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Thread: I suck at crits

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    I suck at crits

    So I did the Madera stage race this weekend and bombed at the crit. It was soooo demoralizing. I wasn't last but close enough to it that it made me feel like just giving up the idea of racing. Same thing happened at my previous crit. It could be that I'm coming off a hard month of racing (I had 5 races this month) and am just not recovered enough. My coach put a bunch of things on this month for hard training. Or maybe my body hasn't adapted well to races like crits where you have to go all out right from the *** and do lots of accelerations? Strangely, in spite of a good warm-up that I got from my coach, I didn't start feeling good until maybe halfway through the crit. Well after the crit I was beginning to wonder if I'm just wasting my time with racing. I was really upset. I didn't even want to do the TT I was so mad. Maybe I was over-reacting, but that's how I felt.

    Well I went out and did the TT. Didn't even bother doing more than noodle around for a warm-up. From the *** I settled in at a hard pace. It was hard work, but strangely I was very happy in spite of the suffering during the thing because I knew I was riding well. After the fact, I looked at my powertap data and ended up holding an average wattage that was 10 watts more than my coach told me to ride it at. I also managed to catch one person. My time ended up being good enough for mid-pack placing in the TT. I was surprised at that given how tired I was from earlier in the day. If I could have pushed a little bit harder and shaved 10-30 seconds off, I could have moved up a bit more in the placings even. Before I saw where I placed, I didn't care about it because I knew I had ridden well. After the fact, it made me wonder what I could have done in the TT if I were fresher and hadn't done so much already this month.

    My sample size obviously needs to increase before I can get good statistics. However, I'm finding that I can TT even when I am sore/tired/mad/did an earlier race/whatever, but not so with crits. Strange because my coach thought I would do well at crits.

    Have any of you guys had a similar experience?

    I'm wondering what this whole thing says.

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    how many crits have you done? crits are about more than just numbers. sometimes you have to forget about the data and the numbers and just ride and gain experience. i don't think this applies to you (since you also have a coach) but i think most new racers shouldn't worry about things like powermeters for the first year and just gain race experience

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz
    how many crits have you done? crits are about more than just numbers. sometimes you have to forget about the data and the numbers and just ride and gain experience. i don't think this applies to you (since you also have a coach) but i think most new racers shouldn't worry about things like powermeters for the first year and just gain race experience
    As far as the "numbers" issue is concerned, I haven't had the powertap for that long. Just bought it about a week and a half ago. I've been using it for training, but in the two races I've done this past week, I didn't really look at the power numbers until after the fact. The one exception was for the TT where I used it as somewhat of a pacing tool during the race. I agree with you that the first year should be for gaining experience, dealing with fast pack riding, etc. However, I'm finding that no matter how I ride crits, I almost always do badly. But for TT's and even some RR's it seems to be a different story and I can't figure out why.

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    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Is it a mental thing? Maybe you don't like the close riding and contact of a crit.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john
    Is it a mental thing? Maybe you don't like the close riding and contact of a crit.
    I actually really enjoy the idea of moving around in the pack and stuff. The first couple of crits I did, this worked well and I felt pretty comfortable. The most recent ones, I've not been able to keep up. I figured it might be overtraining or just too many races this month. But then the TT's always go well, no matter what...

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    Slow'n'Aero DrWJODonnell's Avatar
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    Has you strategy evolved? Some people, as they get more comfortable, tend to try to stay center of the pack to conserve energy. My feeling (not being a great sprinter) is that is a bad move...too much yo-yo. I never did well in crits until I got up front, stayed up front, pushed the pace, and started break aways. But I am also a very good time trialist.

    The other thing to remember is that a lot more people are coming to form after a winter off. It could be that you are just up against stiffer and more fit competition than you have been in earlier races. Look at the results. Are the usual suspects winning or is there a changing of the guard. Different people winning likely means different levels of fitness coming in.

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    @ Checkmate Cycling jbhowat's Avatar
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    Criteriums are REALLY, REALLY hard. One of the only ways you can get better is to do intervals and work on short power and fast cornering. Work on picking a line where you can take the corners without brakes. If the guy in front of you is braking, learn to be able to carrying the extra speed and *gasp* cross wheels with him. You'll use less energy coming out of every corner. Learn how to pedal through corners. Crits are really different from everything else and honestly - a lot of people are bad at them. It shouldn't make you give up bike racing.

    A smaller percentage of us are sitting here saying: Man I suck at road races and hill climbs.

    I don't think I would suck at a more flat road race - but it doesn't really exist around here. I excel best a flat, longer circuit races, TT's, and then Criteriums. I'm more of a rolleur and thus my short-power isn't exceptional for criteriums when I can't get in a break that will last. Even then I'm rarely the fastest finisher in the break. Developing more force is something I'm working on for this/next year that will hopefully help me do better on climbs and sprints.
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    Crits beat the crap out of me. White knuckle racing. Squirrely riders. Acceleration after acceleration. Unlike a road race where you can hide in the group and just get sucked along, there's no way to fake it with all those accelerations. Unlike a time trial where you get into a rythm and just motor along, you have to repeatedly change speeds in crits.

    I know you have a coach, and I don't want to interfere with your training program. But if you aren't training your weaknesses (i.e. doing a ton of sprint intervals) you aren't likely to improve much.

    This month my team started doing sprint intervals. 10 seconds full speed, 50 seconds recovery, then 10 seconds full speed, etc. etc. 20 times each session. If you don't hold back, and do the sprints all-out, this workout will beat you up. Of course, crits beat you up, so the workouts are great training for crits.

    Last Tuesday at the local training crit, I was able to hang with the mixed field of 4's, 3's and 2's for the first time all season and I finished about 13th out of 33 riders. (I'm a cat. 5). I know that those sprint intervals have a lot to do with my progress.

    Bob

  9. #9
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Anyone like me and feel much, much more comfortable with crits?

    I don't really like huge pack RRs, as they tend to stay 'gruppo compacto' with lots of guys faking the funk...

    I love technical crits, and tend to place better when it's full gas right from the start. Today I finished okay in the local crit, and right off the bat I got up front and gassed it to 30+ in the first couple hundred meters just to see if anyone didn't warm up Good times.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
    Anyone like me and feel much, much more comfortable with crits?

    I don't really like huge pack RRs, as they tend to stay 'gruppo compacto' with lots of guys faking the funk...

    I love technical crits, and tend to place better when it's full gas right from the start. Today I finished okay in the local crit, and right off the bat I got up front and gassed it to 30+ in the first couple hundred meters just to see if anyone didn't warm up Good times.
    anything in particular that you do to feel comfortable being able to gas it right from the beginning? Curious about your warmup.

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    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
    anything in particular that you do to feel comfortable being able to gas it right from the beginning? Curious about your warmup.
    Today I rode for about 8 miles as a warm up.

    Tooled around slowish for about a mile and a half, moderate effort for another couple miles, and 6 hard efforts up the two steep hills on the crit course, with more moderate (tempo) efforts in between the hill sprints.

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    Slow'n'Aero DrWJODonnell's Avatar
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    Because I know that I am going to be in the front or a break, I warm up as I would for a TT of similar length. Anyone else?

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    Now Racer Ex Vinokurtov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
    I'm wondering what this whole thing says.
    Hi Snic,

    Crits are mostly about fast twitch accellerations, anaerobic efforts, and quick recovery, unless you have a big enough motor to ride folks off your wheel. If you're getting dropped, that's what you need to work on.

    The tri-geek type folks tend to be easy prey at crits, they have one very strong speed and that's it. Lot's of slow twitch muscles. Great for TT's and some road races, not so good for crits. You might have that type of body, if so ride to your strengths, and just figure you're never going to be a killer at crits.

    If it helps I get warmed up both aerobically (some high HR efforts sustained for 60-120 secs) and also do some fast spinning so my leg muscles are ready to go. Then I go out and chase guys around whose thighs are bigger than my waist.

    How'd the road race go? Had one gal go down from heat exhaustion at the finish while I was waiting for my friends race to finish up.

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Crits are more mental strategy than RR or TTs, maybe there's something we're missing here. Are you staying in the top 1/4th of the pack? No further back than that or the yo-yo effect's gonna kill ya!

    jbhowat's got some good ideas on conserving energy. Rather than overlap the wheel in front by not slowing down to conserve energy, I just start coasting 10-15ft earlier going into a corner. This opens up the gap to 1.5-2ft and I DON'T have to brake as a result. I catch up and close the gap halfway through the corner as they're braking. Then just as I'm about to rear-end the guy in front, the inside opens up as the pack drifts to the outside and I scoot to the inside and start pedaling. By conserving your speed and pedaling earlier, I can move up 2-3 positions on the inside as everyone's coasting to the outside. Saves a lot of energy and lets you stay up near the front without having to work as hard as the others.

    Another good way to move up is on the outside on tight corners. As they brake, you just move to the outside and pass up half the pack. Be sure you go around the corner next to and even with someone so you don't get pinched into the kerb coming out of the corner.

    It's chess on wheels, I'd say that fitness is 20% of a crit and it's 80% tactics. As long as you're in their draft, no matter how much stronger the other guys are than you, they're not gonna be able to ride away and drop you... So pay attention to who the strong guys are. It's usually a small group that consistently wins the primes, so single them out and follow them around.

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    Thor's dad Odin's Avatar
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    I was upgraded on Saturday and did my first crit in C grade. They're much more aggressive out of corners than my last grade and I was still getting over a flu so to conserve energy and still stay with the bunch, I just kept drifting between about 4th and 8th.
    Out of turns when they sprinted, I'd go a little easier and slide back a few spots which I made up going into the next turn by doing things like Danno mentioned...(I think my road racing background helps a bit there too) so less energy out of the turn and make up places for free going in.
    Worked really well because despite the flu, I raised a few eyebrows and won the bunch sprint.
    20% fitness - 80% tactics
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    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Try doing cyclocross this season to improve your crit racing for next year. It dramatically improved my crit racing. What ever you do don't give up. Even if you come in last or get pulled your still out there doing it and thats what it's all about.

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinokurtov
    Hi Snic,

    Crits are mostly about fast twitch accellerations, anaerobic efforts, and quick recovery, unless you have a big enough motor to ride folks off your wheel. If you're getting dropped, that's what you need to work on.

    The tri-geek type folks tend to be easy prey at crits, they have one very strong speed and that's it. Lot's of slow twitch muscles. Great for TT's and some road races, not so good for crits. You might have that type of body, if so ride to your strengths, and just figure you're never going to be a killer at crits.

    If it helps I get warmed up both aerobically (some high HR efforts sustained for 60-120 secs) and also do some fast spinning so my leg muscles are ready to go. Then I go out and chase guys around whose thighs are bigger than my waist.

    How'd the road race go? Had one gal go down from heat exhaustion at the finish while I was waiting for my friends race to finish up.
    Hi Vino,

    Thanks for your comments on the crits. I feel good about my ability to sprint, but where I'm really having trouble is the recovery. In the EB crits where there were a lot of newbies, I started off mid-pack and then moved up to the front after a few laps. Then I stayed there and moved around until the last 4 then gunned it at the last turn. It actually felt easy. The fields in the big crits are completely different. The women finishing at the top 3-5 are doing their TT's just as fast as some of the good 3's and even 2's. I don't have the speed yet to stay at the front compared with the EB's so I end up sprinting a lot to catch bacm on the pack. I've got a pretty good idea how long I can do this before I just fall off. It takes a lot out of me to do these sprints. So I figure I need better recovery, or perhaps just work on getting stronger so I can stay closer to the front the whole time.

    As for the RR, I didn't stay for it. I had planned just to do the Crit/TT. This month I've had 5 races and it was also my first stage race so I didn't want to burn myself out.

    It was hot wasn't it??? There were tons of people at the TT who were warming up in the grove of trees next to the road...it was just to hot to stand around. Given how badly I felt in the heat wave from last august, I was very happy to have done as well in the TT as I did.

    How did your race go?

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    Now Racer Ex Vinokurtov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
    So I figure I need better recovery, or perhaps just work on getting stronger so I can stay closer to the front the whole time...

    It was hot wasn't it??? There were tons of people at the TT who were warming up in the grove of trees next to the road...it was just to hot to stand around. Given how badly I felt in the heat wave from last august, I was very happy to have done as well in the TT as I did.

    How did your race go?
    Might be good to talk to your coach about improving your recovery. It took me a fair amount of time to build that capacity, and to figure out how to time those efforts for the finish. Even the best riders don't always get it right in crits, it's a pretty fluid thing in the front. Hopefully the strongest riders in your group will move up and not sit in cat 4 or 5 like some of the men do.

    My weekend went well. 10th in the crit, 8th in the TT (24:04 on my road bike) and 6th in the road race (throw a blanket over 2nd-8th), tied for 7th on GC. Considering the level of competition and speed in the 45+ 1/5, I was really happy with the way things went. Finished ahead of the former GC leader in the roadrace, he didn't jump on when second place GC made his 3rd break, and the field wouldn't help him chase, he just got pounded after that and lost the overall. The guy who won did 30 miles solo, absolutely deserved the win.

    Hot? Oh boy. Three weeks ago I was training in the snow. I finished the TT looking like I had stepped out of a swimming pool.

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    Now Racer Ex Vinokurtov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
    As for the RR, I didn't stay for it. I had planned just to do the Crit/TT. This month I've had 5 races and it was also my first stage race so I didn't want to burn myself out.
    I just did the math on my race totals. 12 races in April and 24 total since the middle of February. That would be a lot.

    Two races tomorrow night

  20. #20
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinokurtov
    I just did the math on my race totals. 12 races in April and 24 total since the middle of February. That would be a lot.

    Two races tomorrow night
    24 races??? Dude, can you lend me some watts????

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    Now Racer Ex Vinokurtov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
    24 races??? Dude, can you lend me some watts????
    I'm selling all I can speare just to pay for fuel to get back and forth over the hill.

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