Lately I've been thinking of getting into road racing. I have a 2 year old alloy Giant Defy with Tiagra groupset. I'm 21, fairly skinny at 63kg and 176cm, of moderate fitness level (I ran the City 2 Surf in 74min this year if that counts for anything). Will I be able to keep up? Will I look out of place with my average, non-racey bike and Aldi jersey?
I've heard things about Shimano 105 being considered some sort of 'minimum' level for racing. Is there a reason for this? What particular disadvantages are there from having a lower level groupset?
I'm a keen follower of the WorldTour and I keep daydreaming about attacking on the final climb and soloing away to a victory... I'm a little intimidated because I have no knowledge whatsoever about club bicycle racing except what I can find on club websites. I don't know what they're like and the people who go to them... it's all just a mystery to me! But I would love to have the chance to live that dream.
While getting started, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Tiagra. In fact, from a functionality perspective, the current Tiagra shifters actually better than 105 and the recently superceded Ultegra and Dura-Ace! (At two years old, your bike would be borderline between 9- & 10-speed Tiagra. 9-speed is decent, but 10-speed is where the really good ones are).
Really, as you get into it and improve, you'll find the frame geometry more of a limitation than the running gear. The Defy is an "endurance" road bike rather than a racer, and you'll find the longer wheelbase not as responsive, and the higher front end less aerodynamic than a race frame.
That's all down the track though. First of all get out there amongst it, then look at upgrading the equipment as you progress.
Last edited by Duck! on Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
Fear is the thief of dreams...
Don't let it stop you from giving it a go!
In my experience there are all sorts of people in life...
They also happen to mirror the cross section that turn up on race day.
Including the "all the gear and no idea" brigade.
Most people are welcoming and willing to help, however you may encounter a tool or two who have an ego complex. Don't let those losers in life get you down.
Take your tiagra equipped Giant and enjoy chasing your dream.
Ps: there are groups that will leave you for dead, but equally there are groups you'll ride away from.
That's why races are graded. You'll soon find your grade, and hopefully move up quickly.
Depends where you are going to race as well. I rarely change gears on my local crit track, which is essentially flat and oval with no sharp corners.
Even on a more variable course, I think Tiagra would be fine....just make sure it is fine tuned well.
One of my fellow racers is a specialist sprinter and podiums a lot...on his 12 year old 105 aluminium bike. though he uses 1100gram wheels with tubular tires.
time for you to get off your puter, out of your bedroom...and up and at it.
When you are starting off its going to be your legs, not your gears that will make the difference, just make sure everything is tuned and running as efficiently as possible. Once you get the bug you'll probably want new stuff though.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.
+1 to the good posts above.
I started racing on a 3 speed bike. Upgraditis hit and Ken Smith (now of GCMCC) agreed to put a more modern 5spd cluster on. Unfortunately that required a new chain and he ended up having to file down every tooth of a steel chainring to make a 3/32 chain fit. That one act gave me a lot of encouragement to continue racing. I've only had 2 years since 1978 when I haven't raced.
My point is that there are some good people in cycling clubs, I hope you meet some.
And Tiagra is fine. It might weigh a few grams more than Dura Ace, and may not feel as nice to use, but it will make no measurable difference to your performance. A bloke I knew was a good cyclist who retired for 10-12 years. He thought that he'd take up racing again and turned up to a local criterium on his old steel training bike with downtube shifters, 32 spoke wheels etc. and signed up to ride A grade to the amusement of the local fast men on their fancy machines. They stopped smirking when he proceeded to tear the race apart. (he went on to be a successful professional cyclist).
+1 with what Bychosis said.
In fact the bike probably won't make too much difference when you're starting out, compared to your "race" fitness and tactical knowledge (which should not be over-looked).
You can put a young, very fit guy on a great race bike and on older, more experienced racer on a lesser bike and the older rider will still likely dish out the pain and teach a lesson or two about racing.
It is not about the bike (though as you progress and your abilities and experience improve the bike can make "some difference"), but ultimately it's the rider that makes the biggest difference.
The only way to learn all that is to get out there and race. And being fit vs race-fit IMO are two different things.
It's great that you could run the City2Surf in that time but that won't help you in a race when the riders ahead keep pushing you at your limit and should you lose concentration and fall off the back (even for a moment) you have to work that much harder again just to catch up and keep up....pushing your cardio and legs to your limit.
Then there is positioning on the track/within the bunch and taking advantage of riders in front of you....
Don't worry about your bike, it's fine. Just get out and enjoy the experience. Over time you will want to upgrade but for now just focus on learning the racing skills, the tactics and where your racing strengths and weaknesses are (then train accordingly).
2012 Felt F75 | 105 | ProLite Braccianos | GP4000S
A wise rider once pointed out that gear changing isn't as important as just generally having the drivetrain in good running condition, so what groupset you have is not so important unless you need to do a lot of shifting for some reason. Having said that, Tiagra shifting is pretty sweet as Duck! points out.
My 105 bike shifts like an old tractor compared to my old 9 speed Tiagra road bike, which is great fun to belt down Beach Rd on occasionally even though its a kg or two heavier.
Here's my blog - A bit of fun
"Riding not racing...."
+1 it is far more about your legs, cardio fitness and tactics than your bike.
I started racing on a 20 year old steel frame with modern (allbeit superseeded) 105 groupset, 18 months ago.
I did upgrade fairly quickly once the race bug bit, but that was because there were hilly races coming up.
Out of interest, can anyone tell me what the average speed and sprint speed would be at a race in A, B, C, D and E grades?
Also im interested to know what would happen if someone turns up on an old steel "superfantastic" bike and tries to race in a grade that is out of his leage? I know he may come last but what are the reactions of others or does no one really care about that sort of thing? Would the club just give advise for the next time?
Or the exact opposite if someone turns up on a top of the line bike for a first race and chooses E or D grade.
Is this frowned apon?
Is there a race that would be good to go watch (in Perth) where i could learn a bit just from watching?
Probably some confusing questions. Just looking for some advise.
Scott, speed averages depend very much on the particular course and even which club runs the event. For example, I raced SUVelo's C-Grade at Heffron yesterday and the average speed was about 38kmh, whereas that same speed at RBCC on Saturday (same course) would put you in B-Grade.
To answer your other questions, if you show up on an old-school bike there are three options;
1. You can keep up with your chosen grade...
no-one is likely to care what you're riding or look like, unless you're not riding well, i.e not holding your line through corners, braking at odd times etc.
2. You are not able to keep up...
You'll just end up getting dropped from the bunch, at which point it's up to you whether you withdraw or continue to ride around at your own pace. You can choose (or sometimes the officials may tell you) that you should ride a lower grade the following week.
3. You smash everyone...
You'll be told to move up a grade and there may be some grumbling that you're a burglar, i.e someone so deliberately rides in a lower grade to win money or look good.
If you're interested in racing, find your local club and ask when their races are, or if they don't hold their own, which ones do they normally attend. You'll find your correct level by the 2nd or 3rd week anyway, so just get stuck in
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It doesn't matter what average speeds and sprint speeds the different grades are hitting, as already mentioned they vary wildly between courses/clubs.
If you have never raced before then it is highly likely they will start you in the lowest grade on the day (sometimes E grade, but if they don't have enough E Graders they may put you into D Grade).
Alot of racing is tactics and being smart about when you use your energy and when you conserve it - something you will only learn actually being on-course and riding amongst the pack (until you get dropped - and you will likely get dropped)....but do not get disheartened, it's all part of the learning process. This is hard to learn just by spectating.
Holding an average of 38km/h is one thing, but that doesn't mean rolling around the course between 37 - 39 km/h for 45mins. It likely means surges well into the 40's with lulls of low-mid 30's at times and depending on how many strong riders there are, breakaways where the remaining group need to try and catch them. This surging at very high intensity is what can zap your energy very quickly if you're not used to it - even if you do think you are fit at the moment. What results in you becoming exhausted and dropping back in the bunch until you are off the back of the group. As soon as this happens, the ONLY way to catch them is to work harder than the group to catch them - which is not easy, considering you weren't able to stay with the group in the first place. If you're lucky the group will hit a lull as you fall off the back and you can jump back on but otherwise the group will ride off into the distance and from that point you're in no-mans land.
Once you start to get your head around the tactics and positioning yourself amongst the field you will probably begin to stay with the group and as your race-fitness improves you will become more competitive - unless you are already a very strong rider, in which case you'll get bumped up through the grades pretty quickly until you find yourself in the above-mentioned position.
Just turn up to the next local race, let them know you're new to it and I'm sure they will take care of you. Treat the first few races as a learning experience. If you get anywhere near the front think of that as a bonus but otherwise, just have fun and enjoy it.
And two racing tips for you:
- ALWAYS hold your line and be predictable in your actions (to others around you) - no sudden directional changes or braking
- ALWAYS protect your front wheel. If you touch the wheel of the rider in front of you it will end badly for YOU and probably many who are riding behind you....
2012 Felt F75 | 105 | ProLite Braccianos | GP4000S
The most active clubs in Perth AFAIK are:
Peel District Cycling Club http://pdcc.asn.au/ which is great if you are south of the river
West Coast Master Cycling Council http://www.wcmasterscycling.asn.au/ which is only good if you are over 35 (or 30 if female)
if you are interested in Time Trialing there is the Australian Time Trial Association http://www.atta.asn.au/
Fortunately for me 35+ live South of the river and also time trial, so I am kept busy
Track cycling I believe is every Thursday at Midvale Speed Dome, and Midland Cycle Club has a very good junior program involving a lot of track (too old, too far away)
All clubs associated (ie everybody but WCMCC & ATTA) with Cycling WA open races are listed on http://www.wa.cycling.org.au/calendar/
As for races too watch, this weekend no Peel races, but WCMCC has a 2 day, 4 race event. Prologue at Wandi 9am on Saturday, road circuit at Wandi noon on Saturday, road circuit Pickering Brook 9am Sunday, criterium Welshpool 1:30pm Sunday. Even if you are too young to race with WCMCC, you can come along to watch and learn. The criterium will be the most action packed even with tired legs.
The next Peel road race is the final for the season, 2pm Saturday week at Wandi. Criterium and TT season start in November.
As I said earlier you will see more action and learn more watching crits on a 1 to 2km circuit than a road race on a 8 to 10km circuit.
The CWA licence will soon be 15 months for the price of 12, so it a good time to start. Do not know the deal with the vets licence you need to race with WCMCC (it is different licence but about 1/2 the cost).
CWA events $33 for day licence or $45 for a 3 event licence + entry fee about $20 a race or get a gold licence about $250 depending on age, including club fees and about $10 a race.
WCMCC as I said separate licence about $120 and $20 an event, though you can ride your first event as a trial rider for just $20 entry fee.
PDCC club grades, average speeds and sprinting speeds, though it does vary on the course, weather, field size and who is racing.
E 31-33kph under 50kph
D 34-35kph 50kph+
C 36-37kph 55kph
B 38-39kph 60kph
A 40kph+ 60kph+
WCMCC, the grades in are a little below that in Peel by my experience
E 30 kph average, no idea of their top speed
D 32-34kph 50kph
C 35-36kph 55kph
B 37-38kph 60kph
A 40kph, 60kph+
Open grades, for the bigger racers are generally a grade up from Peel. ie most Peel B graders ride open C
D 36kph+ 55kph
C 38kph 60kph
B 40kph 60kph+
A 42kph+ 65kph+
Truthfully nobody cares what you ride (as long as it is safe) or what you wear (as long as it is clean, modest and not a world or national champs jersey unless you won it). You might get the odd comment about your bike, but they are more compliments or observations. One day I turned up to marshall on my steel singlespeed, got ribbed by a couple of guys I race with for no gears. But most where question about using a singlespeed for training.
The best way to find out is just jump in and try it. If you have a bike and the kit already, all it will cost you $45 for a 3 day licence and $20 race entry at most.
O.k cool thanks for all the responses guys.
Honestly i dont want to be that guy that turns up with a bike thats probably to good for him and get smoked by everyone.
I have raced Xc once this year after a while off the bike and only 10 days training. I came mid pack in what i would class as C grade for xc.
Has anyone on here raced xc with perthmtb and also raced road?
Also with sprints, how long do they usually last. Im guessing this is breakaways and sprint to the finish?
Thanks again. Pretty new to road cycling.
the accepted approach is to start off in the lowest grade and let the handicappers move you up. if you smash everyone in your first race, more power to you.
it's not just fitness. clubs are usually reluctant to promote riders into higher grades, until they are confident that they understand how to ride safely in a bunch. the logic behind this is a bit debatable for me - how is it more OK to risk the safety of other riders in lower grades? but that's how it works. i turned up late to a race last year and asked if i could race in B grade (normally i race D in that event, but up to B in others) - they refused, saying that i needed more experience. this was dubious, as i have experience, i'm just slow! but that's club racing
Scott - I don't know about Perth specifically, but MTBers (see also; triathletes and rowers!) often have good brute force in the legs, so arrive at races with a lot of power on tap. They don't necessarily have the bunch riding skills or tactics required to ride a race safely or win. This is a big reason why you start at the bottom and progress up as you demonstrate the required skills AND strength.
Successful breakaways are uncommon at lower grades, so they don't usually get a chance to sprint for the line. A breakaway typically requires a small sprint to breakaway from the bunch, then a sustained effort to hold your lead and possibly a sprint near the end to beat any fellow breakaway party members. Again, unlikely until you reach C or B grade for these to succeed... (but great for improving fitness!)
It's very difficult to sustain a full power sprint for longer than 150-200m, but the sprint finish will depend on the course. If it's a criterium, then the last 2-3 laps will be very fast with the actual sprint typically starting over the last 100-150m. If you're in a road race, there are usually markers at 200m, 100m, 50m to go and a bunch sprint usually doesn't kick until inside 200m to go.
Whether in crits or road racing, positioning for the sprint will be forming 3-4km from the finish.
Jules - Logic works ok for me! The higher the grade, the more trust you put in the people around you to not do something stupid or irratic.
Probably the best example I can think of would be the proximity that riders are comfortable with riding to one another. You don't want to touch bars with a first timer and have them freak out and slam on the brakes...
In higher grades, the riders do not expect to have someone slamming on the brakes in front of them - there is better fluidity in the bunch. In lower grades, it is more expected that people will be hard on the brakes into corners or if something minor happens, and (personally) I leave larger gaps to the wheel in front and the people beside me!
i agree on the objective, but in reality there are a lot of young guns moving up into higher grades - due to their speed - while a lot of safer, more experienced but slower riders are in the lower grades. so it doesn't necessarily work in practice. some of the more experienced A graders have bemoaned that trend as cycling has grown in popularity.
In a similar boat to yourself so watching this thread with interest; I am looking at starting road racing this summer with a club road race prior to the summer crit series. If you poke around a few MTB forums the general consensus is you will road race a Cat below what you MTB race at. As stated above MTB'er generally have a lot of power, but often not the race craft to pull it off.
i'll let you in on a secret - if you want to get good at crits, there is only one way - ride crits. the intense demands on treshold power will quickly shape your leg muscles and cardio. you can die wondering but the best way is to get out there and smash yourself.
It's no secret, there is alot to be said for Crits and (increasing) Threshold Power; where else are you going to flog yourself absolutely stupid for 45mins!!!
mmm at this stage il keep training for another year i think. I dont want to show up and Get flogged then loose all motivation to ride at all haha.
Can i watch a Crit race somewhere in Perth. I don't really understand the idea of it and the difference bertween them and a road race?
Also thats for the replies, they have been very helpfull so far.
There is far more to be learned from the back of the bunch than you will ever see from the side of the road.
Not yet, crit season is still a few weeks away.
A crit is generally held on a urban street circuit, usually 1 to 2km in length. It is duration not lap/distance based and is anywhere from 20 minutes + 1 or 2 laps to 45 minutes + 1 or 2 laps.
A road race is usually held on a rural road circuit 6 to 10km in length and it is distance based, anywhere from 30km for the lower grades to 100km+.
Crit races due to their shorter duration, are attack, attack, attack compared to a road race were tactics evolve during the race.
Odds are you will get flogged no matter how much training you have done, nothing prepares your for the intensity or sheer speed of a crit race.
If your started racing with PDCC, you will end up in C grade for your first crit, and you will get flogged. How much you get flogged by, determines next week grade, you will be in E, D or C grade. Which should be the right grade for you to be competitive or get to be competitive very quickly.
+1 for start now, you will regret putting off racing, it is fun
Last edited by nickobec on Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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