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Old 09-13-17, 11:14 AM   #1
Radish_legs
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How common are "free" informal practice crits?

Had a friend ask me about this. We have three weekday crit series in the DFW area. I think they are all USAC sanctioned. For those of you that have practice crits in your area, how do they work, and how are they organized?
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Old 09-13-17, 11:33 AM   #2
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I can think of a few regular weeknight worlds type pick-up races around here. If it's literally free it's not going to be any more organized than a bunch of guys, maybe a core group of which happen to race for the same team, getting together at the same time and place to race on the same loop every week. Somebody (or somebody's buddy/girlfriend/wife) volunteers to blow a whistle, count laps, and watch or even film the finish. And if it's free it has to be somewhat commando, meaning nobody got a permit from the park or permission from the abandoned corporate park landlord.
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Old 09-13-17, 11:47 AM   #3
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In my neck of the woods (SoCal) we have a few "crit" style group rides, most are usually in industrial parks but none (to my knowledge) are sanctioned in anyway shape or form.

Most are word of mouth, Strava, etc and most have been in standing for a long time. You simply show up and ride.
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Old 09-13-17, 11:51 AM   #4
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We have at least 3 within 30 miles; our closest one is in an 1 mile industrial park loop on Thursday night, everyone lines up at 6 pm and it usually goes for 40 minutes or so. If you get dropped, there's no issue jumping back in so long as its at the back of the peloton. Usually one of the spectators call 3 laps to go, etc.

I wish we had a crit series, even though it was only a mile from the practice crit location only a few showed up. We'd get 50-100 at the practice crit and maybe 30 at the sponsored one.
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Old 09-13-17, 12:21 PM   #5
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there's a noontime crit around here that is like tues/thurs I think, then @mattm does one in san jose pretty regularly thursday nights?
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Old 09-13-17, 01:41 PM   #6
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We have none (greater Sacramento). So, they're not common at all for us.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:50 PM   #7
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We have none (greater Sacramento). So, they're not common at all for us.
We used to. There was a development in Rancho near the canal path where they'd laid out all the streets but hadn't built houses. It was a perfect spot for it: central to Sac and Folsom/EDH. A local female racer organized a weekly crit series. I think she charged $5 and had numbers and such.

It would be nice to get something like that going again rather than another variation of the River Ride. The problem is finding a decent loop.
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Old 09-13-17, 07:44 PM   #8
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We have at least 3 within 30 miles; our closest one is in an 1 mile industrial park loop on Thursday night, everyone lines up at 6 pm and it usually goes for 40 minutes or so. If you get dropped, there's no issue jumping back in so long as its at the back of the peloton. Usually one of the spectators call 3 laps to go, etc.

I wish we had a crit series, even though it was only a mile from the practice crit location only a few showed up. We'd get 50-100 at the practice crit and maybe 30 at the sponsored one.
So the practice crit arguably destroyed the real crit series? That would suck.
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Old 09-13-17, 10:00 PM   #9
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We used to. There was a development in Rancho near the canal path where they'd laid out all the streets but hadn't built houses. It was a perfect spot for it: central to Sac and Folsom/EDH. A local female racer organized a weekly crit series. I think she charged $5 and had numbers and such.

It would be nice to get something like that going again rather than another variation of the River Ride. The problem is finding a decent loop.
Bummed to have missed out on that ... would be good if one popped up.
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Old 09-13-17, 10:09 PM   #10
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For whatever reason, the majority seem to like the impromptu hammer fests over actual USAC races. Part of it is the money, but I think the biggest part is the social aspect. Guys get to ride with their friends, and brag about blowing by the local quasi pro who's probably just treating it as recovery.
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Old 09-13-17, 11:05 PM   #11
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there's a noontime crit around here that is like tues/thurs I think, then @mattm does one in san jose pretty regularly thursday nights?
Yes, the "Alviso" crit on Tuesdays & Thursdays (year-round I think?)

I've never done Alviso, but I do the SJBC "Twilight" crit in the summer.

Neither are USAC sanctioned, both on open roads. The SJBC crit has a small fee and lap cards and minimal prizes, the Alviso crit has a jersey or something. The sad thing about both of those is that it's mostly medium-fast people, no heavy hitters for the most part. Small fields for both.

Isn't there also something up in Santa Rosa on Tuesdays?

There's also the "POO" (port of Oakland) ride, I think also on Tuesdays? Never done it, but it makes for good Strava titles.

All I know is Seattle's Seward Park Crit on Thursdays was (and probably still is) the ****. Not USAC sanctioned, but organized with primes, lap cards, etc. A lot of the local heavy hitters would show up, so it was basically a real race. And the road was more or less closed.
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Old 09-14-17, 07:15 AM   #12
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Yes, the "Alviso" crit on Tuesdays & Thursdays (year-round I think?)

I've never done Alviso, but I do the SJBC "Twilight" crit in the summer.

Neither are USAC sanctioned, both on open roads. The SJBC crit has a small fee and lap cards and minimal prizes, the Alviso crit has a jersey or something. The sad thing about both of those is that it's mostly medium-fast people, no heavy hitters for the most part. Small fields for both.

Isn't there also something up in Santa Rosa on Tuesdays?

There's also the "POO" (port of Oakland) ride, I think also on Tuesdays? Never done it, but it makes for good Strava titles.

All I know is Seattle's Seward Park Crit on Thursdays was (and probably still is) the ****. Not USAC sanctioned, but organized with primes, lap cards, etc. A lot of the local heavy hitters would show up, so it was basically a real race. And the road was more or less closed.
I miss Seward. 15$ buy in. Win a prime, get your money back. Do well in the race and you can turn a profit. I basically raced for free there my sophomore year of college by sandbagging in the c field with a teammate.

But yeah, it's a real race. The metier (hsp is probably what you remember them as) and Keller rohrback guys have a serious rivalry at that race. They use it to tune up team tactics for the weekend races and if you're not in on the plan, it's going to be a hard time coming over the top of the hill.
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Old 09-14-17, 07:20 AM   #13
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Are non-USAC weeknight crits (formal, just unsanctioned, but bu a promoter and with insurance, etc) a common thing? Asking because a promoter and I are thinking of starting a series next spring and trying to decide if no USAC upgrade points = nonstarter.
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Old 09-14-17, 07:20 AM   #14
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There's a winter crit series here in the parking lot of the arena, when there are not events going on. I haven't done it yet.

Back in Texas, we had one in one of the university commuter lots during the winter as well.

As for what MattM describes, man, the organizer of that is taking on a huge risk. It's one thing for a bunch of people to get together and do a practice "race." It's quite another when some is responsible for taking cash, lap cards, and prizes. There is such a huge liability there if someone were to get hurt. I would never want to accept that risk without some form of insurance and sanctioning. It's also probably illegal if it is on city streets - parking lots tend to be private property - as most municipalities have laws against unsanctioned/unpermitted racing.
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Old 09-14-17, 07:47 AM   #15
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Are non-USAC weeknight crits (formal, just unsanctioned, but bu a promoter and with insurance, etc) a common thing? Asking because a promoter and I are thinking of starting a series next spring and trying to decide if no USAC upgrade points = nonstarter.
Both parts of the country I've lived in have solely unsanctioned racing during the week with a few of them sanctioned here or there. It helps keeps costs and red tape down. AFAIK, they all carry insurance and waivers to race on top though.

Hell, I've raced in Oregon under obra where everything is unsanctioned and private. It's nice to not have to take out a loan to race there.
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Old 09-14-17, 08:33 AM   #16
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As for what MattM describes, man, the organizer of that is taking on a huge risk. It's one thing for a bunch of people to get together and do a practice "race." It's quite another when some is responsible for taking cash, lap cards, and prizes. There is such a huge liability there if someone were to get hurt. I would never want to accept that risk without some form of insurance and sanctioning. It's also probably illegal if it is on city streets - parking lots tend to be private property - as most municipalities have laws against unsanctioned/unpermitted racing.
Seward and the SJBC crit have a waiver to sign, not sure about insurance but its probably handled. These are long-standing events and Im sure theyve figured all that out. Both have had crashes and are still happening fwiw.

Seward is in a city park, they seem to have an agreement with the city to be able to shut down that (one-way) loop once a week. SJBC crit is on an open but low-traffic road. Possibly illegal but I doubt it, as that group is not exactly a bunch of risk takers.

Not to worry man, theyve got this figured out!
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Old 09-14-17, 08:38 AM   #17
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But yeah, it's a real race. The metier (hsp is probably what you remember them as) and Keller rohrback guys have a serious rivalry at that race. They use it to tune up team tactics for the weekend races and if you're not in on the plan, it's going to be a hard time coming over the top of the hill.
Yeah I miss it too. It was my first race, and I did it just about every week since it was just a 20 minute ride from Cap Hill.

My last race in Seattle was also there, in 2012. I was in the As and jumped way early, right when it flattens out, and won the field sprint. Only time Richter said a word to me was a compliment on my jump! #claimtofame
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Old 09-14-17, 08:57 AM   #18
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Yeah I miss it too. It was my first race, and I did it just about every week since it was just a 20 minute ride from Cap Hill.

My last race in Seattle was also there, in 2012. I was in the As and jumped way early, right when it flattens out, and won the field sprint. Only time Richter said a word to me was a compliment on my jump! #claimtofame
Some of the best advice Richter gave me about Seward was to do exactly that. Chill for the first push and jump at the crest. The field sprint definitely starts there now a days. Seward is such a dynamic race that it only works some times, but yeah.

Don't know if you ever did the Rocket Ride, Matt, but to the op, this ride is a a road race version of what you are talking about. Open road racing all winter. Go out and blow yourself up against the best in the state. No fees, no waivers. Same route every week. Dropped, you better know how to get to the Starbucks at the end. The story goes that the route wasn't even published for the first couple of years. That was the prize for making it to the end.

Oh, and all the cool kids ride to and from the park.

Damn I'm going to miss that ride this winter...
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Old 09-14-17, 10:23 AM   #19
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Some of the best advice Richter gave me about Seward was to do exactly that. Chill for the first push and jump at the crest. The field sprint definitely starts there now a days. Seward is such a dynamic race that it only works some times, but yeah.
Oh I meant the opposite of his advice - I attacked just after the downhill, at the start of the flat section, way before the climb up to the line (og ccw direction).

That was my best 1-minute power ever!
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Old 09-14-17, 11:26 AM   #20
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Oh I meant the opposite of his advice - I attacked just after the downhill, at the start of the flat section, way before the climb up to the line (og ccw direction).

That was my best 1-minute power ever!
That is a lonnng ways out on that course. I've seen guys stick a sprint from the base of the 1st climb. And I've podiumed in a breakaway there. Never saw a win from that far out though.

Now racing cw is a completly different story. All kinds of **** happens going that way.
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Old 09-14-17, 12:44 PM   #21
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Seward and the SJBC crit have a waiver to sign, not sure about insurance but its probably handled. These are long-standing events and Im sure theyve figured all that out. Both have had crashes and are still happening fwiw.

Seward is in a city park, they seem to have an agreement with the city to be able to shut down that (one-way) loop once a week. SJBC crit is on an open but low-traffic road. Possibly illegal but I doubt it, as that group is not exactly a bunch of risk takers.

Not to worry man, theyve got this figured out!
Thanks for clarifying.
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Old 09-15-17, 05:09 PM   #22
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We have summer Wed. night crits throughout the state (TN). I think Memphis has four, Knoxville has four, and Nashville has 12. Nashville is on a race track that they alter to make two different courses.

In Nashville they're $25 bucks, though, and are USAC sanctioned. Upgrade points are available and lots of people use these races to upgrade (which I completely disagree with when it's basically where all upgrade points come from).

At time throughout the year it seems there are typically more racers doing those than weekend races. There's a jr. race, a women's race, and then 4/5, 3/4, and 1/2/3 races.
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Old 09-15-17, 09:28 PM   #23
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We have summer Wed. night crits throughout the state (TN). I think Memphis has four, Knoxville has four, and Nashville has 12. Nashville is on a race track that they alter to make two different courses.

In Nashville they're $25 bucks, though, and are USAC sanctioned. Upgrade points are available and lots of people use these races to upgrade (which I completely disagree with when it's basically where all upgrade points come from).

At time throughout the year it seems there are typically more racers doing those than weekend races. There's a jr. race, a women's race, and then 4/5, 3/4, and 1/2/3 races.
If you upgrade via the mid-week local crit, you are no good. If you don't upgrade, you are sandbagging and no good.
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Old 09-15-17, 09:51 PM   #24
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If you upgrade via the mid-week local crit, you are no good. If you don't upgrade, you are sandbagging and no good.
Obvious solution:
Do different races occasionally. Other crits in the region. Road races. Stage races.
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Old 09-15-17, 10:31 PM   #25
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Obvious solution:
Do different races occasionally. Other crits in the region. Road races. Stage races.
It's a good solution. But not always a great solution for a middle-aged family man with kids and soccer games and everything else. I personally don't worry about it. I don't care about upgrading. I'll just race from time to time.
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