Question: I want to race this season but I don’t want to come in last. I can ride 19 mph for hours and can cover 21 miles in an hour at an all-out pace. Is this fast enough to hang with the main pack, or should I even bother? — Robert P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Race speeds are usually significantly faster than 21 mph, but it depends on your age group, category, terrain and type of event.
Here are three ways to learn if you’re fast enough for races in your area.
- Go on club training rides. These will be frisky and competitive. In fact, certain parts may be as fast as a real race — such as when the group reaches a short climb, winds up for a sprint or chases an escaped rider. Learn more about club riding.
- Ride a time trial. This works best if riders you’d be racing against are competing. Your relative placing will give you an idea of how you’d fare at race speeds, although road races and criteriums are much more dependent on tactics than time trials are. Mass-start races also put a premium on the ability to repeatedly go hard for short periods, recover, then go again. Learn about time trial workouts.
- Compete in training races. Some clubs have a weekly race. You probably won’t need a license. Try several of these events to know if you have the speed and desire to get serious about competition.
Give it a shot! If you never try racing, you won’t know if you can do it and enjoy it.
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Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.