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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thank you all for all of the advice you regularly offer in threads for those of us just getting started. You have gone and made me curious/interested enough to finally give this a try. I just signed up to pin a number on for the first time at 43 years old at the Grant Park Criterium this year (probably only the beginner race to start with, but also considering the Cat 5 since I had to buy a one day license anyway). I welcome any advice any of you have for preparing and training two weeks out. Right now, the philosophy is show up, pedal hard, and see what happens. By way of background, I am decently fit right now, been riding off and on since 2011, rode 50 miles last weekend and went through a moderately challenging climbing repeats workout yesterday that I plan to repeat regularly. I also own a spin bike, but don't have a Zwift setup yet.
 

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:thumbsup:

Grant Park is a very hard first race if you're not really fit. The course is up one side and down the next. So you're going really, really hard, and then you're coasting. The number of times you can do that will have a great determining effect on your ability to finish and/or place. There are only two corners and they're both uphill and wide enough so those won't really be an issue.

What you'll likely find is that you're going to shuffle a lot on the climb as guys surge by and then blow up over the top.

This really is a strong man's course. Everyone that's doing the 5s will have been told the same thing about staying near the front. That'll get easier as the race wears on because it'll probably blow to pieces. I'd suggest trying to be close to the front from the gun, anticipating the surge as you hit the hill, and then really putting your effort in through the start/finish as everyone blows. That's where you'll be able to move up quite a bit without having to sprint up the sides. Continue that as long as possible.

Have fun and enjoy the experience. The first race is always such a crapshoot (that repeats itself every season) as you're never quite sure where you stack up compared to everyone else. Just keep your head up and enjoy.

In my race, it was approximately a 2:00 lap with about 1:10 on the gas (with a lull around the start/finish area, but this is where you can move up a lot) and 45 secs coasting on the downhill. Cat 5 laps would probably be closer to 1:20-30 and 50-60, I'd imagine.

In any case, I'd try to replicate that in the next two weeks. You're not going to build much fitness, but you can get a little sharper and sometimes just getting the taste of intensity a few times before lessens the horror of the actual race efforts.

So maybe do 5-10 mins at threshold, then some sets of 1:30 at vo2 pace, 1 min easy. Repeat as much as possible, probably shoot for 8-10x the first time, and maybe 10-12x the second, and 15x the third.

If you can start each 1:30 effort with a little 5-7s sprint, that'd probably be even more specific.

That's what I'd do for that race (with an additional 2-3 sessions of 20-30 minutes at threshold, too, if time/energy permits). Have to miss it this year, unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
:thumbsup:

Grant Park is a very hard first race if you're not really fit. The course is up one side and down the next. So you're going really, really hard, and then you're coasting. The number of times you can do that will have a great determining effect on your ability to finish and/or place. There are only two corners and they're both uphill and wide enough so those won't really be an issue.

What you'll likely find is that you're going to shuffle a lot on the climb as guys surge by and then blow up over the top.

This really is a strong man's course. Everyone that's doing the 5s will have been told the same thing about staying near the front. That'll get easier as the race wears on because it'll probably blow to pieces. I'd suggest trying to be close to the front from the gun, anticipating the surge as you hit the hill, and then really putting your effort in through the start/finish as everyone blows. That's where you'll be able to move up quite a bit without having to sprint up the sides. Continue that as long as possible.

Have fun and enjoy the experience. The first race is always such a crapshoot (that repeats itself every season) as you're never quite sure where you stack up compared to everyone else. Just keep your head up and enjoy.

In my race, it was approximately a 2:00 lap with about 1:10 on the gas (with a lull around the start/finish area, but this is where you can move up a lot) and 45 secs coasting on the downhill. Cat 5 laps would probably be closer to 1:20-30 and 50-60, I'd imagine.

In any case, I'd try to replicate that in the next two weeks. You're not going to build much fitness, but you can get a little sharper and sometimes just getting the taste of intensity a few times before lessens the horror of the actual race efforts.

So maybe do 5-10 mins at threshold, then some sets of 1:30 at vo2 pace, 1 min easy. Repeat as much as possible, probably shoot for 8-10x the first time, and maybe 10-12x the second, and 15x the third.

If you can start each 1:30 effort with a little 5-7s sprint, that'd probably be even more specific.

That's what I'd do for that race (with an additional 2-3 sessions of 20-30 minutes at threshold, too, if time/energy permits). Have to miss it this year, unfortunately.
Thank you so much. This is exactly what I was looking for. Huge help, can't thank you enough! :thumbsup:
 

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Thank you so much. This is exactly what I was looking for. Huge help, can't thank you enough!
Be very careful. You can only get a couple (maybe 3) interval sessions in before you need to rest. In the last couple of weeks before an event, you can't really build fitness but you can damage yourself. I would do the intervals ONLY to learn how to understand your body and its limits. Do NOT try to build fitness - you can't do it in two weeks when the second week needs to be used to get yourself fully rested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Be very careful. You can only get a couple (maybe 3) interval sessions in before you need to rest. In the last couple of weeks before an event, you can't really build fitness but you can damage yourself. I would do the intervals ONLY to learn how to understand your body and its limits. Do NOT try to build fitness - you can't do it in two weeks when the second week needs to be used to get yourself fully rested.
Got it, thanks. That has already been my typical m.o. with centuries and big rides, etc.
 

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Honestly, don't worry about your fitness 2 weeks out. There is such a wide variety of cardio endurance in Cat 5, it won't make much difference if you ride 200 miles this week.

Go out there with the goal of getting a feel for race pace, race dyamics, and your fitness level. Don't plan on pedaling hard, plan on pedaling smart. Don't go off the front, don't do work on the front. Just sit in top 10, and try to finish the race!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Honestly, don't worry about your fitness 2 weeks out. There is such a wide variety of cardio endurance in Cat 5, it won't make much difference if you ride 200 miles this week.

Go out there with the goal of getting a feel for race pace, race dyamics, and your fitness level. Don't plan on pedaling hard, plan on pedaling smart. Don't go off the front, don't do work on the front. Just sit in top 10, and try to finish the race!
Makes all of the sense in the world. Thanks!!!
 

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Great advice all around. The one thing I would add (didn't see it in the responses), is not to be fooled by the first 5-10 minutes of the race. I remember my second Cat 5 crit. I kept telling myself that these guys were insane. They were killing it from the start and I was wondering if I could even finish the race, based on their pace. Then everything slowed down and settled in. The remainder to the race was fine.

So, if you find yourself slipping off the back, just keep telling yourself to hold on for 10 seconds. You can do anything for 10 seconds. Then tell yourself to hold on for 10 more seconds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Great advice all around. The one thing I would add (didn't see it in the responses), is not to be fooled by the first 5-10 minutes of the race. I remember my second Cat 5 crit. I kept telling myself that these guys were insane. They were killing it from the start and I was wondering if I could even finish the race, based on their pace. Then everything slowed down and settled in. The remainder to the race was fine.

So, if you find yourself slipping off the back, just keep telling yourself to hold on for 10 seconds. You can do anything for 10 seconds. Then tell yourself to hold on for 10 more seconds.
Got ya, thanks!
 

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A few more basic tips.

1) For the start, practice clipping in w/out looking at your pedal. I wasn't joking when I said not to be surprised when everyone sprints off the line.
2) For the start, be in a gear that allows you to turn the wheels quickly.
3) Ride in the drops. Elbows out. It gives you more control and creates a space between you and other riders. You can't lock bars w/another rider if you can't touch them.
4) Be assertive. You'll have the tendency to hang back and check things out. You'll allow passes etc. That's a quick recipe for getting dropped. Imagine it's a fast group ride and get in there.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A few more basic tips.

1) For the start, practice clipping in w/out looking at your pedal. I wasn't joking when I said not to be surprised when everyone sprints off the line.
2) For the start, be in a gear that allows you to turn the wheels quickly.
3) Ride in the drops. Elbows out. It gives you more control and creates a space between you and other riders. You can't lock bars w/another rider if you can't touch them.
4) Be assertive. You'll have the tendency to hang back and check things out. You'll allow passes etc. That's a quick recipe for getting dropped. Imagine it's a fast group ride and get in there.

Have fun!
Thanks man, I go through moments of being super excited followed by periods of thinking "what is my ancient 43 year old butt doing racing???" I will try to remember as much of this as I can and then see how it all turns out, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Was your race this past weekend or the one coming up? If you already did it, how did it go?
Hey man, thanks for asking. It's this Saturday 8/19. :eek: I am actually pretty excited at this point. I'm not expecting anything great to happen on this first run, but I am prepared to stick with it if I like it. It's a convenient way for me to have something to train for. It's more manageable than training for some 112 mile expedition with 10,000 feet of climbing and pro level descents and I can race like every week if I want to in the Southeast. So, if I feel good, I am going to plan on doing the Six Gap Criterium in late September as well (and maybe one more if I can find it). Then in the offseason, I will get a more race friendly frame and crankset (currently running 50/34) and establish a serious training plan to get me ready for really going after it next season. We'll see how this weekend goes first though.
 

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Do what you have to to stay safe and not get dropped. Racing is fun, and I'm actually considering starting again this coming Spring. I don't have any expectations of catting up quick or winning much, or even doing more than a few races, but I miss the thrill of it!

I may be opposite you in that for me it is easier to train for the big rides or a long road race, since race tactics come into play less. I have always felt like more of a rouleur or a TT guy than an aggressive crit racer or sprinter. Those big rides I can just grind out miles and do a bit of work on my specific weaknesses for that one event and usually have it turn out pretty well.

Good luck in your race, be sure to post up a post-race breakdown!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Do what you have to to stay safe and not get dropped. Racing is fun, and I'm actually considering starting again this coming Spring. I don't have any expectations of catting up quick or winning much, or even doing more than a few races, but I miss the thrill of it!

I may be opposite you in that for me it is easier to train for the big rides or a long road race, since race tactics come into play less. I have always felt like more of a rouleur or a TT guy than an aggressive crit racer or sprinter. Those big rides I can just grind out miles and do a bit of work on my specific weaknesses for that one event and usually have it turn out pretty well.

Good luck in your race, be sure to post up a post-race breakdown!
Will do on all fronts. Keep me posted on how your training is going as well.
 

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Will do on all fronts. Keep me posted on how your training is going as well.
Check out my Strava, I've been able to ride a few days a week lately, hoping to keep it up. Before our ride in October I am hoping to get through two 4-week base mileage periods and one build period. Fitness is gradually increasing and my speeds are getting faster for the same heart rate / effort. I don't have much power on tap for sprints, I figure the kind of riding I usually do would benefit most from muscular endurance and anaerobic endurance for spending time in the red zone. Nothing like riding a century and spending 3 hours of it over your LT!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Check out my Strava, I've been able to ride a few days a week lately, hoping to keep it up. Before our ride in October I am hoping to get through two 4-week base mileage periods and one build period. Fitness is gradually increasing and my speeds are getting faster for the same heart rate / effort. I don't have much power on tap for sprints, I figure the kind of riding I usually do would benefit most from muscular endurance and anaerobic endurance for spending time in the red zone. Nothing like riding a century and spending 3 hours of it over your LT!
I will definitely take a look this afternoon/tonight. I just came across this interesting piece on over training. Something else for me to keep in mind as I get excited about next season:

Diagnosis: What caused this racer's crippling fatigue? | VeloNews.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You are killing it man. It looks like you could basically ride the event right now if you needed to! Keep going, you should definitely be ready for your primary goal next season.
 
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