Long drives for races - how far is too far?

Without it being an overnight trip I seem to start to rethink at a little over two hours. I tend to do gravel events that take me 3-4 hours and there was one yesterday that was 45 minutes further away than a great race I did earlier this year and it just sounded like a really long day so I opted to stay and just do the usual group ride.

Getting up horribly early before a race seems fine because my sleep before an event isn’t great anyway, but the crampy drive home late in the day can be a lot.

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In my tri days I would do stuff like this for half distance + events where I was training for months on end for this one specific event, similar to how you have been working toward Lutsen and Leadville.

As a roadie it’s a lot harder to justify driving more than 3hrs each way for races considering around here there are 2-3 accessible races each month. And as others pointed out, crits are different than longer stuff.

So I think it very much depends on the type of event we are talking about. 3 hrs for a 45 min crit? Probably not. But for a 2 hr proper road race or TT maybe (because those are more rare!)

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Maybe take an A, B, C Race approach?

A unlimited
B 600km
C 60km

Or whatever

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We’re lucky to have 1 a month unfortunately.

It’s funny, because one of the reasons I was thinking of driving was because it’s a crit (2 races, cat 3/4 and 2/3). We have 1 true crit and another crit/ciruit race (it’s a 1.4 mile oval with no actual turns so I hesitate to call it a crit) all year. The 4 other races we have are all road races. And the two crits don’t offer any overlapping fields to double up on races (e.g. 3/4 and 2/3). So 6 total races within an hour drive all season. Maybe 2 or 3 others that are about 2-2.5 hours away. The racing scene is terrible here. So it’s not a super important race, but I’d double the number of crits I could race by driving to it.

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Yeah back in the times where I did multiple crits in a day I would drive more. These days it seems my eligible races are back to back unless I want to do the pro field late in the day and more often than not I just don’t want to be there all day long. I’ve done races back to back before and normally the second one is a fairly miserable experience. :rofl:

TBH I’m not a big time crit guy anyway.

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Longest drive on paper was 8 hours each way a couple of times but both those trips were long weekends visiting my brother and sister in law who just happen to live literally right on the course for one for Tour of America’s Dairyland crits. Actual time from “home” to start line was less than 2 minutes.

2-3 hours is about tops for me unless it can be rolled into a weekend away with the wife.

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As a general rule, I won’t drive much longer (time) than the race will take me. Although I did once drive almost 2 hours each way for a 1 mile race (about 8 minutes). But that was on Southend Pier which is a fairly unique place to run.

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i won’t really drive for crits anymore, and I start to question my life choice when the first digit in travel time is a 6.

That said, driving 12h for a road race then gravel race the next day, and hyped to split it into 2 six hour drives and ride in two very random places along the way!

trying to find more adventure outside of just the races helps me palate it all

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I used to go up to 3 hours in New England to road races, but I was in early 20s with no responsibilities. I’ve got kids now so that’s a hard no, although I’m contemplating a 10hr drive this fall for a CX weekend! I’m living in a spot now that mostly all races are 2hrs away. I haven’t done any yet, but it’s the only choice and not an easy one.
If you’re young and free go for it. If your older like me, maybe consider doing some gravel races to at least make the drive work it in ‘time on the bike’.

Reviving this thread because I have a similar question. There’s a three day, four event omnium this coming weekend that’s 8 hours away. Too far? I can double up on the crit, so 5 events total plus an overall omnium competition. Just having some doubts about driving 16 hours round trip for like 4 hours of racing. Thoughts?

To add, one of the reasons I’m wanting to do it is that the crits and circuit race have 70+ racers, with 50 in my omnium category. Meanwhile there is a semi-local race (1 hour away) that has a total of 4 people registered in my category.

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Having given up so much for my career and now watching our parents slowly die (2 losing their minds and the other 2 just withering away) I say now is the time to do the things you want to do. Yeah the drive sucks but, not living life sucks more. Race it. Good luck!

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Sorry to hear that. But I really feel your point. I don’t want to work myself into the ground and then look back wishing I raced more or did more cool events when I was young and fit. Actually just had a conversation with my wife about this and me wanting to cut back at work so I can have more free time to ride and race. And I’m actually not sure when I’d get another chance lime this with my current work schedule to drive down and race it. Thanks for the pep talk.

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Can you make it a fun 3 day (or longer?) weekend getaway with the wife? Totally worth the drive!

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Possibly. She might have to work but I’ve tried to get her to come down. Would definitely make the car trip easier.

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We had that conversation and it was agreed I could retire early. We moved to the country. No more stores, just chores. She wanted to keep working but after 8 years she is probably not going back to work. Too much fun stuff to do.
I say do it.

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I would drive 2-4hr one way to do long hilly races back when I was really into racing (and younger, single, and childless). Now with kids, I’ll only do CX up to 1hour away. I like the ‘ride as long as you drive’ policy

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I’ve never understood the rule of thumb to drive as long as the race. It doesn’t make any sense to me. The equation should be: do you want to do the race more than the drive or total time is a negative?

If there’s an incredible 1h event 3h away and you have a once in a lifetime chance to race it and your family can accommodate it then why wouldn’t you?!

Driving 8h for a 6h race is more ‘selfish’ then driving 3h for a 1h crit if you have family commitments in my view. Not saying that anyone shouldn’t do that though - I’ve driven 1400km each way for an event and just made a trip out of it.

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If im training 10-12 hours a week, this fitness needs to be used. I will drive 8 hours for a race.

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To be honest, one of the reasons my wife and I don’t have kids was to be able to do things like this. Not race bikes specifically, but be spontaneous and just be able to go have fun without worrying about any commitments or responsibilities. She’s always been supportive of my racing so she’s fine with having a quiet weekend to herself if she can’t come. And I’m not leaving her with any extra work.

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Yeah things were certainly simpler before we had kids! But I also think more parents need to do the things they enjoy rather than ruling too many fun things out. My wife is amazing at supporting me in doing my racing and other things that are important to me, and I try to do the same for her. Otherwise life just becomes stale and a grind through work.

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