Saturday, May 9, 2009

Catastrophic Cat 5

Catastrophic Cat 5

So the lesson of this race is pretty obvious; if you can’t drop the pack, don’t pull them around the course. This is exactly what we did. It was also catastrophic for crashes as well. More about that later.

The race strategy was flawed from the outset. The loosely defined plan was to have two guys at the front, putting the hurt on the rest of the group rotating out frequently. Sadly, this would have worked if we had cat ½ guys but, being lowly cat 5ers, we didn’t have enough horses in the tank to drop any of the pack. In fact, the Team Speed Theory guys should be quite proud in that we were at the front of the pack for the entire race… expect the finish line portion which apparently is where it's important. Several Speed Theory guys work like madmen at the front. Of special note: There was a tri-athlete guy, who’s name I forget (sorry) who worked like a yeoman for the first two laps. He was awesome. I believe he was in the crash but I can’t be certain. I didn’t see him after the race, I hope he was ok. Alan O (AKA Ditch) also worked his tail off pulling long and hard. Other ST’rs would work their way up and haul freight for many minutes at a time. The rest of the pack (I should say lazy bastards but this is a public blog) sat in. And I mean really sat in.
I kept expecting things to break up. Small short burst from us would simply speed the whole pack up. In effect, we pulled the pack around so they could have fresh legs at the end. Lesson learned.

There was an awful crash into lap 3. One of our guys touched a wheel and things went bad for many riders. It was too bad since we had 7 guys at the front and we were just about to put some serious hurt to the pack (who would have simply jumped on our wheel, but I’ve already belaboured that point). I figured seven guys, short hard pulls and we’d have someone in the running. But within minutes of our grand plan the crash happened. I hear there was a broken arm and Bart’s helmet was impressively severed in two pieces. I hope everyone recovers quickly.

Not a good race for the cat 5ers in terms of finishing, but it was great training and learning.



Dan said...


Great post. I see your writing style is similar to mine.
Hopefully those riders are not too hurt.

I posted similar threads last year about the non working teams. We really have to look at race strategies and ways to get other teams to work. It should not be our team mandate to waste ourselves at every race.

Last weekend at Lethbridge in the Cat 4 race, one of the the other riders said it out loud to me, they were not going to do anything as we had the numbers. There must be a way to ride with numbers but not look like you have numbers. Maybe even have guys separated by other riders. I'm not sure, it will be a problem that we will see in every race. We may have to become solo break away experts so, does anyone know any good pharmacists! Kidding.

Slayer Dan

Anonymous said...

Without hills or strong winds you will never shed riders by setting tempo. However, crashing them out works well...

-Sausage tits.

Rick C said...

If anyone has the perfect plan, don't post it here. Let's have a surprise for the next race. Trojan horse ideas are welcome however.

Tom K said...

Wow, Sausage Tits, I don't think I should even respond to such an inane, crass and classless post. Perhaps you can use your name so we know you at least have a set.

Anonymous said...

Ok I’m sorry; I was in quite a bit of pain and b1tchy this morning. As for “sausage tits” you just have to read a “classless post” on this blog.

Again, my apologies to the crashed riders – it happens.

Darcy G said...

Hey guys,

Sorry I dropped off on the last lap. I cramped up in my right calf quite badly, probably due to not drinking enough during the race. Lesson learned. Great work, y'all!

Here's hoping Pigeon Lake works out a little better.


Trev said...

Guys, I will host a clinic at the research park very soon on race tactics devoted to these circumstances and others that arise. Don't get down about loose tactics or spoiled plans... it happens. Since we are the biggest team right now, unfortunately other teams are looking for us to 'make the action'.... we will. We just have to do it right. I spent some time talking with Clark and Steve P. on Sat. night on options you guys had when you were at the front and dragging everyone. I will go over these things with everyone.


Anonymous said...

If your team was riding in the front for the whole race and "laying down the hurt" as suggested then perhaps you can answer me this.... how did a rider slip off the front after the first lap and race solo for the next two laps to finish 4 mins ahead of the pack?
I would also like to note that during the race there were several teams/riders that were at the front sharing some of the load and attacking..... 3 riders went off the front during the first lap, an ERTC rider was off the front for a bit, a United rider went away on the last lap (after being slowed in the crash bridged the gap to the main pack and attacked)(Nice work) for sometime before being caught... Juventus, ERTC, Bici, Hardcore and Velocity all at the front working at some point during the race.
While I appreciate that your team did work on the front of the race, please do not make it sound like you "hauled the freight" during the entire event and a more accurate description should be noted. Yes there were some people sitting in because either they did not have the ability nor strength or will to suffer, but to indicate that all were lazy bastards (apology should be sent)is not the case.
Congrats to all that raced.

Andrew said...

i love it.. it's game on..

congrats to all who raced..

now lets focus on Pigeon and make sure Speed Theory represents.. no just in numbers but results!!

Clarke E said...

I'd like to respond to the above post (not sure who this is, but I'm assuming it's someone from another team) with an apology of my own since I can't really speak for the team.

I was unaware of the rider that got away and finished on his own, that is awesome though, and hopefully he gets to move up and race people at his own level.

As for the talk about pulling the race around and being frustrated about it. I guess the frustration stemmed from our team not being able to execute its plan and then having a fairly major crash in the second lap that broke apart our ad hoc planned breakaway at that time. To top it all off, I don't think anyone made top 10 from our team, which just adds to the frustration.

All in all I enjoyed the race, but I am disappointed with my own results as I could not keep up with the final break on the last corner heading to the finish line.

Congrats to those who placed, I hope to be up there with you next time.


Lockie said...

Great post, Tom. Sounds like some important lessons were learnt, nice and early in the season.

The great thing about having a blog is being able to report on things the way you see them. Unfortunately that means yellow-bellied whiners come out in droves...might be time to turn off anonymous posting.

Speedy recovery to all involved in the crash. Last season I found Second Skin (and various other brands of the same product) to be god's gift to rashed cyclists... Hopefully the broken bone dude is back riding soon.

Tom K said...

Yo dude, Keep in mind, this is a Speed Theory blog. I'm not posting here to make you feel good, but to bolster our team members. Yes, some other guys pulled from time to time. Two guys who were obviously in a different class and pulled away early. One of them was reeled in later. I'm ok with guys sitting in who don't have the strength, but there were guys who were obvioulsy capable and still sat in. I'll apologize to those who did some work. But if you just sat in, suck it up and race. If it wasn't for ST, we'd have done the course at 25kph and had a sprint finish... how dull is that.

Rob said...

Typically I don't like to write a great deal in the comments section but I am strangely compelled today. I'd like to remind Speed Theory that this is public and the world sees what we write here.

There will always be 'non-working' teams we can call them out on our blog or we can talk with our legs and tactics. Keep in mind, 'non-working' is synonymous with being on the rivet for some people where this might be their first race ever. My first cat5 race I got dropped in the first 15K.

In Cat5 the best thing any team can do is force a break (which is very difficult given how short our races are but not impossible) and work to defend it. See the cat3 post for an anecdote.

One the first lap I recall being shoulder to shoulder with the Velocity guys and a super tall dude from United or some other red team (sorry I can't recall the team). My point here is that we weren't alone on the front and the pace was pretty high for cat 5.

Our team has a core ideal to race, animate, and make races more than a club ride. We have a responsibility to do so in a the safest manner possible. To other teams reading our site take note that we're using our experienced riders to train our newer riders on safe tactics. All clubs do or should do this. The lousy spring has made it difficult to focus on technical training to any great extent. Crashing out riders is not part of the Speed Theory philosophy and something the team strives to prevent. At the end of the race we all go home and go to work the next day.

To other teams that were involved in the pile ups, we hope your guys recover soon.

To the rest of the our team, tactics are a black art combining a great deal of luck and timing. In addition to Trev's clinic the cat 5 team needs to spend some time working on pace line techniques so we get comfortable riding with each other. A few small tweaks and things will vastly improve in terms of race management. Don't get disheartened! We will start organizing training rides with this in mind.

Tom K:
Bart was the tri-guy that pulled through on the second lap and set tempo before he crashed. It was me on the first 1.5 laps (we had the same helmet). If that's what you're thinking of. Strategically, you were poised to drop the hammer at the right time, the surges are what wears people down. Alex describes it as rubber band theory, if you stretch it out repeatedly it will snap eventually. Next race I will not be at the front so prominently and work more keeping everyone together.

Bart, Steven, and Alan, I hope you guys recover soon. Thanks for digging deep this weekend, we'll get it all sorted. (the same to anyone I missed and the other teams)

Darcy G said...

Hey guys,

To follow up on Rob's great words, here's some more advice. I've been in Cat 5 for three years now, and know quite a few racers on other teams (Cranks, Bici, United, Cycle-Logic, ERTC). Although gamesmanship and a little talk is part of racing, let's make sure we don't alienate other teams. Some race, "when the best-laid plans of mice and men" go south, we'll need all the help we can get from other racers. We're all doing this for fun.

Darcy Gullacher

Tom K said...

Rob, yes I had you and Bart mixed up. Sorry about that. You both look so sexy in your kit! Awesome job, thanks.
Sausage, I hope you're ok and we see you in the next race.
Clarke, You'll be a finisher soon.. you just need the right course, I've seen you on the hills!

Brent said...

Greetings all, first off I would like to commend Speed Theory for doing what many clubs before them either chose not to do or could not do. This is try to give the Cat 5vers knowledge of racing and game plans to take into races. I had said in the past that just one team/club would have to try to start to become tactical and the rest of us would have to follow.

Thanks to Velocity for hosting this race, we all know and understand how much effort goes into putting on a race.

Darcy's comment I believe puts it best, we all need to remember that we will all at some point need each others help in upcoming races so lets keep the blog clean and keep the punches at least slightly above the waist. Even though it is super fun to see the kind of crap we can all come up with in the heat of riding.

ST did look to have some sort of plan from where I was sitting. However when you go to the front and just ride tempo do not expect the rest of us to come rushing up and around you. If you were not trying to just ride tempo I apologize ;). Also in the beginning of the race the surging was super dangerous. That is why myself and 2 other guys came around to the front, because the middle and back sections of the group were super sketchy. Whom ever was riding at the front early on (may not have been ST people) need to realize only speeding up for a relatively short distance is not going to do much. The quick little surges of speed do little to hurt anyone aerobically, but does increase the chance of people getting hurt by running into the back of each other.

I also wish a speedy recovery to all caught up in the crash on the last lap.

Oh ya one more thing, watch out for speedy german triathletes (winner from Hardcore) using Cat 5 races for Tri training , and not being worried about upgrade points (at least that is what he told me after the race) LOL.

Your friendly neighborhood Bici rider

Tom K said...

Classy post, thanks for bringing it up a notch.

A couple of things I appreciated during the race:
A fellow came to me in the second lap and asked if he and his buddy could work with us to be at the front near the end as they were only short a few points to move up. I like that kind of attitude. I don't know how they made out as I was fairly spent in the last 1000meters and just rolled over the finish line.

Another fellow (Big dude from Junvenctus), during a surge near the finish line, just about took me out. He came to me after the race and appologized. That was classy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brent, and my fellow riders!

Just want to mention that I am not using cat5 races for tri-training. I was put in cat5 as it is my first season here in Canada. It's true that I am actually practising for IM this year but in fact I am from road racing ;-)I was surprised that the pack did not try hard enough to catch me.
Guys, always close the gap!!


P.S. Did not realized the crash and wish everyone who was involved a speedy recovery!!

Rob said...

Nice Work Stefan!

We (the pack as a whole) had to come up with some excuse for not chasing you down, so we used the old 'he's an elite triathlete training for the olympics -or something' excuse. ;-)

Good on you!

Brent said...

Hey Stefan, no problem what so ever, if I offended you I apologize, I was trying more to be sarcastic than anything. It was our error to let you go. Sadly I did not even see you leave the pack from where I was sitting. We were just joking after the race that the only people who could beat a Cat 5 pack by 4 minutes is either a high end triathlete trying to time trial, or someone who should not be in Cat 5. My opinion would be you are both LOL. Good on ya, I think WE can all promise to not let you slip away quite so easily next time.



Tom K said...

Stefan, even if we wanted to, I think you had us out-gunned once you made the jump. I saw you go and just assumed we would eventually reel you in but you had the horses to do it on your own. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys!

@ Brent: I just wanted to clarify that I am not "misusing" cat5 for my purposes :-)

And honestly I am not that strong as you guys make it sound here. I was just lucky as the pack couldn't figure out who is gonna chase me down... hehehe :-)

But I can announce now that I will try it again ;-)

Have a good week!


Keith Bayly said...

This is great!

Apologize? For comments on a blog! Screw you. You probably are lazy. Your team-mates too.

Even still there is no sense complaining about what other riders are doing. In a race, as in life, you cannot control what others do. You can only control your reactions.

It's only a matter of time before our beloved Cat 5s and 4s learn to race and stop their silly crashing. Then you cowardly anonymous posters are gonna get you legs ripped off and your lungs shredded.

Tempo is for group rides.
Attacking is for racing.
Blogs and forums are for trash talk.

Steve P said...

Fellas (and the ladies that hopefully find thier way in here),

This was my first race, and I want to say that even though I went down, I still had a blast (I think my heart rate was 80% sitting in the start line). However, I sincerely regret having those other guys follow me down. I hope Bart is doing well and that Jeff(?) from Velocity heals up quick to return for this season.

I also want to extend a huge thanks to the rest of the team for helping me out for the ITT; lending me a skinsuit, moral support, and to Rob for offering up his bike (a very awesome ride).

Looking forward to the rest of the season! I just have to find a bike... so I get back on and thrash it up! Perhaps I will see some of you at the ITT on Wednesday on my old 10-speed!

Trev said...

Steve, if you show up on your 10-speed, I will recommend to Jamie you get extra points !!


Clarke E said...

God, I feel like a pussy for apologizing now...I gotta stop trying to please everyone. Let's murder those guys next time!

I hope to see you all at the WNS. Especially Steve with old Steelie.

Dan said...


It's almost like my ranting last year has rubbed off on to other riders. I agree with Keith, trash talk in the blogs and be ready to back it up on the road.

I do think that we owe it as races to make sure that we are riding safely and competitive. You can add lots of cliches to the posts here. I'll boil my version down to brief points.

There are those that watch what happens, there are those who wonder what happened, and there are those that make it happen. I'd feel more satisfied at the end of the race knowing that I tried to make it happen.

I think that the anonymous posting has to go. If your going to post on our blog that let your ID be revealed and your race number. We can then duel it out on the sprints to the finish line.

Good job guys.


David said...

Interesting article that might help explain sorta what happened:

Clarke E said...

Great article David. That exactly describes what happened. Well, we're just that more experienced now.

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