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In my first full season of racing, I've upgraded to Cat 3 and done a road race and a coupla criteriums.

Observations:<ul><li>The average speed isn't only a little higher, but the accelerations would surprise most 4/5 riders. When there's a chase on, you'll be going 28-30 mph on flats for a sustained period. If you can't react to a jump, you'll be out the back, fast.</li><li>The front rotates a lot more. It's not just a few strong and / or stupid guys in the wind, and everyone else who has read "Don't get on the front!" in too many books and thinks they're "saving themselves for the sprint."</li><li>There's less talking. In the 4's and 5's, everyone shouted out things like "right turn!" "car up!" The 3's point, but that's about it.</li><li>Likewise, there's a lot less pointing at the ground and waiting for permission to figure out where to get into line in the peloton. People just go where they need to go. A lot more hip touching, too.</li><li>Instead of everyone acting overly cautiously, many 3's seem to be too confident in their racer skillz, and will take lines into corners or go for gaps that just aren't there. Watch out!</li><li>Team tactics go from "nonexistent" to "extant," but it's still basically "Will you lead me out?" or "Don't chase your teammate down."</li><li>Cat 3 field sprints aren't exactly scary fast -- just scary.<li>When someone goes off the front, every rider doesn't immediately chase every move. Just most of them</li></ul>

What was your observation on upgrading to 3? How about Cat 2? Or moving to masters?
 

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i agree about the cat 3 sprints, the 5's and 4/5's can be as fast or faster.

cat 3 sprints can be like kilo efforts, whoever can ride 30+ for a while will hang at the end,
compared to the 4-5's where often everyone sits up until 50 to go...

the worst crashes can happen in the 3's, the bike handling is good but the willingness for risk is too...

as for the 2's, the deciding breaks will be the make or break point many times, if you cannot respond immediately, or bridge like a finishing sprinter you will not be with 'em.
also, when in the break, expect attacks, hard ones, of groups of two who want to escape.

you may also see the pace pushed slightly until pain is inflicted over time, like a death march, esp on the climbs.

counterattacks will be merciless, you cannot be spent when they come or off you go...out the back.

in a small break group, you must go with the attacks, even if you feel like dying. many times the bluff is that the attackers seem strong but are near dead too.

you will see intentional leadouts and blocking. solo and two man breaks can stay away for a long time, as the riders are damn strong and the pack is wary, biding their time.
not so much like a cat 4 or 5 were every doomed break is hunted down at once.

as for the 1/2/3 masters, expect an easier pace at times, like 25 mph. when this happens, you know the attack is being saved for. attacks in this cat may be the worst, near max efforts held for inhumane time. there are also many ex-district, nat, and pro riders hanging out in the masters. true genetic superiors with a deep experience of strategy, tactics, and their own limits.

the nice thing about this cat is the relative smoothness of bike handling skills in the pack, you will be flying around corners tapping pedals and it seems like no big.
there can also be a suprising amount of courtesy and communication, lots of these guys want to remain unscathed, and are into risk reduction. but maybe not at district level, where the old guys may well risk it all...


in some big races, the promoter may offer 35+ cat 3. this is a good alternative to mstrs 1/2/3.

also, in some races, the placings may reflect the cat of the racer in the 1/2/3, for instance you may be a cat 3 finishing, say, out of the top ten, yet stil be 1st (or 2nd or 3rd) in your cat...

disclaimer, the above scenarios are gross generalizations based on my meager experience only, racin' since '90, still always learnin', the whole thing is one big experiment...





Argentius said:
In my first full season of racing, I've upgraded to Cat 3 and done a road race and a coupla criteriums.

Observations:<ul><li>The average speed isn't only a little higher, but the accelerations would surprise most 4/5 riders. When there's a chase on, you'll be going 28-30 mph on flats for a sustained period. If you can't react to a jump, you'll be out the back, fast.</li><li>The front rotates a lot more. It's not just a few strong and / or stupid guys in the wind, and everyone else who has read "Don't get on the front!" in too many books and thinks they're "saving themselves for the sprint."</li><li>There's less talking. In the 4's and 5's, everyone shouted out things like "right turn!" "car up!" The 3's point, but that's about it.</li><li>Likewise, there's a lot less pointing at the ground and waiting for permission to figure out where to get into line in the peloton. People just go where they need to go. A lot more hip touching, too.</li><li>Instead of everyone acting overly cautiously, many 3's seem to be too confident in their racer skillz, and will take lines into corners or go for gaps that just aren't there. Watch out!</li><li>Team tactics go from "nonexistent" to "extant," but it's still basically "Will you lead me out?" or "Don't chase your teammate down."</li><li>Cat 3 field sprints aren't exactly scary fast -- just scary.<li>When someone goes off the front, every rider doesn't immediately chase every move. Just most of them</li></ul>

What was your observation on upgrading to 3? How about Cat 2? Or moving to masters?
 

· EuroCrash
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In the 3s the rider strength is much less varieble than in the 4s so you can't count on dropping half of the field by jumping hard at the start.

To get from cat 4 to cat 3 you should be able to sprint.

To get from cat 3 to cat 2 you should be able to time trial. (stage races give lots of points)
 

· EuroCrash
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Cruzer2424 said:
That sounds encouraging to me. :-D
To me it became more of a task of finding the shortest TT in a stage race possible. I found one of 3 miles in the Tour de La, unfortunately it was a 123 race and what I saved in TT effort came back twofold in the RR and crit.
 
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