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Noob Racing Questions

Old 02-28-07, 10:14 AM
  #1  
Ghostman
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Noob Racing Questions

I have some noob racing questions. Please be kind...

1. How do most people warm up for a local crit? DO you bring a trainer? Or try to ride around the parking lot or what?

2. Is it typical to be able to pre-ride around the crit course?

3. Everyone says "line up at front". So everyone must be trying to do that. Is there usually a mad rush to the lineup point? How best to accomplish lining up at front? When do they usually let you line up?

4. Any other logistical advice appreciated.
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Old 02-28-07, 10:20 AM
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1. Trainer
2. Maybe for one or two laps before the race starts
3. That's the real case if the course is technical where you have to be up front asap to get your line, etc.
4. Ride hard
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Old 02-28-07, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Ghostman
4. Any other logistical advice appreciated.
Warm up hard. Most crits start off pretty intense from the gun. Try to do at least a couple of maximal efforts in your warm up. Never known anyone to fatigue because they warmed up too much or too hard for a crit. But its definitely easy to end up suffering because you didn't warm up hard enough,
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Old 02-28-07, 10:33 AM
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"Bicycle Racing 101" by Wenzel is a great racing guide for everything from how to register for a race, pin your number on, and warm up before a race, to how to work with a teammate to make a break stick, or defeat a stronger racer.

Another great learning tool is to get your hands on the DVD "Race Day" with Robbie Ventura. He tells you how to scout a crit course; how to warm up before a race; what tactics to use during a race; and a host of other helpful info. The neatest thing about this video is that Robbie straps a camera to his handlebars and races a crit with the camera running the whole time. If you really want to get a feel for the chaotic frenzy of crit racing, this DVD comes about as close to the real thing as possible.

Lastly, consider attending a crit or two as a spectator to get a feel for what to expect. Spend some time at the start/finish line to see how the racers line up. Scope out each corner and watch how the best racers carve their turns. Look at how the racers warm up. Learn what a "wheel pit" is and what a "prime" is.

Those are the best ways to get answers to all your questions.

Bob
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Old 02-28-07, 10:36 AM
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ramblings of another newb but:
1.trainer
2. depends, our local crits you can warm up on the course but others I have only got to ride 1 lap right before the start
3. neither here nor there for me. if I want to the front then I'll get up there
4.Dont give up if you go OTB on a hard charge by the pack, usually they slow up afterwards.
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Old 02-28-07, 10:39 AM
  #6  
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1. Bring the trainer in case there isn't a decent place to warm up, but I prefer to warm up riding. Start with about 5-10 minutes of easy pedalling, then gradually increase the pace over the next 5-10 minutes until you reach close to a race intensity. Slow down and spin recover for 5 minutes, then 5 minutes of hard intervals (sprint, recover, repeat). Plan to be done at least 10 minutes before the race to recover, then tool around slowly on the bike to keep the legs moving.

2. Unless they set the course up early and you are there before the first group (8am usually), you will be lucky to get 1 lap on the course before lining up. Don't worry about it.

3. Usually it's a weird jocky for position from being let onto the course to lining up. It's actually quite entertaining, the equivilent of 2 coworkers walk-racing to the coffee machine. I've never had a big problem starting in the 3rd row, but from there you have to be watching for twitchy riders that might be planning on breaking away at the gun (really, just follow the pack because these guys usually get reeled in quickly).

4. If you're new, just hold your line, don't do any stupid or risky movements, and have fun even though you will probably only hang on for a few laps. Finish the race even if you are dead last and 1/2 lap behind (unless they call you off the course) Do it again and again until you are finishing with the pack.
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Old 02-28-07, 10:43 AM
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As for lining up upfront, as or more important is being able to clip in quickly without looking at your pedal. If you fumble around that prized starting position is squandered. Conversely, if you can clip in quickly, youll still be able to get well placed even in the second or third row.
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Old 02-28-07, 11:40 AM
  #8  
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Stay at the front of the pack, you don't want to sprint to catch up with the pack every corner/hill. If you can hang for the forst 15-20 minutes then you are golden!
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Old 02-28-07, 12:36 PM
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1 - trainer for downtown or urban center crits. For industrial park circuits like quicksilver, tradezone, carl dolan (local references, ghostman is in MABRA territory so I thought I'd be specific) I just warm up by riding on the race route in the opposite direction as the race. Each of those races is on half of a 4-lane industrial park road, so there's plenty of room.

2 - you can usually get a couple of laps in, but ...

3 - while you're getting your laps in others are lining up, pick your preference. I think it's largely dependent on how technical the course is and whether you know the choke points or not. Although I prefer to start up front, I've found for me that starting position is mostly irrelevant. I just try to work my way to the front without eating too much wind. I actually won a technical crit last year where the guy right in front of me couldnt get clipped in and nearly came to a trackstand, I looked up to see the leading pack flying into the first turn as I put my hand on this guys back to get him started (otherwise I'd have run into him). I just followed wheels through the pack until I got up front then stayed there.

4 - try to keep nerves under control. the best laid plans can get blown all to he11 pretty quickly on race day. along those lines, dont over-react to things, people might bump you, fight for the wheel you're following, swerve, and do stupid things, or you might do something stupid as well. dont sweat it too much. often a bump or bad line isnt what causes problems, it's an over-reaction that can muck you up. Someone once told me to think "flowing water, smooth and predictable" - I dont know what that means, but it works for me.
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Old 02-28-07, 01:27 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
As for lining up upfront, as or more important is being able to clip in quickly without looking at your pedal. If you fumble around that prized starting position is squandered. Conversely, if you can clip in quickly, youll still be able to get well placed even in the second or third row.
+1 I started racing on the velodrome where you never have to clip in after the race has started, and although I had been riding clipless on the road for 2 years before my first crit, I found that I took longer to clip in than others, and it cost me. You get real good real quick after that.
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Old 02-28-07, 01:44 PM
  #11  
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1. How do most people warm up for a local crit? DO you bring a trainer? Or try to ride around the parking lot or what?

I usually warm up for 30-45 minutes out on the road. Start out slow like a normal ride and gradually ramp it up. Then do an interval or two and a couple of sprints. Then ride back to the race and watch the finish to the previous race. Make sure you visit the outhouses and dump everything before starting the race.


2. Is it typical to be able to pre-ride around the crit course?

After the previous race, there's usually 5-10 minutes of cleaning up and assembling the next one. So you can get in a couple of laps. You shouldn't need it because the terrain you have to conquer isn't the course, it's the other riders.


3. Everyone says "line up at front". So everyone must be trying to do that. Is there usually a mad rush to the lineup point? How best to accomplish lining up at front? When do they usually let you line up?

I've found that lining up at either end of the line-up on the kerb to be the best. You don't have to be at the very front, but at the edges is best. That's because everybody converges towards the middle of the road when they start, and this opens up the sides. I usually have one pedal clipped in and sitting on the saddle itself. My other free foot is on the kerb. Then when the gun goes off, I give my clipped-in foot a big push and clip in the other one. Meanwhile, the outside is opening up and I just sprint for 5-10 seconds to get into the top 10% of the pack, hop into an opening and that's it.

4. Any other logistical advice appreciated.

Make sure you get to the race at least 60-90 minutes ahead of your start time. Get all your paperwork done early. Have someone else pin your number on with you wearing the jersey. Use 5 pins with each one making two sets of holes. It goes through the number, through the jersey, up the inside, up out of the jersey, up out of the number. This keeps the number holding tight to your body.

As for the race itself, learn to suck wheel and hide all the time. No need to waste any more energy than necessary. Sit on the edge of the pack. Move up the pack by getting on the wheel of the 1st or 2nd guy that passes you on the outside. If you wait more than 3-4 guys, you'll be boxed in and end up drifting to the back of the pack before you can get free. You'll get stuck in the yo-yo effect and end up having to waste a lot of good energy sprinting out of the corners just to keep up.
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Old 02-28-07, 02:18 PM
  #12  
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I'm scared.
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Old 02-28-07, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
As for lining up upfront, as or more important is being able to clip in quickly without looking at your pedal. If you fumble around that prized starting position is squandered. Conversely, if you can clip in quickly, youll still be able to get well placed even in the second or third row.
+1

I like to trackstand for crit starts. It doesn't help too much, but it doesn't hurt, and it takes another variable out of a complex equation.

Originally Posted by Ghostman
I'm scared.
That helps too. Just stay calm.
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Old 02-28-07, 02:39 PM
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1. If its local ride to the race.
2. Most races only give you a couple laps on the course, depending on the time schedule. If they are behind they may cut you short or just bring you to the line.
3. Learn to ride from anywhere. Becoming an accomplished Tail Gunner is an art! Accept that if you start towards the back you may have to cover some gaps early on. So be more aware of gaps forming well ahead of you, as you may have to jump 6 or 8 riders to stay in a race. I like Danno's suggestion about starting on the edges. I dont like the whole start at the front mentality, heard it used as an excuse too often.
4. Put Icy Hot on after your shorts.
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Old 02-28-07, 02:46 PM
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everybody's been giving great advice, but especially DannoXYZ's advice about starting position and sucking wheels: i personally prefer to start on the outside in the first or second row and try to sprint like mad and dive into the first corner from the outside, but whichever edge of the field you start from, hitting that first corner in good position will save you a ton of energy right off the bat.

and as for sucking wheels: especially if you are unsure of your fitness, ride the edges of the pack and follow the first wheels that comes past you on the outside to get as close to the front (but not on the front) as you can. try to only move up on your own only when you have no choice.

someone else posted about hanging in there for the first 20 minutes, and this is SO true! every cat5 and 4 crit i've ever done slows way down after the first 15-20 minutes -everybody is tired and they want to 'save themselves' for the sprint....this got so bad in fact that one race, the first 15 minutes we were flying around at 28-30mph, then spent the next 15 minutes going like 19-20mph with only a couple accelerations for primes.
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Old 02-28-07, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghostman
I'm scared.
If it makes you feel any better, most are too.

Everyone is giving great advise, but I would suggest that you not think about the racing too much at this point and focus on being calm and smooth.

And don't obsess about the logistics - just show up early and do what everyone else does and don't be shy about asking others for help.

You can bring a trainer, but if it's an early season training/practice crit, I really doubt people are going to do more then laps. The beginner races typically start first, so you should have the most time to ride the course anyways.

As far as the line up, do you really expect 40+ people to line up? Again, if it's an early season training/practice crit for beginners, I doubt there will be anymore then 15-20 (there's still snow on the ground in the DC 'burbs right now, isn't there?) That's like two rows max.

Oh, and think about joining a team - better learning environment then trial and error or from a book/dvd.
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Old 02-28-07, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by danimal
i personally prefer to start on the outside in the first or second row and try to sprint like mad and dive into the first corner from the outside
diving corners = a good way to lose teeth, either during or after a race. don't dive corners.
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Old 02-28-07, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets
I like to trackstand for crit starts. It doesn't help too much, but it doesn't hurt, and it takes another variable out of a complex equation.
At the last criterium I was in, there was a guy who tried to do this and the race official would not let him do so. Everyone was required to start with at least one foot on the ground.

--Steve
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Old 02-28-07, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MDcatV
diving corners = a good way to lose teeth, either during or after a race. don't dive corners.
What is the definition of "diving" in to a corner? Just so we are on the same page.
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Old 02-28-07, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by zimbo
At the last criterium I was in, there was a guy who tried to do this and the race official would not let him do so. Everyone was required to start with at least one foot on the ground.

--Steve
Interesting. I haven't done a crit in a looong time...
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Old 02-28-07, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak
What is the definition of "diving" in to a corner? Just so we are on the same page.
Think of it as making a left turn from the right hand lane, while there's traffic in the left turn lane. It's essentially cutting people off.
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Old 02-28-07, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76
1. If its local ride to the race.
2. Most races only give you a couple laps on the course, depending on the time schedule. If they are behind they may cut you short or just bring you to the line.
3. Learn to ride from anywhere. Becoming an accomplished Tail Gunner is an art! Accept that if you start towards the back you may have to cover some gaps early on. So be more aware of gaps forming well ahead of you, as you may have to jump 6 or 8 riders to stay in a race. I like Danno's suggestion about starting on the edges. I dont like the whole start at the front mentality, heard it used as an excuse too often.
4. Put Icy Hot on after your shorts.

Why Icy Hot?
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Old 02-28-07, 07:35 PM
  #23  
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from the rulebook:
1M4. All competitors shall be started in the same manner, either all with holders, all with one foot on the ground, or all with a rolling start. Holders may not step over the starting line at the start of a race.

i never found it that important to line up at the front. i just start at the back and pedal past everyone who has trouble clipping in and end up near the front soon enough.
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Old 02-28-07, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MDcatV
Think of it as making a left turn from the right hand lane, while there's traffic in the left turn lane. It's essentially cutting people off.
i'm not talking about cutting people off, what i mean is trying to be top ten up to that first corner and taking the outside line to try and avoid getting bottle-necked on the inside as half the field hits their brakes to squeeze through.
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Old 02-28-07, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz
from the rulebook:
1M4. All competitors shall be started in the same manner, either all with holders, all with one foot on the ground, or all with a rolling start. Holders may not step over the starting line at the start of a race.
That sucks. I can't say "I never cheated in a bike race."


Last edited by waterrockets; 03-01-07 at 11:13 AM.
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