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Old 02-01-09, 09:31 PM   #1
arexjay
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First race: did alright, could have done better... but how?

So, I just competed in my first race this Sunday. Crit race, 8 laps, about 30 minutes total. I was feeling great for the first 2/3 of the race, won two primes. I was in the front of the pack (top 10-12 out of about 35) the entire race, probably in the top 5 for more than half, and avoided two crashes by doing so. Finished about 10th overall. Not bad, and I had a lot of fun.

However, I know I can do better. By the last lap, I was starting to dog it pretty hard, and I just couldn't push the pedals a whole lot harder for the sprint. I did start the sprint a bit too early, but it wasn't even much of a sprint anyway. I don't feel like it was much of an endurance issue (or at least not something that couldn't have been combatted with better tactics).

Some things I think I did wrong:

- started out too hard
- was in the wind too often
- started my sprint too early


Pacing myself better is a rookie mistake by me, and can easily be fixed. Same with the sprint issue, I feel that with more racing under my belt I'll get better at picking the right wheel to follow and the time to jump.

However, I did find myself in the wind quite a bit. I found it difficult to move up by doing anything other than going around on the outside. Yet when I did this, I often found it difficult to get back in the pack and out of the wind. All of this time in the wind tired me out a bit more than was necessary, and I feel that it could have been avoided. Is there any tactic around this? Or do I just need to get stronger, so that I can hold it down in the wind until a spot opens up?
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Old 02-01-09, 10:39 PM   #2
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So, I just competed in my first race this Sunday. Crit race, 8 laps, about 30 minutes total. I was feeling great for the first 2/3 of the race, won two primes. I was in the front of the pack (top 10-12 out of about 35) the entire race, probably in the top 5 for more than half, and avoided two crashes by doing so. Finished about 10th overall. Not bad, and I had a lot of fun.

However, I know I can do better. By the last lap, I was starting to dog it pretty hard, and I just couldn't push the pedals a whole lot harder for the sprint. I did start the sprint a bit too early, but it wasn't even much of a sprint anyway. I don't feel like it was much of an endurance issue (or at least not something that couldn't have been combatted with better tactics).
Sounds like you need to make a choice until your fitness/efficiency improves. Primes or better results choose one.

As far as moving around in the field goes, most of the time you just need to be patient. Wait until somebody else tries to move up on the outside, get on their wheel, and cruise up.
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Old 02-01-09, 10:49 PM   #3
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So, if I'm looking for better placing, is it advisable to stay around the 5-15th place mark for most of the race, until the last couple of laps? (At least, until I get better).
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Old 02-01-09, 11:05 PM   #4
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I wish I had these problems.
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Old 02-01-09, 11:20 PM   #5
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If your only goal is to win the race, primes are just a waste of energy. If you're strong enough to win primes and win the race, or you know you can't win even if you just sit in, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, save it for the end.
Learn to move up without going outside. It takes a while, but you'll figure it out. Look for gaps, don't get freaked out when you touch someone. Bumping is fine. As you cat up you'll find that more and more communication is non-verbal; a tap on the hip to let someone know you're there is better then yelling every time. Use taps and nudges to work your way up. Don't be one of those morons who yells "inside" on every freaking corner because you just shot up the outside and now you're being squeezed.


If I'm in a race I want to win, my whole goal is to be as lazy as possible for as long as possible. Why would I do work I don't have to? The only primes I ever go for are cash, or something my girlfriend would want (brownie points)
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Old 02-01-09, 11:34 PM   #6
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Sounds like you were in the Fremont EBC today. Apparently there were 3 crashes, though I got caught behind one of them (turn 1) and almost ran over a guy. Shame too, I was feeling really good.

Practice moving up inside the pack. If you've got a good eye for gaps opening up and people not closing them, it can be fairly easy to pick up 10 spots without hitting the wind. As for sprints, line yourself up maybe 6-7 down coming out of the last turn and stay out of the wind for as long as you can or until people in front start blowing up.
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Old 02-02-09, 06:59 AM   #7
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See CDR's blog about defending and taking wheels. You'll learn to slot in after moving up the outside. Moving up the outside is generally the easiest(and safest) in cat 5 races.

Assuming you are in cat5 and there is not prize money: Primes > finish medals. But decide which is more important to you.
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Old 02-02-09, 07:22 AM   #8
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Based on what you told us (front of the pack often, top 5 for more than half) it sounds like you may have been doing too much work to stay up there when it wasn't necessary. Staying at the front may not have been necessary. Rather, moving up when it's timely is a more important skill. Another important skill is moving up within the pack so you're sheltered. If you can't do that, moving up on the sheltered side of the field will save energy. If the wind is from the right, move up the left. Be careful not to let that put you into bad situations going into corners way too shallow.

And, yes, going after the primes might cook you.

What did you win in the primes?
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Old 02-02-09, 08:26 AM   #9
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If your only goal is to win the race, primes are just a waste of energy.


Only caveot to this is you can use a prime sprint to launch an attack. But if you're not using it as a tactic to get away,like you say you're wasting energy.
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Old 02-02-09, 08:26 AM   #10
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I would agree that being in the top 10 the entire race is unnecessary unless you are the type who wants to react to any good breakaways. For example, yesterday I hung out in the middle to the back of the back most of the race and then with about 5 laps to go on a short course I moved to the top 15 and then moved up into the top ten on the second to last lap and held my position coming into the final turn and the finishing stretch. That way I didn't exert more energy trying to maintain my position all race which causes more energey to be expended b/c you are fighting others for position and typically the peleton widens (i.e. gives more protection from the wind) further back since the front riders typically don't ride 4 wide, they tend to ride single file for the first few riders.
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Old 02-02-09, 09:08 AM   #11
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Only caveot to this is you can use a prime sprint to launch an attack. But if you're not using it as a tactic to get away,like you say you're wasting energy.
On the track I've used the wreckage of an intermediate sprint (for points, or during a win and out) to attack, take over the people blown by the sprint, and open a sizable gap. The pack might be somewhat disorganized and gets less efficient absorbing the people falling back to it after the sprint. It's something I plan to try in crits this season.
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Old 02-02-09, 09:29 AM   #12
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I would agree that being in the top 10 the entire race is unnecessary unless you are the type who wants to react to any good breakaways. For example, yesterday I hung out in the middle to the back of the back most of the race and then with about 5 laps to go on a short course I moved to the top 15 and then moved up into the top ten on the second to last lap and held my position coming into the final turn and the finishing stretch. That way I didn't exert more energy trying to maintain my position all race which causes more energey to be expended b/c you are fighting others for position and typically the peleton widens (i.e. gives more protection from the wind) further back since the front riders typically don't ride 4 wide, they tend to ride single file for the first few riders.
if you're just looking to sit in, ride around, then race in the last 200M, then yes, this would be true. if a sprint is your only trick, you dont mind it if the race goes away, and you're good at moving up then this would also be true.

also, keep in mind, trouble happens mid pack, being at the very back gives you time to avoid, potentially, but getting near the front is IME usually a better insurance policy.

generally speaking, riding 10-ish to 15-ish is a good spot as it allows you to respond to or initiate/animate action, keeps a good bit of trouble behind you, and shouldnt expend too much energy. even moreso in a technical crit where at the back = soon to be off the back as gaps open at corners and the top placed racers are operating smoothly while those hangin' in the back are slowing/sprinting/slowing/sprinting/ avoiding a corner crash, etc., etc., etc.

I prefer being top 10, but I usually race like an overly aggressive lunkhead.
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Old 02-02-09, 09:47 AM   #13
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I agree with staying up front. I find I use less energy sitting around 10th. You go through corners smoother, with less effort to accelerate out of them.

Just as a matter of math, your odds of being caught up in a crash in front of you are lower.

You can exert less energy on climbs, by allowing yourself to drift back in the pack a bit, something you can't do if you're already at the back.

When there are attacks, and accelerations, you can respond a bit more leisurely, allowing others to work to close it, because its not a big deal to give up a few spots. Whereas if you're already at the back, you've got no option other than responding yourself, and you have more ground to close, and speed to pick up at the back because of the accordian effect.

It does take energy to get and maintain position up front. To deal with that, I try to move up improving my position when I can do it with little expenditure, for example, going downhill, moving up when people are slowing for a turn, moving up as the pace lulls, moving up on the tailwind section of the course, etc.
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Old 02-02-09, 10:24 AM   #14
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^
+1

For me, I use the turns to move up. If you have good cornering skills and are comfortable bumping and rubbing, then use turns to gain position. Moving up on the outside is the easiest, but you end up doing more work then you have to. Seeing as it was your first race, next time try a few attacks and see who's strong. Once you get a feel for who the strong guys are, you can sit on their wheel and minimize the work you do.
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Old 02-02-09, 06:13 PM   #15
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You did the right thing staying in the top 10 or so in a Cat 5 crit. You will get better at moving up within the pack, following someone else as they move up the outside, and sneaking back in after you move up on the outside by yourself. The energy you spend moving and staying near the front will usually be less than the energy you spend near the rear of the pack bridging gaps, avoiding wrecks, and dealing with the usual accordian effect.
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Old 02-02-09, 06:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by arexjay View Post
So, I just competed in my first race this Sunday. Crit race, 8 laps, about 30 minutes total. I was feeling great for the first 2/3 of the race, won two primes. I was in the front of the pack (top 10-12 out of about 35) the entire race, probably in the top 5 for more than half, and avoided two crashes by doing so. Finished about 10th overall. Not bad, and I had a lot of fun.

However, I know I can do better. By the last lap, I was starting to dog it pretty hard, and
I just couldn't push the pedals a whole lot harder for the sprint.
Faster, not harder. Sounds like you were bogged down in a gear if you describe wanting to push the pedals harder. Spin to sprint.
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Old 02-02-09, 07:01 PM   #17
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Only caveot to this is you can use a prime sprint to launch an attack. But if you're not using it as a tactic to get away,like you say you're wasting energy.
I got away on a prime yesterday and bridged up to 3 guys that were already up the road, but they did back-to-back primes and I think people chased after on the second one because the break was short-lived after the second one.
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Old 02-02-09, 10:40 PM   #18
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I wish I had these problems.
You have many, many more.
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