To Race or Not?

adam0bmx0
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby adam0bmx0 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:39 pm

I started racing last year (age 31) and have loved every race i've entered, whether its a club crit, State crit/road race or a race series (i.e Battle on the Border).

I'd say have a crack, I put it off for fear of crashing, but then thought, years down the line I don't want to regret not giving racing a try, well i've got the bug now and enter nearly every race i can!

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nickobec
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby nickobec » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:08 pm

I started racing at 51, 6 years later local cycling race club secretary and photographer/reporter for four local papers, as well as racing most weeks.

As the others have said give it a go, get a trial or three day licence and try it now.

Do not put it off with excuses like when I am fitter, when I have better bike handling skills etc. Going in a lower grade, because you lack fitness or skills is a much better start. Than being fit and get put in a higher grade and needing to learn fast to survive.

Yes accidents do happen racing, but they also can happen when ever you are riding your bike. Other than getting blown off the road the first time I raced my TT bike (my handling error), the only accident I was involved in racing well over 200 races, resulted in a grazed knee. I have had far worse injuries riding my bike alone.

The only downside is if you want to improve, you need time to put in the effort.

Arbuckle23
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:36 pm

Well that generated a bit of discussion!

Thanks for all the feedback. Got a three race licence and will give it a go.
Had a discussion with the club secretary and will race on Sunday.
Will do the three races and see if I like it or not.
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ironhanglider
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:06 pm

Well done for taking the plunge Arbuckle23.

I raced 3 times with SMCC last year, but it would have been more if I had leave to do so.

SMCC seems to be a pretty social group with people hanging around afterwards for a coffee and chat (they have some arrangement with a mobile van).

As for the racing, the default grade for a new rider is C grade, unless you have come to an arrangement with Bill in your conversations. C grade is not a bad place to start. To race in the higher grades you have to be either really strong or at least have enough experience to make up for it. People who know they are able to ride in the higher grades will usually request to do so without being forced to by the handicapper. D and particularly E grade is where you find the riders who used to race but are no longer fit enough, and F and G are inhabited by the more mature riders. You can win D grade and lower by simply being the strongest there. In the higher grades just being strong isn't enough.

I think with SMCC at least the middle of the bell curve falls between C and D grades for a random person who is pretty fast on the bike paths, and who does a social bunch occasionally. The problem is that with prize money on offer, sticking someone in D or E grade and have them ride away from everyone is probably not popular. (Hint: if you find that you are much stronger than the others, don't ride away from them until the last 100m).

Casey Fields is a good course, and is easy to get to. What you will need to be prepared for is the surgey nature of the racing. What typically happens is that they ride around at social pace, because no-one wants to sit on the front and just tow everyone else around. Then someone will get bored, (or think it is a good idea tactically) to burst off the front. Then everyone will accelerate hard and chase him down, but once they make the catch they will frequently ease off again and the pace slows until the next attack. This is important, because if you don't make the initial acceleration and get dropped, keep going as hard as you can; because there is a good chance you will catch them again.

If you can manage it get to one of the races at Sandown. It is quite a different circuit and whilst not decisive, the hill tends to sort out the contenders from the pretenders.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Arbuckle23
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:12 am

Thanks

Bill was great to chat to. He will slot me in with some riders to show me the rope so to speak. Looking forward to it.
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RobertL
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby RobertL » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:02 am

Make sure you let us know how you go in the Race Reports thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=23454
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foo on patrol
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:07 am

In regards to the crashes.............Well, most of the problem is due to riders not honing their skills on the Track! My first Crit race after the start of my comeback, I was astounded by the level of insecurity by riders that were up to 30yrs my junior. :shock: I ride by sight and sound = look to see what is happening and listen for riders coming from behind. The number of times that I had these youngins telling me to hold my line or I'm coming past, was just astounding and if you go any closer than 600mm, they would freak out, WTH is with that and God forbid, you touched them with your elbow or shoulder. :lol: :lol: :lol: The cause of these insecurities, they don't or haven't raced Track! :wink:

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g-boaf
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby g-boaf » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:49 am

foo on patrol wrote:In regards to the crashes.............Well, most of the problem is due to riders not honing their skills on the Track!

Foo


Track doesn't magically stop crashes, they happen. Even the very top track riders do have them sometimes.

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CKinnard
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby CKinnard » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:12 pm

I raced for 4 years, and got hooked into the adrenalin endorphin buzz, then got disillusioned with the mgt of the club. The handicapping was not good, and ridiculous nepotism prevailed, and interfered with better quality safer racing. Over those 4 years, I saw at least 100 people (seriously) go down in crashes. Some of the worst injuries - 2 neck fractures, 1 significant brain injury that has left the rider with irregular seizures, several pneumothoraxes (punctured lungs), several broken wrists, countless rib and clavicle fractures, 2 fractured ankles.

What isn't broadcast is the number of riders who don't come back to racing after a crash, due to ongoing disability and reappraisal of risk/reward.

On the other hand, I've spoken with Southern Vets mgt and have a mate who races there. My impression of them is that they are one of the best and most responsible clubs in Australia.

My advice is to just take it easy in your three races. Sit towards the back and watch the other riders to see how steady they are on the bike and how much situational awareness each has. If you feel strong, try a breakaway move towards the end. One of the reasons racing is dangerous is because competition and tactics are severly lacking - not enough attacking, too much rolling around in a pack with 20 guys sprinting at the end. It's not racing, it's stupidity and ego.

If you do decide to get an annual license, I'd also advise you get to know some guys with similar fitness and skill to you, and organize attacks. You are way much safer in a break.

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Derny Driver
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Derny Driver » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:56 pm

CKinnard wrote:My advice is to just take it easy in your three races. Sit towards the back and watch the other riders to see how steady they are on the bike and how much situational awareness each has. If you feel strong, try a breakaway move towards the end. One of the reasons racing is dangerous is because competition and tactics are severly lacking - not enough attacking, too much rolling around in a pack with 20 guys sprinting at the end. It's not racing, it's stupidity and ego.

Spot on

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foo on patrol
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby foo on patrol » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:55 am

g-boaf wrote:
foo on patrol wrote:In regards to the crashes.............Well, most of the problem is due to riders not honing their skills on the Track!

Foo


Track doesn't magically stop crashes, they happen. Even the very top track riders do have them sometimes.


Didn't say that it stopped them, I said...." Well, most of the problem is due to riders not honing their skills on the Track! " :wink:

Foo
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human909
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby human909 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:14 am

I don't race, but for what it is worth these are my thoughts.

Arbuckle23 wrote:I have a little conundrum.

I find that I am having thoughts on taking up racing with the local masters club. Crits and road racing.
But I am torn between thinking it might be a bit of fun, or that once I start it will take over my enjoyment of purely, "just going for a ride".
I suppose I mean that at the moment I just ride to enjoy and get/keep fit, do the occasional Fondo and just do what I want when I want.
My worry is that by racing my whole focus may shift to this I will lose (over time) the enjoyment of just riding.

What have others found? Does it enhance your riding enjoyment or eventually detract from it?
A reminder that I am 60, so no delusions of grandeur :D


Depends on your risk appetite and your desire for competition. Personally I have no desire to make cycling or any of my other main sporting interest competitive with anybody else but myself. To me it would take the quiet enjoyment out of it.

All that said I do love some competitive sports/games. I only occasionally partake but when I do it is damn fun. Aka soccer or many other team sports. I even dusted off a chess board over the Christmas break in a country Tavern. One pint turned into many and best of 3 turned into best of 7! :mrgreen:

Nobody wrote:
Arbuckle23 wrote:A reminder that I am 60, so no delusions of grandeur :D

I suppose another question to ask yourself is, how well do you heal at 60 yo?
Meaning it only takes one big off and you could be off the bike for months or more. I had a mild head-on just riding on the bike paths causing soft tissue damage to one elbow. It took about 4 months to heal. It's still a bit "clicky" 6 month later. I'm 50 yo this month.

I think this is a pretty big consideration.

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warthog1
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby warthog1 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:28 am

I have done the racing thing but am finished with it now.
At 49 yo I'm well past my mediocre best and cbfed with the time and training required to do it properly.
I have teenage kids who are far more deserving of my time than the self indulgent allocation of it that racing represents to me.
I am over the inevitable knobs that you come across who are racing for sheep stations in a local club race. FFS it is a bit of fun and it ceases to become that for all around you if you start yelling at people.

Thee are some very good young riders where I live so I just go on the odd fast bunch ride.
Most of the benefits of competitive riding without the angst :)

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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:48 am

Raced yesterday, had a bit of fun in a small grade, was stronger than I though I was. Will need to go up a grade for next race, that grade tends to have more competitors as well.

Have thought long and hard and taken on what others have said.
Will keep going and if I stop having fun, or if I think that the risk gets too much , I will stop.
The social atmosphere at the club seemed good, that is one thing I like.
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foo on patrol
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby foo on patrol » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:42 am

Unless you won it easily, don't be in a hurry to go up a grade, learn the art of tactics in a bunch and how to ride within the close confines of bunch riding. :idea:

Foo
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Arbuckle23
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:02 am

I won easily, felt guilty.
Will learn more and gain skills in a higher grade I think.
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g-boaf
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby g-boaf » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:20 am

Arbuckle23 wrote:I won easily, felt guilty.
Will learn more and gain skills in a higher grade I think.


The problem with going in a higher grade is that you might be spat out the back or struggling to stay with them and that won't be helpful either. But again if you can just ride away from the others then you clearly can't be in that lower grade either.

You'll probably get forced to go in the higher grade regardless based on that. With more people in the higher grade, you'll probably find it more interesting.

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CKinnard
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby CKinnard » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:51 am

If going up a grade, here's some really important points:

- ALWAYS protect your front wheel. don't overlap unless unavoidable when braking.
- ALWAYS be conscious of having an exit from your current trajectory, in case of the unexpected in front. i.e. be planning to pull left or right into 'relatively' clear space.
- be aware of where risk is likely to escalate i.e. in the last 1-3 km of many crits, the speed can pick up and guys start jockeying around to get better position, then the last 500 meters is where most crashes happen as every idiot starts to sprint for the line. if someone on the front suddenly dies and doesn't pull to the side, then you have the whole pack trying to get around him and that's dangerous.
- know what to do in the case of the unexpected : a crash in front, someone beginning to cut across your path, someone beside you clashing bars/pedals or pushed by others into you.
- be aware grabbing a handful of brake at any time is going to result in guys running up your a$$....so if a crash happens in front of you, try to go around it rather than brake hard straight into it. bunny hopping skills are also handy when there's men down in front.
- PRACTICE advanced bike skills. looking around behind you while holding a straight line (over the shoulder and under your arm). You always want to be aware of what's happening around you before doing something innovative. bunny hops. high speed braking. Most masters riders I know never practice this stuff, and therefore are ill equipped when the unexpected happens.
- amazing at it is, masters riders are pretty ignorant of the value of aerodynamics and sit up high on the bike. If you are going to attack, then you need to get as low as you can.
- practice breakaway tactics. rolling over the lead with one or more others. get to know your limitations for doing so. understanding your power curve is the smartest way to do this. each rider has a variable optimal time they can make high efforts interspersed with recovery. some might need to roll over every 30 seconds, others every 2 minutes....and some might be able to sustain it for 3 minutes vs 15 minutes.
If you want to race intelligently, you need to understand your potential, and that of your competition.
- get to know your capacity for crossing to a break, better still, position yourself so that if someone goes off the front, you can go with them (and work with them). Keep an eye on the pack to see if they respond. In lower grade racing, race craft is low, and often the pack doesn't respond to an attack. So breakaways can be more successful than the higher grades. And everyone respects those who have the kahunas and smartz to pull off a breakaway. if one attack doesn't look like it is gonna work, fall back into the group, and try again later. You don't learn unless you risk blowing up or losing.

Arbuckle23
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:54 pm

Understand all of the above.
But I do need to move up the one grade. I was too strong for the grade I was in.
There is no challenge and it is unfair on the others.
I don't care if I get spat out the back or come last, it's all part of getting better.

As I said earlier, if I find I feel the risk versus reward is too much on the risk side I will bail out.
Doing this for fun, I will be watching what goes on with those who let their ambition exceed their ability.
And try not to be like that myself :D
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Comedian
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Comedian » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:25 pm

In my opinion crit racing is pretty much the most dangerous thing you can do with a bike. Road racing is definitely somewhat better but it's still pretty risky.

The downside of the crashing is bike damage. You need to factor this in. If you can afford to loose it then don't use it. If you insure it make sure racing is covered. One local racer here is currently on her third new bike in 12 months! Miraculously she's not seriously hurt herself though which is great.. :shock:

Arbuckle23
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:22 pm

Comedian wrote: If you can afford to loose it then don't use it.


I come from a motorsport background, If you can't afford to bin it, don't race it is a term I know well.
We have always used the quote "win or reshell" to urge ourselves on :D

But I can't see myself taking it that seriously (yet :lol: )
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ironhanglider
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:38 pm

So what grade did you start in?

Cheers,

Cameron
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fat and old
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby fat and old » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:34 pm

Reading another site, somebody commented that they could see Zwift taking over from real crit races due to safety concerns of the people who race. At first I laughed, then thinking about it I could see the reasoning. Do the racer types see any future in this?

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andrewjcw
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby andrewjcw » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:16 pm

Taking over? No not really. It might become more popular in it's own right but it's different enough I don't think it would ever 'take over'. For any of that to happen good trainers need to get way cheaper. If you could get a tacx neo ($1,700 AUD) quality trainer (reliable power/no calibration) for $400, and the developers actually supported the competition (as opposed to Zwift developers which are somewhere between couldn't care less and hope the community develops it for free).

At the end of the day though no software can simulate aerodynamics or bike handling or pack dynamics which are really big parts of what makes real crits what they are.

Arbuckle23
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Re: To Race or Not?

Postby Arbuckle23 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:23 pm

ironhanglider wrote:So what grade did you start in?

Cheers,

Cameron


F Grade. Will go E next time.
The crit course rolls faster than my normal home circuit, so the average speeds recorded in the SMCC results page are higher than I thought even allowing for bunches rather than solo.
I am hoping to progress and get faster by racing. We will see, no expectations, just want to have fun and get faster.
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