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Race Season Timing Woes and the Bike Racer Mindset (California need not apply)

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Race Season Timing Woes and the Bike Racer Mindset (California need not apply)

Old 03-02-20, 01:27 PM
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Race Season Timing Woes and the Bike Racer Mindset (California need not apply)

I've lived and raced in the PNW (MT, OR, WA) for most of my adult life and I can never get past WHEN the bulk of the road racing season is held. Our season was supposed to kick off last weekend (race was canceled) and usually goes through June, save for small weekly series races. If you've ever been to the PNW in February through June, you know that this is NOT the time you want to be doing outdoor activities. That being said, why the hell is this when the racing season is held? I've had races in MT shortened because of overnight snow dumps. Then promoters will act surprised that it snowed in MT in the WINTER. Oregon promoters get confused and frustrated when racers pull out or DNS March/April races when it's 40F and pouring. The race I'm hoping to do this weekend has snow predicted in the forecast. It's emotionally taxing to get hyped about a race only to have it get canceled/postponed/etc.

When I quit racing a few years back, I'd listen to my racer friends moan about the conditions of the races they "had" to ride in with freezing temps, rain, occasional snow, etc. Every time they complained about it, all i could do was think that I had made the right call in quitting. I hate being cold, I hate being wet, and I CERTAINLY hate being both at the same time.

The last race I did was in late April of 2017. It was a gravel race and the weather was dreadful. Almost 1/8th of the entire start list (all categories) DNS'd or DNF'd. I had gotten into a complex discussion with a teammate in the days leading up to this race about running full fenders due to the predicted conditions. I opted to go full-wrap fenders, as I figured staying that little bit warmer was worth the extra 2 pounds and increased aero drag. Most of the race was between 41-46F and absolutely pissing rain. I remember going up the final climb at a sustained 300W while shivering and unable to do simple mental math. I'd occasionally make a fist and squeeze a stream of water out of my "waterproof" winter gloves. I placed well at the race, but didn't even care. I was done. I went for maybe 20 rides over the next 12 months, and only when the weather was perfect. I did a post-race interview with the promoter and all I could muster up was "I'll never do this race again." ...needless to say, I didn't make the highlight reel.

I've chatted with a few promoters as why they hold races in the crappiest part of the year and I always get the same answer: "Nobody shows up to summer races." I asked why they think that might be. It's usually a mix of "family vacation time", "kids out of school", "too hot (lol)", or my favorite: "break before the cross season ramp."

What they never seem to address is what I (and most of my friends) experience: Burnout after training and racing in the most miserable conditions the entire year can offer. Am I part of a specific demographic that gets this,or does it happen to people outside of my circle?? Back when I was racing a lot, I'd reach mid May or so then check out. I was so tired of spending my weekends being soaked to the bone, then having to take the entire next day to try and salvage the remnants of my drivetrain, bearings, brakepads, etc. What do I have to look forward to after destroying my bike? A week of training in the shortass dark cold days leading up to another freezing bike-destroying race.

I posit that simply moving the PNW season back 2-3 months would see not only more participation, but faster racers.

/rant
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Old 03-02-20, 02:19 PM
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Can't speak to your situation. We also have an early season, but I'm in the Southeast, and truthfully, racing in July and August is miserable. It's just too hot. Additionally, cross has taken over road, and now the cross season starts in early August - so the late summer/early fall road races have all died as a result.
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Old 03-02-20, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
What they never seem to address is what I (and most of my friends) experience: Burnout after training and racing in the most miserable conditions the entire year can offer. Am I part of a specific demographic that gets this,or does it happen to people outside of my circle?? Back when I was racing a lot, I'd reach mid May or so then check out. I was so tired of spending my weekends being soaked to the bone, then having to take the entire next day to try and salvage the remnants of my drivetrain, bearings, brakepads, etc. What do I have to look forward to after destroying my bike? A week of training in the shortass dark cold days leading up to another freezing bike-destroying race.
I felt the same way. Glibly told to HTFU by guys who quit the entire sport a year or two later. Now I just do MTB/Gravel and wait to register a week out. More often than not I just skip the event but am still good for a few a year, if the weather's nice.
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Old 03-02-20, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I felt the same way. Glibly told to HTFU by guys who quit the entire sport a year or two later.
Right?! I have a friend that used to rib me about being a fair-weather rider, then quit riding altogether when his headset bearings locked up with rust and wallowed out the carbon headtube of his $8000 bike. He went back to ultramarathon running after that. Delicious karma.
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Old 03-02-20, 07:09 PM
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The race season in the north east kicked off this past weekend. It was in the 20s. I've regulatory raced in the teens, and post photos here of that great time we raced in an ice storm on the front edge of a noreaster. The blurriness is because I was hypothermic and shaking uncontrollably. The season here doesn't really break from summer so we race from march (feb this year) into september. But those sept races have been lost to cross, which is encroaching on august. Mostly it's about about available calendar dates, and other disciplines. For me I don't do those races any longer, so my season won't likely kick off until the first hill climb in May. I've long had this conversation, as to why we didn't race from April to October, but mostly promoters looked at me like I was an idiot. I lost track of how many races were canceled or series marred due to early season snow storms. I guess it is what it is.



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Old 03-02-20, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Can't speak to your situation. We also have an early season, but I'm in the Southeast, and truthfully, racing in July and August is miserable. It's just too hot. Additionally, cross has taken over road, and now the cross season starts in early August - so the late summer/early fall road races have all died as a result.
That doesn't seem fair -- isn't cross what you're supposed to do when it's too cold and crappy to race road?
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Old 03-02-20, 10:14 PM
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I wish I knew a solution for this Cypress. It has been debated many times. We actually had more races in early March in Oregon a few years ago - the Banana Belt series was the first 3 weekends of March (and was cancelled on more than 1 occasion due to snow), and Dirty Circles used to be a series of 3 races on consecutive March weekends and is now just 1 race.
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Old 03-03-20, 03:37 AM
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Netherlands does the same thing. training races start in february and the real racing starts in march. Consequently, people burnout by the time summer comes around most years. there are races all the way into september but the huge turnouts are in the spring and then it declines from there, going from 100+ riders down to 25 or so in september per category.

Generally, people are roaring to start racing because they have been training all winter. Then it turns out that these races in **** weather and lots of wind are hard. They don't get the results and slowly the motivation wanes throughout the season.
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Old 03-03-20, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by cmh View Post
I wish I knew a solution for this Cypress. It has been debated many times. We actually had more races in early March in Oregon a few years ago - the Banana Belt series was the first 3 weekends of March (and was cancelled on more than 1 occasion due to snow), and Dirty Circles used to be a series of 3 races on consecutive March weekends and is now just 1 race.
I remember getting muddier during a Heiser Farms circuit race than I ever did at a cross race. I think that was late February or early March. It was a P/1/2/3 race, so I had hella teammates there and we were all wearing baggy showers pass jackets to try and stay warm. It wasn't until we got into the team car that we realized that some of the mud was manure from one of the nearby fields.
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Old 03-03-20, 09:29 AM
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Californian here. We have the same issues, but tbf, our summer months are filled with Michelob Ultra auditions and sitting on the beach and waxing our surfboards.

I have both a like and dislike for it. Last year I raced in a 21f start time and dnf'ed because my lungs couldn't handle the cold. For the most part our winter races aren't nearly as bad, but we have a handful at elevation that present the same issues.

In regards to burnout; I've had it every year. For me it occurs when I take a long period off the bike (3+ days) and realize there are funner things to do, and the bike isn't as fun. This usually happens in the winter because the social element disappears (less group rides). I'll start playing a new video game and get hooked on it. This year it happened because I was training so hard, I was almost scared to get back into those types of workouts again. Its hard for 2 hobbies to coexist because I want to be competitive, and being competitive and having a diverse and varied lifestyle can rarely co exist.

The bad thing about the annual winter burnout is its probably cost me an upgrade, as I would be overweight and off form and wouldn't be competitive until the end of the season (August). Its not as bad this year but I probably wont be there til May.
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Old 03-03-20, 10:20 AM
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I thought we were banned from this thread.
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Old 03-03-20, 06:33 PM
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We have EXACTLY the same issue. Chicago. Gravel has already started. Road (crit) season starts in like 2 weeks. Runs every weekend from then through first weekend in June.

June is given over to ToAD (Tour of America's Dairyland) in Wisconsin-Chicago's largest suburb, and July is given to the same group with the Intelligentsia Cup. Yay we have 2 good series close to home but it absolutely destroys local grassroots events. Our Illinois Cup is basically over in May.

As a promoter - my date is slotted into the calendar and will never change. The village would never allow a date change at this point. Every other weekend is occupied.

The "pre-cross" ramp up is real. Our first cross race is in August. We have the second or third largest cross scene in the country. We are hosting nationals this year. It's a thing. No one give a flying f about road anymore it seems.

That said we are putting on an actual road race the first weekend of August this year. That should help push the season deeper. There are a couple of races after that but nothing big. Most switch to cross after Intelli. Those still racing road will hit up the Gateway Cup in St Louis in Sept.

What this all amounts to is that my races in May have had sub freezing temps, rain, ice warnings. They have also been 90+ degrees. Our opener the last two years has been everyone in full winter gear. The old opener that I ran for a few years in the middle has been cancelled because of snow on the track that wouldn't melt in time. I have also watched the P/1/2 field race in sleet/ice/snow similar to Gary's pictures above.

Cross has moved to being held during the really hot August/sept/oct months. We often joke in the spring, "Great weather for a cross race" when at a crit and "great weather for a crit race" when at a cross race int he fall. It's asinine but it is what it is. Not going to change any time soon.
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Old 03-03-20, 08:27 PM
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Back in the day, New England racing was training races in March, and then Crits & RRs April - October.
Worked for me.
Not sure what the scene is like now.
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Old 03-09-20, 09:23 PM
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A lot of the season is to lead up to Nationals which is normally June/July...
I get that is a small % of racers, but that is part of the reason for it. That and to blend with the other discipline seasons. USAC lists 16 National Championships.
Many regional districts try to dove tail into them.
https://www.usacycling.org/events/na...-championships
Road:
Amateur Nats - June 25-28
Masters is a bit later July 30
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Old 03-10-20, 12:48 PM
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Early season race photo from Norcal/Oregon first race of the season is on the obra site: https://obra.org/. Brrr
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Old 03-10-20, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cmh View Post
Early season race photo from Norcal/Oregon first race of the season is on the obra site: https://obra.org/. Brrr
That's the race I skipped due to the forecast

I wasn't confident that they were even going to hold the race.
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Old 03-11-20, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by cmh View Post
Early season race photo from Norcal/Oregon first race of the season is on the obra site: https://obra.org/. Brrr
Gnarly.
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Old 03-15-20, 03:17 PM
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I always wondered about this when I race in Seattle.

In general it seems like people (racers & promoters) are antsy to get racing going by the time spring classics in Europe start, for whatever reason.. but yeah it would make sense to wait until late June, at least in Seattle.

The other part of this is for national-level racers, they can't wait until June to start racing. I guess it's up to them to travel for races but that's probably part of the pressure.
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