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  1. #1
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    How should I feel during race?

    I want to keep this short but as a result it will probably lead to me not including enough information.

    Started racing last year, only did 6 races and really didn't train that hard. Although I rode more, didn't take breaks, so for that point in time it was a significant increase over how I rode before. Moved up to Cat 2 this year after winning Cat 3 series and started to really increase my training both in intensity and in time on the bike. Not even close to last year at the same time.

    When I raced last year I always felt as if I was just hanging on to survive, pushing myself to my own limit. Had a race today and was expecting to feel faster, not have that feeling of pain the entire time, and I guess just feel stronger overall. Now, the course was brutal, lots of hike a bike sections (up a DH course essentially and muddy) so it's hard to gauge speed and the "hike" parts really put a hurt on my legs. I felt "blown up" really early and was not expecting to feel that so early.

    I respect the opinions of a lot of posters on here and have used your advise to my posts and other posts to really improve what I'm doing in training/nutrition. I also can bet that some of you are really strong riders and much much stronger than I am.

    So..... How do you guys who have been racing a long time feel during a race?
    - Do the legs feel "blown out" even early in a race?
    - Is it possible I'm faster and stronger but just not able to see it because in a race regardless of how fast/slow you are, you're pushing yourself to the limit?

    Really appreciate the insight, feeling a little down on myself right now especially with how hard and how much time I've put in this year.
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  2. #2
    I'd rather be riding
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    This year begins my second season in 2 after one as a 3. It still hurts just as much as it did when I started and if it doesn't it's typically because I'm not pushing hard enough and end up finishing with gas left in the tank.

  3. #3
    bikerbert
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    How should I feel during race?

    Depends. For a short track race it hurts like hell the whole time.

    Regular 90 min XC race, first 15 are brutal, the next 30 are bearable, the next 30 aren't that bad, and the last 15 hurt like hell again either defending or trying to catch the race leaders.

    What are you doing 48 hours then 24 hours before on the bike?

  4. #4
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    It never gets easier you just get faster.

    As far as feeling blown out early in a race that may be a pacing issue. For a short race you may need to go all out right off the start and stay on the gas the whole race. Those are the types of races that hurt me the most. The longer the race the more you may need to hold back to be sure you don't burn out before the race is over.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses, after looking at my strava numbers I was actually faster by a couple minutes on the second lap. So maybe my feeling of being "blown out" during the race is just initial shock of starting and having to high of expectations to just fly through the course.

    Every race is a little different. I meant to do a easy spin 1-2 days before the race and never got the chance. So no activity 24-48 prior to race.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I meant to do a easy spin 1-2 days before the race and never got the chance. So no activity 24-48 prior to race.
    Borrowing an idea from Joe Friel, what works for me before a race is something along the lines of:

    day before race - 1 x 1.5 min race pace effort with spin.
    2 days before - 2 x 1.5 min race pace efforts with 3 min recovery between and spin

    Friel likened it to not "losing the feel of the pedals" with the race pace efforts - but not enough intensity to produce fatigue

  7. #7
    insert sarcasm here
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan4jeepin View Post
    It never gets easier you just get faster.
    Truth.

    If you are a competitive racer, it's gonna hurt bad, really bad at times. Think about it. In any endurance sport--swimming, cycling, running--it comes down to who is the most fit AND has the mental strength to put themselves through the most pain.
    I'm always looking for new people to ride with. If you are on the Front Range, shoot me a PM and let's go ridin'.

  8. #8
    bikerbert
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    How should I feel during race?

    No activity 24 hours before the race can give you stone legs. Try a simulated race effort and 48 hours out, take the day off. The day before do some :90 intervals (3-5) for a "leg opener."

    The next day do the race effort and you should feel better. A coach i used to work with taught me this and it works like a charm every time.

    The days I rested too much before a race my legs were stone and took forever to get loose.

  9. #9
    bikerbert
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    How should I feel during race?

    Quote Originally Posted by scottz123 View Post
    Borrowing an idea from Joe Friel, what works for me before a race is something along the lines of:

    day before race - 1 x 1.5 min race pace effort with spin.
    2 days before - 2 x 1.5 min race pace efforts with 3 min recovery between and spin

    Friel likened it to not "losing the feel of the pedals" with the race pace efforts - but not enough intensity to produce fatigue
    +1!

  10. #10
    Bro Mountainbiker
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    What do you mean when you say your legs feel "blown out"?

    That expression makes me think of the day after a hard few days on the bike. No power, heavy legs, etc.

    I guess you could get that feeling too with NOT riding your bike enough...

    Overall, just keep racing! You are still a newbie and will learn a lot about yourself, pacing, and strategy as you continue on with the longer races.
    Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan4jeepin View Post
    It never gets easier you just get faster.
    Greg Lemond.

  12. #12
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    I haven't raced much since 2007. Every race I've ever done at some point I thought this hurts so bad. Why do I do this? Also after every race I was glad I raced no matter how I finished. Bike racing is a legal way to inflict pain on other people.
    Comas aren't as fun as riding your bike, so wear a Helmet.

  13. #13
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    I remember finishing top 3 in Cat 2 races and being absolutely wiped afterwards. As in no chance in hell of even doing a short cooldown, just fall off the bike and lie there panting after the line.

    Now, even after a very hard XC race, I feel fine riding for even an (easy) hour afterwards... and I'm going way, way faster than back then.

    I think the biggest difference is the 3-4 years of mileage in the legs vs. back then. Now, race pace is very hard but perfectly sustainable for 1.5-3 hours, with the ability to put out multiple hard efforts above threshold and still recover while going fast.

    Consistent training over a few years not only makes you faster, it allows you to sustain a "hard" effort longer without feeling completely wiped.

  14. #14
    LMN
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    Actually as you get faster it does get easier.

    Probably the reason you are suffering so much is the hard start. As a newer race you probably start off (I am making numbers up here to make a point) holding around 400 watts for the first 30 seconds to a minute and then attempt to settle in at your race pace which is 200 watts. The problem is you spend the whole lap suffering for that 400 watt effort.

    A more experienced racers starts off with about the same 400 watt effort, but they settle into a racepace that is 300 watts. Their starting effort is a lot closer to their race pace and they don't suffer as much.

    So in the long term I suggest getting faster In short term try starting slower it will make the rest of the race a lot more pleasant and a lot quicker.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Actually as you get faster it does get easier.

    Probably the reason you are suffering so much is the hard start. As a newer race you probably start off (I am making numbers up here to make a point) holding around 400 watts for the first 30 seconds to a minute and then attempt to settle in at your race pace which is 200 watts. The problem is you spend the whole lap suffering for that 400 watt effort.

    A more experienced racers starts off with about the same 400 watt effort, but they settle into a racepace that is 300 watts. Their starting effort is a lot closer to their race pace and they don't suffer as much.

    So in the long term I suggest getting faster In short term try starting slower it will make the rest of the race a lot more pleasant and a lot quicker.
    What I was trying to say, but better said, as usual, LMN

  16. #16
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    That was the other thing I was wondering, if my very limited amount of time of real training is part of the equation. I was literally riding and taking breaks (short and long) every 15-20 mins. Sometimes not quite that soon depending on trail and riding group but you get the point. I started training about a year ago with almost no base except really good bike handling skill. The first thing I started working on was no breaks, more days, and longer rides. So I guess I'm going to need some patience. Thanks for the replies, really helpful info
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  17. #17
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Actually as you get faster it does get easier.

    Probably the reason you are suffering so much is the hard start. As a newer race you probably start off (I am making numbers up here to make a point) holding around 400 watts for the first 30 seconds to a minute and then attempt to settle in at your race pace which is 200 watts. The problem is you spend the whole lap suffering for that 400 watt effort.

    A more experienced racers starts off with about the same 400 watt effort, but they settle into a racepace that is 300 watts. Their starting effort is a lot closer to their race pace and they don't suffer as much.

    So in the long term I suggest getting faster In short term try starting slower it will make the rest of the race a lot more pleasant and a lot quicker.

    This makes a lot of sense. You moved up to sport and the sport riders are much faster than beginners. It sounds like you started off a little too fast.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  18. #18
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    Benifits of riding with breaks depends on a few things. How hard are you riding between breaks and how long are your breaks. If you are all out, i.e. almost falling of the bike, between break and then your breaks are not super long, this can be benificial.

    If you rides are more on the social end, not so much.

    This is for the high end power. For the more consistent settle in and grind, you need to ride at this effort to build the ability to do it better and with a higher power. Stoping during a ride will really hurt these efforts.

    Also, realize that the abilities and strength of guys in Cat 2 is all over the board. In my local series it's pretty much a given that the first 5 finishers in any Cat 2 race are former Cat 1 riders who didn't fell like buying a license this year.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    That was the other thing I was wondering, if my very limited amount of time of real training is part of the equation. I was literally riding and taking breaks (short and long) every 15-20 mins. Sometimes not quite that soon depending on trail and riding group but you get the point. I started training about a year ago with almost no base except really good bike handling skill. The first thing I started working on was no breaks, more days, and longer rides. So I guess I'm going to need some patience. Thanks for the replies, really helpful info
    Once you can ride 4+ hours without really stopping pedaling (often the road is the only place one can accomplish this), a 1.5 hour race (at any speed) becomes a lot easier.

    Many MTB riders (and lots of racers) couldn't pedal for 4 straight hours without a break if they had to.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    Once you can ride 4+ hours without really stopping pedaling (often the road is the only place one can accomplish this), a 1.5 hour race (at any speed) becomes a lot easier.

    Many MTB riders (and lots of racers) couldn't pedal for 4 straight hours without a break if they had to.
    Thanks - bought a road bike last June for the first time to increase time. Slowly building myself up to longer rides and longer rides on a more consistent basis. Never any breaks. I'm at 2.5 hours at a high intensity on the road, below is a good example. I know I could easily do 3 at a much lower intensity, the problem in my area is there are no flat roads. Working my way up to 3+ hours.
    Bike Ride Profile | Summit - West Fulton Loop and back up to Summit (big ASS wind) near Richmondville | Times and Records | Strava
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    Thanks - bought a road bike last June for the first time to increase time. Slowly building myself up to longer rides and longer rides on a more consistent basis. Never any breaks. I'm at 2.5 hours at a high intensity on the road, below is a good example. I know I could easily do 3 at a much lower intensity, the problem in my area is there are no flat roads. Working my way up to 3+ hours.
    Bike Ride Profile | Summit - West Fulton Loop and back up to Summit (big ASS wind) near Richmondville | Times and Records | Strava
    Just downshift and go easy up the hills. Try to keep the effort steady, not the speed. Glad to hear you're already doing rides like these; it will pay off both in the short and long term.

  22. #22
    DLd
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    Two to three short hard efforts during your warm-up before the race can really help "prime the pump" so to speak and keep you from feeling blown out from a hard start. The first race of the season is always hard too. You'll gain a lot of strength and conditioning just from that and I imagine you'll be nailing your starts a lot better by the third or fourth race. Just stay consistent, and get those miles in. Also, you can do some simulated race starts as part of your training. 20 minutes warm-up with two 30 seconds hard efforts after the first 10 minutes, few minutes rest in-between. Then from a stop, zone 5 for 2 minutes into tempo for 20 minutes, 5 minutes easy, then another 20 minutes of tempo.
    "Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."-Jack Kerouac

  23. #23
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Well, like I have said before, "You should question yourself for signing up for the race that day" during your race...over and over...if you are going 100%.

    It should suck. There might be a couple of grins mixed in on the descents..haha.

    This is what makes us proud of ourselves' for the accomplishment afterwards. ")

    The races are not easier the faster I get. Same feeling really....just at a higher speed is all.

    Even doped TdF racers feel the same way we do for the most part when they are maxed out. Just look at their faces on a hard mtn stage. It is all relative really. The only thing that changes is the pace.
    Last edited by rydbyk; 04-23-2013 at 08:41 AM.

  24. #24
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    I've been racing about 5years, 43yo, currently top 10% of CAT 2 in my region. When I started racing, I'd try to maintain a threshold effort the entire race which was super painful and often resulted in me blowing up somewhere on the 2nd lap. About 2yrs ago I started going out the first lap at an effort a little slower than I thought I should be going (just under LT) which is pretty painless, and then on the 2nd lap trying to go at threshold, but still not totally pinned. I found by doing this that my times improved dramatically. It makes racing way more enjoyable. The interesting thing is that even doing that, my lap times are still slightly faster on the first lap, but generally pretty even with no more than a 20-30s difference over 9mi laps. I understand that the most efficient endurace approach is by keeping effort as consistent as possible and avoiding huge bursts. The downside since I don't sprint out of the gate is that I usually have to pass 30-40 people but the races spread out so quickly that it's not usually a huge deal.

  25. #25
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    In my experience. It doesn't get easier, you just go faster. Sometimes though you can only ride so fast for your ability on a trail because of all the turns or technical features and thus sometimes it feels easier the more you have ridden.

    Look at any olympic sprinter after just a 100m dash and see if they are out of breath or not. Any fit athlete should be able to put out as short as a 10 second effort that puts them in a great deal of hurt. How well you recover after that short effort is key to recovery and being able to do it again.

    How bad are you hurting though? Are you worried about your heart that you should see a cardiologist? Are you getting sick? Are you getting dizzy and disoriented? You may be pushing it too hard. If it just hurts then imo you are just doing it right.

    The other thing is different races have different kinds of hurt. A 25 minute dirt crit race is a different kind of hurt than a 3 hour marathon.

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