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How to approach an event on a paved oval car track . . .

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How to approach an event on a paved oval car track . . .

Old 08-02-16, 09:45 AM
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How to approach an event on a paved oval car track . . .

so I'm signed up for a local club race tomorrow night. it'll be my only race start this year, outside of the training events held back in April which included a crit. our club puts on a variety of races throughout the year including a lot of circuit road races, but this series is very unique . . . they have rented out the local paved oval car track. it's a 3/8 mile oval with slight banking (much less than a velodrome) and wide sweeping corners.

- it'll be like a circuit in that the races will be around 25-30 laps and there will be time for things to develop and plenty of time to read the road.
- it'll be like a crit in that there is no climbing, and the pace is more than likely going to be very high and knowing these guys there will be A LOT of attacks.
- it'll be like a road race in that there will be long flowing stretches of time for the paceline to really get moving, and there is a good chance there will be some teamwork going on, and there will be little if any hard cornering as the track is very wide and the corners are all sweeping.
- it'll be like a track race in that there will be several shorter events, under 30 laps or so (about 10 miles, or 30 minute races) with varying formats including kilo, team pursuit, a straightforward scratch format, and so on with multiple primes each races. they also play games like miss and out.

I don't really know what to expect as I will have to line up for multiple race starts at the same event. I'm just looking for some strategy so that I don't burn out to early in the evening, but at the same time be able to capitalize on the races that will play to my strengths. I'm a sprinter, and I would prefer to force every race to end this way, because I'm simply too big and don't have the FTP to chase down long breaks if they get away . . .
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Old 08-02-16, 10:14 AM
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We do those regularly down here. There isn't much to it. The course is flat and the turns are sweeping. Surges come from people attacking. The pace can pick up and stay high for quite awhile, since you never have to break for turns. You can usually see all the way around the track, so you always know how far ahead a breakaway is.

As far as the finish goes, if a break gets around - which happens pretty regularly, there will still be a sprint finish. And despite how wide and open things are, generally, f you are not in the top 5 coming out of turn 2, you probably won't finish on the podium.

Oh, and just because it seems perfectly smooth through all the turns doesn't mean there aren't any potential dangers. In some tracks I've raced on, there are little dips that if you hit it, it will toss you up on the track. There frequently are cracks that have no impact on cars but are wide enough to snag a bicycle tire. And the inside track walls do not give at all.
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Old 08-02-16, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw
so I'm signed up for a local club race tomorrow night. it'll be my only race start this year, outside of the training events held back in April which included a crit. our club puts on a variety of races throughout the year including a lot of circuit road races, but this series is very unique . . . they have rented out the local paved oval car track. it's a 3/8 mile oval with slight banking (much less than a velodrome) and wide sweeping corners.

- it'll be like a circuit in that the races will be around 25-30 laps and there will be time for things to develop and plenty of time to read the road.
- it'll be like a crit in that there is no climbing, and the pace is more than likely going to be very high and knowing these guys there will be A LOT of attacks.
- it'll be like a road race in that there will be long flowing stretches of time for the paceline to really get moving, and there is a good chance there will be some teamwork going on, and there will be little if any hard cornering as the track is very wide and the corners are all sweeping.
- it'll be like a track race in that there will be several shorter events, under 30 laps or so (about 10 miles, or 30 minute races) with varying formats including kilo, team pursuit, a straightforward scratch format, and so on with multiple primes each races. they also play games like miss and out.

I don't really know what to expect as I will have to line up for multiple race starts at the same event. I'm just looking for some strategy so that I don't burn out to early in the evening, but at the same time be able to capitalize on the races that will play to my strengths. I'm a sprinter, and I would prefer to force every race to end this way, because I'm simply too big and don't have the FTP to chase down long breaks if they get away . . .

If it wasn't for your location, I would swear we were part of the same team/club.


We also have a lot of circuit races and crits...and we also rented out an oval race track for the same kind of race you are describing.


Other than that, I have nothing to add. Just watch out for the rumble strips
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Old 08-02-16, 11:22 AM
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Set up with a lot of wedge and try to keep it in the blue groove. Try not to get sideways like you would on dirt.
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Old 08-02-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro
We do those regularly down here. There isn't much to it. The course is flat and the turns are sweeping. Surges come from people attacking. The pace can pick up and stay high for quite awhile, since you never have to break for turns. You can usually see all the way around the track, so you always know how far ahead a breakaway is.

As far as the finish goes, if a break gets around - which happens pretty regularly, there will still be a sprint finish. And despite how wide and open things are, generally, f you are not in the top 5 coming out of turn 2, you probably won't finish on the podium.

Oh, and just because it seems perfectly smooth through all the turns doesn't mean there aren't any potential dangers. In some tracks I've raced on, there are little dips that if you hit it, it will toss you up on the track. There frequently are cracks that have no impact on cars but are wide enough to snag a bicycle tire. And the inside track walls do not give at all.
good stuff, just what I was looking for, thanks!
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Old 08-02-16, 11:46 AM
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is it worth it to go for primes or focus on the finish? not sure if there is a points element, in which case I can see going for primes, but I'm pretty sure the podium is all prestige here (there is no cash to be paid out, our participant fees cover the track rental and insurance). are there specific games or race formats I should focus on as a sprinter?
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Old 08-02-16, 01:51 PM
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It's like an endurance track race, but slower, and more boring
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Old 08-02-16, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw
is it worth it to go for primes or focus on the finish? not sure if there is a points element, in which case I can see going for primes, but I'm pretty sure the podium is all prestige here (there is no cash to be paid out, our participant fees cover the track rental and insurance). are there specific games or race formats I should focus on as a sprinter?
If you have the stamina to go for primes and the win, go for it.

Most likely what will happen is that this will sort itself out; either you'll feel fresh the whole race, and go for everything. Or you'll be hanging on for dear life, in which case just focus on the win.
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Old 08-02-16, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw
are there specific games or race formats I should focus on as a sprinter?
Scratch race = regular crit

Points race = see how weighted the points are and see if different riders are snagging sprints. If different riders are going for it (in a larger field typically, or there's a break for the first one or something different like that) then it usually makes sense to focus on big sprints and the "off" sprints. Remember everyone is fresh for the first sprint, there's still a lot of fresh legs for the second sprint. If it were me I'd look at the sprint after halfway one (usually a higher point value sprint) and the final one, plus any that fall into your lap. When I first raced on the track track (T-Town Tues or Wed night) I had only ridden a fixed gear for about 50 feet the night before, when I finished building my track bike. I almost flipped over the bars. On race day I spent 2 hours rolling around the track during warm up trying not to crash myself or others. I bonked and got shelled at the start of each of the two races I did. The following week I warmed up in a more sane manner. I did a points race and only sprinted in the final sprint. I think I won the sprint, I don't remember, but I got 3rd in the race because of those points. That qualified me for the Cat 3-4 final (all newcomers were Cat 4s at that time). Cat 3s were sort of a big deal, sort of like a combo 2-3 nowadays. The night's final race was a points race also. Lots of racers, maybe 25 or so, it felt like it was packed. Again I just sat in, trying not to crash anyone, and moved up only for the final sprint. I got 3rd in the sprint, 4th in the race. Pick your sprints and do well in them, let others bash their heads in on the more popular sprints.

Miss N Out = last rider gets pulled. At some point there's a few riders left, they ring the bell, then the places are the places, i.e. if you cross the line first you win. I thought as a sprinter I should sit at the back, do a little spurt to get around the last person, get them eliminated, etc. Instead I got eliminated pretty quickly. You should try to sit near the front, up high so you don't get boxed in. My best Miss N Out was when I attacked basically at the start. I did a whole bunch of laps solo, even got the bell solo, but in the last lap the two other guys caught and passed me. I'm no pursuiter but the whole "looking at each other" thing happens in even a worse way in a Miss N Out because if you pull hard everyone will go around you and get you eliminated. So if you can get off the front early I bet it'll be a bit easier than you expect.

I'd look at the specific schedule. Personally I'd go narrow and deep, meaning I'd target certain races and basically soft pedal or DNF the others. Pursuit - I was about 90 seconds slower for a 3 km pursuit compared to the winner (Cat 4s). So I'd definitely skip that. Kilo... it really hurts. Depending on how serious people are (aero wheels, bars, helmet, etc) I'd either go for it or totally skip it. Scratch, go for it. Keirin if they have it, my favorite so I'd go for it. Miss N Out, if an early move doesn't take hold I'd consider bagging it. This way I have legs for some events and I can go well. It's sort of like the Points race thing - don't try to win every sprint, just go and win the ones you're trying to win.

Sounds fun. I wish I could do it.
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Old 08-02-16, 04:24 PM
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Eh ... go for the win, unless the primes are particularly inviting. I've got enough socks/tubes/whatevers that shooting for wins was more fun/rewarding. Be assertive and race hard though, go with or start breaks, have fun.
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Old 08-03-16, 09:13 AM
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It's not a crit: it's a short circuit race. (There are FLAT road races, and there are HILLY crits: being flat doesn't mean it's a crit.) It'll either be a break or an absurdly huge field sprint. If you're a sprinter, you're likely going to have to eat some wind in the final 60sec to stay near the front. It'll be 10 wide, 5 deep full on sprint, and it'll be messy. (Or it'll be a break...)
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Old 08-04-16, 06:57 AM
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well the race went off without a hitch. man it was super tough, it's the end of racing season for a lot of these guys and some of them were in extremely good shape . . .

first race was a warmup 25 lap with everyone (A, B, and women) with 10 laps neutral. after that a pretty HUGE break formed with the A riders up front, most of the women fell off the back. I tried to stay with the A guys for a few laps, but was shelled in the early attacks. I pulled out and just rode it easy.

next race was a B points race, 15 laps with sprint primes at 10, 5, and last lap. this was the race I really wanted to focus on, and my friends knew it and didn't make it easy lol. they hung me out front right off the gun and I basically towed the field for the first 5 laps. I got attacked hard in the last half of the lap for the first sprint prime, but I won the sprint by inches. problem was, I went so deep to do that I basically got shelled off the back in the next couple laps and couldn't even come close to contending the rest of the race. I did end up 3rd in this race because of my prime points however, which was my goal.

we did the italian pursuit next and it was terrible lol. we didn't do a good job as a team lining up and we had some really strong riders up front who pushed really hard and were not listening to those of us in back who were trying to tell them a huge gap was forming. the pace was absolutely blistering and a gap opened up in front of and behind me, so I was basically out in the wind in no man's land for 7 laps until it was time for my pull, by which time I was so blown I could barely hold it together. suffice to say, i'm pretty sure we didn't win that one.

we didn't have time for miss 'n out because the sun went down and the track was getting dark, so we just did a sundowner with everyone out there. mostly the A guys had another hard go at it for 20 laps or so while everyone else just slow rolled around and hung out and warmed down.

it was a totally fun event and a really cool format - there were 4 weeks in this series and I really wish I had gotten out more. it was really tough, and clearly I should have been racing more this season if I expected to keep it together. thanks for the advice everyone!
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Old 08-07-16, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw
they hung me out front right off the gun and I basically towed the field for the first 5 laps.!
Glad you had fun, but no one can really make you do this unless you're the teams domestique and that's your job.
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Old 08-08-16, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche
Glad you had fun, but no one can really make you do this unless you're the teams domestique and that's your job.
ok so this begs the question I had running through my head at the time, how do you drop off the front when you're done taking your pull without falling too far back to still contest the sprint? nobody was coming around me to take a turn, and when I had pulled out before, the only way to stay in the top 5 was to muscle my way back into line, which felt aggressive and not very smooth.
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Old 08-08-16, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
My best Miss N Out was when I attacked basically at the start. I did a whole bunch of laps solo, even got the bell solo, but in the last lap the two other guys caught and passed me.
Who is this that has hijacked CDRs account?
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Old 08-08-16, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw
ok so this begs the question I had running through my head at the time, how do you drop off the front when you're done taking your pull without falling too far back to still contest the sprint? nobody was coming around me to take a turn, and when I had pulled out before, the only way to stay in the top 5 was to muscle my way back into line, which felt aggressive and not very smooth.
If you want to be up there all you have to do is to ease up for about 5-10 seconds. Let a few riders pass you and then get back up to their speed. Now you're maybe 2nd row, 3rd row, meaning you're behind at least one rider or two riders.

I'm going to expand on this in a post and link it to this thread.
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Old 08-08-16, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by rapwithtom
Who is this that has hijacked CDRs account?
lol

The guys in the group marked each other like mad because everyone was afraid of launching and then getting eliminated because they made too hard an effort. I went off the front using my jump to get a gap immediately (plus no one expected such an early attack), wished for a higher gear because I can't spin fast for very long, and hoped I'd make it more than a couple laps. I had half a lap lead at one point but then completely blew up. I think I did about 8 or 9 laps off the front, which sounds impressive except that's all of about 2.5 km or about 1.5 miles. Even I can go sort of fast for a couple minutes.

I realized after the fact that on a track bike it's basically the same if you soft pedal or if you just don't really pedal at all, but soft pedaling allows you to maintain speed. I basically did zero work the last lap, got passed about halfway into the lap by one guy, late by the other guy. If I pedaled even a little bit I'd have gotten 2nd but instead I got 3rd, and if I'd worked just half a lap more I'd have won. Winner got a prepackaged drink (vodka based). I was bummed not to win the drink.
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Old 08-08-16, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
If you want to be up there all you have to do is to ease up for about 5-10 seconds. Let a few riders pass you and then get back up to their speed. Now you're maybe 2nd row, 3rd row, meaning you're behind at least one rider or two riders.

I'm going to expand on this in a post and link it to this thread.
lol ok perhaps my initial summary was lacking some detail . . . obviously you should be able to ease up a bit and a few people will pass you, but it was more nuanced than that.

basically there were like 4 or 5 fast guys in the B group, myself included, and I know them all pretty well. right from the start the 5 of us and a couple other riders were strung out single file up front, then a small bunch in the rear tagging along. I was third in line, and two riders peeled off after taking their turn on the front like a normal paceline, but when I got to the front, with a lap or two to go until the first sprint, they just stayed put. when I slowed, everyone slowed. when I moved over, the paceline behind me moved over. they just made me work and wouldn't come around. with about a half lap to the prime someone came up on my right towing my friend who attacked hard, but I caught his wheel, used the banking on the corner to get a sling, and drag raced him to the line. I beat him by half a wheel, but I was totally anaerobic at that point, and never recovered.

how could I combat that or counter attack it?
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Old 08-08-16, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw
lol ok perhaps my initial summary was lacking some detail . . . obviously you should be able to ease up a bit and a few people will pass you, but it was more nuanced than that.

basically there were like 4 or 5 fast guys in the B group, myself included, and I know them all pretty well. right from the start the 5 of us and a couple other riders were strung out single file up front, then a small bunch in the rear tagging along. I was third in line, and two riders peeled off after taking their turn on the front like a normal paceline, but when I got to the front, with a lap or two to go until the first sprint, they just stayed put. when I slowed, everyone slowed. when I moved over, the paceline behind me moved over. they just made me work and wouldn't come around. with about a half lap to the prime someone came up on my right towing my friend who attacked hard, but I caught his wheel, used the banking on the corner to get a sling, and drag raced him to the line. I beat him by half a wheel, but I was totally anaerobic at that point, and never recovered.

how could I combat that or counter attack it?
First off, just because someone peels off the front in a race, it doesn't mean you have to pull through. That's critical. You have absolutely no obligation to work, ever. Ever!

In a race you really ought to pull through only if you think it benefits you (granted, social graces might pressure you to pull a bit, but now something called "judgment" comes into play - it's tough balancing self interest and the interest of the group as a whole). Pulling through might mean you're attacking, it might mean you're really bored and you want to pull, but don't pull through because "paceline". Pacelines are for breaks or for training rides. They don't happen at the front of the field. Meaning they do but they really shouldn't, unless the field is simply trying to get through some filler racing.

So if you're at the front and no one comes around, just go slower. Do 0 watts for a while, 10, 15 seconds if you have to. If you don't want to be at the front there will always be another rider that will go. I've soft pedaled, eased on the brakes, etc, and still riders wouldn't come around me, mainly because they were protecting riders up ahead in a break. For them that meant not pulling at all, no matter what, and if it meant forcing me to slow to try and get others to come around, so be it (and my shenanigans only helped their teammates up the road).

I'm guessing that even when you were going "slow" you were still putting down a bit of power (if you were going faster than 15 mph then you definitely were putting down power, below 15 mph is about where it's getting pretty slow). That was enough to signal to the others that you were still willing to sit at the front, regardless of your line / body language. If someone really doesn't want to be at the front they will make it totally clear that's the case.

This is where the legendary "trackstand in the middle of a road race" kind of stuff happens, usually between two riders in a break. Both riders feel at a disadvantage so they slow until they're literally standing still in the road, maybe going 1 mph, maybe 0 mph. Then finally one goes. Or, more likely, one almost falls. Last one I remember seeing was Nate Shaefer in a long break in the Tour de Trump or Tour du Pont. The rider with him refused to pull, they came to a standstill on a hill, and Schaefer attacked him. The other rider wasn't pulling because he was just dead because the guy couldn't respond to the surge. Also it was back in the day so maybe the other guy's director told him "don't pull no matter what" etc, very little room for independent action back then.

Remember also that there are weaker riders out there. For example I often find myself at the absolute limit during races when the field is strung out and guys are trying to break the field by launching off the front. Then suddenly everyone at the front collectively blows up and slows a bit. When the front is slowing I'm still maybe 50-100 meters behind them, at the end of a strung out field, going 28-35 mph, just killing myself to stay on the wheel. Then the riders just in front of me fan out and start to ease up. I'm easing up then, maybe 15-20 seconds after the front guys have eased up. My heartrate is still in the stratosphere, I'm cross-eyed with lactic acid, and, realistically, the guys at the front are now almost recovered. Luckily for me there's a similar lag when the front gets going again. But the point is that even if you've just eased up and you've recovered, it doesn't mean others are in the same boat.

So basically, if you want others to pull, slow to, say, under 15 mph (for a flat course). At that point there's usually no advantage in staying on a wheel so you're okay, you're now in a position of tactical strength, and, really, that's the whole point of the exercise.
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Old 08-08-16, 03:05 PM
  #20  
topflightpro
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I want to offer one major caveat to CDR's comment, if you slow too quickly on a track, the rider behind you isn't going around you - they are going right into the back of you.
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Old 08-08-16, 03:57 PM
  #21  
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I pretty much never put down less than 140w if I get stuck on the front, but I won't do much more. That's the pace I can do all day long, and it's not going to fatigue me in the slightest. The other night, I led the final 4 laps of the crit...in the yellow jersey. I was basically doing 150-160w for those laps. If someone wanted to come around, they could. But I didn't care 'pulling' them around at that level of effort. It didn't affect my chances to win (and I did win).
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