Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

In just under 8 weeks I will be lining up for the Cotton Patch Challenge - not the 100k rally like I did last year, but the road race!  This will mark my first foray into the world of bike racing ..... and it's a bit nerve-wracking.  I know most of this blog's followers are triathletes or runners so this statement may come as a shock - "Finishing is not an accomplishment."  Shocking, huh?  That simple statement illustrates the difference between a running race and a cycling race.  When it comes to a bike race there is no glory in simply finishing.  The goal is to WIN (or at a minimum to influence the outcome).  That puts a completely different spin on the mental approach.

When in doubt, Jens says you should attack.
I'm no fool.  I know that the vast majority of first time racers get dropped by the pack and end up finishing solo (that is, if they aren't pulled off the course for a DNF).  So would I be happy with surviving the 58 miles incident-free and crossing the line with the peloton?  Sure.  After all, the most common goals for new racers are 1) Don't crash, and 2) Don't get dropped.  Notice something about both of those goals?  They're both negative and defensive.  Take that approach and you are toast.  I don't want to crash or get dropped but I sure as heck don't want to spend a few hours just desperately trying to "hang on".  I can do that at a rally or the weekend group ride.  Instead, I will arrive at that starting line with a plan for when and where to ATTACK.  I may or may not ever get the opportunity to execute that plan but I will be prepared and I will be looking for the opportunity.  That, you can be certain of.


Tri-James said...

Exciting. I did my first crit last year. Cycling is racing. Tri is time trialing. Very different.

I'm no expert (only done one crit) but the strongest rarely wins. The one who saves himself for the end is the victor.

From talking with friends, especially in cat5 races, the group will be unorganized. No one will pull, no one will work. You don't need to take a pull - if you do the work as soon as you finish someone could put it to you. There will be times when the pack will feel like a Sunday afternoon easy group ride. There will be times when the pace is so high you don't know how you will hold on.

Also, look for breakaways on all of the climbs (or even sharp turns). The group will be too unorganized to chase them down. Position yourself in the front (easier said - everyone will try to do this) so that you can go with a break. If you do get into a break just try to hang onto a wheel. Here, if you take a hard pull - you will get dropped in no man's land. If so, let the pack catch you.

my first crit -

some lessons from an old pro -

There is a very good chance that you will give up tri's after road racing. That crit I did was so much more fun than any TT I have done.

Tri4Success said...

I thought I always wrote long comments .... you've outdone me James!

I had found your crit report before but the Lessons From the Road post was new to me. Good tips and definitely situations I could see myself in. Thanks!

One of my favorite resources is the YouTube channel for SprinterDellaCasa ..... awesome stuff and he has a blog as well which I'm just now digging into.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Cycling racing is a whole different ballgame, I dont have much to add on to James comment. Make allies, he is right, no one wants to do the work, stay in the top 10% of the group. The hills AND the decents are where the attacks happen, rarely on the flats. Suck on a wheel for 61.5 miles and hammer it the last .5 miles. James is right, its all about who has the most energy at the end.

Good luck

Ken said...

To me it is just awesome that you want to attempt it. After watching the TDF the past couple of weeks, my hats off to these guys. They are on such a different level. But you know we all thought the same thing watching our first tri. So getting started, signing up for the first crit, is the beginning of a new exciting chapter.

TRI714 said...

I was a little confused at 1st. Everyone above keeps talking crit racing and crit tactics. Correct me, but you said road race right ? the 65 mile road race.
I would be more concerned if it was the crit. You will have 65 miles of a peleton pretty much stuck together. YES, there will be some that fall off the back and out all together because most people don't realize how frreaking hard it is to go 22+ mph on average for distance.
E-mail me if you want some solid advice that will keep you in contention until the end. I know you have the fitness, You just need to know exactly what to look for.
And if not I won't be offended either way. I look forward to the report of your experience.

Tri4Success said...

@TRI714: Yes, it's the road race and for the Cat5 field it is 58mi. A lot of that route is shared with the 63mi rally I did last year. It's fairly flat though will likely be headwind on the back half. The shorter route actually bypasses the larger hills in the area (good for non-climbers like me!). There is a crit too but I'm not doing that this time. Advice is always welcome. I have a good coach and ride with a lot of Cat3 to Cat1 riders on weekends so I feel mentally prepared. Just need to throw my hat in the ring!

Michael said...

Wow, good luck!! I can handle a triathlon and a road race, but I don't think I could handle an actual bike race. That scares me to death. My first bike tour scared me to death...I can't imagine trying to race it.

I'm sure you will do great. Get that plan ready!

Caratunk Girl said...

Good luck, I am completely terrified of crits. You are gong to do awesome though, it sounds like you have a really awesome plan!

Chris K said...

First, thanks for the video you left on my Blog about the pillows. Hilarious. I like when he says, "But what are they for"?!

Sorry, I got nothing on bike racing. I'm not a biker. I did watch my first sprint tri last week and thought it was a trip. It was like a game of Frogger. Crazy. Two bikers crashed hard. It is NOT a sport for the timorous. I do like Jen's advice about attacking.

B.o.B. said...

i am sweating just thinking about doing something like this. and not sweating b/c of excitement. sweating due to nerves! i am sure you will do great. i can't wait to read about it and your continued progress to get there.