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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been riding for about 2 years now and racing some for 2 seasons (~14 races - mostly crits) and really need some advice on how to get over my current hump.
A little background, I am male, 26, very athletic all my life, 170lbs, 5'10", ~9% body fat, maxHR ~200-205, LTHR ~177-182.
I ride around 150 miles per week in 3-4 rides:
Typical week:
Day 1) Hill repeats (4-6 repeats, 30 miles)
Day 2) Short Fast (30-40 miles)
Day 3) Long Hard (60-100miles)
Day 4) LSD

Now the problem, I am strong, fast and feel fit, but i can never hang with the pack. I always start towards the front and slowly fall back through the pack until towards the end of a Cat4 crit (usually on a prime lap or after it) my HR just goes north of my LTHR and won't come back down and i blow up. Case in point, my last crit my HR avg was 184, my max was 198 - which was when i blew and sat up. That was about 40 minutes into the race.
I know i have to be faster and stronger than a number of those riders that do hang on, but i can't seem to make it. What's the deal? Can anyone help me, I am getting very frustrated and am starting to feel like giving up.
 

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Going from the little leagues to the BIG leagues

I am also in that kind of boat at the moment as well but after I look back things I see where I have come from.

Background: male, 26, very athletic, 195lbs, 6'7", 4% body fat in 2004 (215lbs), maxHR ~205-210

I spent this whole season in Category C collegiate and Category 5 races (13 races total) trying to gain endurance after a full mountain bike season in the fall. I noticed I was much stronger in the mountain bike season this year than the last and was able to move up to Cat. B in mountain biking and do 15-18 mile races and beat a few people. :eek:

When I moved to road cycling to gain more endurance since that is what I am lacking I could barely go 15 miles on the road without feeling like somebody punched the wind out of me. after 2 months of training 50 miles a week I was able to do my first 50 mile half century and started racing road races and crits. The first thing I found out is just because I am an All-American track and field hurdler doesn't mean I can sprint forever. A few good long sprints at the beginning the race and I am flying out of the back after just 4-5 miles. I struggled with that in crits till somewhere around 5 months later in april I did a race in boone, nc where I managed to finish and score in my first race. I didn't stay in the pack but I was closer than I ever was before. I managed to get dropped after about 10 miles that time and now I am stuck in that zone after moving up to Category 5. After about 5-7 miles I am toast.:mad2: Some say I have too many fast twitch muscles others say I need to just do more endurance training.

I believe gains come with time and the proper training without killing yourself. Recovery is one of the big things I have been focusing on. Many people have told me to do lots of intervals but the ones they have shown me are short and don't last that long. I have noticed the pain from the intervals feel exactly like crits. Either I am doing 30 second sprints with 5 minutes of rest or taking longer sprints with shorter rest to get closer to race pace. I believe that is the fastest way to improve for criteriums and overral cardivascular fitness in a short time. Unfortunately, its not easy and it will hurt a lot..... just like a criterium.:cryin:

My advice is to keep on plugging and keep your spirits up. You will improve just don't try to rush things and blow yourself up or lose your love for cycling. That is probably the worst way to go about becoming a stronger cyclist. We all have our difficulties and must work through them with a goal in mind.:thumbsup:
 

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You need to train by doing intervals in the effort zone where you falter in races until your eyes bleed. Rinse and repeat. Strong does not mean fast. Strong is strong, and fast is fast.
Racing is hard. Really hard. It hurts. It doesn't stop hurting. As the wise man said, it doesn't get easier; you just go faster.
 

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Legend911 said:
I am also in that kind of boat at the moment as well but after I look back things I see where I have come from.

Background: male, 26, very athletic, 195lbs, 6'7", 4% body fat in 2004 (215lbs), maxHR ~205-210
What size crank arms are you using on the mtb and road bike?

175mm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am definately not opposed to the pain of intervals. I think i do need to incorporate more intervals and more base and cut out some of the middle stuff. I am considering doing 500 miles of base work, then starting back in on hard training with interval work. Thoughts?
 

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The right stuff

zhmontana said:
I am definately not opposed to the pain of intervals. I think i do need to incorporate more intervals and more base and cut out some of the middle stuff. I am considering doing 500 miles of base work, then starting back in on hard training with interval work. Thoughts?
There are different schools of thought on the middle zone, which can be defined as a pure aerobic effort at intensity below LT. Some physiologists and coaches advocate training there, others say it should be avoided at all times and one should train by either going really hard or really easy.

The one problem with moderately high intensity riding, from the in-racing-season standpoint, is that it kind of trains the body to go "sort of hard" most of the time. And it makes the body tired. Personally, I use middle-high intensity riding in long durations near the end of my winter training, to build my aerobic capacity and I find these efforts help with my efficiency during racing.

During the season, and when I'm preparing specifically for a block of races my training consists of either racing or intervals of some sort (sprints, LT, hill reps), otherwise the riding is recovery or low intensity base the rest of the time. In order to get the full gains from racing and hard training days, one has to be rested and rest afterwards. The middle zone can really compromise recovery.
 

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Big cranks

Yeah I use 175mm cranks. I wish they made the frame a little higher off the ground and i could use 180-185mm personally made cranks for my legs lol. I do know one bike maker who will do that but it will cost you!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
dfleck said:
I agree, you need to do your intervals.

Your body is not trained to recover from unsustainable efforts which is what you see all the time in crits and to a lesser extent, road races.

I think you are right about this, i can't seem to bring my HR back down once i go into the red in a crit.
 

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Get a coach, you need to have a plan.

Miles don't matter. Hours on the bike are what you should count. Base time will be required before starting intervals.

Make goals, have a goal event.

Read Friel's Training Bible if you want to sketch out a good periodized program to get started.
 

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just dont work, sit in, take no pulls, if you do pull only pull to 90% of what you got, if your a good sprinter their is no need to sit out in the wind all day. go up front take a few pulls and hide. Take a runner off the front shut it down, let the feild catch you and go right back to the middle and just rest.
 

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warm up before race, and perhaps focus on road races

First advice, either spin on the trainer before race or ride about 5 fast miles, then try to only leave 5-10 minuted before you stop and the race starts. This will make a big difference to be warmed up.

Second thought, skip the crits. They are a whole different animal. If the best European pros came over here and started doing top US crits, they would get blown away. I think Gord Fraser would kill Tom Boonen in a crit. Try doing road races for a while and see what happens. But, this is just my thought, nobody can really know whats best for you. Although getting a coach, even oneof the online coaching services, I've heard can really make results if you want to shell out the dough.
 

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If you want to be a crit racer, you'll have to train for it. You need to do your intervals on the flat, and do them with incomplete recovery to simulate race pace. You don't need the 100 mile rides... what's the longest cat 4 race you'll do?

You also need to train your mind. A lot of crit racing is pack positioning and knowing when to expend energy and when to sit in. If you are bad at keeping in place (I have a lot of experience with this myself) you waste a lot of energy. The best way to learn how to do it is to ride your local practice/weeknight crit series, if you have one. When I raced I hated crits and made myself do the thursday night series anyhow. It didn't make me a sprinter but made me much better at pack riding.

Your training sounds like you are not doing a periodized schedule. LSD rides should be done in the winter/early spring when you are building your base. If you do the same thing every week throughout the whole year, you won't improve very much.

Try reading up on some training theory. Friel's book is good.
 

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overtrained

zhmontana said:
I have been riding for about 2 years now and racing some for 2 seasons (~14 races - mostly crits) and really need some advice on how to get over my current hump.
A little background, I am male, 26, very athletic all my life, 170lbs, 5'10", ~9% body fat, maxHR ~200-205, LTHR ~177-182.
I ride around 150 miles per week in 3-4 rides:
Typical week:
Day 1) Hill repeats (4-6 repeats, 30 miles)
Day 2) Short Fast (30-40 miles)
Day 3) Long Hard (60-100miles)
Day 4) LSD

Now the problem, I am strong, fast and feel fit, but i can never hang with the pack. I always start towards the front and slowly fall back through the pack until towards the end of a Cat4 crit (usually on a prime lap or after it) my HR just goes north of my LTHR and won't come back down and i blow up. Case in point, my last crit my HR avg was 184, my max was 198 - which was when i blew and sat up. That was about 40 minutes into the race.
I know i have to be faster and stronger than a number of those riders that do hang on, but i can't seem to make it. What's the deal? Can anyone help me, I am getting very frustrated and am starting to feel like giving up.
You sound like you have a nasty case of over training. Try cutting back on day 4, maybe another set of recovery or shorter intervals?
 

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It may be that you're just "behind the curve" fitness wise from others. Remember that the hard training (i.e. intervals and such) aren't going to pay off until weeks later. You can't expect to hit it really hard in the midst of racing season and get immediate returns. In fact, tons of miles and intervals maybe be hurting your results.

Focus the training to the event. Hill repeats are great for road race and mountain bike racing prep, but won't do much for you in crits. Instead, you need to work on the power to turn it up to 30 mph. That means do intervals on flat ground or even slight downhills or with good tailwinds. It can be hard to train for this by yourself. Group riding can help, or even things like motor pacing and riding on the track.

Yes, positioning in the pack is key too. Just because you're riding up front doesn't mean that you're saving your energy. Being on the "right side" of the field can make a world of difference in the energy you're expending to fight crosswinds, for instance. Learn to relax and focus on being as smooth as possible, i.e. don't overreact to the yo-yoing in the corners or chasing every acceleration off the front.

Finally, in crits don't go into it with the attitude to just hang on. Instead, test yourself and try to take a flyer once in awhile. It's the best way to really learn what your body is capable of.
 

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If the best European pros came over here and started doing top US crits, they would get blown away. I think Gord Fraser would kill Tom Boonen in a crit.
not that what you are saying generally lacks value, but I think you're wrong about this. while it is true that luck may have a great deal to do with crits in a way that it doesn't with other kinds of races, a lot of those run-ins to little towns in European races aren't so very different, and the Euro pros would do just fine in American crits. I think that they are taken aback by the relentless intensity of American downtown crits, but they are up to it. CSC (the company) sponsers a crit in my very own hometown of Arlington, Virginia, and they bring a bunch of their guys over for it, and they do fine. The first year, CSC's Lars Michaelson won the race. Last year, Bobby Julich was fourth of four in the winning break, but only because he sat up, saving himself for the USPRO Championships. At one point, CSC decided to chase the break, and they went from having no one at the front to everyone at the front in about a lap and a half. Very, very impressive. This year, a CSC guy was fifth in a field that shed about 100 riders (started with about 130, ended up with less than 30 finishing).
I am very sure that Tom Boonen or Robbie McEwen or any number of those guys would do just fine.
 

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Your "short-fast" days should be shorter AND faster. They should be in mid zone 4 to mid zone 5. Find a group of people who are faster than you and take your turns at the front. If you find that you get shook off the back, that's great. Come back for more.
If you find that the group that you pick, won't challenge your heart rate, spend more time at the front, and attack the group. You need to have the ability to bring your HR to LT +7 or 8, and keep it there for a few minutes.
 

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Sounds like you need....

The following is based on my own experience, your experiences and opinion may vary!

You may want to consider the need for more structure in your training. You're in decent shape right now, but you now want to start hanging with and beating other folks who are in great shape, work out smart, race smart, rest smart, and eat smart.

It's time to change what has gotten you this far. Forget the fun rides with the guys you've been riding with for the past two years, if they don't help you acheive your goals, you need to do what is going to work for you; if the 5 pm Thursday night run up the local hill with the boys fits, great. If no, c'est la vie.

Now, you may look at your schedule and say to yourself "I'm structured, I know what I'm doing every day". That's not what I or others on this board are talking about. That's a nice weekly schedule, but what are you doing next week? Next month? Where are you going to rest? What upcoming events do you want to succeed in, and how does your training schedule take that into consideration? Traveling for business next month? How have you worked that into your training plan? Does your training schedule specifically address the type of racing you are doing (crits)? How much time do you plan on working out this week, and how much of that time will be spent doing endurance versus interval versus threshold (insert nomenclature from your favorite author/guru here!) versus sprinting work or whatever else? How is that different from next week or the week after?

Every day, week, and month (for the most part) needs to planned with specific workouts to acheive specific goals, and your schedule needs to be periodized to allow for rest and peaking for specific events you want to succeed in. Have you done this?

Oh, and what about nutrition? How much carbohydrate are you taking in every day? Do you know, I mean really know? Are your glycogen stores adequately topped off for each workout, or are you chronically depleted?

And as someone else brought up, is your head in the game? Do you race smart? Do you enter every crit believing that you belong there, that you are strong enoungh to hang and possibly win if everything comes together, or are you expecting to get dropped, based on past experiences? Man, a positive attitude, telling yourself and believing that you are strong, that you ARE strong and you WILL NOT get dropped helps, but yeah, you gotta have the engine :)

Granted, this may seem like a lot, especially since most of us work, have wives (or fiances), and don't have the time for all of this crap. But, unless you are a physiologic freakshow, you gotta plan, man, and make the most of the time you have available. And, it don't happen overnight. You've raced 16 crits. Give it time!

So, get a coach, buy a book, or tap into a friend who has a clue, if you have one. Whatever, just get some direction, formulate a plan, and have at it. Remember, no one ever plans to fail, they more often fail to plan.

I only suggest all of this because you say that you are frustrated and want to do better. Another option is to just chill and have fun, who cares if you are dropped, try road races, ride with the buds, etc. But, it sounds like you want improvement.

Good luck.
 
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