little in terms of sprinting abilities. I'm in decent shape; I cross country ski a lot and run and bike in the spring, although in the spring I have baseball, too, so I can't endurance train a heck of a lot. Any ideas are good.
 

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I'm 16 too and just did my first crit yesterday. The only advice I can give you is get into the best shape you can before you race, like twice as good as you think you need to be...it's intense, and as far as distance and intensity...well that depends on the race.
 

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You'll have...

HebrewHammer said:
I'm 16 and have biked casually for most of my life. Last fall, I got into cycling and I'm looking to get into a couple road or MTB races this summer. What should I be looking for in terms of distance and intensity? I seem to be blessed with pretty good endurance but little in terms of sprinting abilities. I'm in decent shape; I cross country ski a lot and run and bike in the spring, although in the spring I have baseball, too, so I can't endurance train a heck of a lot. Any ideas are good.
If you start racing, you'll have a couple of choices. You can either ride the junior races, or ride a categorized race, or sometimes you can, or would like to do both of them. Normally, junior races are much shorter than a cat 5 race, at least from my experiences and what I've seen over the years.

Intensity and distance will be determined, as someone else wrote, by the race that you enter. If it's a crit, it's normally based on number of laps, or time (35 minute race + 1 lap, or maybe say, 20 laps of a given circuit). Intensity will be based on who shows up in your race. In a junior field, it is possible to have beginners, such as yourself, and also kids who have been racing for a number of years, and might be a cat 3, a cat 2, and even in some rare cases a cat 1 rider. For that reason, I've always recommended that junior riders ride the junior races, but also if you're just starting out, ride the categorized races (cat 5, cat 4, cat 3, etc. etc..). After you upgrade to a 4, I'd say unless it's like a State championship, or maybe there is some decent money in a junior race, skip them, and just race your category. A lot of the times, junior races are smaller, and you learn less about bike racing riding in them.

Also, I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong), that juniors have to ride gear restricted for any and or all races that they're riding, regardless if it is a junior race, or a categorized race. Before racing, or showing up to a race, check the rules, and see what gear restrictions you would need to run in a race (someone here might know them by heart, I don't, because I'm old, and it doesn't apply to me). If you show up at a race without the proper gearing as a junior, you will probably be disqualified post race when the official does junior rollout (they measure how far your bikes goes with one pedal stroke, and make sure that it is within the required specification).

I would also add, find a local club maybe that has some junior riders, or even older riders who can mentor you in the ways of bike racing. I've found that the club that I've ridden for now for 10 years has always been pretty good at that. Taking juniors out on group rides, teaching them HOW to ride in a group, what to look for in a race, how to position, and so on. It's worth riding with some folks your own age, and or folks that are older to get a little bit of knowledge about the "game" so to speak. I didn't start road racing until I was about 28 years old, and I used the guys in my club to pick up a lot of information in a short amount of time.

I hope some of this helps. Good luck.
 

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I've been racing juniors for a couple a years. This year i'm 18 so I'll race some juniors but mostly category as you try to move up. I'd suggest racing juniors because there are usually several different levels so you can figure out how you compare.

and btw junior gearing is a max either 52x14 or 45x12. make sure to roll out after the race.

as far as training goes, i would focus on intensity. unless you are just one of those kids, you will probably get shot out the back of the first race. train a lot and train hard. and riding in group is vital to building those skills
 

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1. find a local club
2. do whatever you have to in order to join their hammerfest rides.
3. ask for help from the older / faster guys.
4. ignore the helpful advice from the slower / younger guys.
 

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teffisk said:
unless you are just one of those kids, you will probably get shot out the back of the first race. train a lot and train hard. and riding in group is vital to building those skills
+1. I turn 19 in two weeks, and because of my career as a high school wrestler, I was unable to race before last season. My first race last year (and ever) was a hilly road race (one killer hill in particular - had the word "Mount" in the name of the race) and I got popped very quickly. I rode as a "junior". Since I didn't know how to ride in a group, and because the tempo seemed slow at first, I let a little bit of a gap open up. Before I knew it, the group was gone. I raced the rest of the race with a kid in the 13-14 year old group who, much to my embarassment, kicked my a** on the climb, and then rode solo for the last circuit (17-18 year olds did an extra lap). It was a terrible experience haha.. I tried to finish with dignity though - I just viewed it as a nice day of training (weather was brilliant).

My #1 suggestion is to not get discouraged. I am a pretty impatient person and I like to see results fast. Unfortunately, cycling is not a sport that rewards impatience. It takes months of riding to see improvement in your strength (I entered my first race after riding for like three weeks). It takes years to even begin to realize your capabilities on the bike. Stay positive. I had a much more positive time racing in the Cat 5 and Cat 4/5 races than I did in the junior races. Like Magnolia said ^, you get some "juniors" that are Cat 1 or Cat 2 riders, and that's just no fun for the rest of us. It's up to you though.

Enjoy baseball. You're in high school. Once you graduate, regardless of whether you go to college or not, you won't be able to replicate your high school sporting experience. Playing for a school team, the pride that comes from that, it's awesome. I never thought I would, but I really miss wrestling. I ride for a strong cycling team, and the university that I attend has a solid team, but it simply is not the same as playing a varsity-level sport in high school. The first thing that my cycling coach told me when I spoke with him about racing while I was a junior in high school was not to quit wrestling; as far as he was concerned, I was very, very young to devote all of my time training to cycling (if you're a Taylor Phinney, disregard that approach - I surely am not). Most of all, have fun with it.

Oh, and as far as your stamina is concerned, I'd say that developing a sprint is pretty darn important. If you ever get stuck near the back of a group ride/race (BAD) you'll spend a lot of time closing gaps (short, intense efforts). Most junior and Cat 5 races are pretty short (road races 20, 25, 30 miles... 15 miles crits or something like that) so you really won't tap into your endurance capabilities that much (being able to ride strongly for 5 hours won't help you if you get dropped after the first or second intense acceleration). Your endurance power is much more important in the long run though - as any pro will likely tell you.

Good luck and let us know how you do.
 

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I'm 17

I started riding about 1.4 years ago and I rode my mountain bike on the street for about 0.9of that and did 2 mtb races. I rode in the hs16-18 category, they kicked my butt. The races were about 20 miles each.

Since then I bought a road bike from a guy at the end of last fall and found a local cycling club with rides almost everyday. Now I'm riding 30+ mile rides every other day with an everchanging riding schedule, and on top of that a 70+ mile endurance ride on sunday( the older guys I ride with tell me thats incredible for my age and that helps to be another mental health booster)

Great advice:
1. find some group rides
2. ride with people who are faster then you(and if possible some who are slower I find it helps my ego:p )
3. make friends with some older guys who can help you along the way and maybe give you some of their routes and suggest good climbs.
4. probably the most important thing if you dont already have one is get a cyclocomputer.
 

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I'm a junior, 17 years old. The best thing you can do, (and this is ONLY if you are sixteen or older, because younger you can't train that much) is train like you aren't a junior. Train like you are a regular racer just like everyone else. You have to ride that much. You can handle the volume if you build up to it. Some people say juniors should only do intensity but I disagree 100%. You are lucky you were smart enough to get into cycling earlier than everybody else, so you should build endurance now. By the time you are an espoir, if you can handle the distance easily, than you can add intensity to it. Not the other way around.
thats my opinion, anyway. Stay one step ahead by starting younger. Stay two steps ahead by training better too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the advice. If I get picked in the lottery, I'll be doing the short Chequamegon race in the fall. That's something to aim for. Might be tough because of cross-country though. Thanks again.
 
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