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Criterium Racing

Old 05-11-16, 06:00 PM
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Nicholas_Landy
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Criterium Racing

Hello,

I'm am just being introduced into the racing area of cycling, I'm currently 18 and just registered for a CAT5 criterium. And was wondering if some of you more experienced racers could give me a few beginner tips, that I'm going to face along the way.
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Old 05-11-16, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Nicholas_Landy View Post
Hello,

I'm am just being introduced into the racing area of cycling, I'm currently 18 and just registered for a CAT5 criterium. And was wondering if some of you more experienced racers could give me a few beginner tips, that I'm going to face along the way.
Scroll down through the forums and you will find a better place to post. We have a racing section with specific forums dedicated to racing.
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Old 05-11-16, 06:25 PM
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If possible, find an experienced riding partner or two to mentor you for a practice session, apart from any competition (the local Mellow Johnny's franchise does this, sponsoring a couple of casual but fast weekly rides). Ask for an honest critique on how well you're holding a line, trading off for drafting, etc. Those are the main things I got fussed at for in my first couple of crits.

It's tough to learn how to ride in a group by tossing yourself into any sort of competition, so a practice session with one or two experienced riders will help correct rookie mistakes before you're involved in a pileup. I was in a crash in my second rookie crit, and it happened so quickly it's hard to say whether I was partly at fault. Mostly I remember a guy passing me and cutting into my front wheel before he'd completely passed. Fortunately I didn't take anyone else out when I fell.

After a couple of rookie rides I moved up to a larger intermediate category (I don't recall the designation, this was 30 years ago). I was dropped within a few miles. But I took a breather for one lap, then rejoined the pack as they passed and was able to hang on the rest of the ride. This group was far more steady, without the herky jerky frantic stuff of the rookie crits. And a couple of experienced riders would give me pointers during the ride, regarding holding a line, where to ride in the group if I wasn't sure about my stamina, that sort of thing.

The biggest challenge I had was adjusting to the ebb and flo of the pack, not the overall speed. The bursts of acceleration sapped me harder than I'd expected. I was accustomed to fast solo rides, but those were always at my own pace and I rarely practiced interval training for competition.
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Old 05-11-16, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Nicholas_Landy View Post
I'm am just being introduced into the racing area of cycling, I'm currently 18 and just registered for a CAT5 criterium. And was wondering if some of you more experienced racers could give me a few beginner tips, that I'm going to face along the way.
Try posting in the Sub-Forum "The 33"-Road Bike Racing" where active racers post, and Welcome.
Be sure to read the Stickie thread first:
New to Racing? Here's a tip or two

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Old 05-11-16, 07:16 PM
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Push as hard as you can on the pedals. Right foot, left foot etc. Don't stop until you cross the finish line. Do not stop pedaling!!
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Old 05-11-16, 07:30 PM
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Thanks for the great advise brian! Will take that into action this weekend.
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Old 05-11-16, 07:32 PM
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Wow... Thank you for your advise that helps out a lot now was feeling a little nervous until you told me what I needed to do, I will be racing with my age group 17-18 so I think I should be fine for my first. Really appreciate the rookie tips will take them into action this weekend!
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Old 05-11-16, 11:04 PM
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Old 05-11-16, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nicholas_Landy View Post
Hello,

I'm am just being introduced into the racing area of cycling, I'm currently 18 and just registered for a CAT5 criterium. And was wondering if some of you more experienced racers could give me a few beginner tips, that I'm going to face along the way.
No clue what kind of experience you have on the bike, so the following is very general and assumes you're already signed up and are ready to roll.

Be safe ... don't worry about winning, think more about learning to race. Approach corners safely and follow the lines of the rider in front of you (to the extent that it is safe). Observe other riders and stay away from the ones doing scary things. Don't do scary things like make dramatic changes of lines without making sure you're aren't going to compromise those around you. Don't overlap wheels. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you have cycling buddies, go do some bumping drills several days before the race. Contact isn't encouraged in a 5 race, but if you're comfortable getting a nudge it's less likely you'll eat pavement.

Cat 5 is "racing", but it is really a venue to learn how to race so you're a more skilled and capable racer as you progress through the ranks. Test yourself and see how you and the field respond. Take a flier, do something, enjoy it.

You may have a mentor in the race, listen to them before, during, and after the race. They are there to help you learn and to help you be safe.

The rest is just things you'll learn over time. Conserve energy by limiting your time on the front (but do take pulls). The race is harder if you're too far back because you'll have to put in a little extra effort out of the corners. A big suggestion for being SAFE is that if you're not contesting the win (and by that I mean like top 5 out of the final corner) take a look around and safely take a line through the finish that keeps you clear of the other guys wanting to sprint for 25th or whatever ... amazing how many crashes happen there (heck ... I've done it).

Last edited by hack; 05-11-16 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 05-12-16, 02:17 AM
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Thanks so much hack! Will take all those great learning tips into action this weekend thanks again.
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Old 05-12-16, 06:12 AM
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Try to get some laps in before your race. Sometimes you can sneak in laps between races. Learn where the potholes and manhole covers are, and try the corners at speed.

Knowing the quirks can help you prepare for them.

During the race, if you're headed for a bad patch of pavement, don't swerve around it, and into another rider. Bunny hop it, or just deal with it.
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Old 05-12-16, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Knowing the quirks can help you prepare for them.

During the race, if you're headed for a bad patch of pavement, don't swerve around it, and into another rider. Bunny hop it, or just deal with it.
I vote for just deal with it..I don't think bunny hopping anything in a cat 5 (or even 4) race is a good idea
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Old 05-12-16, 06:50 AM
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Quick background (which you may already know/understand): bike racing events in the US is divided into categories: 5 is for beginners and 1 is the last step before professional. You're a beginner, so a Cat5.

Originally Posted by Nicholas_Landy View Post
...I will be racing with my age group 17-18 so I think I should be fine for my first...
Not necessarily. Some 17-18 year olds have been racing for 7-8 years. And they've achieved enough that they're Cat2 or 3 or possibly higher. Unless the race is specifically a 17-18/Cat5 event, you should expect to see some higher category, very accomplished, and strong racers.

Regardless, it'll be fun. Report back and tell us how it went.
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Old 05-12-16, 07:02 AM
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Be aware of the riders around you. #1 thing I see in beginner racers is only thinking about themselves, forgetting that there are people beside and behind them.

Some of our guys went down in a bad crash Tuesday partly because a guy suddenly sat up then moved over within the last few laps. If you're going to blow, let people know to go around you and then be safe. If you sit up because you're done, don't *also* move over (because you'll cause wheels to overlap, then you'll take someone down). If you get spooked or something and want to swerve, remember that there are probably people behind you or to your side.

Keep your head on a swivel: check your sides and behind you constantly to have a 360 view of what's going on. I often do a quick check before heading into a corner, especially when it's not strung out. When it's strung out that's less of a concern.

Be calm and relaxed on your grip. You can take a *lot* of contact without going down if you don't panic.
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Old 05-12-16, 07:46 AM
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If you get dropped, or more likely when you get dropped, don't be discouraged. Many people get dropped and/or lapped in their first race(s). Keep going at it and things will get better.
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Old 05-12-16, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
If you get dropped, or more likely when you get dropped, don't be discouraged. Many people get dropped and/or lapped in their first race(s). Keep going at it and things will get better.
Not just their first races.


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Old 05-12-16, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
If you get dropped, or more likely when you get dropped, don't be discouraged. Many people get dropped and/or lapped in their first race(s). Keep going at it and things will get better.
I got dropped before the first corner in my first race.
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Old 05-12-16, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Try to get some laps in before your race. Sometimes you can sneak in laps between races. Learn where the potholes and manhole covers are, and try the corners at speed.
Emphasis on, "at speed."

No, faster than that.

No, FASTER.

And you'll still probably find you're going through the turns faster in the race than you were able to convince yourself to go while pre-riding. It's cool.

Also, you can ride over a heck of a lot of crap if you stay loose and don't panic. I'm shorter than most, so I end up running over a lot of junk I can't see - gas line heads, holes, sticks - and I don't think it's ever crashed me out.

People will be yelling things during the race, like, "hold your line!" You might get some "hold your line" advice here, too. It's not very useful, because it means basically nothing. What they're trying to tell you is to carve a predictable arc through the turn, with more or less the same radius as the riders around you. Don't swing wide cause you're afraid your tires won't hold (they will) and don't suddenly dive to the inside. Try to be smooth. It will help to not stare at the wheel right in front of you. Look at the seatpost of the rider two bikes ahead.

Remember it's a beginner race and it's your first time. You're going to make errors, and that's ok, no matter what anyone says. Everyone is constantly screwing up in a cat 5 race. Try to stay loose and you should avoid doing anything too egregious.
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Old 05-12-16, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
Also, you can ride over a heck of a lot of crap if you stay loose and don't panic. I'm shorter than most, so I end up running over a lot of junk I can't see - gas line heads, holes, sticks - and I don't think it's ever crashed me out.
Yup. Better to ride through it, and possibly flat, than cause a crash by swerving.
If you do flat, just stay straight and let everyone pass you. If you feel comfortable, raise 1 arm to signal riders behind you you have a flat. If not, just keep both hands on the bars until you stop.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:05 AM
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If you are unattached, which I Assume you are, wear a plain jersey. Lots of cat 5s show up for their first race in a Sky or Astana, or what have you jersey, which is technically illegal and can result in the official not allowing you to start.

Use 8 pins (1 for each corner and side) for your number. Pin through the paper, not the holes.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Use 8 pins (1 for each corner and side) for your number. Pin through the paper, not the holes.
I generally prefer 7. I leave the bottom side open on the off chance that a gust of wind will catch it like a sail and help propel me along.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:34 AM
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Don't get discouraged. Most people start their first race and find themselves quickly off the back (OTB, you will hear that acronym thrown around a bit. Along with OTF , Off the Front). Racing is something that you get good at with experience. You might hate your first race like I did (or you may love it) . But if you keep going back you will start to really love the energy, the competition, and the adrenaline.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Nicholas_Landy View Post
Hello,

I'm am just being introduced into the racing area of cycling, I'm currently 18 and just registered for a CAT5 criterium. And was wondering if some of you more experienced racers could give me a few beginner tips, that I'm going to face along the way.
Just remember, you might get dropped but don't let that discourage you. Go back for some more and enjoy yourself!
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Old 05-12-16, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I generally prefer 7. I leave the bottom side open on the off chance that a gust of wind will catch it like a sail and help propel me along.
At least 5, usually 7 for me; 8 just weighs me down!
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Old 05-12-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
At least 5, usually 7 for me; 8 just weighs me down!
I use 9, one for middle too! But I pin from the inside so it's more aero.
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