Is this a typical road race?

Hey guys, I just did my first road race. Coming from MTB and CX, I have to say I’m not sure I’ll do another one. I was a bit spooked by all the crashes and ambulances…

I put some of my observations in a video I made and wanted to find out if you guys think this race was just a fluke or if this is typical?

Would Masters have been that much different than the Cat 4/5 I joined instead?

It was also pretty “surgey”… again, not sure if that’s a Cat 4/5 thing, middle of the pack thing, or just typical. It did keep things interesting on a long ride though!

Any observations in general are appreciated as well!


I would think the 35+ race would have been safer, and probably smoother.

I think road races with large fields on narrow roads like that with a center line rule can be tough. Everyone gets packed in so tight.


Coming from cx myself, now I’m scared about my upcoming first season of road racing!


Riding into oncoming traffic with 4 or 5 strangers on your right, squeezing you into the yellow line? No thank you!

That didn’t look like fun at all!


Could you have moved up closer to the front when you were “cruising” to try to avoid the braking?


I actually originally signed up for the Masters race but chickened out because it was Cat 3/4/5 Masters or “just” Cat 4/5… It definitely sounds like I should have stuck with Masters. Thanks @Nate_Pearson!

I’m starting to think that maybe this shouldn’t be considered a typical road race -

1: as long as you sign up for Masters instead of Open 4/5 and
2: maybe it isn’t typical to be riding on tight roads like this?

I’m sure you’ll be good @onemanpeloton!

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Ya, it felt sketchy to me, but being my first road race, ya don’t know what ya don’t know… ya know? So, in the road races you do are the roads generally completely closed? Or just wider?

Hey @russell.r.sage, I could have pushed my way up I suppose, but being my first road race, I was really just trying to get the feel for how things flow, how people move together, etc… so I wasn’t really trying to fight for the win or anything on this one.

Sounds like being mid-pack vs being more toward the front can be a fairly dramatic difference though, so IF I ever do a road race again, I’ll definitely keep that in mind, thanks!

Our Road Races in Florida are similar with the centerline rule. If you ride mid pack you surge all race. I typically stay at the pointy end to avoid surges and crashes.

Next time try the masters race for a tad bit more race control but be warned some of the guys could be on the next level with fitness and experience.

Keep grinding :slight_smile:


You do an inside pass at 10:20 that made me suck air through my teeth. Isn’t the saying “inside = suicide”?

Other than that, great video, good commentary, and you did a billion times better than me on my first road race. What’s your FTP, by the way?

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@Majoeric that’s the balance I was trying to figure out when I changed from Masters 3/4/5 to Open 4/5 last minute.
I was thinking it might be more controlled, but that I might end up riding with Open 4/5 anyway (they were starting 10 minutes after Masters 3/4/5) if I couldn’t hang. Turns out the Open 4/5 was a bit faster than the Masters anyway in the final results.

I think I know exactly which one you’re talking about! It just seemed so wide open, which was rare, but ya… I probably shouldn’t have touched it!

Oh, edit - thanks for the compliment on the video! I’m hanging right at 300, but I’m 190 lbs, so…

The surgeyness is normal for 4/5 races. In the video, I’m also seeing a lot of riders making lateral movements and not holding the wheel in front of them which can be common and is the thing that scares me most. If you weed out the Cat 5’s, things tend to feel immediately safer.

If you stay at the front of the race more, you can carry your momentum through those little hills and it will encourage others to attack or pull through which can help you save energy and keep the pack moving.

If you can get the races under your belt to upgrade to Cat 4, I think you will feel a lot better about road racing. Picking masters races might be a good way to help you upgrade safely. I’d say give it a few more tries and see how you feel.

Great editing/commentary for your first race, btw! You learned an important lesson in lap 3 when you got dropped - as soon as you let that little gap open up, your race instantly gets WAY harder (and lonelier!). Staying towards the front of the pack will also help you avoid being dropped.


99% of every road race you enter will have a centerline rule with open roads. Unless you get into crits.

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My road races cat 4 are like that. For me, I work to stay in the front half of the race with the stronger more confident riders. Usually the last laps get really tense as people get nervous!


Great advice @mattymurda, thanks! If I do another one, it’ll definitely be a Masters Cat and try to hang more toward the front.

So, basically you’re saying this is typical for Cat 5 as far as organization and tactics. How about crashes? Do you see many in your races or was this a fluke?

Edit - oh and thanks for the vid compliment!

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agreed; you’re riding too far back, and that makes it more surgey. if you’re closer to the front, but not ON the front, it’s much smoother and less of a rubber band effect.

35+ will be much harder and smoother, both good things!

go back again!

For a first experience at road racing, I’d say you did quite well! Your experience is not at all atypical in lower categories. As has been said, the closer you are to the front of the race, the smoother it will be. And the less likely you will be to get into trouble. It takes time for most people to develop the confidence to get to and stay at the front, so don’t think it has to happen overnight.

Typically riders of higher category are more smooth, so if you have the option to race “up,” do so. There were some serious sketch-balls in your race.

And the rider that nearly took out a rider from a different field is a jerk. Don’t be that person. Ever.

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So, basically you’re saying this is typical for Cat 5 as far as organization and tactics. How about crashes? Do you see many in your races or was this a fluke?

Thinking back when I was a cat 5, only 1 or 2 out of the 7 or so races I did before upgrading had a crash. There are a ton of variables that can influence this so tough to project out but that crash at the end of your race looked pretty gnarly - not typical in my experience.

Crashes are part of racing, but I think most people have a pretty safe track record.

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