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Choosing a line in Criteriums

Old 05-27-07, 06:24 PM
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mkadam68
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Choosing a line in Criteriums

I'm a Cat IV racer. Raced road races for about 3 years as a citizen then finally Cat V...never really liked crits. That was then, this is now. Just completed my 4th crit. Some grumbling behind me (was it me?...I dunno...could be...) got me thinking. Red & Blue both take turn #1 trying to cut the corners close.

But...Red proceeds directly to corner/turn #2 and swings a little wide after the turn. This necessitates coming back to the left to set-up for turn #3.

Blue, carves through turn #1 and slightly to his right (our downward), so as he dives into turn #2, he comes out a bit closer to the left, setting himself up for the entry into turn 3 and the following turn #4. Both riders end up at the same point.

I was the blue rider. In the early laps of the race, I tried both lanes, finding that I liked the blue path better. I didn't have to pedal as hard after corners to maintain contact as I did when following red path (my size--larger rider--probably allowed my momentum to compensate). In fact, I could pass a rider or two in the corners as they swung wide out of turn #2.

Question: Was I wrong in not following the wheel in front of me (red)? Was this just a waste of distance/energy? By deviating from the pack's line, was I being unsafe? (I always made sure there was no one to my side when seeting up for the turn). Why do you suppose the grumbling...assuming it was me...no one gave me any looks, so...hard to tell.
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Old 05-27-07, 06:32 PM
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jrennie
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there isn't a hard and fast rule for crits, more like an evolution of events. If you felt like you used less energy and didn't loose position then go with that. If you used less energy making the turns but have to fight back to the front then it wasn't worth it.
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Old 05-27-07, 07:13 PM
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Voodoo76
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In general terms you were wrong. When you seperate yourself by more than a couple bike widths entering a turn you are riding "at" the field entering the turn rather than with them. Makes riders uncomfortable and the flow into the next turn a little unpredictable as you have to somehow fit yourself back onto a wheel.

Cheating the line a little bit to save some momentum is fine, but dont create a large seperation that has to be closed up entering the next turn.

Save the "good line" for when you are at the front or solo.
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Old 05-27-07, 09:33 PM
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the race pace will determine what line you follow.
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Old 05-27-07, 10:24 PM
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Yeah, I just follow wheels if I'm in the pack. When I'm off the front, I corner more like you (wide-in, tight-out). It is smoother.
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Old 05-27-07, 11:01 PM
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Some riders get into a crit and over-think the corners.
If you're the only one taking the blue line, then you should either...
A. go to the front and show everyone else how much better your line is, or....
B. go just off the back where it matters less which line you take.

If you're blue, and everyone else is red, you're probably wrong.
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Old 05-28-07, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by mkadam68
Question: Was I wrong in not following the wheel in front of me (red)? Was this just a waste of distance/energy? By deviating from the pack's line, was I being unsafe? (I always made sure there was no one to my side when seeting up for the turn). Why do you suppose the grumbling...assuming it was me...no one gave me any looks, so...hard to tell.
Yes you were wrong. In the interest of safety of pack and you, you pretty much HAVE to follow the line of the rider in front. If you pull off to the side of the pack, someone from behind can move up and fill up that space you opened up. Then when you dive back in, you're gonna take someone out. Easy to do if they've only moved up halfway and you didn't see them. "Hold your line" means carving the same line as the guys in front of you. Also means maintaining a steady distance from the guys in front and not yo-yoing back & forth.

"Lines" don't make or break a race anyway. You never ever corner at maximum-speed anyway so taking a faster "line" won't get you anywhere. You may notice that you didn't pass up anyone with different lines? Regardless of the line you took, you didn't really make up ground or drop anyone.

Now where it does make a difference is when you're up in front. The top 10-20 guys will pretty much go through single-file when you're going fast. This will then allow them to take the fastest line without slowing down too much. Saves a tonne of energy because you don't get caught up in the accordion yo-yo effect of braking into the corners and sprint out of them. So learn to get a quick start and sprint to the front to be in the top 10-20 immediately. Learn to maintain that position, when 2-3 guys go by you, get on their wheel and follow their line as they move up the pack. Learn to draft, saves you a tonne more energy than trying to find the optimum cornering "lines".

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Old 05-28-07, 01:44 AM
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Agreed. Follow the peleton for safety reasons. Despite my disagreement with many people on which line to take, they were also the ones ending up on the podium so I sat back and watched, hoping to learn something.
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