Chapter 10Dealing with “the drop”

It happens to every racer, bar none: getting dropped. After MONTHS of training and investment, you find yourself alone — off the back, struggling. How do you find the wherewithal to keep going, much less to be at your best? Here’s what happened to me in my second race of the season, a “C” race.

Oxford Road Race: April 24, 2016

The deceptively simple course profile for this race belies the exposure to wind, and how sharp the climbs are coming up out of the creek that cuts across it.

Race goals

  • “C” race: training only; no wild efforts. Stay controlled
  • Finish with main pack

Race Results

  • Immediate attack early in first lap
  • I foolishly initiated a chase, and was subsequently dropped
  • Finished 10th out of 14 riders

Initial post race observations

  • What is it about “stay controlled” I don’t understand?
  • If you’re going to try to bridge, COMMIT to it

Detailed analysis

Us “mature” riders are a stubbon lot and it’s painfully clear that I wasn’t paying attention to my own Race No. 1 notes, other than my positioning at the beginning was great. Click and watch below for all the gory details, and hopefully you’ll glean some helpful tidbits that will keep you from making the same mistakes I did. 

Here’s one major tip:

Unless you absolutely positively know for certain that you have in fact been mercilessly dropped, don’t give up the attempt to claw your way back to the group.

For example, if you're riding along for 30 seconds or more and the peloton is 20 yards or so away, stomp on those pedals and drown yourself in lactic acid to close that gap now! In this scenario, you're riding along at the same pace but expending far more energy than the pack that is oh-so-near. You're not dropped... But if you stay back there, you will be.

Watch the video for more.​

Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

  • legestrom

    How can you have a blog post about “mental toughness” and say you’re on the fence about next week because there’s thunderstorms in the area. Harden up and race!!!

    • Touché! And well taken…

      The flu that kicked me hard a couple weeks ago has virtually disappeared, but during really hard workouts I had noticed that little wheeze still present in my lungs. I didn’t want to put myself at risk of another back-set. I’m now in Taper week 1, heading toward my primary event on May 22. All events on the calendar must now be hit!