Many riders appear to settle for finishing road races in the bunch, most are probably capable of more, but various issues stop them taking the initiative. Maybe they should try to attack, what’s the worst that could happen?
For the weekend warrior, racing isn’t a matter of life & death, if you win a prize or win absolutely nothing, it’s going to make little difference to whether or not you have food on the table. So you do have the opportunity to take a chance in a race, the downside isn’t actually that bad. New racers can spend a year or two just getting to the point where they can finish a race in the bunch. This is generally a turning point in most riders racing ambition, the point that decides what happens after they have acquired the necessary skills & training knowledge to reach that point in the following season.
I’d also suggest that you could probably reach that point on even the most basic of race machines, only afterwards would it be wise to upgrade for performance reasons. Often we can get distracted by the ‘bling’, then buy a race bike online at ‘a bargain price’, but mistakenly buy one which doesn’t fit you. You may be better off with a second-hand steel bike that you feel comfortable on, than a brand new carbon frame with the wrong geometry, you’d probably be faster on the old bike that fits, regardless of the wind-tested aero-ness of the frame or the closeness to UCI minimum bike weight. So if you’re in a hurry to progress & have a good position on your current bike, maybe stick with that & spend your time training rather than working those extra hours to pay for your pro-level bike. There’s plenty of time for that later, plus you’ll have a much better idea of what you need, with the confidence to chat technically with the staff in your local bike shop about your needs, always a sign of a clued-up racer (shop staff can spot the ‘Cycling Weekly’ educated cyclists straight away).
All too often, our weekend warrior can be quite content to sit & wallow (or stagnate) in their new-found ability, sitting safely in the bunch, far from the pointy-end of proceedings. That pointy-end feels a little different to the comfortable windless habitat you’ve now realised exists, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a result doing it this way. The nature of our domestic events often involves a hill or two, splits in the field, riders cracking in front of you, you’re probably going to have to stick your nose in the wind at some point, you don’t have eight other guys to look after you like Cav, you’re not Cav. You’ll never learn how & when it’s best for you to attack, if you don’t attack. Everybody has different strengths & weaknesses, so it’s up to you find out what they are, there’s no better place than a race, so forget the result for a while & get stuck in so you can get that good result in a future event. Don’t be like the sheep, who sit on the ‘star’ rider in the event & wait for him/her to attack, take the initiative.
The Gist Of It
Why not decide to choose when that windy-nose-time is going to happen, rather than have somebody else choose it for you? Going on the offensive, if even for a short period of time will at least give you an idea of what’s required for your step up the rankings, it’s part of the next level of progression.
What would give you the most satisfaction & experience for future glories?
- Attacking the bunch or getting in a break, riding ahead of the field for a short or long period of time, with you being the spectators, lead car & moto’s primary concern. Ending up cracking & finishing around 40th.
- Sitting safely in the bunch, never putting your nose in the wind, race splitting in front of you. End up finishing around 40th.
Make 2014 the year where everybody has a go, trust me, you’ll enjoy it much more if you get involved in the race, rather than just ride round. ATTACK!