Part 2: OK, you now can survive a race, hopefully you learned to draft and conserve so you can see the finish line with the rest of the herd. If you came into racing with a strong cycling background, it is possible that you won races, went right to the front of the pack, towed everyone around and still won. This is good and bad, good cause it is fun, bad cause you probably didn’t learn much so you might still be the same skill level as when you started. This can come back to bite you now that you are riding up at the next level.
For normal people, you spend time getting strong enough to survive, now you want to try to go for a mid race prime (prize) or see if you can finish in the top 1/3 of the results. You have enough strength and skill to survive, now you just need to use it smartly to best the others in your group. This is where reading the pack really comes to the fore. Here are some basics to live by:
1. Only move up when it is slow and try to find a wheel to get you up the pack instead of doing it yourself.
2. Try an attack to see how long you can stay away from the pack. Do this only when the pack is going slowly and after it has just chased someone else down. Do I need to say this again? NOT from the front of the pack, start about 1/3rd from the front when the pack is slowing down or going slow after just having gone fast, as the momentum of the pack is slowing is when you need to do the opposite and attack for all your are worth. More on that in the next post.
3. Save it for the finish if the pack will stay together. The pack stays together when the course is flat, when there is wind, or when there are teams to chase each other down and keep it together. Your goal is to do as little as possible until you “make your move” which is different for different abilities. Hopefully by now you know if you are a sprinter, and if you are then you wait till the very end. If you aren’t a sprinter you go early, hopefully from a distance you can keep it going to the finish.
Good luck, this is where you will make the most improvement, you are working hard to finish as far up as possible. You won’t win, but you won’t get dropped either, you are the king of the middle, rule it well. Next step…how to win.