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Thread: First Crit

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    Senior Member the_drain's Avatar
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    First Crit

    Hey guys.

    I've entered to race my first crit this Sunday. Tell you the truth, I'm nervous as hell...I'm in the unlicensed/cat 5 category...and have no idea what I'm up against.

    I'm in good shape, I started racing duathlons (3 under my belt to date)...but that is a very different style. My crit is 25 laps of a 0.9km loop....sounds pretty hectic. Likely will be wet and has a corner nicknamed 'crash corner' (narrow and off camber). I have done some group riding so I'm not too nervous about that aspect...I'm concerned more about how to manage my fuel. Full throttle the entire time? How should I jockey for position...try to get up at the head of the pack asap or wait until a couple laps to go? Attack on the hill?

    Anyone have any good strategies? How fast can I expect the race to be? 30-40km/hr range?...the fact any unlicensed rider can join should make it pretty interesting.

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    elitist jerk daytonian's Avatar
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    Be ready for hard accerlerations followed by brief slow downs. Stay out of the wind. If your turn comes to pull, 15-20 secs and let someone else. Hold your line in turns.
    I feel like a soiled kleenex dropped in the gutter in the red-light district of Paris.

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    Senior Member mike9903's Avatar
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    I see pain in your future!

    Do your best to stay in the top 1/3 of the pack, but never at the front, this will prevent you from falling victim to the yo-yo effect. If you are not passing people then you are moving back in the pack and will find your self at the very back of the pack very quickly, always be looking what your next move is. If someone attacks and goes off the front, don't panic and attempt to bridge up yourself, let some other schmuck pull the pack up to the break.
    2011 Madone 6.9 SSL w/SRAM Red


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    Mitcholo CrimsonKarter21's Avatar
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    Grow to enjoy the pain. The dead, hollow feeling in my legs in the hours following a hard race with a big hill is what fuels me.
    When the race starts, pick out a steady looking guy, and follow his wheel. Do not move your bike more than you have to, keep it straight and steady at all costs. Even in the Cat 5's, nobody likes a Swerve.
    But HAVE FUN!

  5. #5
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_drain View Post
    Hey guys.

    I've entered to race my first crit this Sunday. Tell you the truth, I'm nervous as hell...I'm in the unlicensed/cat 5 category...and have no idea what I'm up against.

    I'm in good shape, I started racing duathlons (3 under my belt to date)...but that is a very different style. My crit is 25 laps of a 0.9km loop....sounds pretty hectic. Likely will be wet and has a corner nicknamed 'crash corner' (narrow and off camber). I have done some group riding so I'm not too nervous about that aspect...I'm concerned more about how to manage my fuel. Full throttle the entire time? How should I jockey for position...try to get up at the head of the pack asap or wait until a couple laps to go? Attack on the hill?

    Anyone have any good strategies? How fast can I expect the race to be? 30-40km/hr range?...the fact any unlicensed rider can join should make it pretty interesting.
    There's really no managing your fuel to it. You have to put out whatever it takes to stay in the group.

    As for speed, the average might end up something around 40kph. But the accelerations will be closer to 50-55kph.

    Just try to be smooth, predictable, try to stay up font as much as possible, keep rubber side down,and learn.

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    Senior Member WCroadie's Avatar
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    I hope you did more then just some group riding, you could very well be bumping shoulders,elbows with other racers, if this happens stay relaxed. Keep your head on a swivel, be alert in the turns, no doubt people will be diving the corners. A lot of people get dropped in their first race, so if it happens to you don't sweat it. Racing will be like nothing you can imagine, you won't know until you try it. Like Crimson said, enjoy the pain!

    If the guy you are following starts to let a gap open between him and the pack go around him ASAP, if you start to get dropped you will have about 10 seconds to catch back on, after that you will have no chance. Most Importantly have fun, bike racing is addictive.

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    Senior Member the_drain's Avatar
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    thanks a lot for great advice everyone! i will let you all know how it goes...

    as for the bumping, i did do a little drop in 'criterium training' last summer...but it was pretty friendly...not a full out 'for the glory' racing.

    i definitely am looking forward to it! :-D

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    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    It can't be emphasized enough--DO NOT PULL THE PACK AROUND. Stay protected in the top third of the field.
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

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    guppy labrat_62's Avatar
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    One thing that will help a ton, getting a good start. start in the little ring up front, and maybe your 15 in the back, quick clip in, pedal pedal pedal, quick shift to the big ring, and off you go. Should allow you to start in the front 1/3 of the pack, while others are fighting their bigger gears to gets started. Anyway, works for me.
    Cat 3 O-meter: Nope, happily staying in the 4s until they kick me out!

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    abandoning fly:yes/land:no's Avatar
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    another tip, particularly for those who don't like accelerations: stay on the outside. the outside is usually more likely to get taken out by a crash (particularly in an off camber corner)and usually slides back a few positions, but will have a much more constant speed assuming that the turns are all the same direction. the front third of the group on the middle/outside is not too bad. the last third of the group on the inside is tough for me. good luck!

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    Texas Fight! UT_Dude's Avatar
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    My tip? Crits suck, find something more fun to race .
    T E X A S F I G H T !
    http://www.chriscollins.org

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    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    Don't pull; attack. Only pull when you've made the selection, and want it to work well.
    "If a non personal post makes you feel as if you've been attacked, maybe the problem IS you."

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    You're going to be nervous - that's only natural. For your first crit, just try to stay with the field for the most part - toward the front of the pack if possible. However, don't be affraid to move around in the pack, or even take a jump off the front if the situation warrants it, and you feel comfortable. That's how you learn. If you don't feel comfortable with this, save it for your second race.

    Also, be prepared for a VERY fast start. Also be prepared for sudden accelerations. Remember, those around you are also suffering. Out suffer them, and NEVER give up!!!!!

    Good luck, and let the group know how it went!

    ... Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by labrat_62 View Post
    One thing that will help a ton, getting a good start. start in the little ring up front, and maybe your 15 in the back, quick clip in, pedal pedal pedal, quick shift to the big ring, and off you go. Should allow you to start in the front 1/3 of the pack, while others are fighting their bigger gears to gets started. Anyway, works for me.
    ? Start in your big ring/19/21.

    Honestly, once the race starts, most of the tips you've gotten arent going to mean alot. Things you can control are pre-race stuff.
    -check your equipment evening before, so that you're confident it's functioning safely/properly
    -pack your race bag, cooler, car, whatever you're taking with you the evening prior with things you'd take to a group ride
    -Pack 4 water bottles + take something to drink on your way to the race ... 2 water bottles for warmup, 1 for the race, 1 for post race chatting
    -Get there at minimum 1.5 hrs. before your race, and warm up for at least 45' with a set of 4x1'on HARD/3'off or something similar so that when your race starts, youre good and ready to go.
    -pin your # on before your warmup, 7 pins. get help from a pretty girl if needed.
    -Do a couple laps of the course after the race preceeding yours to guage the corners and any rough patches on the pavement
    -Dont worry about lining up at the front, it's completely over-rated and irrelevant. Just line up, say hi to those around you, and wish them a good race (note - dont tell everyone it's your 1st crit, that's a sure way to have everyone avoid you like you've got a dirty chamois).
    -When the race starts, sit in the pack, follow wheels in front of you, and most importantly have fun .

    Good luck and safe racing to you.

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    Oh The Huge Manatee Lithuania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
    ? Start in your big ring/19/21.

    -Dont worry about lining up at the front, it's completely over-rated and irrelevant.
    I think this can depend a lot on the course. In certain races ive gotten killed because I just couldnt get moved up because of the size of the field and the layout of the course.

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    ^^^^Gear inch chart is below, given most crits are done in the big ring, and given that 39x15 (gear ratio suggested by another poster) is between 53x19/21, you might as well start in the big ring.

    Moving up in fields is about fitness and skill, if you cant move up, you probably wouldnt have been able to maintain position near the front anyway, even if you started there.


    53 39
    12 116.1 / 85.4
    13 107.1 / 78.8
    14 99.5 / 73.2
    15 92.9 / 68.3
    16 87.1 / 64.1
    17 81.9 / 60.3
    19 73.3 / 53.9
    21 66.3 / 48.8
    23 60.6 / 44.6
    25 55.7 / 41.0

  17. #17
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UT_Dude View Post
    My tip? Crits suck, find something more fun to race .
    More fun than crits?!? Is that legal?
    Bring the pain.

  18. #18
    Oh The Huge Manatee Lithuania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
    ^^^^Gear inch chart is below, given most crits are done in the big ring, and given that 39x15 (gear ratio suggested by another poster) is between 53x19/21, you might as well start in the big ring.

    Moving up in fields is about fitness and skill, if you cant move up, you probably wouldnt have been able to maintain position near the front anyway, even if you started there.


    53 39
    12 116.1 / 85.4
    13 107.1 / 78.8
    14 99.5 / 73.2
    15 92.9 / 68.3
    16 87.1 / 64.1
    17 81.9 / 60.3
    19 73.3 / 53.9
    21 66.3 / 48.8
    23 60.6 / 44.6
    25 55.7 / 41.0
    errr i didnt mean to keep the gearing part in there.

  19. #19
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
    ? Start in your big ring/19/21.

    Honestly, once the race starts, most of the tips you've gotten arent going to mean alot. Things you can control are pre-race stuff.
    -check your equipment evening before, so that you're confident it's functioning safely/properly
    -pack your race bag, cooler, car, whatever you're taking with you the evening prior with things you'd take to a group ride
    -Pack 4 water bottles + take something to drink on your way to the race ... 2 water bottles for warmup, 1 for the race, 1 for post race chatting
    -Get there at minimum 1.5 hrs. before your race, and warm up for at least 45' with a set of 4x1'on HARD/3'off or something similar so that when your race starts, youre good and ready to go.
    -pin your # on before your warmup, 7 pins. get help from a pretty girl if needed.
    -Do a couple laps of the course after the race preceeding yours to guage the corners and any rough patches on the pavement
    -Dont worry about lining up at the front, it's completely over-rated and irrelevant. Just line up, say hi to those around you, and wish them a good race (note - dont tell everyone it's your 1st crit, that's a sure way to have everyone avoid you like you've got a dirty chamois).
    -When the race starts, sit in the pack, follow wheels in front of you, and most importantly have fun .

    Good luck and safe racing to you.
    All very good advice. This poster has been there.

    Other tips:

    Crumple your race numbers up into a ball and then un-crumple them before you pin them on. This will stop them billowing in the wind.

    Don't start in the little ring. You will lose places trying to shift into the big ring. 53 x 19 or 21, it depends on how far the first corner is.

    Ride the finish a few times in a gear you like to sprint in. Count out 20 pedal strokes from the finish. That's your last chance to kick by for the win. Note that spot.

    If the last corner is less than 200m from the finish, you want to be in the top 3 coming into that corner to stand a chance. I like to jump INTO the corner because I can usually get a few meter gap 'cause I hang'em TIGHT!

    If you feel good put in a 90% attack right where you think you will start you sprint for the win. Do it in the middle of the race. This will give you a really good idea if you've got it or not and if you've got the right spot to go.

    I'd better stop now because I'm starting to twitch.

  20. #20
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    Crumple your race numbers up into a ball and then un-crumple them before you pin them on. This will stop them billowing in the wind.

    You can also prevent the billowing, and in fact, do it better, by pinning your number properly. As a bonus, it won't piss off the officials, at least around here, who are always talking about "Don't crumple your numbers". I can understand that, as it makes them more difficult to read in the camera.
    Bring the pain.

  21. #21
    Senior Member sounddevisor's Avatar
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    C'mon, no one's gonna give him the most valuable crit advice ever?

    Here it is:

    "Go fast, turn left."

    That is all.

  22. #22
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sounddevisor View Post
    C'mon, no one's gonna give him the most valuable crit advice ever?

    Here it is:

    "Go fast, turn left."

    That is all.
    What if it's a right handed turn?
    Putting the Duh in Floriduh.

  23. #23
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kensuf View Post
    What if it's a right handed turn?
    Start prayin'

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    Senior Member MONGO!'s Avatar
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    Make sure you are properly warmed up, stay out of the wind and have fun.

  25. #25
    Senior Member WCroadie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
    ? Start in your big ring/19/21.
    -Pack 4 water bottles + take something to drink on your way to the race ... 2 water bottles for warmup, 1 for the race, 1 for post race chatting
    Good luck and safe racing to you.

    Although you will only need one bottle for the race, I usually race with 2 bottles half full. This way if you drop one, which happens sometimes you still have water and are not S.O.L.

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