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  1. #1
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Today was my first criterium race ever... and I definitly learned quite a lot during the race...

    It was held in Domingious hills (sorry can not spell), a california bicycle racing race but USCF honored and counted. The field was 54, quite large for a cat 5 race. There was some strong team support at the race also, I counted a few teams with 3 or 4 racing. They had a short little 10 minute clinic at the beginning, do not cross wheels, turning, holding your line, blah blah...

    My goal for the race was to finish, it was my first race and I had no expectations on placing even in the top 20. I was simpily there to gain experience and I did. We started off and the first 3 laps were quick. I remember looking down at my speedometer and seeing 28 MPH a few times and I was not working all that hard on the outer right on the pack behind two people. My mistake was starting, I started on the inside where almost no one was. Once we got going I found it very hard to try and move my way into the center on the pack.

    For 8 laps I moved around it the pack, pushed through a gap , moved into the outside on the downhill, etc until I was in about 20th place. My first mistake was ending up last in the line on the inside. The course was not flat at all, it had a climbing start, and climbed it seemed most of the way. I am not a climber and at 28 MPH I would lose a little ground on the hills and have to push to get back on the wheel. The second mistake I made was the fatal one.

    With 16 minutes in (7 laps) I got really tired of getting pushed into the curb on the corners. On the downhill I pushed to the outside of the pack on the right, passed 5 riders but could not get back in. I was bucking the wind and my legs can not do 28 MPH in the front. I started loosing ground, got on the back on the pack and on the next hill 6 riders and myself were off the back. It happened so quick I could not believe it.

    After getting dropped I tryed as hard as I could to catch the group to no avail. I speed up to 25 MPH and naturally the 6 behind me jumped on my wheel. I do not know what got into me but I was pushing so hard I actually forgot that my legs were hurting for a second. I looked down and saw my HR at 182 BPM, the top of the anaerobic zone (my LT zone is 166 BPM) I chased the pack at 25 MPH for 12 minutes but they slipped away until I could not see them anymore. The cards came out and we were about 3/4's of a lap back. Right when the pack came in for the sprint we had just crossed the finish line, 1 lap behind.

    I can remember the announcer saying... the pack is right there you can catch them. As soon as I heard that I pushed as hard as I could. At the end of 30 minutes my legs were tired but I felt like I hard more in me. I averaged 23.6 MPH at 12.6 mile at 31.42 minutes.

    I took 45 out of 54 riders, not the best result but for my first time I was very happy. I absolutly love the adrenaline rush that comes in a pack at 28 MPH. I learned alot and got quite a few questions answered too. Physically I have a way to go but I will be there soon... just need more races under my belt... I still can not believe after 7 months I am at this point.

    On a side note I did meet a member of this forum racing with team Monix (I believe that is how you spell it) along with some others here. Glad to meet all of you.

    I can not wait until the next one... until then... more hill climbing here I come!
    Last edited by my58vw; 03-06-05 at 02:16 PM.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  2. #2
    Senior Member The_Convert's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good learning time.

    Were the 6 of you sharing the work to get back on? It sounds to me like you were doing all the work.

  3. #3
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    People kept on dropping back on the hills, I ended up pulling most of the time. For about 2 minutes one guy got ahead. I do not know what got into me but I was moving so fast that when I got on the other persons wheel we slowed down and I sprinted forward. What is wierd on simular roads I can average 24 MPH... I do not know where the 1 MPH + came from... oh well.

    I learned so much by just going out and doing it. This year I am getting stronger and stronger all the time. I think that I may not be strong enough to hang with the pentalon but as I get out and do them I know that someday I will be competative...
    Last edited by my58vw; 03-06-05 at 02:32 PM.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  4. #4
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    cool. i had my first crit today as well ( i did one last year but got dropped second lap and finished the reat by myself) . . . but it was around a local stockcar speedway. it was pretty fun. Cat 5 was about 25 mph average, but the wind was awful. There was one crash, two guys got scraped up, one guy broke his c-bone. i narrowlly missed the crash. Around the last corner, i tried to go, but i was blocked in. i had the legs to sprint top 10, but no room oh, well, 21 out of 58. it was a lot of fun, and as usual, i got to see some awesome racing and get some good experience and learn more about the sport! it's good to hear that you had fun and got some great experience. it sounds like you have some good and realistic goals, congradulations and keep up the good work!

  5. #5
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    If, by the end of the season, you have raced regularly, you will have learned the basics- a good foundation for future pleasure (pain!) and success. You will know where to be, how to get there and how to stay there. Combining these smarts with continuing fitness work, you will be able to hold your place in the bunch and maybe think about working at the front, for your team.

    I really am envious, reading your commentary. I remember similar feelings 30 years ago, when I rode my first road race- and you only have one first experience, don't you? For the longest time, my goal was to finish in the bunch........

    It's harder than non-racers imagine- and has put your training regime under the microscope, I daresay?

    Humbling....but in a good way! Congratulations.

  6. #6
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Great experience. I bet everytime you race you will be moving up in the pack until you are finally in the final sprint group. I have my first race two weeks from today, but it is nothing like your experience - I am entered in two time trials. I did a practice TT today at full effort, and I had forgotten how much pain one experiences during competition (ex runner). One biker came by, and I think he was almost afraid to stop. I was bent over my bike wretching my brains out and the end. Took two hours for my bronchial tubes to stop burning. I think in a couple of weeks when a podium possibly exists, I will probably be like the guy in the DVD "PRO" who describes his effort as being so intense that he was almost blacking out with his peripheral vision being almost non existent. Fortunately, I have already forgotten this morning's pain, and will be back next week for another suffer fest. BTW, I find that I need more of a warm-up. I warmed up for 53 minutes and warmed down for 1 hour, but I think I need a solid hour warm-up when race day arrives in two weeks.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  7. #7
    Coastal NC oneradtec's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your first criterium. Your experience was much like my first one...and believe me, the lessons you learned today will pay dividends later. It's hard to simulate in training what your body went through today. You died a very fast death(aerobically speaking)..which is the way criteriums go. Many times the strongest riders will go hard at the beginning to shrink the field and eliminate the weaker riders by spitting them out the back.

    Just remember..when you feel like you are about to get dropped off the back, usually if you can just hang on for a minute longer the pace will slow. One critical lesson that I learned was that usually when I was hurting like a dog then so was everyone else also hurting.

    You need to further develop your aerobic base and work on increasing the leg speed. The training and racing from here will take care of the aerobics...and riding in groups and especially racing will help the leg speed. Here is where so many riders who train alone all the time have trouble when they show up for crits. The leg speed required to stay in the pack at race speed gets them far out of their comfort zone and suddenly they are filling with lactic acid and deeply in anaerobic debt. This is because they are so ineffecient at spinning the cranks at high racing speed and sustaining a certain power output at that required cadence. I would suggest that you work on spinning your cranks at a very high cadence for sustained periods a few times a week. Try working on it also when you are in group rides. Drop into a gear that requires you to spin briskly to keep up with the group. Here you will be refining the neuro-muscular pathways that are specific to racing. Your muscles will become more supple and your race specific physiology will become more effecient(this is the key!).

    I read Arnie Baker's book 'Smart Cycling' and was introduced to the importance of high cadence spinning for race preparation. The cyclist that can spin the cranks most effeciently(all else being equal) will utilize more fast twitch muscle fibers to do his work. He will depend more on the neuro and cardiovasular systems to carry the burdens of racing intensity...and this means less of a burden on his power systems. When you become more effecient...the power producing systems will be less depleted(glycogen) later in the race and there will be more in the tank when other competitors have long ago depleted theirs by not being nearly as effecient as you. The way to effeciency...the kind that is going to make you a great crit racer...is to develop a very effecient hi speed cadence...one that can be sustained at a desired power output.

    Read Arnie Baker's book...'Smart Cycling'

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846

  8. #8
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Thanks for the book tip, I'm ordering it!
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  9. #9
    Coastal NC oneradtec's Avatar
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    By the way...my first race is not until April 30th..because I got a bit of a late start. I have approx 8 weeks....so I should have an excelllent base by then. It is a road race. Can't wait to post my report here just as you have done. I really enjoy reading these. Our calender down here in the southeast really heats up in May and June right on into the fall. Lots of racing coming up later.

    Just keep coming back. As Fred Rodriguez said in the movie pro..the guys that made it are the ones that didn't quit. They were not any more talented...they just kept coming back...while the others just disappeared and moved on to other things. The guys who make good in this sport are the ones that are consistent. It is a lifestyle...a passion!

  10. #10
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    That is so true... I have never felt a true group racing speed like that before. I can really see my limiter is hill climbing and this race was true to that. I really wish that the kind of improvement I am seeing now I could have seen 3 months ago... but of course since I have been only riding 7 months I am just getting the base now. I am just coming into the point where I am staying with group rides at 21 - 23 MPH...

    I have a couple of real hard races coming up soon, a 45 minute hilly course in 2 weeks and the Ontario grand prix in 3 weeks all before Redlands...

    Can not wait for more!
    Just your average club rider... :)

  11. #11
    Coastal NC oneradtec's Avatar
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    It really is a great feeling to finish with the pack the first time. That's when I graduated and became a racer...the first time I hung on and finished with the pack. I had tears in my eyes because I had a number of prior races and I had always been dropped. Approx 6 weeks later I won my first crit. in Columbia, SC(Kid's crit) as a cat 5. I think it was like 10 years ago? It's amazing how quickly the progress comes in the beginning.

  12. #12
    Coastal NC oneradtec's Avatar
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    Please keep the reports coming!!!!!!

  13. #13
    Cheers! 2wheeled's Avatar
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    my58vw - your story brings back memories of my first few races. One of the guys in our club told me not to get caught at the back at the start of a climb, stay near the front and you'll have better chance of hanging in there. That piece of advice was invaluable, until of course I developed those super uber thighs.

  14. #14
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by my58vw
    I do not know what got into me but I was pushing so hard I actually forgot that my legs were hurting for a second.
    This, my friend, is called the Zone. It is what brings us back to racing time and time again . Congrats on your first race! Take a day or so off and rest up, you need to let your body recover from your hard effort.
    "You never fail, you simply produce results. Learn from these" - Anonymous

  15. #15
    Sick ... again MacMan's Avatar
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    My legs are still killing me 4 hours after my first race of the year. Some races are decided in the first lap. Too many people and too narrow a course. I knew I was sunk on the start line when I realized I was 2/3 of the way at the back - more fool me I guess. I got lapped on the bell lap which sucks as I'd raced pretty much the whole way after lap 2 alone. Oh well ... 90 people starting on a single-lane road

  16. #16
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Yes... the zone. what a feeling.
    Last edited by my58vw; 03-07-05 at 05:06 AM.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  17. #17
    sundy hopeful berny's Avatar
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    I only started racing this year in OZ. I've been racing crits since January with two clubs, racing Sunday mornings and Monday nights.
    My first race I got dropped on the second lap. My second race I finished with the tail of the sprint group but well back. I've done 14 races now and I've been able to work my way up closer toward the front in every race. I've learned so much in these 2 months and I realise I've got plenty more to learn before I take a first but I'm hoping to do it this year. I've already finished 2nd in a small group finish (bad weather) and third in a regulation group so I'm stoked.
    I'm still trying to develop a sprint. Strange that when I did get to where I might be in a position to have a go I found I had little idea of the actual mechanics of sprinting, doh!
    Then there's 'the set up'. I now know that I need to set myself up for the sprint, ie know exactly who is still strong and stay in touch regardless of the cost. Previously I've tried to keep some in reserve for the last 200 but it's generally all over by then.
    I need to NOT take the wheel of a rider who, regardless of his general form is 'done' on the day because when the sprint group jumps and he doesn't, you're sunk.

    No doubt next race I'll employ my recently acquired tactics only to learn another invaluable lesson. Then hopefully one day it'll all come together.

    edit Sorry I got carried away and forgot to congratulate you my58.. Well done and keep it going, the fun just keeps getting better.
    Bern
    Last edited by berny; 03-07-05 at 11:05 PM. Reason: forgot to congratulate my58vw
    The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

  18. #18
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMan
    My legs are still killing me 4 hours after my first race of the year.
    Get one of these The Stick and use it on your legs after you ride/race. They're great! Oh, and congrats on finishing the first race of the year. Hopefully your next one will go better.
    "You never fail, you simply produce results. Learn from these" - Anonymous

  19. #19
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Looks nice.

    I never really was sore right after the race. It was not until about 1 hour later on the way home when my legs started getting that way. This morning I can feel a little soreness in my legs...
    Just your average club rider... :)

  20. #20
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    berny, it sounds like you are progressing wonderfully - way to go! Do remember however, that a sprinter is not made, a sprinter is born. You absolutely must have a predominance of fast twitch muscles to be a sprinter. The rest of us have to try to take the sprint out of the sprinters by pushing the pace, or making it a long sprint which has been my technique in club sprints.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  21. #21
    OCP
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    58,

    Please remember this one thing as you race for me:
    No matter how frustrated you get with any portion of it, the point is, you're doing it!

    I watched crits in person here in my area with eyes of wonder last summer. If I could only be a part of that, even at some lower level than a Cat. 5. But alas, I can never do that. It is too dangerous for me to participate in any mass-start racing due to my hip replacement.

    You're young, strong, healthy, competitive and having fun. Do it for guys lke me that wish we could but have no choice.

    And I would end with this thought--remember, from your post your goal was to get the experience and FINISH. I'd say you even bettered your goal.

    Onward...
    Hip, "Halffast Celebrity Fashionista"

  22. #22
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    Thank You, that is exactly what I needed this morning.

    Words from a certain member of Citrus Valley Velo...

    You came out and raced... that is what is most important.
    It does not matter how many places back I finish at this point as long as I have fun...

    And nothing is like sitting in a pentalon at 28 MPH...

    I am reminded this morning on why we take the day after a race off... I am still alittle sore from the race. One interesting thing is that it seems like my stretch is better even after I cooled down... interesting
    Last edited by my58vw; 03-07-05 at 08:23 AM.
    Just your average club rider... :)

  23. #23
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    well, i'm glad you finally did one! you had been talking about it for a while now...

  24. #24
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    well, i'm glad you finally did one! you had been talking about it for a while now...
    And 4 more in the next 6 weeks... thus Finally in the title
    Just your average club rider... :)

  25. #25
    Pack Fodder
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    Just remember..when you feel like you are about to get dropped off the back, usually if you can just hang on for a minute longer the pace will slow. One critical lesson that I learned was that usually when I was hurting like a dog then so was everyone else also hurting.
    This is very true!

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