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Old 07-13-11, 02:36 PM   #1
mooska
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Just started road cycling and want to race in a criterium

In a little less that a month, there is a Crit 5/citizen criterium about 2 hours from me. I just started road cycling early this week, but have been riding 20 miles a day everyday and am doing a group ride next Tuesday. If I was to decide to race, I was going to go to the clubs criterium training the next 2 Tuesdays after that. Link to training...

All that said, I feel like this would be one of those times that I'd rise to the occasion. Would I be getting over my head instead? If not, is there an average speed that Cat 5 goes? I've watched Youtube videos and from that perspective, I feel like I could hold my own. Link to race page
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Old 07-13-11, 02:43 PM   #2
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Average speed is pretty meaningless. Just go, worst that happens (and is an entirely likely scenario) you get dropped. I spent my whole first half-season getting dropped, it's not a big deal.
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Old 07-13-11, 02:44 PM   #3
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you need to do a lot more riding, and a lot of group rides before you get into a crit, or any race for that matter...I say this on behalf of the others you may be endangering.

nobody cares if you get dropped, but being able to handle yourself in a pack at 'high' speeds/cornering is important.
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Old 07-13-11, 02:47 PM   #4
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I guess I can at least do the criterium training for a few months. It's hard for me not to be anxious to get in there. I really enjoy competition.
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Old 07-13-11, 02:53 PM   #5
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I say go for it, though others will surely say it's too early..

If you will have done group rides by the time of the race, and you want to try it out, then why not?

And don't worry about the average speeds - they will be 5-10mph faster than you're used to, but the draft is what makes that possible.

Fwiw cat 5 crits come in at about 24-25 mph average usually.
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Old 07-13-11, 02:55 PM   #6
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From the race website: "Fitness and pack skills are the most important factors."

Personally I would have put them in the opposite order.

If it wasn't for copyright infringement I'd say "Just do it". And afterwards have a Christian Moerlein.
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Old 07-13-11, 03:15 PM   #7
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I could always do the crit training and ask the guys who are doing the training if they think it would be acceptable to enter. Of course, I don't expect them to watching me specifically during the training, but hopefully enough to make a good judgement.
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Old 07-13-11, 03:22 PM   #8
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I could always do the crit training and ask the guys who are doing the training if they think it would be acceptable to enter. Of course, I don't expect them to watching me specifically during the training, but hopefully enough to make a good judgement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp5dZZBKTXQ
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Old 07-13-11, 05:24 PM   #9
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Average speed is pretty meaningless. Just go, worst that happens (and is an entirely likely scenario) you get dropped. I spent my whole first half-season getting dropped, it's not a big deal.
I'd argue the worst that happens is that he crashes the group. I would be extra worried because you say you are a gamer. The problem is you are going to have adrenaline running through your body and that's going to probably make you very twitchy and more prone to accidents. Ride in a group several times, get comfortable then join a race (hopefully one that has a clinic) for first time racers.
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Old 07-13-11, 06:31 PM   #10
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As long as you have done group rides, go check it out! My first crit was eye opening to say the least. You'll know what to expect in the future for speed, suffering, and preparation.
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Old 07-14-11, 11:03 AM   #11
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I'm getting a little lucky that the club doing the group rides are now doing 2 a week starting this week. That will let me do crit training and group rides once each week. We'll see what happens.
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Old 07-15-11, 06:00 AM   #12
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Normally I'd say you need more time, but if you can get a half dozen group rides in, maybe you'll be OK. OK from the perspective of not harming anyone else. That has to be priority #1. Your mindset should be to forget about results and get used to racing in close quarters. Racing is nothing like a group ride unless the group ride is a hammerfest. It will be an eye opener. You should also spend some time reading botto's sticky and watch some of CDR's vids. Most of all, watch, listen, and learn during these training sessions. You have a lot to learn from others before you can realistically start to learn about yourself.

Good luck and ride safe.
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Old 07-15-11, 06:30 AM   #13
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Do a few group rides, then race. It'll give you perspective for training.
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Old 07-15-11, 07:28 AM   #14
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It's funny, people will instantly say don't do it unless you have lots of experience in groups because you may injure your fellow cat 5 racers. But then they say get some training experience with your local group rides first, so I guess it's ok to injure them?

But yes sure, racing is more intense. If you feel comfortable in your local training groups then go for it, if not then keep riding till you are. Some people from day one have absolutly no problem following a wheel surrounded by other riders, others are scared crazy staying one foot off the wheel in front of them, some plain and simply will never be able to do it. Find out which one of those people you are first then take the appropriate measures to train properly and do it.

You'll never know how good you are going to be at racing unless you try it.
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Old 07-15-11, 09:10 AM   #15
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The course doesn't look super demanding physically and the one 90 degree corner is on a slight uphill, which will make cornering there a bit easier. I'd guess average speed will be 23mph or so. If you can hold 20mph solo and you can draft in a pack, you'll be able to hold on no problem, as long as you never ever ride in the front or in the wind.

20 miles per day probably isn't enough for you to hang, but what the hell. Go for it, it's the only way to find out what it really takes. Line up at the back, try to ride smoothly and just make sure you know what to do when you're about to get lapped (either pull off, get pulled by official or at least ride as close to the inside as possible if the race let's you stay in).

Also, I'd recommend 1) as many group rides as you can fit in and 2) going to the course the week before and practicing that left hand turn, including getting the gearing right (for me that means light) so that you can rapidly spin up. If you finish the corner in too tall a gear, the pack will accelerate away from you right there and then you're hosed.
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Old 07-15-11, 10:13 AM   #16
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Realize that the "crit training" is a race. Albeit a training race, and bit lower key, but still a race. I'm not sure that doing a training race after riding for 2 whole weeks, and one group ride is such a good idea.

Personally, I'd go watch the next training crit, and decide whether you're ready to do the one after that.

Also you may have a feel yourself for how good of idea this is after you do a couple of group rides.
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Old 07-15-11, 10:34 AM   #17
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DIdn't read any of this. Don't need to. You asking whether or not you should race. If you've decided you're interested enough to post a thread about it on bike forums then the answer is "YES!".

To answer the usual questions - You will never be ready for it so stop trying to train for it. It will be harder that you can imagine. If you can stay upright, walk and chew gum then put your hancock on a waiver and pin a number on.

Just be careful...It's like crack...or so I hear...
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Old 07-15-11, 04:46 PM   #18
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^what he said. Otherwise, I'd say it really depends on your comfort level on the bike, and around other moving objects. If, for example, you've been riding bikes for years, commute on a bike are comfortable close to moving cars, know how to hold a steady line around an object instead of swerving last minute, know to keep the outside leg down when turning through tight corners, know not to overlap wheels, know how to feather the brakes, go on group rides (even if they're not explicitly training rides, and just riding with friends) etc etc etc, these are all 'skills' that can somehow transfer over to crit racing.

On the other hand, if you've only been a 'casual' cyclist before, and your only time spent seriously cycling has been the past week on your road bike, I would at least suggest you go on a group ride or two, just to make sure you're comfortable around others on your bike.

For example: I picked up my road bike on a Friday, and that following Saturday and Sunday I was racing it collegiately: road, crit, and ITT. However, I've been riding bikes since forever, commuting in Boston for the past 4 years, gone on casual group rides within the bike community around here, and even gone on some training rides with my team on my city fixed gear bike. Fitness-wise, I wasn't quite ready, considering it was mid-season, and everyone else had a bunch of racing under their belt, and I got dropped pretty quick. However, comfort wise, it wasn't a huge leap for me at all, and I managed to stay upright, out of crashes, and not overtly piss off any fellow racers.

Granted, I'm one data point - your mileage will obviously vary. But, I hope you get the gist of what I'm saying - if, based on your prior cycling experience, you think you'll be comfortable in a pack, with other riders, then definitely go for it. (as a litmus test, if you have to ask here for justification that you should race, you probably shouldn't.) If you're at all doubtful, then go on group rides first.
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Old 07-16-11, 04:30 AM   #19
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As someone who started racing this year and started riding last October... I say just do it. Keep safety as your first priority and be very careful during field sprints. I am glad I went straight into racing. I have friends who rode for years and still got dropped their first race. No amount of training on your own will prepare you for a race, it is faster and harder than you think. I got dropped my first race on the setup to the field sprint, but I had to dig deeper than I thought was possible just to stay around for that long.

Nothing prepares you for racing like racing. Race as much as possible and enjoy it, you will see noticeable improvement every time. I went from getting dropped in my first race to getting top 5s pretty quickly. Racing will also give you a better idea what type of training you have to do.

With all that said... STAY SAFE.
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Old 07-16-11, 07:30 PM   #20
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As someone who started racing this year and started riding last October... I say just do it. Keep safety as your first priority and be very careful during field sprints. I am glad I went straight into racing. I have friends who rode for years and still got dropped their first race. No amount of training on your own will prepare you for a race, it is faster and harder than you think. I got dropped my first race on the setup to the field sprint, but I had to dig deeper than I thought was possible just to stay around for that long.

Nothing prepares you for racing like racing. Race as much as possible and enjoy it, you will see noticeable improvement every time. I went from getting dropped in my first race to getting top 5s pretty quickly. Racing will also give you a better idea what type of training you have to do.

With all that said... STAY SAFE.
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Race, if for no reason other than to introduce yourself to the sensations of racing and don't be discouraged by your results. It'll give you a starting point to work from, should you decide you want to stick with it.

We all generally are mediocre racers our first time-- what separates non-racers from the racers is often not strength or talent, but the balls to try again when you don't end up with the results you want to.

Just be careful and aware that crashes in lower category races are abundant and may not even be your fault.
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Old 07-17-11, 07:44 PM   #21
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I just started road cycling early this week,
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DIdn't read any of this. Don't need to.
I would think that portion might be worth reading.
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Old 07-19-11, 09:38 AM   #22
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The safety thing is a little overblown, since you're going to get droped anyway. Do it.
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Old 07-19-11, 10:44 AM   #23
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The safety thing is a little overblown, since you're going to get droped anyway. Do it.
Agreed....but I thought that comment deserved this....

[video]http://youtu.be/jfs55TB9srg[/video]
....isn't that you at 10-12 seconds in?
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