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  1. #1
    Senior Member JC 911's Avatar
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    Circuit Racing Question

    So I did my first circuit race today - 6 laps at 6 miles per lap in the 4/5. Unbeknown to me and a few other newbies to circuit racing, there was not a neutral start like there is in road races. Fought like hell to get back into the peloton but couldn't quite get there and ended up latching onto a group for 4 laps until I attacked and broke away with someone else and we rolled in together a couple of minutes behind the peloton.

    Question I have is other than the not having a neutral start, are there any other differences between a circuit race and road race?

    Plan to do another one next weekend and staying with the pack from the on-set but want to know what else to be on the lookout for.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    No rule that says a neutral start is required, RR or Circuit. The promoter & ref should announce prior, either verbally or on flyer.

    Other differences? Other than a circuit race covering the same roads multiple times? Nope.

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  3. #3
    I eat carbide. Psimet2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    No rule that says a neutral start is required, RR or Circuit. The promoter & ref should announce prior, either verbally or on flyer.

    Other differences? Other than a circuit race covering the same roads multiple times? Nope.
    +1 - check the flyer and/or listen to the pre-race instructions. They are required to announce a neutral start if you have one. Default on any race would be "no neutral". Even Road Races. Getting dropped at the line and not knowing about the start tells me that you were lined up too far back.

    Get to the line earlier.

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    A common error with new racers (and even with experienced ones) is not knowing the rules and not listening to the pre-race instructions.

    Those are two different things.

    You should read the rulebook. In fact the rulebook will answer your question for you, and in addition it'll probably teach you a host of things you didn't know. If you're not doing track or you're not a Junior etc then skip those things for now. You should read them sooner than later so you understand that stuff too - it gives you some relevancy to your racing, like what a Junior gear limit is (and think about how fast the good ones go), how a finish is judged, etc.

    Next, and this is critical, there should be pre-race instructions. Typically these are rules that are above and beyond the rulebook. They'll also give you an idea of what the officials will look for. It's like state police - you can expect a little break on speed in normal situations, like being able to drive 5 mph over the limit, even 10 mph. Pennsylvania used to rely on speeding ticket income so they had highway signs stating that at 56 mph the fine would be $94 or something like that. The signs detailed fines at 60, 65, etc. At that point you knew they were a bit more serious about the 55 mph speed limit, and driving through PA at the time you'd notice that a lot of the cars were going 55-60 mph, not 65-70 mph.

    Likewise, at many races in the area, riders are instructed to keep one hand on the bars at all times, even at the finish. This is because a rider once crashed really hard at the finish of a race. He was experienced, he won, but he caused severe injuries to a non-racer because he felt the need to raise his hands. I've seen quite a few riders get disqualified after winning a race because they raised their hands. This rule, although it used to be in the rulebook, is no longer. However, if it's given as part of the pre-race instructions, it's a rule.

    I hope this helps and I hope things go better at the next race.

  5. #5
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Fwiw we had a (short) neutral rollout at the CR I did yesterday. I don't think I've ever been in a rr/cr without one.

    Also, the rulebook: http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=4220
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    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Oh, was this the Boston Harbor CR? (Judging from your location I'm guessing so)

    Since the course starts on a downhill, maybe it was just a really fast 'neutral' rollout. It seemed pretty short in the 1/2's anyway, as in as soon as we hit the bottom of the hill we were racing.
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    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    A neutral rollout really has nothing to do with the fact that this was a circuit race and everything to do with the course features. The points about reading the rulebook, lining up early, and listening to the pre-race instructions are very, very important. Too many Cat5's think they know all about racing. If you've read the rulebook well, it will cause you to ask as many questions as it answers.

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    Only thing I can add to what has already been said is: warmp-up properly. For a race under an hour (assuming yours was, most Cat5 CRs and crits are under 60'), you should come to the line sweating from your warmup as it will get intense right from the word go. Even with neutral rollout, after that, you can bet it will be BTTW, that's just the nature of racing, the shorter the race the higher the intensity. Strange that they mix 4s and 5s, that doesn't happen in my area, but that would make the problem even worse.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JC 911's Avatar
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    It was Boston Harbor - I was told later by one of the other racers that there was no neutral start. Oh well, live and learn.
    I assume Gig Harbor will be the same next weekend.


    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Oh, was this the Boston Harbor CR? (Judging from your location I'm guessing so)

    Since the course starts on a downhill, maybe it was just a really fast 'neutral' rollout. It seemed pretty short in the 1/2's anyway, as in as soon as we hit the bottom of the hill we were racing.
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  10. #10
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    Don't assume. Find out.

  11. #11
    . botto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Oh, was this the Boston Harbor CR? (Judging from your location I'm guessing so)

    Since the course starts on a downhill,
    maybe it was just a really fast 'neutral' rollout. It seemed pretty short in the 1/2's anyway, as in as soon as we hit the bottom of the hill we were racing.
    which would make it a typical neutral rollout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by botto View Post
    which would make it a typical neutral rollout.
    Amen. I remember Bear Mountain the one year I did it. I knew that at the start there was a sharp turn at the bottom of a fast descent, and that the descent would be "neutral" on the first lap. I rode virtually on the back bumper of the pace car as we started, hoping the driver would get a bit worried about me and go faster than 30 mph or so to try and separate from me. If he did I knew this would create a huge accordion effect once we hit the corner (which is where it's no longer neutralized). Well the driver had to be clear of the field when he hit that turn so he accelerated as we approached it. I hit over 50 mph before I chickened out and sat up and braked. I barely made it through the turn but when I exited it I was clear of the field.

    I got caught and dropped on the following climb but that's a different thing altogether.

    In a "real" race in Philly there's a few parade laps at the start of the race. Some years ago one domestic squad had a guy puncture as soon as the parade laps started. He couldn't move up in the caravan due to the speed of the "parade". The team sent back a few guys to help him. I forget what happened but I think they lost at least one rider. It was absolutely brutal for those poor guys. The parade laps were nice to watch if you liked watching racers go by you at 35 mph.

  13. #13
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    In a "real" race in Philly there's a few parade laps at the start of the race. Some years ago one domestic squad had a guy puncture as soon as the parade laps started. He couldn't move up in the caravan due to the speed of the "parade". The team sent back a few guys to help him. I forget what happened but I think they lost at least one rider. It was absolutely brutal for those poor guys. The parade laps were nice to watch if you liked watching racers go by you at 35 mph.
    That's ridiculous. What's wrong with going 12mph for a bit. Officials had a brainfart that day. Bet that team was fuming afterwards

  14. #14
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    It seems the only thing neutral laps eliminate is an all out attack. Otherwise, the field is still competing for positioning. But our 55+ group here in AZ tends to start almost every race 'neutral', whether it's neutralized or not. We are getting our arthritic bones loosened up and what's left of our brain cells in the game. My most enjoyable result so far came, in a CR, from taking advantage of that and attacking at the start. You have to be ready for anything: warmed up, familiar with the course and rules, aware of the competition, and alert.
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    That's ridiculous. What's wrong with going 12mph for a bit. Officials had a brainfart that day. Bet that team was fuming afterwards
    Corestates/Philly always started at Mach 2. It's usually curb to curb at the front, everyone's going bananas because the first break will go as soon as the officials let the race go. That means all the crit pros (i.e. domestic pros) who won't make the 156 mile distance are at the front fighting like it's 2k to go.

    I felt bad for the team, it was both embarrassing and tough. I think they didn't have the "adjust brake" bit down pat.

  16. #16
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JC 911 View Post
    It was Boston Harbor - I was told later by one of the other racers that there was no neutral start. Oh well, live and learn.
    I assume Gig Harbor will be the same next weekend.
    Yeah I think Gig Harbor has a similar downhill start, so be sure to line up closer to the front this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by botto View Post
    which would make it a typical neutral rollout.
    Actually in WA they're usually pretty strict with some sort of 15-20mph neutral rollout for a mile or two for 99% of races, this one was an outlier.

    But the 'neutral' rollout at Cascade this year was interesting.. We did about 30 mph for 20-30 mins since it was downhill for the first 30 mins, and there was definitely a thin line between it and the race. Lots of nervous braking, good times!
    Last edited by mattm; 08-07-12 at 02:01 PM.
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