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  1. #1
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Best Race in the 4s this Season - Gwinett Crit

    After upgrading to CAT-4 in the end of April, I've had a string of decidely mid-pack finishes, and a nasty crash on the last lap of a crit in which I was lined up to take 3rd...

    Basically, I'm strong, I don't get dropped - but dealing with the more aggressive pack, larger fields and a faster pace had mostly kept me a pack filler. Knowing I've got the legs, but had been screwing up my pack positioning has been eating at me as of late. Especially in crits - my forte. So, this weekend I decided to make the 400 mile drive down to Georgia to do a couple races. I think driving all night, and sleeping in the back of my pickup motivates me to do well in races. Racing becomes my only focus for the weekend, and I get into a calm, aggressive mindset.

    During my warmup, I recce'd the course, and went around to the 180* to watch the 5s. I chatted with the course volunteer for a few minutes, and made a quick friend who'd later cheer for me as I went around the 180. I like being 400 miles from my team-mates, and 1000 miles from home - and still having a fan section Lots of friendly folks involved in the race.

    The weather was nice, and very cool for Georgia in June. Probably mid 70s for the race start. The course was 7/10s of a mile long, with a 180* corner for the first turn, a tight 90* for the second, a one lane chicane, and two more 90* turns - the final on a fast downhill, before the start/finish line. I was a little anxious, as I'm still a little tentative after eating it in the crit up in Raleigh a month ago. It was a decent sized field with ~40 guys, with a couple teams (Aarons and Cycleworks) making solid showings. The race started off fairly fast, with nobody getting crazy on the first few laps. As the race tempo picked up, a group of three guys stacked up on the 180 - as I passed I saw a mess of what looked like computers and brifters...ouch... No major harm to the racers though, as it was a fairly slow corner.

    For those wondering what CAT4 crit speeds are like, I'd say this race was fairly reflective of the norm I've seen so far. We were doing 26-33 on the flats, with corner speeds being generally moderate until the last few laps. Now...speaking of corner speeds. At around 20 minutes into the race, I'd moved my way up through the pack, and coming around the final corner of the lap in the top 10ish, I was moving through the corner pretty hot, not sure of the speed, but it felt like a solid 30 and before I'd straightend up fully I began accelerating - my rear wheel slid, and then flatted. I immediately sat up, clamped onto the seat with my legs, kept my weight neutral and rode it out. I didn't go down - and nobody behind me did either. Not thinking I'd need a spare on this course, I left mine in the truck. Another gesture of kindness from a stranger got me back into the race though, as a team allowed me to use their spare and the course mechanic gave me a push to the back of the pack at the end of my free lap.

    With a new lease on the race, and riding on a borrowed wheel, I had something to prove I smelled blood in the water, and began to attack up the pack fairly eaisly, as I remembered being able to do in the 5s. I moved up to the front, worked with another rider to reel back in a two man break, and kept near the front to stay in contention. Feeling strong, after the 180* on the final lap with about a half mile left to go, I attacked with everything I had and got a bit off the front. I rounded the last corner in first, but with not quite enough speed (recalling my previous mishap...) and 5-6 riders who had been sitting in my draft came by me. D'oh. I attacked a little too early, and cornered a little too soft - and it cost me the race - but in all I'm happy with how I rode, and finally got my first top 10 (6th/7th I believe) in the 4s.

    The race was well executed by the organizers, and it was for a good cause (APDA - Parkinson's Disease Charity).

    Driving in the Atlanta suburbs on the other hand, was not such a good time

  2. #2
    I drew this vvvv RD Olivaw's Avatar
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    I know this topic has been discussed to death and that crits are more about constant accelerations rather than avg speed, but I'm wondering what kind of speeds you can maintain solo over an hour on the flats.

    I've been riding for a little over a year and have been thinking about trying some crits a little later in the season. I can average a little over 20 mph solo at a few % below threshold, but I'm thinking I wouldn't quite cut it based on the various crit race reports I have read.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RD Olivaw
    I know this topic has been discussed to death and that crits are more about constant accelerations rather than avg speed, but I'm wondering what kind of speeds you can maintain solo over an hour on the flats.

    I've been riding for a little over a year and have been thinking about trying some crits a little later in the season. I can average a little over 20 mph solo at a few % below threshold, but I'm thinking I wouldn't quite cut it based on the various crit race reports I have read.
    I too would be interested to hear the speeds that people normally ride and TT at in their category compared with what the average speed in their crits is.

    I just started racing in the women's CAT4 and we seem to be doing around 24-25 on the straightaways. I don't ride at this speed when I'm out on the road alone. Well, not for extended periods anyway.

    To RD Olivaw, when you do crits, I think you will be surprised at the pace at first, but not in a bad way. When you are in a big pack, assuming you can draft decently, you will kind of get sucked along. Then if you get dropped (like has happened to me before) you will see your speed go way down for the same amount of power output. One thing with a lot of crits is they are dynamic. There is constant moving around, jockeying for position so you can't just sit on someone's wheel and think that you can stay there and be safe and well-positioned. If you aren't actively engaged in moving forward, you will find yourself at the back of the pack in a blink of an eye. I know because it's happened to me before.

    Crits are a lot of fun. They may seem intimidating at first, but if you can do some race rides with clubs or teams in your area that will help take some of the fear factor away. Also, some places have training crits where you get to practice in a more low-key environment. Race clinics are another good way to get comfortable with things you will have to do in a race.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RD Olivaw
    I know this topic has been discussed to death and that crits are more about constant accelerations rather than avg speed, but I'm wondering what kind of speeds you can maintain solo over an hour on the flats.

    I've been riding for a little over a year and have been thinking about trying some crits a little later in the season. I can average a little over 20 mph solo at a few % below threshold, but I'm thinking I wouldn't quite cut it based on the various crit race reports I have read.
    I did a flat, 3-corner, windy, training crit last night with a mixed field of Cat. 2's, 3's, 4's, and a couple of 5's. 30 laps. When I got dropped with about 8 laps to go, my computer read that we had been averaging 25.2 mph up to that point.

    I can maintain 25 mph in a pack for hours. But I can't do intervals for hours. It was the constant surges, accelerations, speed changes, and the strong wind that did me in.

    Try this on your next two rides: Do a 20-mile ride and try to average a steady 20 mph and see how you feel at the end. My guess, is that you will be moderately tired but feeling o.k. Then, next ride, do a 20-mile ride where you get out of the saddle and sprint to 30 mph for 10 seconds, recover at 15 mph for 50 seconds, and repeat for 20 miles. My guess is that you won't be able to finish the workout or you'll end up puking or both.

    A crit is like the second ride, rather than the first.

    Not trying to discourage you from jumping into the fray, just want you to jump in with your eyes wide open. Racing is a blast. But in a painful and humbling sort of way.

    Bob

  5. #5
    I drew this vvvv RD Olivaw's Avatar
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    Thanks, but nobody has quite answered the question - what speed are you crit racers averaging if you go out for a threshold effort ride for an hour on flat terrain? I realize this won't translate directly to crit performance - I'm just curious.
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  6. #6
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RD Olivaw
    Thanks, but nobody has quite answered the question - what speed are you crit racers averaging if you go out for a threshold effort ride for an hour on flat terrain? I realize this won't translate directly to crit performance - I'm just curious.
    Well...TT'ing isn't my strong point, and I haven't done a solo hour long effort on the flats in a *long* time.

    Based upon my 10 and 30 minute efforts I incorporate into my training I'd say that without wind I could pretty reliably hold around 24ish mph for an hour. Thats a SWAG though, as my training loop is hilly and windy, and when I ride the flats it's with a group.

  7. #7
    I drew this vvvv RD Olivaw's Avatar
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    wow... if that is the case, it sounds like a Cat 4/5 crit should be a piece of cake for you - considering that most people seem to report average speeds in the 25-26 range for the race. I realize avg speed doesn't take accelerations into account, but a rider that can solo average 24 should be able to trade pulls at the front and avoid any unnecessary accelerations due to the yo-yo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
    Well...TT'ing isn't my strong point, and I haven't done a solo hour long effort on the flats in a *long* time.

    Based upon my 10 and 30 minute efforts I incorporate into my training I'd say that without wind I could pretty reliably hold around 24ish mph for an hour. Thats a SWAG though, as my training loop is hilly and windy, and when I ride the flats it's with a group.
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  8. #8
    shut up and ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by RD Olivaw
    I know this topic has been discussed to death and that crits are more about constant accelerations rather than avg speed, but I'm wondering what kind of speeds you can maintain solo over an hour on the flats.

    I've been riding for a little over a year and have been thinking about trying some crits a little later in the season. I can average a little over 20 mph solo at a few % below threshold, but I'm thinking I wouldn't quite cut it based on the various crit race reports I have read.
    we don't know/don't care because we never ride that way. i never go out and just ride as fast as i can for an hour, its either groups rides, long 4 or 5 hour rides or hills or recovery rides.

    if you wanna ride crits forget about your ave speed, you need to do as many group rides as possible to learn the dynamics and speed of the pack. when i decided last year to start riding again after a couple of years off the bike i was doing 200 miles or more a week but no group rides (we have some here w/ over 200 riders) and was getting dropped pretty easily even though i have tons of experience w/ pack riding. it just took a little bit of time for me to adjust and that was with knowing what was going on. with no experience you'll be off the back in no time. and this is a black and white issue- there's not much of a gray area, if you can't stay in the pack at 25 with the draft there's no way you'll catch them on your own at 26 ot 27

  9. #9
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RD Olivaw
    wow... if that is the case, it sounds like a Cat 4/5 crit should be a piece of cake for you - considering that most people seem to report average speeds in the 25-26 range for the race. I realize avg speed doesn't take accelerations into account, but a rider that can solo average 24 should be able to trade pulls at the front and avoid any unnecessary accelerations due to the yo-yo effect.
    'Snot that simple...

    Crits are, like it or not a series of all out accelerations. Even if you're at the front, you'll have to respond to attacks coming from behind you, and be able to hammer out of the corners. You'll have 90* corners, or steep uphills that will jar the pack...then someone will attack off the front, and the peloton will respond...etc

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