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Old 04-03-08, 07:14 PM   #1
ridethecliche
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What you wish you'd known about crits when you started.

I'm doing my first crit on sunday and just wanted to see how you guys reflect on your first crit. I've read a bunch of CDR's blog entries, and I'm actually racing the event he helps to run.

I'm going to be rocking my 84 trek 760 steelie because my CAAD9 doesn't fit me right and I'm waiting on a new frame from the dealer. I might swap my wheels for the lighter wheelset for the race.

I just wanted to see what you guys learned that was indispensable to your crit experience. I just want to go and have fun and ride my heart out.

It's my first CAT 5 race but I've done two collegiate races so far. Got any tips for a crit noobie?

Thanks! I figure this will be a cool reflection thread for all you folk!
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Old 04-03-08, 07:16 PM   #2
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Don't flub clipping in.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:18 PM   #3
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Some quote I read on here. Train hard, race easy
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Old 04-03-08, 07:20 PM   #4
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Always: Keep your eyes up the road. Focus on the wheel in front of you and you'll end up one of the 20 or so guys that goes down in "that" crash.


And ignore the "stay at the front 1/3 of the pack but never go to the front advice".

Attack like a pitbull on meth.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:20 PM   #5
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The most valuable thing to me was pre-riding the course. Understanding corning lines, braking points, how the tarmac undulated, and where folks were going to crash.

As a result I knew which corner to 'cook' and which one to enter alone if possible, and which one to drop a cog for exit.

What do I wish I knew? That some hotshot would do the first lap at 32mph and I, nor anyone else, couldn't hold that pace for another 28 minutes.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:22 PM   #6
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i'm going to the same crit race you are. and we'll prolly be in the same race. um, the best things i was told about cat 5 crits are try to stay in the top 1/3rd of the pack, that way you avoid the majority of the crashes, which are usually in the back. what else...? there's a hill in the race at bethel, and i've found that don't hammer it, just take it relaxed and you'll have much more energy saved at the end. you can always make your moves on the gradual downhill right after it, lil easier on the lungs and legs. other than that, i say just go out and race and watch yourself. def have fun
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Old 04-03-08, 07:28 PM   #7
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Seems like every crit I've ever done is flat out from the word go. The pace should settle down after a few laps, just hang on.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:36 PM   #8
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Get a good warm-up in, get to the line with a sweat going.
Start as near the front as you can get.
Clip in fast, but relax and don't fumble it.
Expect a "leg check" for the first few laps which weeds out non-hackers and people who didn't warm up.
Don't stare at the dude directly in front of you.
Watch out for guys who can't corner for ****.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:36 PM   #9
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Seems like every crit I've ever done is flat out from the word go. The pace should settle down after a few laps, just hang on.
+1. Warm up hard. Do a couple of maximal efforts a few minutes before the start. You can't warm up too hard for a short crit.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:38 PM   #10
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Get a good warm-up in, get to the line with a sweat going.
Start as near the front as you can get.
Clip in fast, but relax and don't fumble it.
Expect a "leg check" for the first few laps which weeds out non-hackers and people who didn't warm up.
Don't stare at the dude directly in front of you.
Watch out for guys who can't corner for ****.
Saw one of those guys fly into the bushes during my first race. I shouted to an official to check up on him as I passed one, but it was really hard not to laugh...

Seeing someone take a corner too fast in the wet is scary, but so weird... I wanted to stop and make sure they were ok, but I realized that it was a race...
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Old 04-03-08, 07:39 PM   #11
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+1. Warm up hard. Do a couple of maximal efforts a few minutes before the start. You can't warm up too hard for a short crit.
I'll be sure to take a trainer with me and try to be there early to pre ride the course. I'll be wearing an HRM too just to see what I do during the ride to use it for future interval training.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:48 PM   #12
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Always: Keep your eyes up the road. Focus on the wheel in front of you and you'll end up one of the 20 or so guys that goes down in "that" crash.


And ignore the "stay at the front 1/3 of the pack but never go to the front advice".

Attack like a pitbull on meth.
+1 on attacking.

But, don't be afraid to attack, and slowly move your way backwards to the rear of the pack if and when you get caught. Sometimes, you need to recover, and hard, and trying to stay up front isn't going to make that happen. Because if the pace jumps up a bit, while you're still struggling for air, you're done.

That, and the ability to work your way smoothly through the pack is something that everyone needs, and there's no better way to learn than to do it in a race.

At a crit last year, one of the best racers I know was either off the front, working his way up quickly, or sitting at the back end of the race. Eventually he got in a break that stuck, and he got there by being smart with his abilities and limitations, and knowing when/how to use them.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:53 PM   #13
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I couldn't ride today because I have a HUGE lab report due tomorrow and there are two more days left before the race.

What should I do tomorrow and day after for rides? I thought I'd do a 25ish mile ride tomorrow and throw in some hard efforts and sprints into the mix. I do an LBS sponsored group ride on saturday morning and I think I'll take it easy on that and put in some hard efforts so I get to ride hard without overdoing it. It'll be about 30-35 miles long. Sound about right?
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Old 04-03-08, 08:10 PM   #14
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+1 on attacking.

But, don't be afraid to attack, and slowly move your way backwards to the rear of the pack if and when you get caught. Sometimes, you need to recover, and hard, and trying to stay up front isn't going to make that happen. Because if the pace jumps up a bit, while you're still struggling for air, you're done.

That, and the ability to work your way smoothly through the pack is something that everyone needs, and there's no better way to learn than to do it in a race.

At a crit last year, one of the best racers I know was either off the front, working his way up quickly, or sitting at the back end of the race. Eventually he got in a break that stuck, and he got there by being smart with his abilities and limitations, and knowing when/how to use them.
how do you exactly move through the pack? i remember my last race, for a whole lap, i was just completely boxed in the middle. Maybe i was simply too scared to make a move but i don't know.. same people were kinda sitting around me and it was a 70 person field with tight roads. Only way i ever stayed up front in that race was from pushing through the wind on the side, not very efficient. I just wonder what the fine line is between being an a hole and putting people in danger and swiftly moving through the insides of the pack.

I really want to go to one of those clinics and bump into people all day until im comfortable bumping them
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Old 04-03-08, 08:11 PM   #15
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I couldn't ride today because I have a HUGE lab report due tomorrow and there are two more days left before the race.

What should I do tomorrow and day after for rides? I thought I'd do a 25ish mile ride tomorrow and throw in some hard efforts and sprints into the mix. I do an LBS sponsored group ride on saturday morning and I think I'll take it easy on that and put in some hard efforts so I get to ride hard without overdoing it. It'll be about 30-35 miles long. Sound about right?
if its a single race that sounds good, i mean in collegiate you get to hammer once a day two days in a row, so you'll be fine i think.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:19 PM   #16
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The lap after you drop out the pace slows down, always.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:26 PM   #17
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Be ready to jump out of every corner
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Old 04-03-08, 08:28 PM   #18
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I wish I knew what an attack was. my first cirt I did well, but figured that they would all be stonger than me in a short sprint. So instead, the last lap I got on the front and pushed as hard as I could. Of course, all I managed to do is pick up the pace and string out maybe five guys and give them a great leadout. I took 12th and was happy, but If I had understood a little about how to get separation on that last lap, it may have been different.

ATTACK like you are a Russel Crowe holding a telephone.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:36 PM   #19
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I wish I had the discipline to make more time to train. I feel that my biggest problem is feeling really burnt out after riding for a couple of days straight. I need to get better at recovery and that won't happen if I sleep only 5-6 hours every night because I stay up till 2am studying every night. I guess I should work more earlier and get up at 6 to put a few hours of saddle time in the morning so I can actually train and do everything else I need to as well. I need the discipline!!!

Thanks for all the tips so far! I'll try my best to hold onto a wheel and stay there and attack whenever I feel like an opportunity comes up and even when it doesn't. I attacked too early on my 2nd race and got dropped like a bad habit. I wasn't warmed up at all though. I'll make it a point to do that this time around!
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Old 04-03-08, 08:56 PM   #20
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work smart, not hard. think of the wind as a hail of gunfire and the pack as a reinforced concrete wall. pretend you have a gun with one bullet. you could wait for the right moment and take a good shot or you just use it to shoot yourself.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:58 PM   #21
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I'll be sure to take a trainer with me and try to be there early to pre ride the course.
You're in the Cat 5 race, which goes off first. You have plenty of time to warm up on the course. Since it's your first crit race at Bethel, which can be a challenging course, I wouldn't waste my time on the trainer. Warm up hard as others are saying...it's been freakin' cold at 8 AM there the past few weeks. If enough riders show up, there are two Cat 5 races at Bethel too, so keep that in mind. You may warm up, then find out you're in the second race. Then the trainer might come in handy.

Bethel is not a great place to attack...unless you're pretty strong, or have some help in a break. I'm not just saying that because I might be in the same race with you :-) With winds calm (0 mph) within a 10 mile radius of Bethel, you'll feel at least a 10 mph headwind somewhere on the back stretch. Guaranteed. And this past weekend was one of the RARE times the wind was calm. Most days, you're getting at least 15-20 mph in the face for the ENTIRE back stretch, which is 1/3 of the course right before the finishing hill.

The Cat 5 field is pretty strong at Bethel this year. There are some strong riders (both young and older). There are also some wheelsuckers. They won't work, but if you attack, they'll be happy to let you fry yourself. The current points leader hasn't attacked once this series. I don't think he's even taken a pull yet in three races.

My first races were at Bethel this year. Advice? The whole first race I was in a daze. If you're like that, just focus on the wheel in front of you. Most important though, don't make any sudden movements...there will ALWAYS be someone on your wheel who won't appreciate it. In the first turn (90 deg), hold your line. That means, don't start on the inside and end up on the outside, or vice versa. Again, someone is going to be right on your wheel. Finally, if you're braking, you're doing something wrong. One, the whole brake-accelerate-repeat cycle is a waste of energy. And second, someone is always on your wheel in a crit. (Have I mentioned that before?)

Oh, and the Cat 5's and the women I think are the only groups NOT to have a crash this year at Bethel.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:59 PM   #22
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how do you exactly move through the pack?
You learn it over time, but its basically about being persistant and opportunistic. When a slight gaps opens insinuate your way in. When others are attentive for a second that's your opportunity.

You don't have to bump people out of the way, but when a gap opens, they've got to know, you're not going to be intimidated from filling it.

Also when the race slows down just a touch, its a good time to hammer for just a bit and move up multiple places.

A tactic I like is when the race slows just a bit, I'll go up one side all the way to the front, and then just sit next to the 3rd or 4th rider, and wait for them to let just a little gap open,and then I move in. If they really contest me for the spot, I'll pick on the next guy.

Anticipate the accelerations out of turns, and be faster out of the corner.
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Old 04-03-08, 09:07 PM   #23
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You learn it over time, but its basically about being persistant and opportunistic. When a slight gaps opens insinuate your way in. When others are attentive for a second that's your opportunity.

You don't have to bump people out of the way, but when a gap opens, they've got to know, you're not going to be intimidated from filling it.

Also when the race slows down just a touch, its a good time to hammer for just a bit and move up multiple places.

A tactic I like is when the race slows just a bit, I'll go up one side all the way to the front, and then just sit next to the 3rd or 4th rider, and wait for them to let just a little gap open,and then I move in. If they really contest me for the spot, I'll pick on the next guy.

Anticipate the accelerations out of turns, and be faster out of the corner.
good points, actually i feel like i've been doing that and been sitting on top of large packs fairly well. I was just reading a carmichael link someone posted and he was talking about efficiently moving INSIDE of the group and i just could not imagine it all that well. Guess it is, as you said, something that comes with experience...
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Old 04-03-08, 09:39 PM   #24
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how do you exactly move through the pack? i remember my last race, for a whole lap, i was just completely boxed in the middle. Maybe i was simply too scared to make a move but i don't know.. same people were kinda sitting around me and it was a 70 person field with tight roads. Only way i ever stayed up front in that race was from pushing through the wind on the side, not very efficient. I just wonder what the fine line is between being an a hole and putting people in danger and swiftly moving through the insides of the pack.

I really want to go to one of those clinics and bump into people all day until im comfortable bumping them
It's a matter of getting comfortable moving in the field.

You have to get used to passing someone, and by passing i mean getting most of your front wheel ahead of theirs, and just drifting over. If you're on the left hand side, and it's two wide, coming up to a left hander, you get your bars ahead of theirs. Then, you just move over, firmly but gently. You don't want to take anyone down, and they don't want to go down, so more than likely they'll back off a bit, or move over to the right a bit, the guy to their right will move back or to the right, and things will reshuffle like that. In the field, that will happen thousands of times in a race.

"If you ain't movin' forward, yer movin' backwards."-How a friend put it, with regards to the shuffle.
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Old 04-03-08, 09:45 PM   #25
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It's a matter of getting comfortable moving in the field.

You have to get used to passing someone, and by passing i mean getting most of your front wheel ahead of theirs, and just drifting over. If you're on the left hand side, and it's two wide, coming up to a left hander, you get your bars ahead of theirs. Then, you just move over, firmly but gently. You don't want to take anyone down, and they don't want to go down, so more than likely they'll back off a bit, or move over to the right a bit, the guy to their right will move back or to the right, and things will reshuffle like that. In the field, that will happen thousands of times in a race.

"If you ain't movin' forward, yer movin' backwards."-How a friend put it, with regards to the shuffle.
ah interesting... im gonna start doing that after i get a pro fitting for my bike or something... sometimes i just feel so sketchy. My bike was in the shop all week, and i borrowed someone's beater. It's heavy and the headset is not well lubed... but wow this thing feels amazing. i can ride without hands for days and i just feel so much more confident on it.

any tips on that? specifically.. the "twitchyness" of the headset/fork
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