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Thread: First Criterium

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    First Criterium

    I will be doing my first criterium on Sunday. Actually, it is also my first road bicycle race. There is a clinic directly before the race, so that should help with some basics, but does anyone have any advice. I know I will probably get dropped as I have only done a few days of sprint workouts and apparently that is what most of a criterium is, but does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions for Sunday? Thanks.

    Also, I will be looking a tad ridiculous because I haven't gone clipless yet, so I will be using clips and sneakers, but I guess that's just life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngbeginner View Post
    I will be doing my first criterium on Sunday. Actually, it is also my first road bicycle race. There is a clinic directly before the race, so that should help with some basics, but does anyone have any advice. I know I will probably get dropped as I have only done a few days of sprint workouts and apparently that is what most of a criterium is, but does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions for Sunday? Thanks.

    Also, I will be looking a tad ridiculous because I haven't gone clipless yet, so I will be using clips and sneakers, but I guess that's just life.
    Oh, you'll be fine with toe clips. Just stay at the back, please, and learn how to ride in the group. You might also sign up for some local Cat 5 training races if there are any, which will help you learn how to be smooth in the pack.

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    Thanks, yeah I don't really have time for any cat 5 training rides because I have two days, but I was hoping that the mandatory cat5 prerace clinic would help a little. My goal is to make it half way throught the race, because I can ride about 20 mph sustained for 15-25 miles, but that is on relatively flat land. The race is only 12 miles long (15 laps), but it has a hill in it (I suck at hills because my knee doctor didn't let me start doing them until a week ago). Also, I have an issue with sprinting, so that will make things difficult. After this one I have lots of training time though, because the next one I do probably won't be until mid may-ish.

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    Based on your info you're doing Bethel. There will be two things you'll have to get through - the speed on the non-hill part of the course (turn one through to the bottom of the hill) and the effort needed to get up the hill. The course is literally all downhill until the bottom of the hill so it makes for faster riding. It's the best time to work on and focus on drafting someone.

    The hill is steep-ish and requires some effort to get up. This is where you need to dig deep and just make it over.

    I ran the clinic for two years but promoting duties made it impossible for me to do the clinic this year. Someone else is doing it and they have two assistant instructors who had worked with me before. One is here on bike forums, @shovelhd. One of the things you can work on, even in the clinic just before your race, is the side-to-side bumping and then drafting. This will help immensely with your race.

    For the race itself the most important thing is to NOT SWERVE. Hang onto your bars (drops if you have a choice), there's nothing out there you can't ride over. I watched a Cat 4 almost take out an experienced Cat 3 in the 3-4 race when the Cat 4 swerved really hard all of a sudden.

    The other thing is not to brake hard. Braking hard is worse than swerving, so if you have to brake hard then you should swerve instead.

    In the race itself you should just focus on following wheels aka drafting.

    You'll make a huge effort to get over the hill without falling behind, then you'll have to continue making some effort until the middle or end of the first straight (after the first turn). At that point you'll start to recover from the hill and (hopefully) the wind will slow down the front of the field.

    Don't relax mentally, don't let a gap open up. Gap = more than a bike length or two between you and the next rider in front. If you feel uncomfortable following directly behind then follow a bit to the side.

    The wind at Bethel can be pretty tough. If you feel the wind from one side (say the left side) then you need to move to the right of the riders in front of you. This way you put a rider between you and the wind.

    I'll be at registration. If it's possible for me to kit up I'll ride with you during the clinic. No promises as I haven't been able to do that this year but I'll try. Also I've mentioned shovel because he's an instructor and he may be able to split off some of the first-day-of-racing riders and do a "beginner clinic". He's a great instructor, great rider, and he's really committed to helping the next generation of racers. He makes about a 3 hour drive to do the clinic, he doesn't get paid to do it (he races for free), so it's obviously really important to him.

    The newer Juniors take it easy on each other so don't worry, you'll be in reasonably similar company. There are some pretty hard core Juniors but they're all going to be at Battenkill.

    Look for me at registration. I'll probably be wearing a desert pattern boonie hat.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Also what shoe size do you wear?

    Have you considered cliplless or is it something you're not prepared to do or is it a cost thing holding you back?
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    I am doing Bethel. And I have considered clipless, but since this is my first race I am going to see how I like racing and then make a decision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    I'll be at registration. If it's possible for me to kit up I'll ride with you during the clinic. No promises as I haven't been able to do that this year but I'll try.
    Thanks for the offer.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    The newer Juniors take it easy on each other so don't worry, you'll be in reasonably similar company.
    Also, I'm not doing the High School Race, I'm doing Cat 5, so I could do the clinic. Next year I will try to make it to more of the series and do the high school races, but Junior year has been really busy so far (for example, I will also miss next week because of the ACTs).

    Separate question, after Bethel, where is the next place to go to race. I know the ECCC just opened to all high school riders, but that would be hard. Also, I heard the CRCA does some. Any thoughts?

    Finally, what do I need to do to confirm my registration (permit or passport or receipt)? Does my dad need to sign any sort of waiver? I also bought a one day license from bikereg during purchase. How do I confirm this?

    See you tomorrow (I will be wearing a lot of under armour, tights, and my DNA jersey.)

    P.S. I will be at the event extremely early because my dad has a conference call he has to get on by 7, so I will probably be there around 6:30. Is there anywhere warm to stay, will the course be open to examine, etc...?

    Thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngbeginner View Post
    Thanks for the offer.



    Also, I'm not doing the High School Race, I'm doing Cat 5, so I could do the clinic. Next year I will try to make it to more of the series and do the high school races, but Junior year has been really busy so far (for example, I will also miss next week because of the ACTs).

    Separate question, after Bethel, where is the next place to go to race. I know the ECCC just opened to all high school riders, but that would be hard. Also, I heard the CRCA does some. Any thoughts?

    Finally, what do I need to do to confirm my registration (permit or passport or receipt)? Does my dad need to sign any sort of waiver? I also bought a one day license from bikereg during purchase. How do I confirm this?

    See you tomorrow (I will be wearing a lot of under armour, tights, and my DNA jersey.)

    P.S. I will be at the event extremely early because my dad has a conference call he has to get on by 7, so I will probably be there around 6:30. Is there anywhere warm to stay, will the course be open to examine, etc...?

    Thanks again
    A bit late so really just going to answer the important stuff for tomorrow.

    You need to have your dad sign the waiver at registration. I should have you down as having paid for a One Day. There's no indoor area but you can hang out by the trailer (in it?) or even in the Expedition (which tows the trailer). Course will be open for warming up.

    See you later today, as it turns out it's pretty late right now.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    A bit late so really just going to answer the important stuff for tomorrow.

    You need to have your dad sign the waiver at registration. I should have you down as having paid for a One Day. There's no indoor area but you can hang out by the trailer (in it?) or even in the Expedition (which tows the trailer). Course will be open for warming up.

    See you later today, as it turns out it's pretty late right now.
    ha ok.
    Thanks for the info.

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    Good meeting you, I hope you had fun, and good luck with the racing going forward! Everyone who met or saw you were impressed with your attitude and approach.

    Also best on the ACTs this weekend.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    I'll actually probably be able to make it this sunday. I will travel later in the day. Look forward to returning (and possibly warmer weather).

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    I coached you in the clinic and marshaled your race. I kept an eye on you. You hung in well until the attacks started, but you did not give up. Pretty good stuff for your first race. This week the clinic is extra credit so if you want I will work directly with you. We can go over what you've learned and what your next steps should be.

    Two bits of homework. Most races in the Northeast are posted on bikereg.com. The schedule evolves throughout the year. At this point a good bit of it is up. Another place to check is nebra.us, the local USAC association. Finally, when your license is approved, set up a login on usacycling.com and read the rule book. You must understand the rules as written or you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. See you on Sunday.

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    Thanks a ton. Yeah in the Junior race I thought there was one more person passing and I was going to try to grab onto him but there was no one there. And then in the cat5 I died on every hill and had to close the gap every time on the back part. I wasn't able to start practicing hills until a week and a bit ago (knee doctor's orders) so I did some hill workouts to day and need to keep working on those.

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    I also need to get in better shape, but that's a completely different story.

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    @carpediemracing

    Also, the pedals my friend has fixed up are actually old mountain biking pedals. Are those still workable for road biking?

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    Sure, they'll be fine. Even MTB shoes with no cleats are better than sneakers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngbeginner View Post
    @carpediemracing

    Also, the pedals my friend has fixed up are actually old mountain biking pedals. Are those still workable for road biking?
    I raced for a couple Bethel Series on mtb pedals because I had winter mountain bike shoes. You'll be fine with the mtb pedals.

    However I still have the Keos in the Expedition and you're welcome to take them. The Keos are nice because every road shoe will have the 3 hole bolt pattern for the Look Keos, and any road shoe (that fits) is going to be incredible compared to sneakers. You can go to a shop, buy some left over shoes for cheap (as long as they fit) and you'll be set.

    The mtb shoes are nice because the cleats last a gazillion times longer - the cleats are metal, not plastic, and they're recessed in mtb shoes so you can walk on the shoes without touching the cleat to the ground. They're also designed to shed mud, i.e. if you have mud on your cleat it'll sort of push through the openings in a mtb pedal. In a road pedal the mud will make it harder to clip in. There are workarounds but the mtb pedals are designed for mud, the road ones are not. If you walk across some grass, if you need to stand on the shoulder to fix a flat, that's when it becomes convenient to have mtb pedals.

    The one place where clipless pedals makes a difference is on hills. I didn't want to say that before because you had so much to think about but right now you're lacking some available power on the hills. Sneakers also let your shoe move around on the pedal so you won't have the stability on the pedal that you will have if you had cleats holding you in place.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    So basically I could go with the mtb pedals for the next few years and have no issues? And still have the added benefit on hills? That's what my friend implied. Also, I think he's trying to con me into doing mtb as he has been trying to for the last few years. If so, I'll just go up to the shop and get some shoes mtb shoes soon, but I don't want to have to buy two pairs of shoes and then have an extra pair of mtb shoes with nothing to do with them.

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    You don't have to use MTB shoes with MTB pedals and cleats. MTB shoes are designed to be used with MTB pedals and cleats, but you can use MTB pedals and cleats with most road shoes. There are also pedals that work well at both, like the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters that I use on my commuter bike.

    The most important thing is to get shoes that fit. Any pedal and cleat system is better than none.

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngbeginner View Post
    So basically I could go with the mtb pedals for the next few years and have no issues? And still have the added benefit on hills? That's what my friend implied. Also, I think he's trying to con me into doing mtb as he has been trying to for the last few years. If so, I'll just go up to the shop and get some shoes mtb shoes soon, but I don't want to have to buy two pairs of shoes and then have an extra pair of mtb shoes with nothing to do with them.
    If you want to try mtb or cross then get mtb shoes because those are "everywhere" shoes. Road shoes are only for road, not usable in mtb or cross. Many mtb shoes are basically road shoes with knobs on the sole. They're efficient, they have stiff soles, etc. Don't get the cheapest shoes, they have just enough of a sole to hold the cleat but they'll flex a lot. Get a shoe that has a full length hard sole. Pick up and compare two higher end shoes from the same line (mtb and road) and you'll see that the construction of the sole is very similar. Pick up the entry level mtb shoe and usually the hard sole doesn't extend the full length of the shoe. Avoid one of those mtb shoes.

    Later you can get road specific shoes/pedals if you want.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    Thanks. I'll try to get shoes this weekend or next one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by youngbeginner View Post
    Thanks. I'll try to get shoes this weekend or next one.
    One precaution, especially if you've had knee issues. Don't rush into clipless, meaning get the shoes, screw the cleats on, and race 20 minutes later with them. I don't think you'd do that because you seem level headed and smart but don't do it because it can be really tempting.

    When I first got cleated shoes (and then later clipless) I used the trainer to hone my cleat position. This way I wouldn't be a mile or ten away from the house when I realized that, oh, the cleats are messed up or my knees are killing me. I've learned to feel what my knees want me to do with my feet. I haven't really felt like my hips or ankles required any foot angle attention, just my knees.

    Fore/aft is pretty straight forward. Start with the ball of the foot over the pedal axle or slightly in front of it (so your foot is more forward on the pedal). If you move the ball of your foot behind the pedal axle (pedaling with your toes) then you'll probably experience calf cramps quickly, that's what happens to me. The more forward the more steady the power output, so not as good for sharp accelerations but good for steady grinding. I have the ball of my foot just a touch behind the axle, few mm or so.

    Angle is trickier.

    Most normal cleats give you some float (speed play is the exception, with something like 37 deg one way and 9 deg the other). The goal is to have your foot in the middle of that float range. This way you have the largest margin of error in each direction. So for my gray cleats (4.5 deg float) I have about 2 degrees each way. With red cleats (9 deg) it's about 4 degrees float. If you're butting up against one limit of play (so 0 degrees twisting your heel right, 9 degrees twisting left) then if you instinctively try to twist to the right you're out of room. You want to give yourself maximum margin for error so you want your float to be even to both sides.

    As you ride you'll notice you're butting up against one side or the other. Adjust the cleat to give you more float on that "tight" side.

    This works pretty well for me. You can do this if you have some relaxing time on Saturday. Don't rush. Pedal around a short loop, even up and down your street a bit, try some out of the saddle stuff to see how it feels when you're rocking the bike, etc. You'll be surprised at how hard you can go. Then you'll be surprised at how fatigued your legs just got.

    When you first get clipless you'll find yourself using new muscle groups, typically your hamstring area. It'll be extremely fatiguing at first. However, on the plus side, you'll be able to spin much faster without feeling like your feet will go flying. To me that's the first/main benefit of clipless, that my foot is stable/predictable on the pedal.

    You'll usually adopt a slightly more toe down position than you do with sneakers, at least relative to the way the sole looks. This may increase the stress on your calves. With sneakers you automatically get more of a heel down when you push down, due to flex, but with cycling shoes that doesn't happen as easily. You might rotate your foot, yes, but it's not because the sole is flexing 2 inches downward.

    You can pull back a bit with clipless, something you can't do with sneakers. I don't pull back much but it uses your hamstrings and calves I think.

    You can pull up and over the top much harder. This is something I definitely do. More hamstring for sure, transitioning to more quad on the downstroke. Especially noticeable when standing, like on a hill.

    If you can get shoes quickly, like today, and you can get a few days of easy riding in, that would be ideal for Sunday. Your main goal will be to dial in your cleat position, to avoid knee or other problems. You're not going to gain fitness in 2 days so get comfortable with the pedals/shoes, really dial in that cleat position. Carry the tools necessary to adjust the cleat if you go for an outside ride. Sunday you can stress test your cleat position and explore high effort riding style changes (since you'll be much more attached to the bike).

    The fitness quickly follows.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

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    [QUOTE=carpediemracing;16658241
    If you can get shoes quickly, like today, and you can get a few days of easy riding in, that would be ideal for Sunday. Your main goal will be to dial in your cleat position, to avoid knee or other problems.[/QUOTE]

    I'm planning on going up today after I leave school. The place I go to does a pedal fitting (although I may have to schedule it) would this help at all with what you are talking about?

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    It will be a good place to start, especially if they have you ride on a trainer and observe your pedal stroke. If you choose to ride with cleats this weekend, please spend some time before Sunday practicing clipping in and out.

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