Monday, March 31, 2008

Jeff Cup: Stuck behind the Cat4 Trolls (as Kyle would say)

So, if I ever see 125 Cat4s signed up for a race, I'm going to load by bike back in the car and go home. Or, maybe I won't even leave the house. I'll consider the entree fee a contribution to the organizers. This is pretty much my assessment of the Cat4 Jeff Cup race.

I guess I can sum the race up in two words "f'in scary".

I really hate big Cat4 fields because most of the time no one wants to work and everyone wants to just sit in for the sprint. There were maybe 15 different riders that did any work at the front. And as Kyle says a whole bunch of "Cat4 Trolls" just getting in the way.

Its like watching a bunch of little kids play soccer. The ball goes one direction and all the little f'ers go chasing it, the ball goes another direction and then they all chase it in the new direction. On and on this continues. This is what a Cat4 race is like. The pack rides along real slow, someone tries to break and everyone picks up speed to chase them. The breakers are soon caught and the chasers stop going hard. And everyone slows back up to a walking pace. Then someone tries to break again, and the pack picks the speed up to chase them down. Once again the breaker is caught and the chasers stop working. On and on it goes.

I don't know, but is this racing? If it is why don't we just make these races one lap?

Enough ranting: I suck and I'm taking my 41st place to the grave.

Here's my view of the Race:

I tried a couple times to make something happen but my legs never felt good. Too much stop and go throughout the race and I could never get into a rhythm. The only time my legs felt good was maybe the last 2 miles when the pace finally picked up to race speed and I had to do a sustained effort but I was too far back to make it to the front to contend.

You know it sucks when you have to break going up hill.
I think I need new brakes after wasting them on these sections. Who ever heard of having to brake on climbs? Every F'in climb the pack was spread from curb-curb and no room to get around riders. I tried to stay near the curb and away from the middle and a couple times I had aholes trying to squeek through the 2" I had on the curb-side.

The fast downhill sections were scary as shit. Too many riders just having no clue how to ride. And a couple riders seriously need to have their bikes checked out by a mechanic. I'd usually have a bunch of riders dive bomb past me on these sections only to have them get in my way on the uphill sections.

A very disappointing race.

So, with this being said, I'm quitting racing and going to train full time for the next Pilates competition. I think this might be a safer activity.


GBR said...

win 2 more races and you can upgrade to cat-3 and have more fun. I agree though, Jeff cup was a snorefest.

fabsroman said...

With 125 CAT 4 riders and the weather being what it was, I decided to donate my entry fee to the organizers. Did it last year a couple of times, and I'll probably do it again a couple more times this year. Nothing quite as scary as racing with 125 Cat 4's, other than racing with 125 Cat 4's in the rain with fast downhill sections on the course. Talk about a butt clincher.

The next crashfest for the Cat 4's will probably be the Southern Maryland crit. Luckily, I won't be racing that one because of my suspension.

I could write a book about Cat 4 racing and how it looks like little kids playing soccer. Even if people try to get away, half the pack has no clue who is up the road, so you have teammates on the front doing the work to catch their own teammates. Just once, I would love to see every team but one represented in a break and see what the front looks like. Do you think the front of the peleton would be only the one team caught out of the break, or would it be a mish mash of different teams still on the front working to catch their own riders. I would guess the latter.

Now, as far as breaks are concerned, they usually don't work because some yahoos have to pick up the pace to an insane level when they pull through. Nothing like going from 24 to 27 to 24 to 22 to 27. Then, they get mad at me when I decide that this crap isn't going to work and I refuse to work with them so I can be ready for any counters when we get caught. Nothing like doing intervals whenever the new rider pulls through. No matter how often I yell to keep the pace steady, they just don't listen, with the exception of my first race at Greenbelt where 5 of us got away and we held the tempo real steady and stayed away for 8+ miles to the end. Oh yeah, there was also the Cat 5 Reston crit, but that was a little weird. We got away on the first lap and stayed away the entire race.

When I was 16 I knew how to race better than what I am seeing in the Cat 4 field we currently have.

The sprints are great too. With the exception of the Bryant Park race last year, I have yet to see any team in the Cat 4 field set up the sprint correctly. If they did, we wouldn't have a cluster you know what at the end of the race where you cannot move an inch without wrecking the guy next to you.

There, that is chapter one.

Anonymous said...

Just race 30+!

fabsroman said...

There aren't enough 30+ races. Once tax season is finished, I try to race 3 times a week. Wednesday at Greenbelt and then twice on the weekend. Trust me, if there were two 30+ races every weekend, I wouldn't have a problem. So, after I get back from my suspension, I'm going to try to cat up ASAP so I can race the p/1/2/3 races or 3/4 races and the Masters 30+ when they are available.

I did two Masters 30+ races last year and they are just so much better that it is like night and day.

Plus, they won't allow me to race the A race at Greenbelt until I am a 3, and I don't think that Masters races count toward upgrading, but I could be wrong on that.

joe m. said...


Man I couldn't agree more. Strasburg was much harder and was able to get rid of the unworthy in due fashion. I was really hoping this was going to be the same. Nope. There were a couple of guys in the top ten at Jeff Cup that got dropped at Strasburg. This race was 1k in length - the last k. In my humble opinion (yes, coming from the dude that took 34th), races like this are more about being in the right place at the right time than they are about having race fitness and an iron will. I was 15th or so wheel with 400m to go when it just got nuts. I shut it down and just held my line. So, no, you don't suck. You just got caught in the quagmire like most of the rest of us. I have already signed up for a number of cat 4 races but I will be hanging my hat in the 40+ from then on. I hope you'll join me.

Kyle Jones said...

I love the analogy of Cat 4s to kids playing soccer. That is the perfect picture of how the races are. There are a few races that do not allow this in the year like leonardtown, and reston is pretty good at not having the sit up time.

I told Ray on my team I am not to fond of road races because they are like non technical crits and most people could sit in. I get tired of it mentally more than physically. I will say even though I worked so hard to catch the pack it was the only time in the race I felt comfortable. I honestly could of done that longer and more comfortable then constantly fighting to get to the front. I might not be in the top shape right now but if you guys dropped me for good I would be alright with it. But for 75 guys to finish right next to a guy makes me mad because I had just as much as a shot to finish as the rest.

And you know how those back end trolls look like.

fabsroman said...

Honestly, racing is all about being at the right place at the right time. If the winning break goes up the road and you aren't in it, you weren't in the right place at the right time. Vaughn learned that at Jefferson Cup.

Racing is also about knowing who the competition is. Last year, since it was my first year back after 20 years off I spent a ton of time behind the computer trying to figure out who was who and who was placing high. You need to cover the quality riders and you can let the others go. You need to know who can get out in a break and stick it, and who is just out there like a carrot. You need to know who the sprinters are and get on their wheel for a ride or stay the hell out of the way. What really kills me is that people who cannot sprint worth a damn want to mix it up with the sprinters at the end of the race. That is why the ends of these races are a mess. Instead of these guys realizing that they stand no chance of a top 10 finish in a sprint and they should try their damndest during the race to get off the front, they try to mix it up in the sprint anyway. Again, this would all be taken care of if a couple of teams with good sprinters set up good leadouts and had the pace smoking toward the end so that people could not crowd the front.

Last but not least, everybody needs to learn the phrase "Hold your line." For those of you that don't know what it means, it means riding a straight line. Pretend there is an imaginary white line that you need to ride on and don't get off of it. Don't blindly follow the wheel in front of you as it moves left because there could be somebody on your left. Just because somebody in front of you has room to their left doesn't mean you have room to your left, or that the guy to your left has room to his left to let you shove him over.

Anonymous said...

Fabio- I was responding to RayMan- not you! You are a complete idiot! Please limit your responses on any blog or email to one sentence!

Anonymous said...

I love Cat 4's giving advice to other Cat 4's- If you were any good you would not be 30 and still a Cat-4!

Anonymous said...

Blaa Blaa Blaa all wasted commenary. Shut up and race your bike or stay home.

Chris said...

Thanks for the congrats. The race was all about positioning for me, especially in the last couple of kilometers when the pace got really cracking.

I agree it was sketchy as heck. I tried to stay near the front or on the right side and out of trouble, which wasn't easy. I like how you describe it as a lot like kiddie soccer. 4s will chase anything. The yo-yo'g on the hills sucked too. I was one of the guys on my brakes because I was rolling up hard on everyone and there was no room to go anywhere.

See you racing sometime.

RayMan said...

Wow, Are the ANONS battling on my blog? Or is there a schizophrenic Anon arguing with himself (or herself)?

Anon #1; I'd actually be doing 40+ races since I'm 45.

Hope this wasn't too long for you.

fabsroman said...

Hey Anonymous(es),

I used to be a Cat 3, but failed to renew my racing license when I was in law school because I was poor, so they made me start back in the 5's. I have 3 silver and a bronze districts medal hanging on the wall and with last year being my first year back racing and barely training until mid April I got 2nd at Reston in Cat 5, 3rd at Chantilly in Cat 5, asked for an early upgrade and got it, got 4th at Silver Spring, got 8th at Pleasant Valley, got 8th at Great Grandview Crit, got 8th at Turkey Day in Masters 30+, finished in the top 4 at Greenbelt in the B race about 4 or 5 times, got 7th overall at Greenbelt in the points without racing in the series until the end of June, and there are some more results in there too.

Suffering through Cat 4's like you anonymous posters on my way back to the 3's is tough, especially when we have all these tough guys that post anonymously. You guys are probably the ones pushing your way to the front to try and sprint only to get blown out of the water and get in the way of the rest of the sprinters. I'll see you around after June 20th.

If you need more race resume stuff, I can try to piece together my old racing resume for you.

Feel free to let me know what your name is so that I can look up your age and results. Mine is Fabrizio Roman.

fabsroman said...

One last thing Anonymous with the "Fabio" post. I truly cannot help it if you have a tough time reading more than one sentence posts. Maybe you should spend a little less time on the bike and more time in school learning to read and write. I'm such an idiot that I knew Ray was in his 40's and mistook your post for being meant for me since I am in my 30's. Yeah, if you aren't the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is. Then again, you might not have even read this far since I put more than one period in this post. Give me your name and e-mail address and I'll send single sentence e-mails to you with small words in them so you can understand what I am saying. If you need a dictionary, I'll gladly mail one to you.