Sure, I said “would not advise” and cited the circumstance and rational why one might consider if “sprinting” for a non-placement is the right thing to do You are welcome to disagree and knew when I wrote the words that someone would decide to debate it.
FWIW, this sprinting from a dropped group, or anywhere in a field where you aren’t in contention for a top placement, has changed over the years. It used to be that if you were out of the placements (and dropped is out of the top placements as described by the OP) then you rode through the line and lived to fight another day. IF you didn’t, you’d catch hell from the more experienced racers. More recently, people have decided to “sprint” for the highest position they can achieve. Typically in the lowest categories. Which speaks for itself as you say.
Anyway, just giving the OP something to think about.
Long term, you tend to race with the same folks. At some point, it’s useful to be known as a good guy to be with and around in a group.
My attempt to bridge the second time, I expected the other riders to hang on my wheel as they did the first time when I bridged. Maybe if I had warned them first or did a slower ramp up, they could have or the one guy wouldn’t have acted so negatively. But I think the expectation was that I should settle and just work with them now rather than attempting to make the bridge a 2nd time (kinda like what you are saying). In hindsight I kind of wish I had just gone for it but that may have made me some enemies, if I had made it… it probably would have only netted me at best a top 5 instead of 7th but would have really liked to have at least finished with the front group. A couple of friends podiumed and I know they can tear my legs off so wouldn’t have out sprinted them. I was probably doing 2 to 3x longer pulls than the other riders but a couple times even though I rolled up smoothly they, it would cause seperation, I knew based on my ‘groupmates’ pace we were getting slower instead of catching the group which led the other 2 riders catching us. In past races in C I have been in similar groups off the front and have never had to hold back on my pulls, the group I was with included the race winners however, that would outsprint me to the line and then move up to Cat B (I never won a Cat C race).
I definitely probably looked like a newbie sprinting out of the dropped group, I am a newbie though really. Started mtb in 2020, road in june 2021, first races (1 road and 1 mtb) in 2021 and then have raced this full season of mtb and road. This was my first race moving up from Cat C to Cat B, so expected to be the weakest link. My goal was just to stay with the group, was okay with being last just wanted to finish with the group (wasn’t expecting the group to split apart). So I would say I come off in general as a Fred (in the try hard sense), I seem to be the only one who uses TR in the summer that I know and do stuff like sprint for 7th place lol. Big picture I don’t overly care if I seem uncool cause my peers likely don’t have a positive or negative opinion they probably aren’t thinking of me at all. If I hadn’t sprinted for the line and finished 11th instead (with the 4 riders I was with approaching the line sprinting past me), I would have regretted it like I do not trying to bridge the 1st time quicker (like faster reaction) and not attempting the 2nd bridge at all.
As far as specific workouts and the power meter was thinking ways to almost build some more confidence in myself, like I’ve done efforts like this before and I can look down at my power meter and see I am doing a power that I can hold for so many minutes without blowing myself up trying to bridge up to catch the group. If the ‘reasonable’ power isn’t getting me there it would tell me I should abandon my attempt at a solo bridge and find some people to work with.
Yeah I’ve only had one win since I started racing, in 2021 we only had one road race and one XC race. I won in the Sport class of XC (my first mtb race) by 9 minutes, moved up to Expert in mtb this year and my best results have been 4th, my A race for XC I came 7th
In Cat C road, lots of podiums but always got beat at the finish.
All good. I mean it when I say good on you for pinning a number on and getting out there and racing.
As a smaller rider (I race mostly at 130-135 pounds and about 4w/kg), if it came down to a sprint then the larger guys have a sizable advantage. Most mass starts here (mid Atlantic USA) last about 1 hour to maybe 3 hours for a (very rare) road race and almost always come down to a field sprint. We lighter guys pretty much get tortured because the bigger riders have more total watts and the hills aren’t long enough, and the w/kg differential not large enough, to be a deciding factor.
As you move up the classifications it’s unlikely you’ll ever have a power advantage. So blunt force likely isn’t one of your weapons and you’ll need to be crafty and opportunistic. Disappear in the draft and be tenacious about not being dropped and always try to finish in the front group. That will give you a chance to be in best position to be opportunistic about gaining placements. If you do that, some wins can very likely happen.
An aside, sounds like your field sizes are fairly small? If that is the case, it’s a common tactic from stronger riders and teams to go fast out of the gate to shed as many other riders as possible. That can reduce the front group quickly. Once dropped, most riders will give up so folks still at the front have significantly increased their odds of winning.
I think it was the lack of total commitment here that irked the other riders. If you did a 100% bridge and failed you would have been dropped from the group when you didnt make it. So from their perspective you just wasted energy for nothing then sat on. This is fine its a race but it doesnt mean it doesnt annoy others to see such a newbie move. All good you’ll learn. Like @DarthShivious said this move wont usually work unless youre significantly stronger than the other riders which is less common in higher categories.
Not sure if I’m interpreting correctly but I did make the bridge the first time and the other 2 riders had followed my wheel for that but then the front group attacked again and we were dropped again but ahead of the rest of the field that didn’t make the first bridge. I then sat in behind one of the riders that followed me for the first bridge and then went to bridge a second time when those guys were unable to hold my wheel that time one of them (not the guy I sat in behind), yelled out. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the 2nd bridge but as a new person to the group I expected they were going to be able to hold my wheel again and maybe pull out around me and pull as I faded, working like that to bridge… On the first bridge, I committed and made it but only caught on for a minute or two before they hit again and dropped the 3 of us that made the first bridge. The only time I lacked total commitment was on the second bridge attempt but didn’t know I dropped them, I assumed they would have followed until the guy yelled out and I looked back.
My friend who won said the front group settled after the second attack so if I would have made the 2nd bridge, I likely could have finished with the front group. Like I said earlier though, although I would have liked to finish with the front group, my position likely wouldn’t have improved much over what I achieved.
Yeah this was only about 16 people I think, probably the worst turn out for the season as rain was in the forecast although it only showered lightly for a bit during the race. This was my main motivator to move up from Cat C which only had a turn out of 1/2 a dozen or so, with nobody in the field that had beat me at any of the previous races.
In all but one of the Cat C races a group went off the front, I would make that group but then get beat at the line everytime except for one race where I couldn’t make a break myself off the group and nobody else made a significant enough attack to separate from the group that I could go with so the group stayed together as like a dozen riders with only a few dropped off the back until the final climb where 2 riders who had stayed out of the wind most of the race while I spent a lot on the front wrecked me on the finish climb. I felt pretty dumb tactically for riding the front most of that race but it was the first race where there wasn’t that small group going off the front.
I guess im trying to understand how that worked, it sounds like you took a hero pull at only slightly higher power and not a real bridge attempt where you snap off the front. In that case they wouldnt have time to yell or for you to let up youd be gone already. Now if you expected them to go with you that should have been communicated since you were sitting on and that kinda implies you’re working withing their paceline at their effort level. You surged off the front from a working group instead
I definitely surged. I did expect them to follow as the guy I was sitting behind (green guy) came in 2nd at this race last year in Cat B (my first road race). I think I should have communicated, rather than assumed they would come with me again but not used to thinking about tactics really, my big thing this year I’ve been working on has been trying to stay out of the wind as much as possible. I think the power was significant enough though as when I did let off and look back (my skills are pretty low so have to let off to look behind) they were a similar distance behind as in my 2nd pic (the guy in the green and orange and white, not the 2 closest to me) the two furthest back in that 2nd pic were who I rode most of that last lap with after the group split, the two closest (guy in black and other guy on orange and white team) caught us and passed us near the end but I reeled them in passed them and then sprinted away near the finish, only rode with the guy in black and the other guy on the orange and white team (I reeled them in, passed and then they sat on my wheel) for the last few minutes of the race.
I’m at 3.77/213w as of my last AI FTP (in July), hoping to get up to 240ishW FTP by next season and be ~4.2 w/kg. I’m so small it seems like the w/kg isn’t that big of a deal because my absolute power in terms of FTP is so inconsequential. There are guys I can reel in and pass on a >5% climb but as soon as things flatten out a bit they can wreck me.
Yep totally fine, its part of racing. As is sour pusses. I think you just have to look back and ask yourself what your goal and outcome of your surge was. If it was to work as a group of 3 to bridge then some communication or a quick check to make sure they are on would have been prudent. Your goal was for the 3 of you to work together, and this tends to happen when you make it known. You can play mind games even if you think they are weaker, tell em you appreciate them letting you sit on now lets catch that other group or something along those lines. You might even convince them to take another pull to bridge.
That’s not necessarily the case. Points, bragging rights, personal rivalries, sponsor/team demands, year over year improvement, and the simple drive to finish as well as possible are all perfectly legitimate reasons to race until you hit the finish line. There’s also the fact that race leaders crash, blow up, dq, or stop being race leaders for a variety of reasons, and if you gave up halfway through the race, you aren’t in a position to take advantage of that.
It’s a race til it isn’t, and for me that means when I cross the line.
I get it, but you might be surprised. With experience and a better feeling for how races develop, how to use your energy, how to play off other riders, you can do well. Won’t win field sprints, but a bit more power from training, a bit of savvy of when to work and when to sit on a wheel, you can find the right moves, be in the right place for field sprints and get some results. Basically, get to a point where you are very difficult to impossible to drop. That set of skills and tenacity will let you punch above your weight.
Depending on what is available within a reasonable amount of travel for you situation, some races will be more favorable than others. It’s worth targeting those events for results and less favorable events for learning and sharpening skills.
In terms of training, something that might help is to work on 5-8 min power. FTP is an important metric, but there are times when you just need to go very hard for a shorter period and then recover. Shorter term power is trainable and will pop up nicely if you haven’t been focusing on it.
Good luck through the winter and into next season. Sounds like you’ve got your head in the right place to improve and get some results.