9 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

I've never raced before and I figure it'd be fun to start.

I figure I might as well start during the spring race series in prospect park and central park in the category 5 group.

I'm just wondering what I should expect. Is even cat 5 fast or is it beginners?

thanks for your input.

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)
Take a look at CRCA.net website

You can find the race results of the Cat 5 races in Central Park. Check the finish times and compare them to your best lap times. When drafting, you can save about 20 to 25 percent of your energy.

I haven't raced because I can't maintain that speed right now. But, when I feel I can stretch to make those times, I may give it a try.


Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
jump in and try...

"...stay near the back and off to the side so you can avoid trouble (lots of squirrels in cat5 races - at least that was the case the last time i raced, about 10yrs ago). take some coaching so you know what to expect (bumping, overlapping wheels, regulating speed (nothing worse than a brake-happy beginner), etc.

watch a few races, then jump in. i was small and light (5'5"" @ 130lbs) and i was able to keep up with the cat5/cat4 (got dropped on about half of the cat3 races once i moved up). never got into a crash (stayed out of trouble in the cat5 races, moved to the middle in cat4 races and was clinging on for dear life on the cat3 races ).

learn to ride easy on recovery days (do some b/c rides on sundays to recover from racing). those who ride hard all the time don't race for long.


Anonymous's picture
packfill (not verified)
its pretty fast

I have done a number of cat 5 races in central park and prospect park. I would say that the central park races are a tad tougher. These beginner races are like NYCC rides listed A21+, if that means anything to you, probably harder in fact. Your ability on the flats is more important than your ability to climb any real hills. Put another way the average speed is about 24mph. Given the boost of drafting, this means that you should be able to maintain at least 20mph on your own--i.e. you should be able to break 36 minutes doing 2 laps in central park.
Besides the speed there is the skill of staying with the pack. This ain´t your NYCC paceline. There is a natural flow to the packs which naturally pushes you to the back unless you regularly move yourself up. Its good to practice this in a real race even if you get dropped before the end.

Anonymous's picture
Hire a real bike messenger. (not verified)

The only part of these courses, PP and CP, would give you troubles is those bumps we called hills. Keep the speed around 18 mph to 20 mph for one minute and you should be OK. For a 130lb rider, that would require 400w sustainable power for 1 minute. How hard it is? Is vo2max hard.

Anonymous's picture
seth (not verified)
it's not really

the speed you should be concerned about. it's riding with the 50 other people. all jammed in together. maintaining 24 mph isn't tough. it's riding 2 inches from the wheel infront, and shoulders side to side. squirrel for certain. squirrels on crystal meth is more accurate.

take the vicodin before the race. it's take the edge off the broken collar bone.


stay so far off the back that by the time you pass by the pile-ups, the amulances and hearses are gone, and all the blood has dried

Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)

I think you will need a Therapeutic Use Exemption if you take vicodin. Are squirrels crystal meth subject to doping regulations?.

Imagine the headlines: Crappy Cat 5 racer suspended for 2 years for doping violation.

Anonymous's picture
john grandits (not verified)
it's fast

go for it! the experience an fitness you can from racing are superior to any training ride you can do. the menatal aspect of the race, esp park races, is almost as hard as the physical. the concentration required in the race, 1 hr plus, is very taxing. when riding ordinarily you can let you mind wander a bit and drift. in a race you have to be completely focused and attentive. once you settle into a rythm the pace is not bad, but it's a more continual effort. there are not many times for rest and when there's an attack you have to be ready to go. the yo-yo effect in the back of the group is even tougher, lots of slow and accelerating. ride towards the front of the group if you can. a lot of riders crash in races due to being in the back and getting caught up in the pile. check out one of the open races in prospect or cp. you'll be surprised by the speed, but after the nerves settle, it's not too bad. there may be a point when your not sure if you can hang on, but fight like hell to try. don't dangle off the back. if you can maintain contact with the group the pace will eventually slow and you'll be able to sit in and recover. if you get dropped it will be long, lonely, race. check out the racing forum on bicycling.com, and search for 'beginner' threads. good luck

Anonymous's picture
JT (not verified)
Try the CRCA beginner's race clinic

Try the CRCA beginner's race clinic. They're in early spring -- one (or two) for men and one for women. You don't have to join CRCA, just get a 1-day USCF license and pay a small fee. It's coached and there is an introductory talk beforehand. 3 laps. Nice prizes for the winners (Giro helmet in '05) and freebies for everyone else. It's a way to get a taste of racing without a big investment of resources.

Check back on www.crca.net once the race calendar has been posted.

Anonymous's picture
Greg Faber (not verified)
Thanks everyone

Thanks for your input. I think I'll try the clinic and see how it goes.

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