Friday, September 28, 2012

How to be a career cat 3

Tired of sucking? Tired of waking up at 5am to race? Tired of being pack fodder for Tim Powers? Do you just want to be competitive, but not enough so that people call you a sandbagger?  Then this blog post is for you!

In just a few easy steps you too can master the skills needed to be a career cat 3 cyclo-cross racer! 

With my years of experience I've learned how to be around 30th in some of the nations biggest cat 3 races, and so can you! 

The first and most important thing for you to know is that your race DOES NOT MATTER. Regardless of how much it may matter to you, it is so totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. In reality, it's just a way for you to call your self a  "bike racer" to your co-workers and not just some other loser that rides alone on the weekends. 

Another key principle is to remember that you have more important things that you should/could be doing with your time and money, like your taxes, cleaning your room, paying off loans, just generally all the important adult things you put off to go play bicycles. Once you don't think, but KNOW, that you have more important things to do, you are ready for the next step.

If you have any of the following things, get rid of them:
  • A Coach
  • A Plan
  • A Power Meter
  • A hear rate monitor
Now that you are a coachless, planless, meterless human you are ready for the next step. Don't train. Don't even use the word "training," riding your bike outside of racing is simply that, "riding." No intervals, no structure, just ride enough that you enjoy it. The added bonus of this strategy is you never "have to" ride, you ride because you want to, because the weather is nice, because you need to get out some frustration, because it's fun. This alone removes so much stress from your life.

Eat whatever you want. I mean, you totally burned 3000 calories over the weekend, so of course you deserve BBQ chicken and beer for recovery. If gluten free vegan cupcakes are your jam, have a half-dozen. The point is that you've already told your co-workers you are a bike racer, so they assume that you, much like Lance Armstrong need 10,000 calories a day just to survive. 

Race all the time, because it is your only real form of training. I usually do 40 races a year across all disciplines, road, MTB and cyclo-cross. Also, go to training races, as many as you can. This allows you to FEEL like a bike racer, but you don't actually have to go out and do intervals on your own to hang out. You get all the benefits of a high intensity workout, without having to be anti-social. It's amazing how much you can race by spending all week on the couch and then smashing your face each weekend. Also, racing all the time will improve your points, which means that you won't necessarily start front row, but you won't be last row either. 

Race day
The first thing you do is ride the course, just fast enough so that you'll know how to handle everything at speed, but not so fast that you'll tucker yourself out. This is far more important than doing a real warm up, because if you can't pedal fast at least you wont fall down, and look a fool.  After that, be sure to socialize, people only know you are a bike racer if you walk the walk AND talk the talk, so be sure to talk about the weird off camber, the angle to the barriers or your "training" from the past week. 

During the race
Don't soft pedal, don't give up, and race hard. Give the fan(s) a show, if people really, truly believe that you are trying they can't insult you for sucking, and since you haven't been training you sure won't be at the front of the bike race either, so they can't call you a sandbagger. It's a truly beautiful system. 

After the race
Don't cool down, socialize! That's what post race is for, talk about the off camber, or the guy that "totally dive-bombed that corner." 


Remember that if you do all these steps, you'll never actually get good, but you sure as shoot won't get really bad either. You'll be in the happy medium (somewhere around 30th) for the rest of your life!

Good lack and happy mediocrity!


  1. Wow, you described my approach to bike racing almost exactly. In a related note we have about the same ranking in crossresults.

    Don't make this public though, part of our persistent mediocrity has to do with more gifted people training too hard and throwing in the towel after a year or two. If they start having fun they might stick around too long.

  2. Can I do this in the back of the Elite field? Because I am definitely on board. I'd happily hang out in a middle field if that existed for women.

  3. There is a reason that we are starting next to each other this weekend. I'll be getting my, "Cat. 3 For Life" tattoo across my chest soon.

  4. Love it. I've been trying to spread the word that amateur racing is absolutely meaningless too (and I've got an upcoming article in a magazine to that point). Just have fun and for the love of God, stop obsessing over your power, your Strava segment, your start position and that "wicked muddy corner that someone else fell on and knocked you over." Anyway, one important point I think you should mention is that if you plan on being a career cyclocross racer, MOVE THE F*CK UP from Cat 4.