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I win road races but suck at crits

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Old 09-22-08, 10:02 PM
  #1  
cedricbosch
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I win road races but suck at crits

Let me preface this by saying I strongly dislike criterium racing. I find it exciting, but too dangerous and rash. But most importantly, I don't like it because I'm not good at it.

On the plus side, I'm 6 foot, 150 lbs, and can rock the casbah when it comes to road races, especially road races with climbs. If I had the choice, I would do road races exclusively, but unfortunately there just aren't enough in a season to get enough upgrade points.

I'm currently working on my cat 3 upgrade and I need to get better at crits to get my points racked up. I have a regular training schedule with intervals, hill repeats, recovery days, and long rides on the weekend. I am thinking weightlifting could help me. Any opinions on this? I'd appreciate any help.

Thanks!
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Old 09-22-08, 10:24 PM
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"too dangerous and rash"

Got news for ya bud... road racing ain't exactly safe. Every race starts with a tight pack of antsy guys who all want to be at the front but not in the wind... you know what happens next.

Yeah, you need to get past your mental block. Do some cornering practice, would ya? No, scratch that. Do a LOT of cornering practice. And get some short stocky sprinter type buddies to practice with, and practice bumping and rubbing. Get on a soccer field and bang into each other as you race laps around it.

Then, lay out a crit course someplace safe and empty, like an office park after hours. Pick a fire hydrant for a finish line and do a sprint every other lap. Get 5 or 6 guys you trust, and take turns as the designated leadout guy. Leadout guy's job is to slowly and steadily ramp up the pace, so that about 200 meters from the line he's going warp speed and blows up. At this point everybody sprints.

Best way to get better at sprinting... is sprinting. Sometime when you're bored, google the backstory on Alexi Grewal taking the gold from Steve Bauer in the 84 Olympics. Alexi = tall thin climber. Steve Bauer= 2nd only to Davis Phinney as the sprinter of his day. Alexi wins... how? Practice.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:32 PM
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Sprints?
I am kind of the same way. Tall, skinny, and not a sprinter. Working on my sprints: form, power, and timing all helped. I still can't sprint well, but it's getting better.

Another thing you can do is play to your strengths. Try a few attacks (it's easier to sprint against 4 tired guys in a breakaway than somebody who sat in for the last 1/2 hour), or jump during that lull before the sprint, a la cancellara, if you don't have the peak watts but have a longer sprint. Mix it up, try new things and you'll probably find something that works for you.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:35 PM
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I'm the same as you, in that I do well in hilly road races, but find crits difficult. That being said, I actually enjoy crit racing for the speed, tactics and technical skills that it requires.

One thing to think about - in my experience, 90% of people doing a crit have a plan which goes "stay near the front, but don't do any work, then sprint at the end for the win". Most of the time, this is how it plays out, but you don't have to play that game - attack as much as you can. Make them work for it. And if you get lucky, you might get in a breakaway.... then you just need to outsprint the others in the break
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Old 09-22-08, 10:50 PM
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Even in my out of shape-ness, I can out sprint a teammate who is twice my size and probably has twice my FTP. Problem is I'm a few miles behind him when he crosses the line
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Old 09-23-08, 03:39 AM
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You say it's too "dangerous and rash".
You do realize the majority of epic crashes happen in RR's?
Crits tend to be aggressive, but tumbles are much less so.
You obviously already do the training, so embrace the crit, or die of race-malnutrition.
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Old 09-23-08, 04:06 AM
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solo
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Old 09-23-08, 04:15 AM
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something i learned about crit finishes long ago is that about 5 10 laps from the finish get into your proper field position (within the top 10 at the front). for the next 8 laps battle like hell to stay in that position ... this is the toughest part as the pace picks up and big guys come in and rub knuckles with you ... then as you approach the bell lap watch where the holes open ... use every opportunity to move up a little into top 5 or so not being in the front and not getting wedged in ... more knuckle rubbing and some hip rubbing :-) ... then with 500m start picking wheels ... if no teamate pick a wheel and follow the do the leap frog fighting for the 3rd or 4th wheel ... wait until you are in striking distance (according to your sprint capability) then jump ... jump hard, fast and do not telegraph it to the world... sprint in a straight line to the finish and hope for the best ...

a lot of winning a crit starts way back with 10 or 8 to go ... thinking you will be there in the end at 3 to go is crazy unless you hold your position and your position is at the front.
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Old 09-23-08, 04:20 AM
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there's very little of that that one can learn. it's easy to know where you're supposed to stay. doing it though becomes the work instinct (read: loose screws) or it becomes clear over time (read: just because you touch you won't die).
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Old 09-23-08, 04:24 AM
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If you win road races why would you ever, EVER even bother with a criterium? It seems to me there are so many road and circuit races that you should have no problems finding plenty of events. That's certainly true in the NY area. I'm sure you'd have to drive much further in a place like AZ....
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Old 09-23-08, 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by derrickhackman View Post
something i learned about crit finishes long ago is that about 5 10 laps from the finish get into your proper field position (within the top 10 at the front). for the next 8 laps battle like hell to stay in that position ... this is the toughest part as the pace picks up and big guys come in and rub knuckles with you ... then as you approach the bell lap watch where the holes open ... use every opportunity to move up a little into top 5 or so not being in the front and not getting wedged in ... more knuckle rubbing and some hip rubbing :-) ... then with 500m start picking wheels ... if no teamate pick a wheel and follow the do the leap frog fighting for the 3rd or 4th wheel ... wait until you are in striking distance (according to your sprint capability) then jump ... jump hard, fast and do not telegraph it to the world... sprint in a straight line to the finish and hope for the best ...

a lot of winning a crit starts way back with 10 or 8 to go ... thinking you will be there in the end at 3 to go is crazy unless you hold your position and your position is at the front.

This logic only applies to very large sized firelds, or the most technical of crits.
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Old 09-23-08, 05:36 AM
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I honestly don't know half as much as others here about crit racing. I just started racing crits this year. I've done well, yes. But it was due to local 'crit training' and mixing it up with real fast masters 1/2/3s. When I saw that I was getting better at the training series, I was getting more comfortable doing the real thing. Now I don't feel so nervous or anxious. I'm starting to look forward to them. Unfortunately, my season is ending.
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Old 09-23-08, 06:40 AM
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I think that the best thing you can do would be to build anaerobic work capacity and recovery.

WRI™ are probably one of the most straightforward AWC workouts: Do five to seven 1' intervals, but do them like you're posessed. Start off with an all-out sprint, like the finish line if 50m away. Completely explode, and ignore the fact that you've got 50" of hell ahead of you after the sprint. When you sit back down, do not let up one bit. Sure, your power will fall, but keep your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) at 10+. Every individual pedal stroke should be artfully crafted to break something on your bike. Don't let up at all. When 60" is over, recover for 5' and do it again.

For recovery, any of the short-recovery interval workouts are great: Tabata, 15" on/15" off, 1' on/1' off, 5/5-10/10-15/15-20/20-25/25-30/30-25/25-20/20-15/15-10/10-5/5 pyramids, etc.

If you're not a sprinter, the only way you're going to kill us in a crit is by hooking up with a couple teammates, and rotating attacks until something sticks. The AWC work will give you the strength to initiate and respond, and the recovery work will give you the ability to do it over and over.

If the race finishes as a pack, you're all done. That means you have to change the race before it gets to the finish.

Watch out for the guys like me with the strong AWC. While I prefer the pack to be all together with 2-to-go, I also enjoy letting the TT experts get a 5-man break going, then bridging up to them. I don't always have the threshold to initiate and develop a break like that, but I can always catch them. If it's close enough to the finish, it's like letting a fox in with the chickens. So, if anyone bridges up to an established break in a short time span, this is a guy you want to keep tired before the finish.

Last edited by waterrockets; 09-23-08 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 09-23-08, 06:51 AM
  #14  
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^nicely said WR.

cedricbosch - I strongly doubt weight lifting would help you vs. time on the bike. Time on the bike doesnt mean just training your physiological side, it also means skill development. This, being the end of racing season for most, is a great time to focus on skill development.

some folks just arent good at crits, be it a physiological thing, skill thing (drafting, recovering while under duress, cornering or pack navigation), or psychological (fear, nervousness, confidence). I doubt that being a Cat 4 you've done enough crits to make a determination that you're not good at them.

keep plugging away, race crits, if you still dont like or are not doing well, treat them as training races where you try outlandishly bold tactics to be successful, and if nothing else, it'll help your road racing.
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Old 09-23-08, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mdcatv View Post
^nicely said wr.

Cedricbosch - i strongly doubt weight lifting would help you vs. Time on the bike. Time on the bike doesnt mean just training your physiological side, it also means skill development. This, being the end of racing season for most, is a great time to focus on skill development.

Some folks just arent good at crits, be it a physiological thing, skill thing (drafting, recovering while under duress, cornering or pack navigation), or psychological (fear, nervousness, confidence). I doubt that being a cat 4 you've done enough crits to make a determination that you're not good at them.

Keep plugging away, race crits, if you still dont like or are not doing well, treat them as training races where you try outlandishly bold tactics to be successful, and if nothing else, it'll help your road racing.

+1
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Old 09-23-08, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
This logic only applies to very large sized firelds, or the most technical of crits.
Yep.

I took one of our main leadout men from about 2/3rds of the way back to the top 10 in about half a lap in an 80-man field, with a lap and a half to go.
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Old 09-23-08, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
Let me preface this by saying I strongly dislike criterium racing. I find it exciting, but too dangerous and rash. But most importantly, I don't like it because I'm not good at it.

That's a self-fullfilling prophecy there. If you don't like them you won't do many and won't try hard in the ones that you do. I'm certainly no expert, or any good, but I have ridden enough crits to know that a lot of doing well is from having the experience to be able to surf the pack with minimal effort and to know when to conserve and when to go hard, and the confidence to put it all out when it's time.

As a 6' 140 lb climber who can't sprint and is scared of pack riding I am totally unsuited for crits. But when I forced myself to do the local practice series every week I got a lot better at it. I even got to where I was kind of enjoying them.

So my advice would be to do as many crits as you can.

The other option is to just do what you enjoy and don't worry about upgrade points.
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Old 09-23-08, 08:56 AM
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There are a dozen different possibilities to explain your crit results. At this point, all we can do is speculate.

You need to figure out exactly what it is about crits that is hindering your performance. Then work on those weaknesses.

You know the saying: "Race your strengths. Train your weaknesses." There's your answer.

Bob
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Old 09-23-08, 10:23 AM
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here is another crit 'detail' i have been in crits that were super fast, super technical and super close racing ... hand-to-hand... hip-to-hip almost all the time in the corners with some overlap and in these thunderdome races i notice i am way more worked up ... holding the bars tighter than normal ... looking at wheels and not backs or up the road ... just in general more in survival 'don't wipe the field out' mode than 'i am gonna win this biatch' mode. for these types of races you have to learn to relax ... and like was mentioned not all crits are like this but when you get into one you will really learn what crit racing is about. in my mind there is only 2 ways to win a crit (1) get away in a break or (2) win the field sprint by being a factor at the front and not coming from 2/3 the way back in the field.... not even sure how the field could let that happen ... although the field does get lazy but never with 5 or less to go ...

the whole thing about being comfortable rubbing and bouncing off bikes is important ... you will touch and you should be OK with that.... just don't start leaning on dudes or they will flick you or you will collect them when you crash.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
"too dangerous and rash"

Got news for ya bud... road racing ain't exactly safe. Every race starts with a tight pack of antsy guys who all want to be at the front but not in the wind... you know what happens next.

Yeah, you need to get past your mental block. Do some cornering practice, would ya? No, scratch that. Do a LOT of cornering practice. And get some short stocky sprinter type buddies to practice with, and practice bumping and rubbing. Get on a soccer field and bang into each other as you race laps around it.

Then, lay out a crit course someplace safe and empty, like an office park after hours. Pick a fire hydrant for a finish line and do a sprint every other lap. Get 5 or 6 guys you trust, and take turns as the designated leadout guy. Leadout guy's job is to slowly and steadily ramp up the pace, so that about 200 meters from the line he's going warp speed and blows up. At this point everybody sprints.

Best way to get better at sprinting... is sprinting. Sometime when you're bored, google the backstory on Alexi Grewal taking the gold from Steve Bauer in the 84 Olympics. Alexi = tall thin climber. Steve Bauer= 2nd only to Davis Phinney as the sprinter of his day.
Alexi wins... how? Cheats.
Fixed.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by BananaTugger View Post
Fixed.
incorrect. again.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
incorrect. again.
...

no u.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
You say it's too "dangerous and rash".
You do realize the majority of epic crashes happen in RR's?
Crits tend to be aggressive, but tumbles are much less so.
You obviously already do the training, so embrace the crit, or die of race-malnutrition .
+2

Originally Posted by botto View Post
incorrect. again.
+2

Whomever bashes Alexi doesn't know Alexi.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
+2



+2

Whomever bashes Alexi doesn't know Alexi.
I'm not bashing, I'm just sayin'.
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Old 09-23-08, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by derrickhackman View Post
in my mind there is only 2 ways to win a crit (1) get away in a break or (2) win the field sprint by being a factor at the front and not coming from 2/3 the way back in the field.... not even sure how the field could let that happen ... although the field does get lazy but never with 5 or less to go ...
(3) attack from a kilo and leave the pack in your jet wash
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