How To Race When You're Outmanned

This blog could also be called:

How I Failed To Win

So before I made the first video, I posted this about Negative Racing. I don’t really think people are racing negatively, so much as making unwise tactical moves where they are racing themselves out of the win.

Cliff Notes: RACE FOR THE WIN.


Okay, now, on to the race.

Race Scenario

8 Nashville Local, 7 Novo Nordisk, Rolly Weaver (UCI Pro), Brendan Sullivan (Masters World Champion), and Michael Olheiser (former Amateur Nats champion and many time Masters Nats Champ in Road Race and Time Trial).

Rolling climbs and kickers with 2 longer climbs; it’s not as steep as it looks except at the very top

Rolling climbs and kickers with 2 longer climbs; it’s not as steep as it looks except at the very top


Hit it hard early and try to splinter the field a bit. There are enough features on here that if I can create a break with enough of the riders from the other teams, they’ll ride.

This way, it might only be 4 v 4 v me v Pros and Former Pros.

Maybe I’ll have a shot!


2 guys go up the road, a couple Cat 2’s that I wasn’t sure could hold everyone off for an 80 mile road race.

Plus, Novo isn’t in the break so obviously they’ll do work at some point to bring the break back.


(Shout out to the younger squad, Evolution Racing, throwing their name in the hat and racing strong and aggressively.)

What Not To Do In A Road Race

While I’m not completely worried about the break up the road so early, I was trying to get a few moves going early on (hoping to maybe get a small split) and following moves that looked dangerous from Novo or others.

One thing you never do is tell other people how to race.

The other thing is never yell at other riders.

When someone yells at you or tells you what to do, you most likely want to do the other thing.

Same in racing. Maybe try to motivate or encourage the other riders, or find out their intrinsic motivation. Ask them, “Hey, wanna work together to bridge across at some point?”

Find out what the group is thinking. I failed at this today.

Tough Tactical Decision

I really should wait and let the race unfold a bit more.

If I’m aggressive and try to force things to happen, I just get followed and nothing constructive comes from it.

But if i wait, the teams with larger numbers can just send people all damn day and I’m stuck covering and then getting counter attacked.

My move was to try and split things up; it didn’t work, so Sunday Quarterback in the video below says that was a bad move. LOL.

When I Realized I Was In Trouble

At one point about 1/3 of the way through the race, I get in a break with 2 Nashville Local, 2 Novo, and someone else, and I can see Nashville Local and Novo drilling it to bring back the break!!

So they’re chasing down their own teammates because I’m in the break and BRINGING the former Pro’s with them!

Clearly, bullseye on my back, and I realized this too late. I expended too much energy in the first 40 miles that I didn’t feel I was going to have the overdrive power to get away on the main climb on the last lap.

Race To Win

I mention this in the video around 5:05, but we have too many people racing within the race for jerseys that mean so much less if you don’t win the actual race that the jersey is given in.

Since out of state riders can race but not win the jersey, sometimes people are only racing against in state riders. That seems silly to me.

In New York, we’d get guys from Canada, NJ, and PA, and if you didn’t win the race, we all hate having the jersey for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th place finish.

But nowadays, the races are so fractured with guys racing for a Cat 3 jersey, a Cat 2 jersey, a Cat 1 jersey, and ignoring out of state riders.

That is crazy.

If you don’t win the overall race, IN MY OPINION, there is a major asterisk next to it.

Can TJ Killilea really wear the Cat 1 jersey proudly by coming in 18th place? He’s a strong enough rider that has done big enough races to know that doesn’t feel as good as if he figured out a way to win the actual race; and, he could have on that day, no doubt. He had the squad, and the legs, to do it.

Race to win.

SIdenote: I make a comment in the video that Novo hasn’t been racing well tactically, but that changed for sure in another upcoming video! They raced extremely well at Three River Rumble and I’m excited to get that video together for you guys. Hamish Beadle was in town and a big help to that team.

How To Race Alone

An athlete once asked me how is it best to race when you’re outmanned, and here were my thoughts.

It’s tough. You need to get in a early break with their best riders and hope that their ego is big enough that they actually ride. Meaning that they are confident enough with their own strength that they’re happy to have you along and have foregone the benefit of them having teammates in the race.

Even if they’re stronger than you, it behooves them to utilize their teammates initially, to attack and counter attack you, so that when they decide to duke it out with you later on in the race, you are starting the battle with fewer matches.

If they don’t ride, and actually race as a team, try vice versa; let mediocre riders get up the road, knowing that you can bridge to them, but at a time where you’ll def get there without the team’s best riders.

This is harder, because the first thought for the mediocre rider is what they’ve been taught (don’t work with a stronger rider), but if you push the pace, they usually get nervous, don’t want you to ride away, and then they will ride with you. This sounds crazy and illogical, but in the heat of the race, sometimes it works. You are burning a couple matches testing this out though.

Good riders are chasing but as you mentioned, they may just be capable and not amazing, and if you’ve timed it JUST right, you can get away in a small group with guys that will eventually ride cause they’re usually not in the break and therefore they don’t know to JUST WAIT UP (they have numbers!).

Also, they could be dying to get a result and just work; ego over team. It’s selfish but thats the beauty of this sport. Many have a hard time really really riding as a team. You can get W’s when you’re outnumbered but hit things just right.

Brendan HouslerComment