Hi Everyone, I know this question might be a bit ridiculous but what advice would you have for someone doing their first proper race season in a different country. I don’t have alot of race experience and would say i don’t have the best handling skills and can get a bit nervous at the end of races due to previous crashes. How should I race, what tactics should I use if I know I will have one of the higher w/kg.
Can you ride away from the field? If yes, do that.
If no, stay in the front third of riders, ride smoothly and don’t brake abruptly, and gain experience.
I think the answer may in part depend on the type of racing you plan on doing. Are we talking criteriums or road races? In a crit, a higher power to weight ratio isn’t always the deciding factor. Raw wattage/ repeatability and tactics general carry more weight. @Nate hit the nail on the head when he said a high FTP, combined with some repeatability and a good one-minute power can lead to great results.
What are your objectives in participating in this race?
Are you trying to improve your poor handling skills and overcome your crash nerves? Are you trying to win? Are you trying to improve your fitness?
Further - what type of race is it? Duration? Approximate course profile?
Whatever is around I guess, both crit and road. I’d say my repeatability really strong, my 1 min is not great but my 30 second is really strong. So could be interesting. I’m just not keen on the close racing in a crit.
Confidence and a result would be the main 2 objectives. I want to race at the higher levels i just get inside my own head. I want to race a few main races both crits >1 hour and road 3+ hours. Hilly mainly but crits are flat basically.
So…pack handling and skills are different than a good result.
If you want a good result you can try to brute force your way off the front on one of the hilly courses. You might be surprised at how hard this will be - even in cat 5 you’ll be racing against numerous people with 4 w/kg who are either dabbling in road racing or don’t know much about how to race other than trying to go fast. Definitely going to be your least tactics reliant strategy for a good result.
Slightly more tactics involved, but late moves - 1-5 minutes from the finish - can also be effective in lower categories. You’ll need to have a feel for the race to make this work, but probably the physically easiest way
As for confidence - you need to spend some time riding in the group and adjusting your position. This took me a really long time to master (some would argue I’m still kind of meh at it) as I waited until I was in higher categories to really spend time on it.
I’d suggest you spend the crits working on pack handling and moving around the top 5-10 riders in the field. Until you gain confidence and want to push yourself you could, with 2-3 laps to go, bail on the front half and either go off the front of the group with an all-in attack or just let yourself drop off the back. This is the really dangerous/aggressive time in a crit and where you will learn the most - but for a first race might be a bit more than you’re looking for
Speaking for the confidence piece… I’d try to do as much group riding as possible, preferably with riders of a higher skill level. Racing is a really hard time to get the ‘group riding jitters’ out since there’s so many other things to think about. It can also be pretty dangerous to those around you if your handling isn’t up to snuff. Usually this is just a comfort issue, and practicing in a group without the pressure of a race can do wonders. Once you’re feeling better, start with road races. Save the crits until you are feeling A LOT better!
Thanks for the run down, when the season starts id be suprised if i was under 4.8+ w/kg at 4000ft alt. I think i will be pretty carful and learn skills in the pack and try to get away at the end. That might be the best of both world to gain confidence and still try and win.
4.8 means walking the pack for Cat 5. Do you have power or is that number coming out of the thin air at 4000?
No I did an FTP test a few days ago around 4.7 and im 4 weeks into a 20 week training plan. good pun.
I would try to get in breaks. Your watts/kg will be good in this situation and it will provide a lower stress environment to learn the skills
If you’re in a new country, try to find a good group to ride with, preferably racers. That will help both with your group riding skills and give you a feel for how racing will be in that country. There might be slight differences.
When I was cat5, I was @ 4w/kg and was on the podium every race. But remember that w/kg doesn’t mean anything if the race is somewhat flat.
Also, is your ftp based on a step test or 20 min test?
Well thats promising, yeah i’m a smaller guy so not a monster on the flats. It was based off a 20 min test.
How climby is the landscape you race on?
I’d say rolling
With a watts/kg like yours, depending on which country you’re racing in, you might find that you’re upgrading quicker than your bike handling skills.
As has been discussed on the Podcast, it might be advisable to just ‘sit in’ for a couple of the races and really drill down on your confidence issues.
Keep in mind I also have a sprint over 1400w and a decent 1 min power. Those metrics were key in my success.
Don’t worry about success, go out and try some races. You might think one discipline suits you better but find out your better at another.
Forgive me but you don’t look like a huge human being. Hence, your high watts per kg might not translate to great performances for certain race formats (e.g flat stuff).
So for a proper assessment, it would be helpful to learn more about your power profile. Like what’s your top 60s, 5m, and 20m performance in terms of watts. From a personal experience that’s the real game changer.
Also, watts are just one part of the equation. Handling skills and tactics are at least as important. That’s something that comes with experience. So rather than playing the power card I would try to do a few races and do well with the lowest amount of norm. power possible.