How long to be a credible Cat 4 or am I just crap (road content)

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  • How long to be a credible Cat 4 or am I just crap (road content)
  • Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Too much rest and not enough long rides.

    A crit is an hour so that leaves time on Sunday for a 3hr ride at a steady pace. You don’t batter yourself that much in 1hr of racing to require a day off. If anything you need to get out and spin your legs.

    Same before the crit – too much time off and then expecting your body to cope with an hour of max effort. You should easily cope with a couple of hours on Thursday at least, even if it’s just commuting by bike.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Easier said than done with a professional job and two kids. But bid squeeze in more rides if I’m WFH or have a day off.

    bikebouy
    Member

    It is a tricky regime that K, but agree you do need some mileage in your legs, y could supplement one of your intervals for a longer ride perhaps. Looks like it’ll be at night so go somewhere in the lanes of hills and make a loop of about 15k and do it twice then time yourself and set intervals on the loop(s)
    I have a favourite loop for just this type of work, bike in the van 15mins to the start of the loops, bike out, warm up15mins then set off. I’m lucky it’s quiet and I know the lanes well so I can hack sharp corners and descents to shave a few seconds off.. I get out at 7 and back in at 930, eat then bed. If your kids are tucked up already you won’t miss them..

    Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t fulfil this type of training in, just do what you can..

    😐

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Sure. It’s just a desire to do the right thing to be fitter and stronger.

    It’s a windy day tomorrow but in have the day off, so I’m trying to decide whether to do a long turbo tempo session or metric century in the wind. I hate wind…

    Train your weaknesses race to your strengths.

    Take the wind on.

    I’ll echo what others have said.

    Race Saturday
    3 hours Sunday
    Rest Monday
    Long intervals Tuesday
    Short intervals Wednesday
    Long intervals Thursday
    Rest Friday

    ollie51
    Member

    Sat: Crit
    Sun: Rest
    Mon: Intervals, 15 mins warm up, 4 x 2min powerintervals, 8 mins rest then 9 mins over/under (2 mins under, 1 min over x 3)
    Tues: rest
    Weds : Intervals, 15 mins Z2 warm up, 30 mins Tempo, 15 mins Z2 cool down
    Thurs: Rest
    Fri: Rest

    I see more rest days than training days, I genuinely think you could easily be a reasonable crit racer on 5-6 hours of training a week, but you need to do more and it needs to be intense stuff (it looks like it already is).

    These are 1 hour long bike races, it just isn’t necessary to train for more than 2 hours on any given day, sufficient yes, but necessary, no. If you think that’s necessary, you’re misinterpreting the demands of crit racing.

    Maybe chuck in a 90 minute tempo ride the day after the race, if you’re not up to that, a 2 hour level 2 ride is better than nothing.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Well ollie51, until this week I was doing 3 x per week if the type of interval indicate on “Monday” above, plus a club ride.

    However, there is summary at the end of a plan – which I’ve reached – which tells me to back off and recover for 4-6 weeks, I’m worried about losing my fitness and gaining weight as I’m not a naturally strong rider and have races through to The end of March. The plan above is supposed to be me resting a bit – replacing 1 x intensity with tempo – to reduce the toll on my body.

    Interesting quote from joe friel re distance work for crits with reference to the last 5 weeks pre crit:

    During these five weeks, keep the volume of your training low. The emphasis must be on sprint intensity. Piling on the miles will only detract from the quality of your anaerobic endurance workouts while providing no greater fitness.

    Kinda goes against the advice above….

    crikey
    Member

    Just thoughts based on the way I used to train…

    This time of year was always just riding, no racing. Traditionally big ride at the weekend, usually on a Sunday, which would be 60-70 miles occasionally with a café stop. I did some of these with others, and some alone.
    Monday would be a rest day.
    Tuesday was a ride of about 40 miles in the evening after work, steady at this time of year but not hanging about.
    Wednesday an evening ride of about 2 hours.
    Thursday rest.
    Friday either pub or another 2 hours.
    Saturday 2-3 hours.
    Sunday as above.

    Continue until the clocks changed, then chaingang on a Tuesday night, which was 2 hours through and off at 20-30 mph with a big climb at the end.

    Winter is for piling on the miles, being sociable, getting positions dialled, working on technique, losing weight, climbing in silly big gears..

    Come March it was racing as much as possible.

    I used to aim for about 150 miles a week in the winter if possible, then up to 250 in the spring.

    Various silly rules; no shorts before Easter, no big ring until March.

    It can be a long season, you’re not going to race it all without putting some steady long rides in, learning about peaking for events, targeting events and doing fast work only on top of a good base.

    Oh and you’ll never ever ever get away from 3rd and 4th cat racing without learning to sprint.

    Interesting quote from joe friel re distance work for crits with reference to the last 5 weeks pre crit:

    During these five weeks, keep the volume of your training low. The emphasis must be on sprint intensity. Piling on the miles will only detract from the quality of your anaerobic endurance workouts while providing no greater fitness.

    Kinda goes against the advice

    Not really, Joe Friel is the master of training in blocks of specificity. Before those 5 weeks mentioned he would have prescribed a number of 4 weeks blocks looking at base, strength, intensity etc.

    That advice would also be aimed at someone aiming to peak for one or two specific races in an entire season, that’s how his plans work.

    So whilst undoubtably correct when taken in context, it falls over when cherry picked out of context.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Crikey my “season” is dictated by school hols. E.g. I’m intending to enjoy myself on a beach in August, with my last sportive ending late July and the Bonty 24/12 done.

    Hence starting earlier than March, but also starting early to get experienced before road races in May/June/July. I’ll be riding crits until end April then road races / mtb endurance until end of July. I want to avoid burning myself out also.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Not really, Joe Friel is the master of training in blocks of specificity. Before those 5 weeks mentioned he would have prescribed a number of 4 weeks blocks looking at base, strength, intensity etc.

    Yes but I’m between crits on a weekly basis, and what I’m asking in a round about way, is that having ended my training cycle, how do I continue to train without killing myself. I think the answers are above – add some base miles.

    ollie51
    Member

    Well ollie51, until this week I was doing 3 x per week if the type of interval indicate on “Monday” above, plus a club ride.

    However, there is summary at the end of a plan – which I’ve reached – which tells me to back off and recover for 4-6 weeks, I’m worried about losing my fitness and gaining weight as I’m not a naturally strong rider and have races through to The end of March. The plan above is supposed to be me resting a bit – replacing 1 x intensity with tempo – to reduce the toll on my body.

    Interesting quote from joe friel re distance work for crits with reference to the last 5 weeks pre crit:

    During these five weeks, keep the volume of your training low. The emphasis must be on sprint intensity. Piling on the miles will only detract from the quality of your anaerobic endurance workouts while providing no greater fitness.

    Kinda goes against the advice above….

    What Friel says is logical and proven by science, I would heed his words of advice.

    The issue with rest weeks, particularly scheduled ones, for amateurs with full time jobs is that aren’t really necessary, your job and family will probably provide them for you, in a more ad hoc manner.

    If you do feel absolutely done and in need of a week of easier riding, don’t be afraid to take it, being over rested is much, much better than being under rested.

    Just to add worthless comment whilst I sit watching yet more rain and feel the need to blow smoke up my own arse, a few years back I entered my first cat4 road race, had previously only really ridden road on my own. Rode 42 rolling miles there, it was a flat crit 1hr +5, stupidly went of the front from the gun, stayed away for 40mins got swept up by bunch for last 20 then won the sprint. Boom Cat 3 straight off. Luckily wife picked me up!

    cynic-al
    Member

    Kryton57 – Member
    I hate wind…

    Road racing is about suffering. Learn to love the pain.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    This

    Fantombiker – Member
    Although some of these races are supposed to be 3/4th cat, its quite clear that there are much better riders involved sometimes and there is no equal standard. Either they’ve dropped down from 2nd cat or want to stay at 3/4 to just beat up everyone. So, if you get dropped in a race, put it behind you and aim for the next one.

    . I

    …I’m finding hard because this

    coopersport1 – Member
    Just to add worthless comment whilst I sit watching yet more rain and feel the need to blow smoke up my own arse, a few years back I entered my first cat4 road race, had previously only really ridden road on my own. Rode 42 rolling miles there, it was a flat crit 1hr +5, stupidly went of the front from the gun, stayed away for 40mins got swept up by bunch for last 20 then won the sprint. Boom Cat 3 straight off. Luckily wife picked me up!

    …happened this weekend – one of our club members on his second ever race. Brilliant news for him, but mentally tough for me (I didn’t rave this weekend but still).

    Premier Icon flange
    Subscriber

    Chap – without wishing to sound harsh, you’re not really listening to what folk are suggesting and in your last post coming up with a lot of excuses. There’s some pretty handy road riders on here that know quite a bit about racing. Listen to what they suggest (there’s a common theme) and stop making excuses. There will always be quick riders trophy hunting. It’s a rare race where it’s a level playing field. You can do pretty well in 4th cat races on very little fitness if you just position yourself well in the bunch. Work on this, the rest will follow..

    mtbtomo
    Member

    Why do you want to race?

    I do the odd race (running, biking, duathlon, whatever) for the fun of it – the hustle, the thrill of the chase, seeing how fast I can go, maybe competing with a few mates, whatever. I don’t care if some people are there just podium hunting or way fitter cos I know I don’t really really care enough to put the extreme training effort, preparation and dedication in to be at the front.

    Why is it mentally tough on you that someone else is able to ride off the front of the the group to win? What does that matter? Why do you think you should be able to do this? They might just be the next Bradley Wiggins. It might be such a person has better genes, trains harder, is more rested on that particular day, so many reasons.

    At the point where you’re finding not doing well (and others doing better) more demoralising than a challenge to do better – is it worth doing?? Where is the enjoyment if it makes you fed up?

    TiRed
    Member

    I think that is the biggest question. Why race? Several of our club have started in Cat 4 and made it in one or two races. These are young, strong riders who train with the fast chaingang and, unlike me, are not dropped! But if your only ambition is to be Cat3, then I’d say forget it – you’d be there by now. If you want to learn to ride in a group properly, learn to read a race, attack or block, be competititive (which does not mean being the only guy in the picture) and finish top third in a field of 60, these are worthy objectives.

    I started racing late, gradually made it to top third in Cat4 and masters, but still the jump to top 10 regularly is tough. That comes from either guns of steel, or more realistically, racecraft. I see riders in our series post top 10 one week and 23rd the next. It is competitive. But it is great fun. Readjust your motivations. For me it’s getting new riders racing. I don’t worry about them being faster than me. Talent will out. But they still need to be taught what to do when they have a mechanical in the bunch at 26 mph.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Those last posts and particularly mtbtomo’s first para are very useful, thanks.

    I guess I just want to prove to myself/friends/colleagues that I can be good at something and in my mind “being there” isn’t as equivocal as “winning”. However as mtbtomo says, I need to front up to the realism of having a very committed job and a a family whilst being in my mid 40’s vs any realism that somehow I need to be a podium level racer, at the same time not being naive to the many reasons for not being top 3 or even top 10.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Just been thinking about what I just said; I can sum it up better with my whole life psychology – I’m just not comfortable with being average. Although in reality I probably am.

    Ah well.

    Haze
    Member

    I’ve just done my first two as a 4th in my 40’s, finished 8th in my first and nowhere in my second.

    The difference was a moments inattention on a very windy day, I ending up working far harder trying to get back on than it ever was sitting in the top 10 and eventually cramped through the effort.

    I pretty much expect things like this are going to happen from time to time…

    oldgit
    Member

    Nothing wrong with being average, that’s what I am. You can still be a good racer.
    Obviously I’d like to be known as a prolific winner, but I’m not. So I’d rather be known as a good rider/racer than a here today gone tomorrow winner.

    I’m probably a bit or crikey, mtbtomo, TiRed and a few others. For example I’ll never ever bother to try and race at National Champs level again, that really wasn’t worth the effort and huge amount of time it took out of my life.

    Edric 64
    Member

    So did you get a ride in on a windy day or not? You mentioned a lack of time but then a day off and considered not going out because of the wind !!On days like that ride out into the wind hard and turn for home with the wind at your back ,even pick a destination for a brew as an insentive

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Edric no – I woke up very tired and not motivated to ride most of the day at all, so readjusted and did an hour on the Turbo. I didn’t do my normal intervals though, I rode tempo at low cadence with 20 second full on sprints every 5 mins. Seeing as I lack power – I’m a shocking climber – riding in such way is supposed to build strength so I thought I’d try to address it by introducing this tempo ride twice a week.

    Also I’ve got a club ride Sunday so I’m adjusting my style a bit to chase or ride with the good riders/ riders on the front rather than sit in, and use it as an extended training regime aka 80-100k road race sim.

    Jase
    Member

    Didyou see its now 12 points to move up to Cat 3.

    dragon
    Member

    If it were me unless I was short of time at the weekend I’d bin the crits for now and do club runs instead. That way you’ll build endurance and speed. Plus probably learn how to suffer for long periods of time. Then if you do a Tuesday and Thursday turbo session that’s probably the best part of 7-8 hours on the bike, should be enough for 3/4 racing. You are never going to be able to cope with the folk who don’t work and ride all the time, so forget about them and just enjoy it.

    TiRed
    Member

    Did you see its now 12 points to move up to Cat 3.

    Yup. Two Cat4 races now, not one 😈 . LVRC never looked more attractive 😉

    dragon
    Member

    Do the points need to go up to 3rd cat matter much though?

    Most races I ever did were 3/4 anyway, and less often 2/3/4 or even E/1/2/3/4. I was never interesting in chasing points, just having fun, so never raced a 4ths only. I can’t sprint for toffee (being more of climber), so never had any great results, but had a few top 15s in 3/4 races and could always finish in the bunch. For me the hillier the course the better, which unfortunately for me was very rare in 3/4 races.

    Haze
    Member

    I’m racing on a provisional at the moment so no points, just for experience.

    Committed to two more then it’s club runs and reliabilities while I decide whether to race people half my age to get to 3rd, or go down the LVRC route.

    As Dragon says most races seem to be 3/4 anyway, so the only advantage in getting to 3rd is having the pick of E/1/2/3 races as well?

    mrblobby
    Member

    Just been thinking about what I just said; I can sum it up better with my whole life psychology – I’m just not comfortable with being average. Although in reality I probably am.

    Ha, this sounds very familiar! I’m slowly getting accustomed to the idea here. With second kid on the way in a week or so, hitting 40 last year, niggling injuries, a fairly demanding job, and no time to train or race mean it’s really not possible to be anything but. Going to have to be content with being average for a few years now.

    As Dragon says most races seem to be 3/4 anyway, so the only advantage in getting to 3rd is having the pick of E/1/2/3 races as well?

    Which as a 3rd you’re unlikely to get into either early season as the organiser will prioritise higher cats.

    mtbtomo
    Member

    I had to google LVRC….I have a few years to go yet 😉 …..but in my mind racing in itself is a good motivation with the effect of getting fitter, quicker, stronger more healthy….and hopefully this will all pay off right into old age. I can go further, see more things in the world in less time.

    If I can be as quick year on year then its a good and hopefully not too mis-guided feeling that age isn’t yet catching up with me just yet.

    All in, if you’ve got a good job, kids, life outside biking plus you’re fit enough to race, then that’s way above average. What about those with no job, no kids, not fit enough to even get on a bike?

    That said I haven’t done any crits yet and the vaguely sadistic intrigue might well wear off once I cross that start line 😉 The other sorts of races I’ve done don’t sound anywhere near as tactical, intense or with so much etiquette.

    bikebouy
    Member

    K, forgive me and tell me to piss off but…

    I used to be Cat2 and semi pro back in the day (late 80’s/early 90’s). Believe me I was average, very average, fit but average. My role was to get the sprinters to the last 5k then I could die a death, which I did on many many occasions and my results were shite because of it.
    I loved riding, loved racing and loved being with my mates, loved the environment and loved the training and competition.. I call my self a grinder/rouleur (to this day), I can climb well but not fast, I’m no whippet and struggle(d) sometimes pulling off the front for any longer than 3-4 miles without anyone else taking the lead but I churned it out day in/weekends out.
    I went through training regeimes and diets and mental training until it came out of my arse and sweat off my back, I tried everything to be at the front and bloody win something. Nearly every 4th/5th race I’d hatch a plan and pop off the front to see if I was “allowed” to win something, I got caught on every occasion and believe me it damaged me mentally. Even the team I was with hoped I would once be able to pull it off, but to this day I’ve only ever won some very low level races and for years then & after I’d beat myself up for “not making the best of what I had, or did” ALWAYS looking for another way of training and racing.. It was turmoil, ever decreasing circles and as time went on neopro’s would turn up and the racing got harder and harder and I started to target races that were too technical for the young’uns, but still nothing..So I quit, the team folded and I went on my merry way.
    I was glad because I could NOT fit all that in with a Job and a Bird and a House (which incidentally suffered because of the mental angst I emmitted). After 5 & 1/2 years at it I chose to give it all up and rideout on my own for “FUN”. However that didn’t last long, I gave up riding bikes very shortly after because I’d had enough of them, to me they became a tool of torture and the other riders just punisment junkies.

    I stepped away and returned to sailing again.

    Then, one day an old riding team mate called at my house (12years ago) and brought with him a spare bike and suggested we ride out in the New Forest. Ok I said and finally hopped back on much to his laughter and jibes as I adopted “the position” I’d not lost the feeling of riding nor the clunk of gear changes nor the wind on my forearms, but I had lost the mental angst that I carried around for years.
    So, so I adopted a mild acceptance for riding again, used it as part of training for sailing fitness and windsurfing. As the wind and rain hit the coast I’d be out arsing around on the water with not a care in the world for riding. Gradually though the bug started to bite back and I have been riding consistantly and in mild training again for a number of years, however I only rideout with one mate now and only entered my first “race” (that being the SS event Charlie did last year) and had no intention of “racing” the fact that I’m a fit sod meant I pleased myself with riding in a group and assessing fitness again, it brought back some very mixed mental messages I can tell you.

    I’m not one to say “back off” and “kick back” sod that, go for it, but please..

    Do not beat yourself up over it.

    Monologue over 😆

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    I used to be Cat2 and semi pro back in the day

    forgive me and tell me to piss off but… that all seems rather excessive for a 2nd cat!

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Dragon – I’ve been riding with the club rides for a year now.

    MtbTomo and bikebuoy – thanks, that’s helped with some perspective. I agree racing is a good motivator to be fit lose weight etc and that is a part reason to be doing it.

    During the summer I did a long turn at a club ride at a constant 23/24mph, with some seriously good riders behind me. I felt good, fast and like I was doing a Job for the club. A while later while waited for a group we’d dropped, the chap behind patted me on the shoulder and said “good that, well done”. I loved the recognition that I’d done something good on a bike and I guess that what drives me. I too am racing with the club in LVRC so as said, I will continue to learn my trade in the bunch, do my work for the team where appropriate and maybe one day I’ll get a notable result against my name to grin about.

    I guess one other thing that bothers me that despite a shortened rugby career, then so far 17years on bikes I’ve not anything to show Kryton Jnr’s 1&2, the former is old enough to know I race and helps me / is exposed to the bikes but I’ve no idea how to explain why I having nothing to show for it. I guess I’ll work it out.

    Le Rouleur – exactly how I’d describe myself.

    winterfold
    Member

    8.8 km in 14 minutes. So 25 30 for a 10 – two up?

    I dont think that’s quick enough really, not without a lot of nous…

    dragon
    Member

    But you do have plenty of things to show for it, enjoyment, fitness, team spirit. Remember there are normally something like 80 riders on a start line and only 1 can win.

    Riding club runs for a year isn’t all that long in the scheme of things. I still think at this time of year you’ll get better fitness gains from club runs as opposed to one hour crits. Focus your attention on starting to race in March.

    mrblobby
    Member

    but I’ve no idea how to explain why I having nothing to show for it.

    What dragon said. You have the enjoyment of riding and racing to show him (assuming you do actually enjoy it 😉 ). If you can instil that spirit into your kids then job done. It’s a bit of a cliche but the taking part and the enjoyment of it is the most important thing whatever level you race at.

    oldgit
    Member

    How old are you Kryton57?
    There was a post about giving changes a little longer, I tend to agree. Personally I give it a year, if it goes pear shape I change the following year.
    Also being happy to be a good average racer I don’t bother with any systems. plans or devices. If I do I adapt them to suit myself.
    I find just having the will power to really work when I am on my bike pays off, to the point of never wanting to sit on a wheel should it make life easier.
    You’ve done LVRC haven’t you? It’s not an easier option as many think. Ride in the 40 years and up and you’ll likely be racing a fair few 1st cats as there are no categories. The good thing is there are no points, so it’s racing for the sake of racing.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    forgive me and tell me to piss off but… that all seems rather excessive for a 2nd cat!

    I dunno, there’s quite a few 2nd Cats in the domestic pro scene now – riders on development programmes, riders coming up through the system, domestiques etc.

    I was in a similar situation 10-12 years ago – had a good sponsorship deal (frame plus trade on parts), doing loads of racing both road and MTB at a good level (lower end of 1st, upper end of 2nd) but as bikebouy says, the effort and sacrifice needed to stay there is considerable. I was working shifts at the time so had loads of time to train, ride and race but eventually I looked back on another season of trawling up and down the country to National Series MTB races, getting top 20 in Expert MTB or mid pack in E/1/2 road at best and just thought “why?”

    I mean, on the way up (Sport MTB and 3rd/2nd road), I’d won/placed a fair bit here and there but after a while the enjoyment just wasn’t there anymore.

    Now I’m back down at 3rd Cat, have nothing to prove anymore so I do about 5-6 races a year just for the fun of it. If it gets to the point where you’re chasing the number on a licence, when you’re “training” because you have to train rather than because you want to just ride, that’s the point to take a step back.

    That said though, racing is not all about fitness at all, it’s one of those skills that develops over time so don’t get too disheartened early on.

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