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Hang 5 07-04-19 03:40 PM

80's racer trying to get back into it
I'm a former Cat 3 from the early to mid '80's (qualified for 2, then got a real job). I've retired and been trying to get back into shape. Doing a couple group rides each week and tossing in intervals and a long ride on the weekends. I live in the southeast (GA/FL). I'd love to do some crits. Is there such a thing as a 55+ circuit? Back when I was racing, I could do two or three races a weekend. Doesn't seem like that's the case now. Thinking of Georgia State Games in a couple weeks.


Hermes 07-05-19 02:48 PM

Welcome to BF and welcome back to racing. First, I assume that you are still a cat 3 or USAC still recognizes you as a cat 3. Yes, there are Masters 55+ races. Generally, they are open to all categories or the promoter will specify. For example, there may be a 55+ open, 55+ 1/2/3 and a 55+ 4/5 or even a 55+ 1/2/3/4.

If you are still a cat 3 then you will have to race in the open or 55+ 1/2/3. Generally, there is no 55+ Cat 3.

The 55+ 1/2/3 will be a very hard race. There is not much difference between Elite 1/2 and the 55+ 1/2/3. It depends on the region and who shows up. And you can always race with the younger guys which at times is a better deal. Generally, the masters are a little smoother / refined but then again it depends on who shows up.

If you want more racing per week, you can race with the Cat 3 men, any of the younger masters categories such as the 45+ 1/2/3 and the 55+ 1/2/3, So depending on the timing of the races you could do three in a day or any combination thereof over two days.

And you can race masters age group category races at state, district and world levels as well as events such as the senior games.

In general, racing opportunities are being reduced due to a lot of reasons. But new racing opportunities are gaining popularity such as cross and gravel. IMO, this is cyclical and today, there is no catalyst to drive more USAC style racing and inspire promoters and new racers.

Also, check out the 33 which is where most of the racers are posting on BF independent of age.

Hang 5 07-06-19 05:38 PM

Thanks for the reply, both very helpful and depressing. I've likely got some work to do to hang with a Cat3 field these days. When I was racing there was a club time trial on Tuesday, Practice Crit on Thursday and two races on the weekend during the season. I basically did one or two days of training/week when things were on. I doubt there is any record of my old USCF license, and I don't have the paper anymore. Guess I'll need to climb up through the 5s. There's a Georgia state game next weekend which has a 55+ class, though it's the same start as all the Masters. Might try the crit and TT just for giggles.

I have a guy from my old team who is competitive and anxious for me to get back into it. He says there are so many people who are fit from indoor training, but have no pack sense, that he's wanting someone to work with that knows how to lead out.

I used to be OK at cross, but trying not to have a zillion bikes. Had 4 back in the day, Crit, Road, Track and cross.

Just got some new wheels with a powertap hub, so will try training with power, yet another new concept.

Again thanks for the reply.

Hermes 07-07-19 09:25 AM

My suggestion is to contact USAC and see if they have your license on file. That way you control where you want to race - to an extent. Starting over as a Cat 5 may preclude you from racing with the guy who is encouraging you to come back. You have to do 10 qualifying mass start races before upgrading to a Cat 4. Theoretically, masters racing does not allow Cat 5 racers. So it is a crapshoot if there will be a 55+ group that a 55+ cat 5 racer can race with. It seems to be less of an issue with time trials versus mass start racing.

And you can always downgrade to a Cat 4. I am not sure why you would do that other than to race is the limited number of 55+ 4/5 races that may be offered.

Hang 5 07-08-19 02:46 PM

Thanks again for the suggestions. I wrote an email to USAC to see if I still exist. I haven't seen too many categorized masters races in the southeast, except by age. Definitely would love to avoid mixing it up with a bunch of 5's 10 times before getting to race in my own age group. I'm likely another couple of months away from getting race fit, but I'm ok getting dropped in a crit or last in a TT to get a sense of how far off the mark I am.

Appreciate the replies.

cmh 07-29-19 03:18 PM

I'd suggest figuring out your local USAC, or other licensing organization and getting in touch with a few racing teams in the area. I would think I don't know what it is like in GA/FL, but here in OR there are a few weeknight races for most of the summer that are a good way to get back into racing, as well as pretty many (although declining) weekend crits, road races, stage races, etc... Here it is all on, and I'd expect you have something similar in your area. A team that has a decent number of active masters racers is going to be your best resource. They'll know what races are going on.

Welcome back to bike racing. I was a junior racer in the 80's the started back up again just before turning 40 (about 12 yrs ago now) and I still love it.

Hang 5 08-02-19 01:45 PM

So I was in the Boston area with my bike. I'm from that area originally and it's where I used to race. Rode in the Wells Avenue crit. It's a training race on Sunday mornings that has been running since the early '80's. They have a "B" field that is Cat 4/5 and I rode in that. Got dropped after 20 min and jumped back in after getting lapped. It's a dead flat course with pretty gradual curves. Could hang on a wheel no problem, but didn't always pick the best wheel nor stay far enough forward in the pack. The first turn after the start/finish is a easy sweeping and wide corner, but the back of the field would be braking which meant going hard to stay connected coming out, and that's where I got dropped. Speeds were quick and the pack tended to be narrow near the front, so it was hard to find a good spot to be far enough forward to be fast through turn 1. Think with a bit more HIIT under my belt, I could be in the mix. I'm pretty sure at 62 I was the oldest guy there by at least 10 years and well above the average.

All good fun, but not much like that in my area in Atlanta that I can find, except for group rides. The other depressing thing is that USA Cycling can't find any record of my old license, so it looks like I'm doomed to have to ride in a bunch of cat 5 races before being able to ride in the masters groups. Given that the year is half over, I'll likely hold off til 2020 to get a full license and see how things go.

tomgdaly 05-11-20 12:20 PM

I would suggest you start at the lowest category you can find locally and race to get upgraded. This might take you quit a while (or not, depending on your innate ability and how 'smart' you train, adjusting your approach to your age). You will probably then find age categories are regional, state and national championships, etc.
I'm not from the US but specialize in coaching older riders and write on aspecgs of it etc. It is my opinion that the standard is relatively higher as you get older - i.e. a much bigger proportion of the field is in top shape (relative to their age of course - the higher you go in the age groups, the more 'hard cases' you find in the bunches).

Trakhak 05-11-20 12:29 PM

Originally Posted by Hang 5 (Post 21014363)
I have a guy from my old team who is competitive and anxious for me to get back into it. He says there are so many people who are fit from indoor training, but have no pack sense, that he's wanting someone to work with that knows how to lead out.

So the guy from your old team figures that it's never too early to start the mind games.

Hang 5 05-18-20 05:47 PM

So epilog to the story. Florida had a few races before the whole COVID thing hit. They allow 5's in the 50+ masters, so that was my major concern solved. I did two events. The first one I signed up for Cat 5 RR, Time Trial, 50+ Crit and Cat 5 crit over two days. I got dropped in the RR. Finished two of three laps and wasn't last. Time trial, DFL (dead last) which surprised me as that was my strength back in the day, but whatever. Next day 50+ crit, dropped after a few laps, rejoined and finished with the field. 6th of 10 in 60+. Decided to do the Cat 5 crit, stayed in the field for half the race, got dropped from losing focus for a minute on a segment where I shouldn't have. Not last, but not great.

Did one more race just before the world got shut down. Crit only, 50+ and Cat 5. Got dropped in both, very technical course and not as confident as I was in my 20's. Felt like I was getting close however. Dropped most of the stragglers I picked up trying to catch back on.

There was a Florida State Crit that was supposed to be last weekend and it had a seperate 60+ field, no 50 yo's. I was planning on peaking for that and picking up one or two other races on the way and then that was the end of the world as we know it and everything was cancelled or postponed.

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