Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Why Racing Is Different

I'm starting to learn that racing is a very different type of riding. I think a few books tried to tell me as much, but only now am I beginning to internalize it.

Let's look at a concrete example. Suppose you're in pretty good shape and can average 20 mph over a 30 minute ride. You think, hey I'm pretty quick, maybe I should try some racing. During your first race you're keeping pace with the group, confident in your ability to stay with the leaders. Then they put the hammer down. Maybe there is a little hill, maybe it was a corner, maybe someone was feeling feisty. Whatever it was, suddenly you're getting crushed. This is what racing is like. How did it happen?

Keeping my first example in mind, here is some contrived data showing what race pace might be like:

Guess what.. that pace averages 20 mph over 30 minutes, but it is a very different experience physically. Here's the problem: most likely you tried to stay with the group during those surges. Your heartrate went close to or above your lactate threshold (in other words, you were panting like a dog that had just chased down and killed the mailman) and by the end you felt like shit and were hanging on to the group for dear life.

This obviously requires a very different kind of fitness. Hopefully I can acquire some over the summer and then concentrate on it during the off season.


At 10:51 PM, Blogger Jim Carson said...

I know two people who swear by Spinning classes in the off-season.

The 20mph is also deceiving because it's an average -- every time you go a little bit slower, you have to maintain more time going faster. (see previous comment)

Thus, I tip my hat to you for racing.


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