"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Criterium or Road Race, Which is safer?
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03-18-05, 02:46 PM
I've really enjoyed the Forum so far. However I have come across the notion in a lot of threads that Criterium Racing is somehow more dangerous than other forms of Road Racing. My experience has been the opposite. I've been involved in and witnessed more serious crashes Road Racing than Crit.
My reasoning for this has been as follows:
1. Riders paying more attention in Crits vs "falling asleep" in Road Races. Leading to more overlaping and other forms of stupid riding. The upcoming corner seems to keep riders on their toes.
2. Larger Fields in RR, less likely to string out or split. So now we have a "Big Pack" of the riders mentioned in #1.
3. Higher speeds in RR, long downhills, ect.
4. Uncertanty about the finish. There is the inevitiable rider who doesn't realize there is a 90 deg turn right 500m from the finish. In a Crit you get a lot of practice going thru the last turn before the Bell.
I think the myth is perpetuated by the pucker factor of going around a turn in close company more than any real difference in risk.
03-18-05, 05:12 PM
I think it's split down the middle, really.
Corners cause a fair number of crashes, sure. So a 40-lap Crit on a square course offers 160 opportunities.
But some of the worst crashes, IMO, are the straight-line instances where someone overlaps a wheel at a high speed, OR the fast descents on a hill. Those are veritable death traps.
I think we could debate which one is safer, but I wouldn't be able to cast a commited vote.
You know, I've seen some horrific one-man crashes in Time Trials, too. Steve Bauer in the Coors Classic, for example. So there's your third party candidate.
03-18-05, 05:37 PM
Guess I just get tired of the Criterium taking such a bad rap.
03-18-05, 10:29 PM
Crit requires more skills to race well. Hence, it is a lot harder. This can lead to crashes. Tomorrow we have the Grant's Tomb crit in NYC with 95+ riders racing cat3/4 and with warmer weather. I am skipping it because I don't have much experience with crit and Grant's Tomb crit isn't the place you should get your first or second hand experience in racing crit. The size of the field and the strenght of the pack make this a very difficult and fast crit. I would be lucky if I don't get dropped on the first 3 laps or got spitted to the back.
03-19-05, 02:27 AM
I saw this kid at a crit, run across the road after the bunch had passed, only to be picked off by a rider trying to get back to the field. The rider was sooo mad he grabbed the kid and started shouting. A marshal had to calm him down, that's when the rider realized how hurt he was, of course the kid was fine.
Fortunately, I've never crashed at a crit, only road races. Although crit speed is fast, always jumping out of corners, bridging gaps, I think that you get to know the circuit quickly and get into a rhythm as far as knowing what to expect throughout the race. In RR's you aren't always prepared to know what's around next corner and being mostly on open roads doesn't help.
03-19-05, 11:42 AM
I prefer RRs with uphill finishes. We have some local crits on closed courses here that I do. There are no curbs, just grass and the road is clean and wide. Other than that, I would not drive more than 20 minutes to do any crit (as my USCF ranking has me nonexistent in Crit racing and top ranks for RRs) and pick RRs that have nice hilly courses so that things get broken up a bit. Like I said, uphill finishes are nice because you don't have the speed issue as much and you can usually drop most of the field on strength. Last year two of the early season races I did were a circuit race and a crit. Both were deathtraps.
Probably more important than the type of course is the type of field. Categories 3-5 are notoriously dangerous. Usually it's about a few young 16-20 year old wippersnappers who have no compunction about diving through turns. If you are old enough and not concerned with advancing categories, I'd look into masters racing. I've done a 4 and a masters race in the same day on the same course and it was like night and day. Masters races tend to be a lot smoother in pace. They are harder than a 4s race in terms of effort, but much less of the jerky stupid shena****ns that go on in 3-5s...
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