Anyone can become an A grade rider?

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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby sogood » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:57 am

foo on patrol wrote:I've seen blokes that did plenty of training and still couldn't ride out of sight in a blizzard and this was club level...

There are training and there are training. Of course, there are qualifiers eg. Smokers with shot lungs need not apply.
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by BNA » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:17 pm

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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby PawPaw » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:17 pm

I know a lot of 35+ guys who started in D grade, and managed to advance to C grade after 10-15 hrs/wk training, and big wt loss....but they'll never make it to B grade.
Maybe the OP could ask his mate if he believes if any younger guy can make it into A, can any guy 35-50 make it into B. The proof is 'no'.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby find_bruce » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:06 pm

Hi Ross, if you want to stump your mate, ask if a person with a disability would be able to become an a-grade rider.

The answer is that it depends upon the disability - are you talking about someone who has asthma, one leg shorter than the other, cerebral palsy, is visually impaired, an amputee or has a spinal cord injury.

To those people who think the answer is obvious, consider that Michael Milton is a far better skier than the vast majority of people with two legs, or that Matt Cowdrey can swim 50m freestyle in 25.28 with one arm.

As a species, humans like to classify things so that everyone falls into nice neat little boxes, tall or short, thin or fat, able-bodied or disabled, even male or female. The reality though is that every aspect of human physiology and behaviour falls on some form of bell curve with outlyers at either end.

Kids are a great example - the best 13yo is often not the best when they get to adulthood. The AIS for example look carefully at physiological suitability for the sport, not just current performance.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Brenchen » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:50 pm

This is an interesting thread for me. Even just to listen to the explanations and discussions presented.

Music (particularly piano) is a big thing for me. It comes in two parts, mental and physical. One can eventually get really good technically wise given that they start young, but they are playing the notes - even they want to play the "music", vs another who are not as good technically, but can produce "music" without thinking about it.

When it comes to riding, I see if you have the motivation and determination, train hard, you can get good, but the question of whether there is a limit of "good", or how "good" you can get, I guess from the publications can show that they are determined by your genetics.

My question further is, how do you know your limit? Medical predictions? Experience with proper training? Push yourself to the limit? Or combinations of all, and possibly plus more?
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Nobody » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:08 pm

Brenchen wrote:My question further is, how do you know your limit? Medical predictions? Experience with proper training? Push yourself to the limit? Or combinations of all, and possibly plus more?
I believe you can get the sports testing done. A long time ago, a guy that worked at my work was a previous junior Australian champion (don't know what year or even remember his name). He took a couple of months off work to do extensive training and as far as I know, got the tests done. I heard from a colleague at work (a friend of his) that he didn't have the potential to be a pro, so didn't bother chasing it.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby rogan » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:51 pm

There are A Grades and A Grades. So let's say a club with flat or fairly flat races, where you need to be able to average 41 to 43 km/h to hold on. Even then, for example, Heffron is harder and significantly slower than Penrith Lake or WSID.

My thoughts are that people who say "anyone" can get into (for the sake of argument) club level A Grade are people who have done it themselves. Cycling is an activity in which, any reasonable level of training and application leads to big and noticeable improvements in racing early on. A person who has experienced that, and at the crest of the bow wave got themselves to A Grade or higher will feel that anyone should be able to do the same. People who have never got up to A Grade are far more skeptical. The only people who have ever seriously tried to get to A Grade have at least some aptitude and ability. So it's a bit self-fulfilling. There are quite (IMO) clearly body types that no amount of training could get into A Grade.

Blokes like this:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/23/120723fa_fact_bilger?currentPage=all

Some people, without being "unfit" in the normal meaning of that word have a natural weight of 150 kg. Some people have very poor aerobic capacities. I reckon that if you took the general population of males at 20 y.o., about 60 to 70% would be able to make it to A Grade with the right training. Plainly, not all of them would have the right attitude to execute that training, nor the application and tactical nous required to do well enough in lower grades to get the promotion. I consider lower grade racing necessary - much A Grade racing requires execution of racing skills. No point turning up with a VO2Max of 90 but no skills.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby ni78ck » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:58 pm

in our boutique training group, we have 4 guys who race A grade. 2 of them are almost 50 and one of them wins most of the time at heffron :shock:
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby vander » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:33 pm

PawPaw wrote:The proof is 'no'.

I am sorry there is no proof there. I will say it again most people dont know how to train.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby vander » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:35 pm

rogan wrote:No point turning up with a VO2Max of 90 but no skills.


With a VO2max of 90 at local A grade you wouldnt need skills you could probably just timetrial yourself to victory.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Peacewise » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:28 pm

Nobody wrote:I heard from a colleague at work (a friend of his) that he didn't have the potential to be a pro, so didn't bother chasing it.

The AIS said that to squash player David Palmer when he was young and up and coming, Ais turned him down for a scholarship.
Palmer got (another) private coach and went on to be Australia's best squash player for about 10 years, winning world titles and opens.

The mystery is in the psychology I reckon, rather than the physiology. Told "not good enough" = "I give up", well that's a lack of perseverance, determination, self belief and so on. These are absolutely essential in elite sport and strongly consistent with A grade performance.

Ultimately my opinion is so full of bloody qualifiers it annoys me to write it down, so I won't.
but to keep the ball rolling...

yes, any appropriately trained person can reach A grade.
Keep flexing, spinning, rolling, coasting, pushing, pulling, drafting, sprinting, time trialling, touring, climbing, descending, hot dogging, crit-ing, racing, weaving, dodging, dropping, tanking, chasing... but most of all - just keep f'ing riding!
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby ozstriker » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:14 pm

I am very interested in this thread.

IMO a few of the comments on here have been confusing professional with A grade, although i dont think 'everyone' could get to A grade, i think the vast majority of people could.

Some obviously will require more work than others, the factors that i think contribute to this is.

How long they have been riding, you may have a rider that appears to not train as hard as others yet they have more than likely been riding for 15 or more years, so they have a really solid base.
Beginners should understand that it usually takes a good 3 years to build a good base to work on, so slogging your guts out for a year training hard wont get you there.
The quality of peoples training, going out and smashing yourself 5 days a week with no structure is pretty useless.
I think alot of riders probably think they are putting in 100% during interval training but if they were really honest with themselves, they could probably go harder.

While it would be great to get to A grade, it will usually be out of reach for a lot of people not due to lack of natural ability more so due to lack of time, work commitments, kids, poor quality training, bad nutrition, bad recovery.

Disclaimer: This is 'IMO' in my opinion, i am not qualified at all on anything remotely sporty. But have been a fitness freak most of my life. :P
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby steve-waters » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:35 pm

Ozstriker nor are the majority but to me that is what makes this interesting.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:15 pm

Surviving in your average club A grade 1 hour flat crit isn't too much of a measure to accomplish given time and determinaton... winning will be a different matter even at club level ( if you have a normal size 30 plus field ).
Power to weight is a much better measure ... if my FTP is roughly 360w for an hour now at 90kgs - my power to weight is 4w per kilo. When I hit my goal weight range I might have as good as 4.5w per kg, but that could be pushing it a bit. I am racing A graders now that I know are over 5w per kg, I have to pick and chose what races I do now just to survive, no amount of training / dieting will ever get me up that high... but I am having fun surviving all the same. Plus all the really fun races I do have proper climbs in them ... no amount of skill will get me up a 4 km climb with someone pushing out nearly a watt per kilo more power than me.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Brenchen » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:34 pm

toolonglegs wrote:Surviving in your average club A grade 1 hour flat crit isn't too much of a measure to accomplish given time and determinaton... winning will be a different matter even at club level ( if you have a normal size 30 plus field ).
Power to weight is a much better measure ... if my FTP is roughly 360w for an hour now at 90kgs - my power to weight is 4w per kilo. When I hit my goal weight range I might have as good as 4.5w per kg, but that could be pushing it a bit. I am racing A graders now that I know are over 5w per kg, I have to pick and chose what races I do now just to survive, no amount of training / dieting will ever get me up that high... but I am having fun surviving all the same. Plus all the really fun races I do have proper climbs in them ... no amount of skill will get me up a 4 km climb with someone pushing out nearly a watt per kilo more power than me.


May I ask what is FTP?
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby sim-o » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:40 pm

Take me as an example. Ive been riding with a B group at the local shop that averages between 33-35kmh over 60km, with some longer stints at 40kmh+ near the end.

Most of these guys are 10-20 years my senior and when the pace gets high, im usually one of the first that struggles and gets dropped. The next interesting thing is that while I'm training 6 days a week with intervals etc, some of these guys only get out 1-2 days and yet are stronger than me.

Ive only been riding for a year, and i have seen some reasonable 1-2kmh avg speed gains in the 20k TT. But does my poor performance in the group ride make me a "non-responder"? Am I wasting my time with training?

My training has been more TT focused, but surely given my consistency of training I should be expecting more in the group ride? Thoughts?
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby ozstriker » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:45 pm

sim-o wrote:Take me as an example. Ive been riding with a B group at the local shop that averages between 33-35kmh over 60km, with some longer stints at 40kmh+ near the end.

Most of these guys are 10-20 years my senior and when the pace gets high, im usually one of the first that struggles and gets dropped. The next interesting thing is that while I'm training 6 days a week with intervals etc, some of these guys only get out 1-2 days and yet are stronger than me.

Ive only been riding for a year, and i have seen some reasonable 1-2kmh avg speed gains in the 20k TT. But does my poor performance in the group ride make me a "non-responder"? Am I wasting my time with training?

My training has been more TT focused, but surely given my consistency of training I should be expecting more in the group ride? Thoughts?


read my post about 3 up, i answer exactly this.....

it will take you a good 3 years to build a solid base, definitely dont give up yet
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby PawPaw » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:46 pm

vander wrote:
PawPaw wrote:The proof is 'no'.

I am sorry there is no proof there. I will say it again most people dont know how to train.


Vander, get one of your 50+ C grade club members, who has been racing for at least 3 years, does 10+ hours a week in the saddle, and who can average a max of 37kph for 30 minutes on your local crit track. Then prove to yourself your belief in training, by getting his 30 minute max average up to 40kph.
I can tell you now the majority of C graders will never do 40kph for 30 minutes.

Your view is essentially the same as saying anyone healthy can bench 110kg, 7 times, consistently. Hopefully, that's something you can relate to better.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby vander » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:15 pm

PawPaw wrote:
Vander, get one of your 50+ C grade club members, who has been racing for at least 3 years, does 10+ hours a week in the saddle, and who can average a max of 37kph for 30 minutes on your local crit track. Then prove to yourself your belief in training, by getting his 30 minute max average up to 40kph.
I can tell you now the majority of C graders will never do 40kph for 30 minutes.

Your view is essentially the same as saying anyone healthy can bench 110kg, 7 times, consistently. Hopefully, that's something you can relate to better.


I believe I could if they followed a training program I wrote, maybe someone better to comment on this is Alex who would of seen many people coming through.

On your second point I have seen a number of people go from 50-60kg up to 100+kg bench from not training to training. I have also seen a fair few go from 80 or so kg training poorly and eating poorly for a couple of years to 100+kg with as little as 6months of good training.

Edit: I must just hang around with people that are naturally gifted at sports.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:34 pm

If we take the average physiology for young healthy males, (e.g. averages for VO2max, gross efficiency and % of VO2max sustained at threshold), then we arrive at a power to weight ratio of ~ 3.9 - 4.0 W/kg. Naturally some will be capable of more (fewer much more) than that, and of course some will only be capable of less (some much less).
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby PawPaw » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:58 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:If we take the average physiology for young healthy males, (e.g. averages for VO2max, gross efficiency and % of VO2max sustained at threshold), then we arrive at a power to weight ratio of ~ 3.9 - 4.0 W/kg. Naturally some will be capable of more (fewer much more) than that, and of course some will only be capable of less (some much less).


Allan and Coggan's Race Category table has an FT range of 3.5-4.0 w/kg for US Category 3 racing.
Cycling Tips website recently blogged about the lack of objective criteria for Australian gradings, and commented that Cat 3 is similar to Club A.

Now all we need is the p/w ratio std deviation for young healthy males, and we can establish how close to 50% of males have <3.5w/kg, and therefore would not cut it in A grade.
Last edited by PawPaw on Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:01 pm

Many Cat 3 US riders could probably sit in an average Aussie club A grade quite happily.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby PawPaw » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:04 pm

toolonglegs wrote:Many Cat 3 US riders could probably sit in an average Aussie club A grade quite happily.


which is what CyclingTips says.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:10 pm

PawPaw wrote:
toolonglegs wrote:Many Cat 3 US riders could probably sit in an average Aussie club A grade quite happily.


which is what CyclingTips says.


Do you just add that :lol: .
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:11 pm

PawPaw wrote:
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:If we take the average physiology for young healthy males, (e.g. averages for VO2max, gross efficiency and % of VO2max sustained at threshold), then we arrive at a power to weight ratio of ~ 3.9 - 4.0 W/kg. Naturally some will be capable of more (fewer much more) than that, and of course some will only be capable of less (some much less).


Allan and Coggan's Race Category table has an FT range of 3.5-4.0 w/kg for US Category 3 racing.
Cycling Tips website recently blogged about the lack of objective criteria for Australian gradings, and commented that Cat 3 is similar to Club A.

Now all we need is the p/w ratio std deviation for young healthy males, and we can establish how close to 50% of males have <3.5w/kg, assuming we've got a normal distribution, and therefore would not cut it in A grade.


I think the point being that the average rider could (if they did the work), but there will be some that simply do not have the genetic gifts to ride at that level, no matter how hard they worked.

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Nevertheless, do not set limits, one can always improve and racing (and winning) is more than about your power output.
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Re: Anyone can become an A grade rider?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:13 pm

toolonglegs wrote:Many Cat 3 US riders could probably sit in an average Aussie club A grade quite happily.

I'd go along with that.

The US Cat system is a little closer to our open gradings, not club level gradings.
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