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Six consecutive weekends of racing: good idea?

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View Poll Results: 6 weeks of racing, what's your take
Do it to get more experience and become comfortable with descending
16
57.14%
No reason not to, as the training stress ends up being similar
10
35.71%
Don't do it, take a break and come back fresher
2
7.14%
Voters: 28. You may not vote on this poll

Six consecutive weekends of racing: good idea?

Old 03-21-11, 06:03 PM
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echappist
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Six consecutive weekends of racing: good idea?

Here's the back story:

The start of the year hasn't gone very well for me. And my placings have been 11th (out of 60), 28th (out of 80), and (17th out of 53). The worst part is that i thought i was really out of form going into the first race as i had three hours of sleep the night before yet made it with the winning break.

The last weekend was particularly bad as i got spooked by the sketchy looking descents and was not anywhere in position to contest the sprinter's hill. I spent so much time chasing back on after the descents that i didn't get to attack all race. As you can probably tell, my racing confidence is pretty shot right now.

For this upcoming week, i can either take a full recovery week, with some e-wang testing and VO2 max workouts later on in the week or i can try my hands on a 38 mile road race. As of now, i've taken a recovery ride Sunday and haven't ridden since, so i guess i can get somewhat recovered by the end of the week. The problem is, the following two race weekends contain my "A" priority races, and i wonder if it may be foolish to be racing six consecutive weeks. To boot, the last race (Yale) has some sketchy descents, complete with a traffic island and a few hairpins.

Any and all inputs are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by echappist; 03-21-11 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 03-21-11, 06:24 PM
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The races sound short, why not?

No better training for racing than racing itself.

Now, if you were saying "should I do 6 stage races in a row" the answer might be different.. but 1-2 races per weekend is pretty standard, and not overreaching at all. Of course, you may need to rest here & there during the week, but I wouldn't think you'd be toasted by 6 weeks of racing in a row.

Btw, your results don't seem that bad.. you're in the top half of results, probably just need to work on timing/placing in order to yield better ones.
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Old 03-21-11, 06:59 PM
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Didn't we determine that back to back weekends of racing are deadly ?

and

Back when I was your age, we raced every weekend from March through October (ok ... not every weekend) ... and we didn't have any of this new-fangled over-thought VO2-this, TSS-that

Get yer butt out there & race ! Was that helpful ?
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Old 03-21-11, 07:28 PM
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so you're concerned about yale, but not about the idiotic 9 corner crit RPI wants to put on? okay...
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Old 03-21-11, 07:46 PM
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i'm not doing that crit... taking the bus back to the city saturday evening.
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Old 03-21-11, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by thegunner View Post
so you're concerned about yale, but not about the idiotic 9 corner crit RPI wants to put on? okay...
What's wrong with a 9 corner crit? That sounds like all sorts of awesome.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
What's wrong with a 9 corner crit? That sounds like all sorts of awesome.

So does knife juggling.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
What's wrong with a 9 corner crit? That sounds like all sorts of awesome.
from what i've heard the roads are less than spectacular + it's collegiate racing... so yeah, knife juggling.
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Old 03-21-11, 10:19 PM
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Take your head out of racing/training for a few days, go ride but don't sweat the structure. 6 weekends in a row isn't a lot physically, but it can be mentally if you're not in a good place. If by Thursday you get that itchy feeling, go for it. If not take a weekend off and go do a ride that makes you feel like Superman. An "A" race is something you created, not something that a voice from the heavans commanded you to do.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun and not work. The training and associated stuff is hard enough that you should want to race without question.
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Old 03-21-11, 10:23 PM
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It's a good idea.

Also review your descending fears in a detailed and analytical way. Is it the straights? Corners? Tight corners? Sweepers? At what kind of speeds, like 40+ or 50+ or 60+ mph? Or 22 mph in a hairpin? If you know the course is it worse? If you get into a tough situation in an unknown turn (like you go in hot into a hairpin) can you recover?

Figure out if you're afraid of speed, cornering, or the pack.

For example I'm afraid of fast straights with crosswind gustiness. 55 on a fast straight is kind of high for me if I don't know the wind. It's slow if I know the descent and it's sheltered. Behind a truck? Fantastic. Alone, with traffic behind me? I hate it. Second wheel in a group? Love it. 10th wheel? Hate it. Etc etc.
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Old 03-21-11, 10:43 PM
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Do them and train your face off between the races. You'll come out flying.
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Old 03-22-11, 12:24 AM
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I did 6 weeks straight of racing earlier in the season (haha we've been racing so long in AZ already). I was pretty much the same way as you (minus the fears, I was just tired), and took a week to myself to just enjoy cycling again and did some routes I hadn't done since I had been training/racing so hard. Past 2 weeks of racing since have been much more enjoyable. Sometimes skipping a race weekend is not the worst thing, and it will pay off in the long run.
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Old 03-22-11, 01:11 AM
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yeah sounds like your legs are into it but your head is not. Is your stem have a rise? I find a level stem to be best for cornering. group practice rides help if you can manage.
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Old 03-22-11, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Bain View Post
yeah sounds like your legs are into it but your head is not. Is your stem have a rise? I find a level stem to be best for cornering. group practice rides help if you can manage.
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Old 03-22-11, 06:36 AM
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The best way to conquer your fears is to go at them head-on. Note that I have all of my front teeth so take this FWIW. What is it about descending that you fear, other than losing teeth? Are you worried about squirrely riding in front of you taking you out? If so, who isn't? The faster you're going, the farther up the road you should be looking. That way you will see the trend of the pack movement and have time to react. Give yourself a little more space if you need it, but less than a bike length.

If six weeks in a row is too much, like others have said, take a weekend off. Go on the Nyack ride or another group ride and have some fun. By the end of that ride I be you'll wish you had raced.

Best of luck to you. You're doing a lot better overall than you think.
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Old 03-22-11, 06:46 AM
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I remember the first time I raced the Morgul Bismark, there was a descent that had a full field of 75 Cat 4s doing 57-58 mph for one mile, into a hard 90-degree turn, for each of three laps. That was pretty scary, but everyone rose to the occasion, and we had no bad behavior.

You don't know when you're going to go down and get hurt. For me, it's in training, on a perfectly flat road, freshly re-paved, with no debris and no obstacles. Yet I somehow win a rainy downtown Cat 3 crit, sliding through corners.

Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
What's wrong with a 9 corner crit? That sounds like all sorts of awesome.
want

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Old 03-22-11, 07:07 AM
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iknorite?! hard race is haaarrrrrrddddd
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Old 03-22-11, 07:15 AM
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I would race. But then I would race seven days a week if I could.

It sounds to me like you're overthinking things. You, like me, are still relatively new to all of this--stop focusing so much on your results and try to enjoy it. It's not like you're getting shot OTB on lap one of every race, it's March, and the season is long.

But, at the end of the day, this is a hobby. If it isn't fun, don't do it.
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Old 03-22-11, 07:33 AM
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6 weeks of racing's not physically demanding, but as Ex said, it can be mentally draining. If your head's not in the game, take the weekend off.
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Old 03-22-11, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
iknorite?! hard race is haaarrrrrrddddd
Exactly. I don't win many crits, but I just love the hell out of the hardest crit in Austin (JJ Pickle). Eight corners, a sharp hill, descending corner. Huge potholes, gravel. It rained last time (attack anyone?!?). F-ing love that race. Both times I've raced it, we've shed 70% of the field.

Last edited by waterrockets; 03-22-11 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 03-22-11, 08:37 AM
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looking back at my 2010 schedule it appears that from april to august there were 3 weekends i didnt race.

i dont think i'm particularly extraordinary in that respect around here either.
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Old 03-22-11, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Exactly. I don't win many crits, but I just love the hell out of the hardest crit in Austin (JJ Pickle). Eight corners, a sharp hill, descending corner. Huge potholes, gravel. It rained last time (attack anyone?!?). F-ing love that race. Both times I've raced it, we've shed 70% of the field.
Yessssss I prefer them that way. Take that, wheel suckers! Feel the wrath of my superior FTP, swine!
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Old 03-22-11, 09:46 AM
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Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment. I don't happen to feel mentally or physically burnt out, but it's probably correct to say my expectations and my results aren't exactly lining up. Part of it also has to do with a bit of envy that teammates are doing really well while and are upgrading out of Collegiate C's while i stagnate there, but i have gotten past that.

I'll be noddling around today and tomorrow, ride in some less than pleasant conditions on Thursday, and give it a shot on Saturday. Small goal for now would be to ride the top ten wheels for most of the race on Saturday. Baby steps.

As for the things i'm fearing, it's probably descending on previously-unridden roads (even more so if it has sharp turns) and going into sharp turns in the presence of others. The latter is particularly frustrating as i'm pretty comfortable with >135 degree turns when i'm by myself. In a pack, i basically need to expend quite a bit of energy in order to get into good position, but i guess it's a lot better to burn a match to move up than it is to burn a match to latch on after the corner; however, if this is a feature of a crit, i'll eventually run out of matches to do anything else.

The other thing i'm uncomfortable with is moving up inside a pack. Most of the times, i move up on the side of pack shielded from the wind as it doesn't cost as much energy and i can do it fast. However, once i'm inside a pack, it's hard to maneuver (i guess that is probably a given). The other thing is to convince people to let me slot in after i have moved up from the outside, which, given my tendencies to move on the outside, is something i really need to work on.
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Old 03-22-11, 10:12 AM
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You might not make it.

May the force be with you!
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Old 03-22-11, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by mcjimbosandwich View Post
As for the things i'm fearing, it's probably descending on previously-unridden roads (even more so if it has sharp turns) and going into sharp turns in the presence of others. The latter is particularly frustrating as i'm pretty comfortable with >135 degree turns when i'm by myself.

In a pack, i basically need to expend quite a bit of energy in order to get into good position, but i guess it's a lot better to burn a match to move up than it is to burn a match to latch on after the corner; however, if this is a feature of a crit, i'll eventually run out of matches to do anything else.

The other thing i'm uncomfortable with is moving up inside a pack. Most of the times, i move up on the side of pack shielded from the wind as it doesn't cost as much energy and i can do it fast. However, once i'm inside a pack, it's hard to maneuver (i guess that is probably a given).

The other thing is to convince people to let me slot in after i have moved up from the outside, which, given my tendencies to move on the outside, is something i really need to work on.
These factors indicate to me that your sphere area (protective area around bars/front wheel) is a bit too big. If other riders, with smaller sphere areas, compete with you for space, they'll win. (Of course if you have a smaller sphere you'll be able to get spots).

If you decide to tailgun you shouldn't need to burn a match to get back on after a corner - you may even need to brake so you don't slam into everyone as they straighten out. If it's dicey up front (i.e. uncomfortable for the rider, you in this case) this may be a good tactic.

Moving up inside the pack requires a bit of patience. A lot of times you can't move. The bigger your sphere, the more limited your options.

If you move up on the outside then try and slot in, you need to find room. If you "make" room you end up the bad guy - last week some idiot was elbowing people in the Cat 5s at Bethel and ended up on the deck. You should be able to make subtle and effective moves to take and hold spots. If you can't you should work on them. Techniques for that... that's a 10 page post in itself.

The sphere shrinks as you get used to being close to other riders. Sphere-wise I feel pretty comfortable on my bike. I'm okay until it's a couple inches from my knuckles, maybe 4-6 inches from my front wheel. Tight is contact with arm/hand/shoulder or under 1-2" from the front of my tire, 1" from the side of my tire.

I sometimes try to get my tire between the rear der cable and the spokes of the rider in front of me, i.e. in the little U shaped area just behind the cassette, boxed in by the wheel on the left and the derailleur cable on the right. It's probably a 3"x3" square. To me that's tight - usually I do this on group rides, not races.

It also requires me to be able to recover if the rider moves right suddenly and starts to take out my front wheel. I am semi-confident of recovering at that extreme overlap (1/2 wheel), maybe a 50-50 chance of falling. With a 1/4 wheel overlap I'm pretty confident I won't go down, like 10% chance of falling. One or two inch overlap, not a problem.

So I'd rethink your approach to some of the corners, save all that moving up energy for more important parts of the race (like with 5 to go, but until then tailgun and coast back into the pack after hairpins, with the odd effort here and there to close a gap).

On descents hang off the back until it's closer to the end of the race, then move up and hold position just once.

I'm not a strong rider but I can place in reasonably competitive races. I have sometimes just one or two efforts in my legs - I have to use them very, very carefully.

This is where a helmet/bike cam would be handy, to review race footage to see where/what/when stuff happened.

*edit* if you ever need to resort to contact, you've already put yourself in a bad position. The only riders I know of that need to force by using contact are already in a poor situation tactically speaking. Good tactics means no contact necessary. You should know how to deal with contact since if you're in good position that implies that others are not, and they may resort to contact to force the issue. Contact is virtually never needed by a good rider in an offensive way; it's primarily defensive contact, like knowing how to bounce the guy back that runs into you full tilt to take your spot in line.

Last edited by carpediemracing; 03-22-11 at 10:47 AM. Reason: elbow comment
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