To provide a bit of context for upcoming race reports, and from the perspective of a recreational cyclist who periodically races (if it can be called that…) a brief primer on the workings of amateur road races:
A road race usually consists of several different races that are organized by categories based on ability, age, and gender. For example, the 3-part Mason Lake Road Race Series that kicked off this weekend consists of (results flyer says) 9 (event flyer says 8?) races each day.
Road racing categories roughly work like this: New racers start at the bottom of the heap (called category 5, or “cat 5”) and advance up the ranks (up to cat 2 or 1) depending on how many races they complete and how well they finish. If you look at a typical team roster, you’ll see that most riders are cat 3 and 4, with fewer racers at cats 1 and 2. The top finishers in each race earn points as well as goodies or cash or both.
Road racing is a team sport. Each team employs tactics to position one of their riders to win. The nature of the tactics depends on the course, and the strengths and weaknesses of the other racers.
At time trials, riders sign up for (or are assigned) a start time, and race against the clock. Racers start at regular intervals, say every 30 seconds. As the racers finish, finish times are sorted and clumped according to each racer’s skill category.
(Racers & racing fans: Insert your 2 cents here…)