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  1. #1
    Senior Member igknighted's Avatar
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    Moving Up in a Crit

    Got to the start line late this evening and ended up starting towards the back of a 75 rider field. Very tight turns, 3 longish straights. One flat (with start/finish), one slight downhill with the wind dead ahead, and one slight uphill with wind from the side. The turns were very tight (2 over 90 degrees), so the field was yo-yoing like crazy. What is the best strategy to move up in a race like this? It was nearly impossible to pass more than a couple riders on the straights because everyone was sprinting, and the turns were so tight that it was hard to get a good line unless you fell in with everyone else. Is it OK to stay tighter than the field and not let them apex the turns quite as much, or would that be a no-no (almost no one attempted this).

    On one hand, I know I wasn't one of the strongest in the race, so I may not have "deserved" to be up front, but I did consistently move up the pack as the race went on, I just ran out of time about 25-30 places back. Any tips on how to improve this "moving up through the field" to hopefully be more of a factor next time? And yes, next time I will make sure to show up on the line sooner and not start way in the back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by igknighted View Post
    ...and one slight uphill with wind from the side...
    others with more experience may have different opinions, but i think you need to focus on moving up NOT when things are easy but when things are more difficult. uphill with wind? suck it up for a few laps.

    just my opinion. of course it is harder to say without seeing the course and the field. what cat?

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    Senior Member igknighted's Avatar
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    Cat 4... and I agree, it was the uphill that I made most of the places. It was weird in that it stayed strung out from the first lap on, so to gain 3 or 4 places took a significant effort (no pack really to pass multiple riders for each bike-length you move up), and any more would leave me struggling after turning the next corner. After all, everyone back there is sprinting to try to gain a spot or two. The few times that it started to bunch up you could move 10 places in one straight, but that only happened twice.

    I guess I am more curious if there's something tactically I am missing that would help, or if it's all just HTFU and ride/train harder (which would be a fair criticism... training hasn't been as good as it could be).
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    Senior Member BrainInAJar's Avatar
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    > one slight uphill with wind from the side.

    Attack here, on the non-windy side (ie, if the wind is coming from the right, move up the left side of the pack.) Use the pack as your wind shield.

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    Not actually Tmonk TMonk's Avatar
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    Move up a few riders at a time, whenever there is a straight-ish section.

    Don't lose position by making small gaps and letting other riders fill them, ect. If necessary, let another rider move into you until he makes contact if you have to in order to show you're holding your ground.

    Move on the sheltered side, like Brain said.

    Go up the inside whenever possible by filling little gaps and having a smaller "bubble" than other riders; if they aren't comfortable they will let you in. This one takes time. Watch some CDR videos for examples and don't ever do it if you're not completely comfortable.
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    Be patient, even if it means falling in line for a while. Wait for the group to slow after a hard pace and then instead of sitting up like everyone else, put in a few more strokes. You'd be surprised how many places you can advance by doing this.

    I've found the best times to advance are right after primes when everyone sits up after going flat out for a lap or more if you can't do it comfortably and safely through the turns.

    Don't bomb the corners i.e. take the extreme inside and chop wheels to advance your position.

  7. #7
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    You don't really have to move up when it's tough.

    Case in point is the GMSR crit. It's a km in length 6 corner beast of a course that I consider the toughest crit I've ever done by far. Trying to move up in the hard parts is an exercise in futility. However, there is one small stretch that is downhill into a fast left corner, and for some reason everyone would sit up a bit there. Instead of slowing down with everyone, I simply keep pedaling, and it was good for 10-20 places at a time.

    Look for the lulls in pace, and don't slow down when everyone else does.

    edit: when it's completely strung out, try floating through the corners when everyone else is touching the brakes, as in take them a bit wider but at a higher speed. Just make sure you don't crash into someone, ja?
    Masochism is a training adaptation.

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    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Keep pedalling through corners, accelerate into them & out while everyone else is coasting through.

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    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    I had a similar experience last weekend.

    The course was a little over a mile long, with the first third basically a long, very wide (five or six lanes), uphill straight into a light wind and the rest of the course being tight turns on narrow, twisty roads with the wind at my back.

    My plan was to use my cornering ability to move up during the tight sections as I was willing to go faster and take the more difficult lines around some of the road twists. And that plan worked - I would move up 15-20 spots each lap.

    Problem was, every time we hit that wide straight, the field would spread across the five or six lanes and everyone would go hard and I'd end up losing position. I ended up spending a lot of energy during the whole race, and by the time we hit the last two laps, I was worn out.

    What I should have been doing, my teammate later pointed out, was attacking on that straight away and getting up front, then coasting/recovering through the tighter section.

    For you, the situation is similar, use the hard straight sections to attack and move up, even if that means going uphill or into the wind, then relaxing during the more technical sections.

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    Part of crit racing is making it through the initial hard period. When I raced "back in the day" I moved up when I could, really forcing myself to move up. There were races where 125 would line up, me at the back, and after 4 laps I had managed to get to about 25th spot, turned around, and there was no one left behind me (Cat 3-4 race).

    Nowadays these kind of races don't really happen, not that I've seen.

    Having said that, most races start off harder than not. If you're at the back you can wait a bit, doing some tailgunning. If there's a hard turn and people brake for it, then it's a HUGE opportunity for saving energy. You drop back behind the field a bit and coast back into it through the turn. It's how I make it to the end of a lot of races.

    This doesn't work when it's single file, but single file isn't always single file. It doesn't work when it's really fast single file. It also doesn't work if you don't know how to corner, i.e. different cornering lines for different scenerios, not whether you know the basics of apexing.

    If tailgunning wait 2/3n to 9/10n where n is the number of laps in the race, doing the tailgunning thing (I've done as much as 29/30n or 32/33n, but I rely on my peak power to move up rapidly). Make some big efforts to move up, typically in uphill sections (favors freshness and some power), tailwind (favors speed and you need proper gearing), downhill (ditto).

    Headwind I never move up. Crosswind is debatable, usually move up if riders aren't hugging the sheltered side.

    A lot of people don't believe me but I almost never break 200w average in a crit. Hard (Cat 3) races may be 170-180w, the hardest was 202w. Somerville (Cat 2 only) I was at something like 185w. To put it in perspective, solo I can go about 18-19 mph at that power. And these are flat races or have short power hills (big ring). I do this mainly by tailgunning, sitting out of the wind, and using my strength when I have to.
    Last edited by carpediemracing; 08-04-11 at 09:54 AM. Reason: typo were should have been where

  11. #11
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    I haven't gathered the cajones to try that in a race CDR.

    Racing is fun. Sometimes the strategies are obvious. Sometimes they aren't.

    I got stuck at the back of the pack for the start of a technical crit once. Never again. I'm now willing to line up 15 minutes before the *** goes off.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    A lot of people don't believe me but I almost never break 200w average in a crit. Hard (Cat 3) races may be 170-180w, the hardest was 202w. Somerville (Cat 2 only) I was at something like 185w. To put it in perspective, solo I can go about 18-19 mph at that power. And these are flat races or have short power hills (big ring). I do this mainly by tailgunning, sitting out of the wind, and using my strength when I have to.
    That's crazy. And you're able to do this with the tactics mentioned above?

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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Part of crit racing is making it through the initial hard period. When I raced "back in the day" I moved up when I could, really forcing myself to move up. There were races were 125 would line up, me at the back, and after 4 laps I had managed to get to about 25th spot, turned around, and there was no one left behind me (Cat 3-4 race).

    Nowadays these kind of races don't really happen, not that I've seen.
    I've done a decent number of events where this has been the case. It was either a very hard course, windy/hot or there was a lot of team presence driving the pace and sacrificing riders. The NRC crit at Tulsa was exactly like this, but I've seen TNW's dissolve also. But you need one or more of those factors to make it happen and it's not all that common in the lower ranks.

    To the OP there's a tendency to get sucked into following wheels which insures you'll be making bad polka music with the accordion and have trouble moving up. Be aware of the wind, alternative (faster/non intersecting) lines through the corners, places where the pack takes a breather, and places where you're stronger than most (see hills). Reserve your efforts for where you have the most advantage and try to bank some matches in the places where you aren't going to make much progress.

    Make the moves with planning, not desperation.

    One big burst can often yield 20-40 places unless the pace is insanely high.

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    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HMF View Post
    That's crazy. And you're able to do this with the tactics mentioned above?
    I know a couple of his clones. They tend to be smaller riders who are very good at positioning.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    I got stuck at the back of the pack for the start of a technical crit once. Never again. I'm now willing to line up 15 minutes before the *** goes off.
    We had a Big event race last year ($1,000 payout to cat-3's big) so everyone wanted to be near the front for the start. It's got 1 or 2 technical corners and one narrow section, and with the prize money the pace is high throughout. So moving up is very difficult. I lined up nice & early in the staging area, but it's like 40-yards from the start line. But other riders pushing in front, lining up across from us in a non-staging area yet let in by the officials anyway... They call us to the line, everybody pretty much sprints to the line. Welcome to the back of the field for the start.

    Quote Originally Posted by HMF View Post
    That's crazy. And you're able to do this with the tactics mentioned above?
    I know my average power output can be in the mid to low 200s, and I'm a big guy. Don't know if CDR is talking average or not. Knowing him, probably not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HMF View Post
    That's crazy. And you're able to do this with the tactics mentioned above?
    Not "able". "Have to". I'm too weak to do much in a race otherwise, as evidenced by all my DNFs (save 2? races) in June and July and August. Last year I had mainly DNFs in July/Aug too.

    Somerville Cat 2s avg 27.x mph. I had a lot in the tank going into the last lap and decided that no one would crash in Turn Two and that I would move up after that. Then crash on Turn Two held me up, end of race for me. So it doesn't always work, but if I get shelled then I have nothing.

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    Keith Berger Crit (July of this year) I moved up with 10 to go for some reason, was scared or something. I blew at 2 to go, moved back up at 1/2 to go, exploded, sat up. Those 8 laps were the first time I fought to hold position in recent memory, meaning since 1997 or something. I forgot how to do it until I was in the middle of doing it.

  18. #18
    Fast for a sloth miwoodar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    We had a Big event race last year ($1,000 payout to cat-3's big) so everyone wanted to be near the front for the start. It's got 1 or 2 technical corners and one narrow section, and with the prize money the pace is high throughout. So moving up is very difficult. I lined up nice & early in the staging area, but it's like 40-yards from the start line. But other riders pushing in front, lining up across from us in a non-staging area yet let in by the officials anyway... They call us to the line, everybody pretty much sprints to the line. Welcome to the back of the field for the start.
    That sucks. The crit that I am referring to also had a big purse and it was single/double file from the ***. I looked behind me at around the 20 minute mark after I had passed around half the field only to learn that I was the caboose! It took me a half hour to move up into the top 10 and only 29/64 finished. It was my first crit as a 3...a rude awakening.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwoodar View Post
    ...a rude awakening.
    I love those. 'Cause I sooo remember doing it myself!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    We had a Big event race last year ($1,000 payout to cat-3's big) so everyone wanted to be near the front for the start. It's got 1 or 2 technical corners and one narrow section, and with the prize money the pace is high throughout. So moving up is very difficult. I lined up nice & early in the staging area, but it's like 40-yards from the start line. But other riders pushing in front, lining up across from us in a non-staging area yet let in by the officials anyway... They call us to the line, everybody pretty much sprints to the line. Welcome to the back of the field for the start.

    I know my average power output can be in the mid to low 200s, and I'm a big guy. Don't know if CDR is talking average or not. Knowing him, probably not.
    Avg. Peak is 1200-1250 for a sprint (if I get there), lots of spikes to 400-800 depending on course/corners.

    I read about F1 drivers who say "then I really pushed it". I'm thinking, "don't you always push?". It's like that in races. For some races it's a must to get near the front. Binghamton Crit in Michigan, raining, 1/2 mile, 8 turns, downtown so tons of crosswalks and manhole covers, 50 laps, in pouring rain. I worked super hard at the beginning, then it calmed down once 100 guys dropped out.

    In other races it's the opposite. If everyone's fighting for position at the beginning, but it's a wide course (like Harlem in the 3s) then don't fight, just wait until they all get tired of jabbing each other.
    Last edited by carpediemracing; 08-09-11 at 02:59 PM. Reason: Not Binghamton, Birmingham, or something like that. The final race in 1991 I think.

  21. #21
    avatar by Sean Powers mike868y's Avatar
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    At ECCC championships this spring I lined up way in the back on a technical course and knew that I needed to move up ASAP. It probably didn't hurt that I was one of the stronger riders in the race, but I just drilled it for the first 10 laps or so, never resting for too long, gaining 2-3 positions on each stretch. I also took advantage of what tkp said and moved up a lot on one part of the course where the pace would slow. when I finally made it near the front, I just carried my momentum from drilling it to move up, broke away, and got 2nd
    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    it depends

  22. #22
    Love that dirty water JoesInBoston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by igknighted View Post
    Got to the start line late this evening and ended up starting towards the back of a 75 rider field. Very tight turns, 3 longish straights. One flat (with start/finish), one slight downhill with the wind dead ahead, and one slight uphill with wind from the side. The turns were very tight (2 over 90 degrees), so the field was yo-yoing like crazy. What is the best strategy to move up in a race like this? It was nearly impossible to pass more than a couple riders on the straights because everyone was sprinting, and the turns were so tight that it was hard to get a good line unless you fell in with everyone else. Is it OK to stay tighter than the field and not let them apex the turns quite as much, or would that be a no-no (almost no one attempted this).

    On one hand, I know I wasn't one of the strongest in the race, so I may not have "deserved" to be up front, but I did consistently move up the pack as the race went on, I just ran out of time about 25-30 places back. Any tips on how to improve this "moving up through the field" to hopefully be more of a factor next time? And yes, next time I will make sure to show up on the line sooner and not start way in the back.
    What crit was this on a Wednesday night?

  23. #23
    Senior Member ethman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post

    Having said that, most races start off harder than not. If you're at the back you can wait a bit, doing some tailgunning. If there's a hard turn and people brake for it, then it's a HUGE opportunity for saving energy. You drop back behind the field a bit and coast back into it through the turn. It's how I make it to the end of a lot of races.
    Can someone explain this to me? I'd never hear of tailgunning until recently. I assumed being at the back of a crit like this was always bad news. The few crits that I've done when I was back there have been hellish trying to keep in contact with the race. The accelerations out of corners was too hard, people in front of you getting dropped and then you have to bridge... You mean to tell me there's an art to this???

  24. #24
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    In corners, large packs of riders tend to slow down as they approach.

    When tailgunning, you sit at the back. Before the corner, you let a small gap open between you and the field. As you enter the corner, you don't slow down like everyone else. As the pack exits the corner, they have to sprint back up to the speed they were at as they approached. You don't have to sprint because you've maintained the same speed you had when you entered the corner. You've effectively caught up to them, or rather, they're now back up to your speed and everybody's in the same position as before. Except, they've expended more energy than you because they had to sprint.

    It's not as easy as it sounds. And CDR may want to correct my explanation.

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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    I know a couple of his clones. They tend to be smaller riders who are very good at positioning.


    There's a difference between chopping and bombing corners and taking a smooth, fast inside line when it is all strung out and fighting for the gap. I do this all night long at the Rent.
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