Common things that I still see riders doing wrong, even cat 1 riders... but more so in the lower cats:
1) Eating too much wind, for a variety of reasons. Listen people, mass start bike racing's central defining characteristic is DRAFTING. If you want to be a bike racer you must acknowledge, internalize, and LIVE IT. If you have some sort of secret internal conflict where you think drafting is for losers and wheelsuckers, guess what: you will never win anything except Strava segments and people will always say about you, "gee he's so strong but he just never can get a result in the races". Is that what you want? No, didn't think so. SO LEARN HOW TO DRAFT.
1a) riding "near the pack" is NOT THE SAME as drafting. You should focus on drafting one particular rider, not "the pack".
1b) Drafting means, being in the sheltered spot that's usually directly behind the rider (in calm air). NOT 6 feet back... more like, your front tire is about a foot from their back tire. Yes, you have to pay attention. NOT 3 feet to the side... stay in the draft.
2) Taking turns WAY TOO SLOWLY. You worked really hard to get going so fast, so why are you coasting halfway down the straight, dragging your brakes and entering a wide flat smooth turn at 16mph???? Jeeeeeesus.
- Learn proper posture for cornering, and DO IT
- Quit touching your Goddamn brakes when the road is 60 feet wide!!!!
- DO NOT COAST into a turn where you can pedal at full speed. FertheloveofGod.
- Honestly... in typical American crit and road racing there are very few turns where you even need to touch the brakes... and don't worry, everybody else will be sure to let you know where those are.
2a) Taking HORRIBLE LINES into and through corners. Really. If you want to go as fast as possible (and you always should, because IT'S A RACE), then you need to take the path thru the turn that allows you to go fastest. This involves setting up ALL THE WAY on the outside. Not in the middle of the street, wasting half of your space. ALL THE WAY. Then, you don't begin diving / leaning into the turn until very late... later than that... not yet.... because when you get antsy and "turn in early" you're wasting all the room for your turn and then you'll end up at the exit with a bad line having to scrub your brakes then jump again... why do that to yourself?
3) Half-assed attacking. This one really gets me. Listen, buddy, I'll be straight with you: it's REALLY REALLY HARD TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE PACK. Therefore, your measly little "jump 100 meters and look back" is NOT going to do the trick. You have to KEEP GOING. YOU HAVE TO "BREAK" THE PACK.
Get it? BREAK THE PACK. Does that sound easy? No? Good, it's not. So KEEP GOING. STILL KEEP GOING. YES I KNOW IT HURTS. KEEP GOING.
Thanks for listening. If you do these things and do them well, you might still suck... but then you might not.
buy this book. read it. make your teammates read it. do it.
Thanks for that tip! And the corresponding review!
I read Prehn's book and the Wenzels' book before I started writing this one. I don't want to off-put their efforts, but I think RtR goes a lot deeper into the sport. And my two biggest lessons are:
1. The draft is your friend. Always.
2. Counter-steering is your other friend. It helps you A. corner better, and B. avoid crashes.
Amen to 2,2a and 3! These are keys especially to crit racing.
I spent some time today reading all of this thread. It has a lot of wisdom in it. Chapeau to botto for starting it.
For the first 5 laps or so, the technique totally worked, and J was out of sorts with what was going on. Same thing lap after lap, and he learned, then schemed. If that technique had been used only on the last lap, J would have had 2nd. We're good friends with the veteran and rehashed all this after the fact. Was pretty interesting. I happily got 3rd that day :)
I never ride outside when it's under 40 degrees, and it seems like for next weekend, March 1st, the first race is expected to be 20 degrees below normal, maybe about 15F at the start. Is there any way to manage this? Should I just try to take it easy since it's cat 5 and I just have to finish without getting lapped? (not going to happen, it's 4 6-mile laps around central park). I don't even have gear that's suitable for riding in weather under 35 degrees, unless I put on a fleece, a shell, maybe 2 pairs of pants, and gloves, maybe a gator. This winter sucks.
Throw on a ton of clothes and get after it. Your race will only take about an hour, so you won't be outside in the cold for too long.
Also, have to ask, what's the gator you are referring to?
The "gator" is actually a (neck) "gaiter." And, yeah, I think you're doing well on the bottom half (if "pants" means "tights"). The top half, I'd wear SS jersey, arm warmers, LS jersey, and a vest, maybe the shell to warm up, and shove it under the back of your jersey assuming you get warm enough to remove it before the start. Get hand warmers for your shoe covers and for your hands (wear them on top of your hand and on top of your shoes). Fill your insulated bottle with hot water or hot tea, and roll it in a towel inside your gear bag for insulation during transportation.
Everyone is different. My 15f
ls base layer ls jersey jacket
booties w/ duck taped vents and chemical warmer
Rain is expected all night so either the course will be soaked and it may be raining during the road race. People on here say to lower tire pressure. I usually run 100 front, 110 rear and I weigh 160. Should I do 90 in front and rear? Should I give more room or draft the usual distance? Will my water bottle get filled with road gunk?
Question about doing a Crit where the first lap or two are at at controlled pace and then the race officially starts.
I did a race a month ago where the first two laps were controlled and people were riding along around 16 or 17mph on the flats for the first lap (1 mile each). Then on the second lap it got a little faster with a few people ramping up the pace and while the race didn't officially start, it seemed people were trying to get to the front and jockey for position. Is there a certain etiquette on these preliminary laps? In the next race I do, should I try to stay at the very front even if I have to exert a decent amount of effort before the race officially starts? Do people ever go too hard on these laps and then get chastised by others in the race? I don't want to get stuck again in the middle where the accoridan effect tires out my legs and lungs before the race is over.
People definitely jockey for position on neutral laps. No particular etiquette, except for not being a jerk (and not passing the pace vehicle).
Having said that if you want/need good positioning at the start of the race, the first 5 seconds after you clip in is really key.