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Race The Training Thread

Tsuga

Warming-Up
Jan 17, 2023
9
6
You should also look into hillclimbs. They're the cheapest, most frequent, most accessible, safest form of racing here. They're basically the gravel racing of Japan.

You can find many cycling and other events on https://www.sportsentry.ne.jp/ and here https://www.cyclesports.jp/race-event_calendar/ and here https://www.cyclowired.jp/race-event-calendar .

The problem is that there are quite a few events that fall between the cracks.
Thanks for the links!

I will take a look at those sites. Although, we might be doing different events if you're considering gravel racing as "safe" (and unfortunately, cheap, no longer the case in the US) haha. In my experience gravel racing was more dangerous than criteriums, but neither are something I shy away from. And while I love climbing my interest is probably in longer distance road style events of 2.5+ hours.

Of course having said that, I have thought about stringing together a full CX season next year since that seems to me to be the easiest racing to do here in Japan.
 

baribari

Maximum Pace
May 28, 2010
1,440
1,075
Thanks for the links!

I will take a look at those sites. Although, we might be doing different events if you're considering gravel racing as "safe" (and unfortunately, cheap, no longer the case in the US) haha. In my experience gravel racing was more dangerous than criteriums, but neither are something I shy away from. And while I love climbing my interest is probably in longer distance road style events of 2.5+ hours.

Of course having said that, I have thought about stringing together a full CX season next year since that seems to me to be the easiest racing to do here in Japan.
I mean that the vibe is pretty similar, even though the racing is veeeeeery serious at the pointy end.
Hill climbing is much safer than gravel racing.
The longest hill climbs are about an hour and a half for the fastest (5.5+) guys. Most are under an hour.

Most road races are under two and a half hours. A few are upwards of three and a half.
There is currently only one really long (5+ hour) sanctioned road race open to amateurs in Japan: the Tour of Okinawa 210.
They are currently working on organizing a 210-km race in Fukushima.

CX seems to be growing in Japan. One of the Tohoku CX events is just a few minutes from my house. I might do it next year.

Edit: Goalposts moved for accuracy
 
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OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
2,426
2,062
FTP of 5 w/kg at 66kg, but very comfortable riding 3.5 hours + at 3.5 w/kg. I have a road leaning gravel bike with a road & gravel wheelset, so comfortable in either type of event. For fun in the US I hopped into some Pro/1/2 road events on it to guest ride for friend's teams.
Welcome!

Let me add to @baribari's observations, which correspond to my experience as well, and he has been in many more races than I have.

Fitness-wise, I think you should expect people of your caliber in many of the races. Even the lowest amateur category consistently has a few hotshots with a similar (relative and absolute) wattage, often some talented “youngsters” who haven't percolated up yet. Some (most?) teams of the highest amateur level do motor pacing and pack serious punch. E. g. the fastest local team here in Sendai regularly does motor pacing.

In Japan you'd be a heavier rider, so you might have to adapt your race strategy. E. g. I have a race weight of 71.5–73ish kg am relatively tall (1.78 m, and that is relative to the average Japanese cyclist), and I am frequently the heaviest rider (or one of the heaviest) in a race. If you'd transplant me to the Netherlands, I'd expect to be one of the smallest and on the lighter end.

Personally, I love the vibe of hill climb TTs: they are much more open events and I feel safest here. I don't know if you could win any of the big hill climb TTs, but you'd definitely be towards the top of the field.

Out of curiosity: how do you train? What kind of bikes do you have and ride?
 

Tsuga

Warming-Up
Jan 17, 2023
9
6
Fitness-wise, I think you should expect people of your caliber in many of the races. Even the lowest amateur category consistently has a few hotshots with a similar (relative and absolute) wattage, often some talented “youngsters” who haven't percolated up yet. Some (most?) teams of the highest amateur level do motor pacing and pack serious punch. E. g. the fastest local team here in Sendai regularly does motor pacing.

In Japan you'd be a heavier rider, so you might have to adapt your race strategy. E. g. I have a race weight of 71.5–73ish kg am relatively tall (1.78 m, and that is relative to the average Japanese cyclist), and I am frequently the heaviest rider (or one of the heaviest) in a race. If you'd transplant me to the Netherlands, I'd expect to be one of the smallest and on the lighter end.

Personally, I love the vibe of hill climb TTs: they are much more open events and I feel safest here. I don't know if you could win any of the big hill climb TTs, but you'd definitely be towards the top of the field.

Out of curiosity: how do you train? What kind of bikes do you have and ride?
I definitely don't think that I will be the most fit person in any race that I would do. But, I also don't imagine that the caliber of racers here in Japan is significantly higher than the USA. Maybe that's naieve? But in America I raced in the Pro/1/2 fields for sanctioned USAC events and "Pro" field for all non-sanctioned events. I often had well over 20 race days in a year. I wouldn't anticipate or expect an easy win here in Japan for sure. But I would think I could ride in a pack, participate in some key racing moments, and finish with the grupetto. To me, that sounds fun. As recently as 2021 I stood on the podium or raced in breakaways with various former world tour / USA conti riders.

Certainly being a "heavy" rider will take a mental shift, but I'm not surprised as I've compared my power profiles to Japanese rider's KOMs I have taken on local climbs. I wish I could get to their weight! But, it's not for me. In college when preparing for national championships my weight could dip to 64-64.4kg, but I find I'm happier and healthier 65-66, and my weight tends to not shift throughout the year like it used to. My last 20 minute FTP test was in December, at 66kg. I'm 1.75m tall.This has been much harder on my wife, she's a former XCO National Champion in the 20-25 age category. Bit of a shock to go to buy clothes and find you're a "large".

If I find a hill climb near Ishikawa, maybe I'll give it a try. But, I don't think I'll win one haha.

As for my training, I spend 10+ hours a week riding. Recently I have been averaging closer to 13.5, and I hope once the weather turns I can push that to 15. Some of my teammates from college went on to become professional coaches, so I have been lucky enough to have their coaching and insight into my plans. Currently I focus on z2 rides, with some tempo on a couple of days, and soon I'll transition to Steady State. Due to Ishikawa's weather I do many indoor rides currently on the Kickr we brought, but can't wait to move it all back outside. I ride a 2021 Cervelo Aspero with SRAM Force eTap AXS, and have a Specialized Roval Terra CL wheelset with road tires & a Gulo Composite GGA-38 wheelset with gravel tires.

Sorry if this is too much, I just really love bicycles haha.
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
3,296
3,550
Hey Andy,

Sorry to be a bother, but do you have links to these events? I moved to Ishikawa prefecture in August of 2022. Formerly from Western North Carolina, USA (hence the Tsuga username). I told myself that part of this move would involve stepping away from racing, but I've found I'm jonesing to get out and do an event. I've planned some personal "events" like a 1-day 400km ride coming up in May, but nothing official. I have done multiple 240km+ rides in the past, with the longest being 287km & 5,600m of elevation.

In the US I raced road, gravel and mountain at a semi-professional level. I'm still hanging on to a lot of that fitness through this winter. FTP of 5 w/kg at 66kg, but very comfortable riding 3.5 hours + at 3.5 w/kg. I have a road leaning gravel bike with a road & gravel wheelset, so comfortable in either type of event. For fun in the US I hopped into some Pro/1/2 road events on it to guest ride for friend's teams.

I guess in short, I'm feeling a bit dressed up with no where to go.
Ishikawa is a great place to be. I would recommend a loop around Noto Hanto if you haven't already.

You are unlucky that the Uchinada Road Race has recently finished.

Also the Wajima Road Race, which was part of the JBCF series has also finished.

An active team near you is Balba. They are well represented at many events, including the JBCF, CX etc.


There is also team Tondemo.


I just Googled those, so there may be better links.

But it might be good to hook up with them for training and racing?

@jdd is also based in Kanazawa, so he may have some good ideas.

If your serious about road racing, in addition to Okinawa, Niseko Classic and Japan Cup are also big road events that I'd recommend.

Cheers, Andy
 

OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
2,426
2,062
I definitely don't think that I will be the most fit person in any race that I would do. But, I also don't imagine that the caliber of racers here in Japan is significantly higher than the USA. Maybe that's naieve? But in America I raced in the Pro/1/2 fields for sanctioned USAC events and "Pro" field for all non-sanctioned events. I often had well over 20 race days in a year.
I think what would set you apart is your race craft and your absolute power, and I reckon you can be competitive. In fact, as far as I understand a relative weakness of Japanese amateur athletes is their relative lack of experience when it comes to racing. You should definitely look for a team, that's a great way to bond.

I have only taken part in 4 or 5 races, and basically a race occupies a whole weekend. I have two small kids and a wife, so staying away for a whole weekend is a no go. By the way, one of these races is in your new hometown, Ishikawa.
Certainly being a "heavy" rider will take a mental shift, but I'm not surprised as I've compared my power profiles to Japanese rider's KOMs I have taken on local climbs. I wish I could get to their weight! But, it's not for me. In college when preparing for national championships my weight could dip to 64-64.4kg, but I find I'm happier and healthier 65-66, and my weight tends to not shift throughout the year like it used to. My last 20 minute FTP test was in December, at 66kg. I'm 1.75m tall.
Yeah, some of the people are brutally fast on climbs, and snatching KOMs becomes impossible if one of the local heroes has tried your favorite Strava segment.
This has been much harder on my wife, she's a former XCO National Champion in the 20-25 age category.
Wow, that's impressive. Mountain biking is much less common in Japan, and ride-worthy trails are often kept a secret. If someone e. g. puts it up on trailforks or publicize it otherwise, the local government would close them. If your wife wants to connect with the local scene, the best bet is to connect with a team.
Bit of a shock to go to buy clothes and find you're a "large".
Yeah. Also pay attention when you buy cycling apparel. Some companies like Pearl Izumi sell Asian fit clothes here (for obvious reasons), which means shorter and thinner limbs.
As for my training, I spend 10+ hours a week riding. Recently I have been averaging closer to 13.5, and I hope once the weather turns I can push that to 15. Some of my teammates from college went on to become professional coaches, so I have been lucky enough to have their coaching and insight into my plans.
Nice! Sounds like you bring a lot of training knowledge to the table. Hope you don't mind if doofuses like me ask stupid questions … ;)
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
3,296
3,550
I think what would set you apart is your race craft and your absolute power, and I reckon you can be competitive. In fact, as far as I understand a relative weakness of Japanese amateur athletes is their relative lack of experience when it comes to racing. You should definitely look for a team, that's a great way to bond.

I have only taken part in 4 or 5 races, and basically a race occupies a whole weekend. I have two small kids and a wife, so staying away for a whole weekend is a no go. By the way, one of these races is in your new hometown, Ishikawa.

Yeah, some of the people are brutally fast on climbs, and snatching KOMs becomes impossible if one of the local heroes has tried your favorite Strava segment.

Wow, that's impressive. Mountain biking is much less common in Japan, and ride-worthy trails are often kept a secret. If someone e. g. puts it up on trailforks or publicize it otherwise, the local government would close them. If your wife wants to connect with the local scene, the best bet is to connect with a team.

Yeah. Also pay attention when you buy cycling apparel. Some companies like Pearl Izumi sell Asian fit clothes here (for obvious reasons), which means shorter and thinner limbs.

Nice! Sounds like you bring a lot of training knowledge to the table. Hope you don't mind if doofuses like me ask stupid questions … ;)
Maybe Ishikawa prefecture? Not Ishikawa town, Fukushima prefecture? But I dunno!

Andy
 

GrantT

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2012
1,852
1,557
Link to the list of Balba shops, some in Ishikawa Pref: http://www.balba.jp/
Heard some grumbling last year on the road racing grapevine about the team though. Partly that members were expected to buy into the team by buying a high-end bike from a Balba shop. Could all be jealousy at an apparently successful team though. They do pretty well on the national road race circuit.
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
3,296
3,550
Link to the list of Balba shops, some in Ishikawa Pref: http://www.balba.jp/
Heard some grumbling last year on the road racing grapevine about the team though. Partly that members were expected to buy into the team by buying a high-end bike from a Balba shop. Could all be jealousy at an apparently successful team though. They do pretty well on the national road race circuit.

I only know of their presence at races. Certainly don't want to get involved if that is the case. For me having a local bike shop that is mutually supportive has been the key to cycling eutopia. My advice would be to check them out and don't commit too much.

Andy
 

Benedikt

Speeding Up
Nov 5, 2021
47
51
I've planned some personal "events" like a 1-day 400km ride coming up in May, but nothing official. I have done multiple 240km+ rides in the past, with the longest being 287km & 5,600m of elevation.
It's not racing per se, but if you enjoy long distance riding like that there are some randonneuring events out of Ishikawa, mostly organised by Audax Kinki. Here is a link to their 2023 calendar.
The Audax Japan page has a more complete list, with starting prefecture added for quick access. You may be able to find some other events in areas close to you that you can tour to. I personally like to take a gander at the randonneuring routes for ideas for my own casual riding as well.
 

Tsuga

Warming-Up
Jan 17, 2023
9
6
Nice! Sounds like you bring a lot of training knowledge to the table. Hope you don't mind if doofuses like me ask stupid questions … ;)
I don't mind questions, but honestly I think I could have done well in the military. I'm good at doing what I'm told. One coach I had for around a decade and he knew me well. He'd put my schedule on TrainingPeaks and I'd head out and do it. I didn't ask many questions haha. I have a lot of personal experience, but maybe not a lot of in depth knowledge about why we do certain things. Also... I buy all my clothing online haha. I have my sizing figured out from certain brands so I stick to it.

Maybe Ishikawa prefecture? Not Ishikawa town, Fukushima prefecture? But I dunno!

Andy
Yep, sorry! I always forget there is Ishikawa town. I am in Ishikawa Prefecture, next to Kanazawa.

Yes, but I'm old... and slow. Best way to say it is that you and @Tsuga, vs me--this is more like different species.
I am possibly now a bit too confident in the work I've put into the sport, which sometimes gets me fired up. And I admit, that it's hard for me to do a ride for leisure. But, without the "old and slow" crowd in the beginning I wouldn't have come as far as I have. And by the end, I'm sure I'll be part of that bunch haha.

Link to the list of Balba shops, some in Ishikawa Pref: http://www.balba.jp/
Heard some grumbling last year on the road racing grapevine about the team though. Partly that members were expected to buy into the team by buying a high-end bike from a Balba shop. Could all be jealousy at an apparently successful team though. They do pretty well on the national road race circuit.
I only know of their presence at races. Certainly don't want to get involved if that is the case. For me having a local bike shop that is mutually supportive has been the key to cycling eutopia. My advice would be to check them out and don't commit too much.

Andy

I'll have to check it out... I have been lucky enough to always have worked for a shop, been on a team, or been a shop's ambassador. So it does sting a bit to no longer have access to many of those old perks. It's tricky because other than my fitness and some content creation / media skills, I don't have a lot to offer to a Japanese shop with a Japanese market. I study every day, but I am far from fluent in the language. Maybe if they want a token foreigner, I'm their man haha.

It's not racing per se, but if you enjoy long distance riding like that there are some randonneuring events out of Ishikawa, mostly organised by Audax Kinki. Here is a link to their 2023 calendar.
The Audax Japan page has a more complete list, with starting prefecture added for quick access. You may be able to find some other events in areas close to you that you can tour to. I personally like to take a gander at the randonneuring routes for ideas for my own casual riding as well.
I'll definitely look into this more. I have checked it out some. Unfortunately I am still young and dumb enough to love competition, and I know an Audax is not supposed to be competetive. So I think my intent would conflict with the spirit of the event. But, I have found I enjoy pushing myself in long distances.

My wife and I did the Tour de Noto, but in reverse. That way we could get hotels. I carried all of our baggage. I have bikepacking bags but I prefer "sport touring". My planned 400km ride is actually the route we did, but instead of 3 days I'd like to do it in 1. This lead me into the Audax rabbit hole.

A slight complication to my racing aspirations is that my wife and I don't currently own a car. We ride our bikes everywhere, with me being the packmule. It's a great way to get away for a long weekend and see the countryside (while getting a bit of training in). But, I could rent a car to travel to events and we also have Oru Bike Bags for international travel.

I talked to my wife about the Okinawa 210 and she's onboard to be my domestique for a day, so I think that we'll look into heading down there. I'll keep working on an event calendar with all the info y'all have given me, thanks! Another possible one is the 2023 Japan Grinduro in Hakuba... I wish it was a gravel race, but a gravel event with timed segments may have to do. And we could ride our bikes there.
 
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Benedikt

Speeding Up
Nov 5, 2021
47
51
I'll definitely look into this more. I have checked it out some. Unfortunately I am still young and dumb enough to love competition, and I know an Audax is not supposed to be competetive. So I think my intent would conflict with the spirit of the event. But, I have found I enjoy pushing myself in long distances.

You can always compete with yourself, setting your own goal time. The only difference is nobody gets a gold medal (or everybody gets a gold medal!) My experience, and I'm sure @joewein can corroborate, is that everyone is welcoming no matter how you treat the event, as long as you're not taking away from others' experience.
 

Tsuga

Warming-Up
Jan 17, 2023
9
6
You can always compete with yourself, setting your own goal time. The only difference is nobody gets a gold medal (or everybody gets a gold medal!) My experience, and I'm sure @joewein can corroborate, is that everyone is welcoming no matter how you treat the event, as long as you're not taking away from others' experience.
Haha, that does sound nice. Maybe I'll see how my ride goes in May and then look into doing something more official.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
3,409
3,383
Haha, that does sound nice. Maybe I'll see how my ride goes in May and then look into doing something more official.
As @Benedikt says, the randonneuring crowd is very open and diverse, with many different objectives and preferences. For some people the goal is to enjoy the views and camaraderie and just finish under the time limit, others go fast only to then have time for sit down meals at interesting local restaurants along the course, others want to finish as early as possible. Some people add to the challenge by completing the course on unusual bicycles such as MTBs, mamachari or Fatbikes.

Results are published in alphabetic order of the names and not by finishing time but everyone who finishes or at least gave it their best try is respected. There is much more diversity in ages and body shapes than in racing.

In my experience randonneuring courses are great for incorporating in your own rides as they tend to be based on years of experience by local riders. They will avoid dangerous roads with lots of trucks and often have great scenery. They can be quite hilly though.

Probably my favourite randonneuring route was a 400 km ride (27 hour time limit) that I have done for a few years. With that kind of distance I like that you ride at all times of day so you get to see sunsets and sunrises and night skies as well as a great change in scenery.
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
3,296
3,550
Hey Andy,

Sorry to be a bother, but do you have links to these events? I moved to Ishikawa prefecture in August of 2022. Formerly from Western North Carolina, USA (hence the Tsuga username). I told myself that part of this move would involve stepping away from racing, but I've found I'm jonesing to get out and do an event. I've planned some personal "events" like a 1-day 400km ride coming up in May, but nothing official. I have done multiple 240km+ rides in the past, with the longest being 287km & 5,600m of elevation.

In the US I raced road, gravel and mountain at a semi-professional level. I'm still hanging on to a lot of that fitness through this winter. FTP of 5 w/kg at 66kg, but very comfortable riding 3.5 hours + at 3.5 w/kg. I have a road leaning gravel bike with a road & gravel wheelset, so comfortable in either type of event. For fun in the US I hopped into some Pro/1/2 road events on it to guest ride for friend's teams.

I guess in short, I'm feeling a bit dressed up with no where to go.

I forgot to say, I made a list of events here, these are mostly fun rides and localish to Niigata, but something may interest you.

Cheers, Andy

 

baribari

Maximum Pace
May 28, 2010
1,440
1,075
I forgot to say, I made a list of events here, these are mostly fun rides and localish to Niigata, but something may interest you.

Cheers, Andy

I want to do the Sado Long Ride, for sure. I did a loop of the north half with a friend years ago, and it was probably the best cycling route I have ever done.

I have made it through the first week on my diet and I am.... almost 4 kg down from my peak holiday weight.
The math doesn't make any sense, but I'll take it.
 
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