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  1. #1
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    I raced and now I have a few questions.

    I have just started racing, I have done two crits. Although the second one consisted of 3 "training" (not hold your hand training but more just races that don't count for anything where you can practice) races. Anyways the first crit I got dropped in about 12 minutes due to the hammering at the front to thin out the 80 person field and a conveniently timed pedal strike in front of me. Needless to say I wasn't able to learn all that much in that race. However in these training races I went to I found I learned a lot and feel a lot more confident about knowing what I have to do to keep competitive in my next race. However there are a few questions that came up in my mind while I was racing and I wanted to make sure what I was doing wasn't considered bad form.

    Coming off of a turn it seemed like I was killing myself to hold the wheel in front of me. So on corners it was safe to do so I would pedal through hard and found it much easier on my legs as I entered the straight. My question about that is as long as I am not in pedal strike range, is it alright to do that and carry some extra speed onto the straight that might cause a slight overlap, as long as I have my front wheel a little bit over?

    After I started to see that powering in the corners helped my legs feel better on the straights I began to use that speed to come up the outside on a semi strung out field and when I found where I wanted to be I would just line up bars even (or a little ahead) with someone in the paceline and hold there until I sorted my way into the line or felt the need to move again. My question about that is, is it bad form to pull up next to someone and wait for the leader to move across the road bringing the paceline in front of you and putting the rider next to you out of draft?

    My third question is not really specific to my races, but why does the person pulling on the front change sides of the road that he is on. The road was fine so I assume it isn't to avoid debris, and judging from where it happened it wasn't the leader setting up for a corner. Is it merely the leader trying to end his pull and the pack not letting him? Or is it an attempt to shake the pack out of the draft? I have seen it in races I have watched before and was never certain why people do it.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    I eat carbide. Psimet2001's Avatar
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    This sounds like what happened at Matteson on Tuesday. If so then yeah they didn't want to let the guy on front take a break. It was because he did no work the whole time and my team did so when he finally went to the front my team refused to let him off the front.

    We won all 3 races too BTW.....

  3. #3
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    1. Coming up beside someone is okay, as long as you understand the implications of such a move. If that rider moves over a bit, you'll have to correct (if you're paying attention) or you'll need to handle something touching your front wheel. I learned how to touch my front wheel only after years of racing, and although it made me feel more comfortable in turns (they're no longer the scary nervous things they used to be), I think that paying enough attention to adjust your line slightly is enough for now.

    Work on touching wheels though, on grass, with lots of clothing on, and expect to fall. I think I have something on this topic but I can't look right now.

    2. It's not bad form to pull up next to someone in a paceline and not move when the paceline shifts in your direction. However, as the speeds get faster, you'll find yourself in the wind unnecessarily. It can really sap your reserves. It's better to move into the paceline, but that takes a bit of finesse, politeness, and some understanding on the other racer's part. Since you're asking questions, you probably have the politeness part down (which can be non-verbal - just don't slam your way into a paceline in general).

    If you're moving up one spot, and you're buried in the field, it's not worth it to use that energy, unless you've realized that it will take that kind of effort to move up one spot (Sommerville, NJ comes to mind when I think of budgeting 10 laps to move up 30 spots). On the other hand, if you move up 20 spots in one surge, it's probably a bit excessive unless you're able to move up without seeing wind (i.e. inside the field or to the sheltered side of a single file line) or unless the field suddenly sat up (totally possible). If you can soft pedal a touch or pedal just one or two extra downstrokes and buy yourself 5-8 spots, then that's a good price. I'd do that every time I could.

    If you're inside the top 10 or 15 and you're trying to protect your position, you'll almost always have to "flare out" to widen the field, i.e. move to the curb-side of the rider in front of you. You'll see everyone doing the same so that you're sort of shaped like an arrowhead, with everyone a bit staggered to one another to take up more road. (This opens the center for someone to move up from way back, but that's a different post altogether).

    3. The rider at the front of a field will typically pull off to the sheltered side. If the wind is from the left, he'll pull off to the right. He has no obligation to pull off into the windward side. This won't hold as true in a true crosswind (long, long, long straight with wind howling from one side) but for crits, usually there aren't any major echelons (sideways pacelines). By the time a few riders get to the side of the one in front of them, you're at the next turn.

    However, if the field is snaking behind said rider, it means that the riders behind don't want to pull through, so they just move over with the lead rider. Since being in the wind really saps your energy, this is totally normal (for both the lead rider and those following him).

    A frustrated point man may then pull the field towards potholes, glass, etc. (I think this is acceptable). Or meander a bit, i.e. drift slightly (ditto).

    Or do a brake check (not cool but it happens). Or hop the rear wheel a foot sideways (ditto). Or swerve really hard (ditto). This typically happens more in impolite Cat 3 races or at higher levels.

    It sounds like you're gaining fitness pretty quickly. Be careful not to lean on fitness too much. Instead of, say, pedaling hard through a turn, it is more efficient (if possible) to slow less entering it. Then you don't have to accelerate as much to get back up to speed. You have to think about how to do that - if you don't slow and you're right on someone's wheel, you'll either crash into them or have to swerve around them. If you're closer to the rear of the field, you can simply let a gap go and coast across it through the turn.

    I've never really had the strenght to make up for sloppy tactics so I'm very careful about metering out my energy. I'll kill myself to hang on when the pace is hot, but I'll studiously avoid the wind so that I have the energy to do so. I figure that in a typical "I want to do well" crit, I'm in the wind perhaps 1 minute out of 60, including 10-20 seconds of sprinting. If I don't care (I'm working for a friend etc) the number goes up to maybe 5-8 minutes in an hour, but that's about my limit. And that includes a 30-45 second leadout.

    "Wind" also means being in the top 5 or 8 riders. I think that in a typical crit, sitting, say, 3rd gives you much less shelter than sitting 8th or 9th. The exception - a very strung out single file field with gaps everywhere. I've gotten dropped by my leadout man (who was at the front of the field) and I've shot backwards from a top-5 field position due to the extra wind I saw.

    hope this helps,
    cdr

  4. #4
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    Thank you very much for the replies.

    cpd as for wasting energy being out in the wind, it really didn't feel like I had to use any energy to move up when I chose to so I must have been sheltered. As for having the fitness to compensate for lack of tactics, I wish. Most of the reasons I did what I did was to catch my breath, coasting for just a few seconds seemed to really help that. So for the most part moves to the front were to be out of any stop go stuff in the turns. As for carrying speed through the turn, no matter how fast I held through the turn it seemed like the leaders were sprnting off, which is what lead to pedaling through the turns and being able to coast the first little bit of the straight. I tried to make corners as smooth as possible but I still a decent amount of practice to make sure all of them are naturally smooth. Thank you again, I will definately re-read this before next tuesday (tuesday = practice series)!

    Psimet it most certainly was Matteson! I have a feeling from your description that you race for BH (I abbreviate it only because some people don't list their teams online), or as I noticed the guys with birds on their asses . I was the guy in the red and black twin six jersey, red bibs and white crappy scattante bike. If you are on that team, one of the guys on the team was saying a few positive things and a few tips during the last race. I however was third wheel when you launched that final break with the black jersey team bibs guy going off the front. I attacked for a second and then realized I probably shouldn't worry about that and should stay in the pack and work on my pack skills since I can practice hanging on a solo wheel in plenty other situations. However I did take a few pulls on the front because I found that one of my biggest problems is grabbing back on a wheel after I really work hard, So I figured that would be a good chance to show myself that I could push past the pain enough to grab a wheel and recover. Since I was around the BH guys most of the last race I assume you saw me racing and can comment on anything sketchy I was doing if you remember/took notice. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    Cool. I hope you enjoyed the Matteson training rides and you'll come back for more. The dude in the black jersey with the BH bibs is Joel F., he just started racing maybe 2 month ago so he's a n00b too


    And psimet, just wait until your boy J. gets into the P/1/2 field, he eventually will loose to someone stronger, heh.

    I'll look out for your Scattante bike and say "hi" next tuesday when I see you.
    Gelato aficionado.

  6. #6
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    Hey Scummer, it's Ryan, that guy you were in the break with in the second race. We'll have to try that again sometime . G0L0UD, say hey next time, I may or may not have a BH jersey on but I'm skinny with blonde hair and a black Fuji bike. Are you racing with a team? BTW, Psimet wasn't at Matteson, he couldn't make it because of work.

  7. #7
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    Scummer and chevelle I will definately look for you guys to say hi next tuesday. All of this talk about it is making me wish it was Tuesday already.

    Scummer are you on a team and what bike do you have? Just incase I spot you first.

    chevelle, I am not on a team. I just started racing and don't really feel worthy of a team and am not quite sure what would even be required to be on a team. That is beyond paying the dues and whatnot. Seeing that you guys won all three races (I didn't know who won the first two because of that weird final lap and being toward the back) I spose I know whose wheel to follow .

    It will be nice to know a few people out there. Also feel free to correct me if I do something sketchy as I would like to stop bad habits before they start.

  8. #8
    I eat carbide. Psimet2001's Avatar
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    Yeah, I wasn't out there but I got the reports and recognized the description. I am the team manager for BH.

    I'll make it out there one of these Tuesdays.

  9. #9
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G0L0UD View Post
    Scummer and chevelle I will definately look for you guys to say hi next tuesday. All of this talk about it is making me wish it was Tuesday already.

    Scummer are you on a team and what bike do you have? Just incase I spot you first.
    goloud, I'm not on a team. I ride unattached, since I'm a weekend warrior. I wear PI shorts with either a Nike, accelerate or german flag jersey. My bike is a Trek Madone with the Discovery Channel logo, all kinds of wires and a powertap hub with a swiss DT 1.1 for a rear wheel. Looks like this (that was before I had a powertap):

    minus the snow nowadays

    I love Tuesday from April to September
    Gelato aficionado.

  10. #10
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chevelle2291 View Post
    Hey Scummer, it's Ryan, that guy you were in the break with in the second race. We'll have to try that again sometime . G0L0UD, say hey next time, I may or may not have a BH jersey on but I'm skinny with blonde hair and a black Fuji bike. Are you racing with a team? BTW, Psimet wasn't at Matteson, he couldn't make it because of work.
    Hey Ryan, next Tuesday is break time again. I normally try to go OTF at least once during the training races just to get my heartrate pegged and my legs on fire.
    Gelato aficionado.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by G0L0UD View Post
    Scummer and chevelle I will definately look for you guys to say hi next tuesday. All of this talk about it is making me wish it was Tuesday already.

    Scummer are you on a team and what bike do you have? Just incase I spot you first.

    chevelle, I am not on a team. I just started racing and don't really feel worthy of a team and am not quite sure what would even be required to be on a team. That is beyond paying the dues and whatnot. Seeing that you guys won all three races (I didn't know who won the first two because of that weird final lap and being toward the back) I spose I know whose wheel to follow .

    It will be nice to know a few people out there. Also feel free to correct me if I do something sketchy as I would like to stop bad habits before they start.
    Dude, you don't have to be worthy of a team, you just join lol. It definitely helps as you have an instant group of people to train and race with and also can get you team deals on components, accessories, etc. I'm not sure where you're located, but Bicycle Heaven is currently in Geneva, so it is an option for you if you're interested. We're a pretty relaxed group with a couple of Cat 1s and 2s who know what they are doing and will help you out with racing questions and cycling questions in general. There, my Bicycle Heaven advertisement is over . Yes, I am a shill. Psimet, as team manager, shouldn't you have been doing this from like your first post????

    Scummer, yea we'll definitely have to try it again. I'm thinking we might have better luck if we attack right after the A group passes. It should work relatively well because everyone is super confused when that happens. GOLOUD, you should come with us next time

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the offer chevelle but I live in Chicago, so Geneva is a tad bit too far. I suppose if anyone is reading this and they see me you and scummer lined up they know whats gonna happen . If it all comes together sure I am up for trying a break.

    scummer, nice bike but don't remind me of snow!

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