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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just getting into racing this season and plan on doing the entire season starting in CAT 3 and seeing where it goes. Ive read through the sticky and im kinda lost as to what some of the terms mean and what a good plan for me would be. I did do one race last seaon in CAT 3 and got 3rd out of 12 but that involved no training and basically I just rode when I could and didnt do anything high intensity. This year ive been going to the gym and doing some running and riding the stationary bike but I feel like I really need a plan to stick too and keep it easier for me to get the work done. Just curious as to what I could do at the gym? I do ride every weekend with friends but its been about 20 degrees here lately so Ive just been hitting the gym during the week. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I rode cat 3 for two years before moving up to sport this year. I learnt a lot!

Pick up a copy of Joe Friel's book The mountain bikers training manual and read it about 3 times and then try to plan your year. Put in your races, prioritize them and work back so you know when to start what stage of training. Basically, you're be looking at peaking a couple times during the summer for the races you want to do really well in.

What you don't get right the first year you're learn a lot and have a better idea next year. I also like Chris Carmichael's book, the time crunched cyclist for a comparison since it's emphasis is a little different. More intervals less endurance.

I did the stationary bike and gym thing at first but it didn't help. I ended up buying a Kurt Kinetic trainer and just doing a lot of indoor riding through Dec, Jan and Feb. Mainly just endurance riding, base miles, etc, but come March I'll be ready to start a time crunched program.

If all that is a bit much at this stage, check out lwcoaching.com as they have affordable static plans for XC.

Good luck with your racing. Don't worry about the stigma about being in the beginner's/cat III level racers. Some of the cat III racers I race with are pretty damn fast and putting out times as fast as the sport class riders... The quality of the bikes seems to be really high as well.

Cheers

john
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh I have no problem being cat 3. Heading to Barnes and Noble tomar to pick up those books and get planning. The gym helps for right now but ive been looking at trainers. But then I need a different tire or different bike. The gyms been hurting me though so I fig if I keep increasing my running and biking over time it couldnt hurt. But once it gets over 40 degrees im on the trails! Hopefully all of next week. Think its gonna be 60! Thanks for your help.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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I was holding off on answering to see if one of the more experienced riders would. I've only been racing XC a few seasons, although I've trained seriously in other things in the past.

OP, just ride your bike a lot. It sounds like you're already pretty close to upgrading. So if you figure out how much you rode last year, ride a little more than that, and go to a lot of races, you should be getting your ass handed to you in Cat. 2 by the end of the season.

IMO, consistency in training habits is much more important than getting into following a plan. If you're used to riding five or six days a week (work up to it slowly if that's more than last year,) it's not too difficult to add structure later. But if you try to follow a complicated, intense training plan right out of the gate, you're likely to get annoyed with the whole enterprise.

If you can identify a specific area of weakness and devote a day or two a week to working on that, that's helpful. But with one race behind you, you may not have a good idea of what you should be doing.

I don't like stationary bikes in gyms and am too cheap to pay for a membership anyway, so I'm out riding in all weather. Lucky for me it's a bit easier where I am - we rarely get as low as the thirties. The stationary trainer idea is a good one, I think, and you might also just bundle up and get some miles more often.
 

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I haven't competed a lot on the bike, but I'll share my wisdom with you. You don't want a really structured program where you have to do hill intervals 3 days a week or ride in zone x for a certain amount of time. That type of structure is not needed in Cat 3. It will also be more like work instead of having fun.

What you do need is to just get out and ride your bike more than you did last year. Ride another day a week or two a week without your friends so you can determine your pace, but still take the bike out with the friends on the weekends. You don't want to lose that, but train or ride harder another day. If you get time do a longer ride than usual on the weekends. Join your local bike shop for group rides. My shop has hammerfests two days a week and when I first joined I could barely hang on. By watching them you'll be struggling to hang on, probably, which causes you to push yourself. That in turn causes adaptation and you become faster. Do not ride too much and overwork yourself or cause burn out. Ride more and have fun.
 

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I suppose there is a lot of variation in cat 3 throughout the country. In the cat 3 races I've raced in the last couple of years, (Denver, Boulder, Summit and Grand County) the starts are fast. People are standing up and sprinting to get to the front of the pack and the start of the single track. Without specific training I've found that I get left behind at the start and then really have to work to get back to the pack. Doing intervals has really helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ill def be riding as soon as the temps warm up. Ive ridden in 20 degrees before but that was with friends. Its really hard to talk myself into going out there by myself but im def gonna try.

Cat 3 is def different around the country. Cat 3 here some sprint but most burn out and can be easily passed but then others just have a very fast steady pace and usually podium.

My main weakness is that I can blow through the first 5 miles but the second 5 I really slow down. Almost to a halt and then I see all those people I passed just cruise by me. I wanna be able to do that pace the entire race though. And most of the 1st and 2nd place winners seem to be able to keep this pace.

But the first race of the season is my home town so I already know the trails very well which helps and ill be riding the race course religiously for the next month so we'll see...

Thanks for the input guys. Its always nice to hear from more experienced riders.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Road work is really good for working on fitness stuff and pacing. Choose a boring place to ride and crank out twenty miles at an even pace; start working your pace up. It can be shocking how conservatively a rider has to start to maintain a given pace for a whole hour. When you race, experiment with doing it at either the maximum effort level you can maintain for those one hour tempo rides, or just keep doing what you're doing. How long does ten miles take you? If it's an hour, maintaining focus, IMO, is a big part of maintaining a good pace. Staying on someone's wheel can help with that, although you may not want to be that close to other riders in Cat. 3. If it's less than an hour, maybe a better warmup would help too. When I race for less than an hour, I feel like I'm about as open-throttle as I get without actually standing up and hammering, I leave my water and tools, and sometimes the bike I'm on has drop bars and 35mm tires. :D

There are other workouts that are good for improving the pace you can sustain. There's a series of workouts for training for a time trial that are applicable, just doing rides that last a while longer than your event helps, and almost anything that you do that improves your aerobic capacity will improve. But specificity is good.
 
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