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Old 06-08-10, 09:49 AM
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Aero Sapien
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crits

I have a few road races under my belt now and am interested in trying a crit. Basic question: how does one prepare for a crit? I can't think of anywhere to simulate high speed cornering with a large pack =/

Is it a given I will lose horribly my first crit?
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Old 06-08-10, 09:55 AM
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Not to be a stinker, but there is a ton of info on this subject in this forum.
Training for them
Racing in them
What to do
What not to do
What to expect
etc.
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Old 06-08-10, 09:56 AM
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work on your cornering, and accept the fact that you might get shelled. it's happened to all of us.

hell, after a far too long break from technical crits, i had my ass handed to me on a plate last year when i tried a super technical crit on bricks.
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Old 06-08-10, 09:59 AM
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are you on a team? it helps to have some people you know and trust to try to shadow around.

the thing i'm finding about crits for me is that warming up its really really important. i can roll out on a RR or a climb and feel pretty good and comfy in the pack with just a short spin before hand, but the cat4 crits i've ridden so far have started out really fast, and i always struggle in the first few laps to get comfortable.

after that, the pace slows a little bit and i start feeling warmer and i can move around pretty well, but i cant help feeling that if i could do a better warmup, like 20-25 minutes of over/under work, i'd be primed better.

fwiw, i'm pretty new, but i usually finish towards the front, barring unusal circunstances like people trying to crash into my in the final lap.

i would say its not at all a given that you'll suck. just try to stay near but not at the front as much as possible.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:05 AM
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we don't get much opportunity to do technical crits around here so I don't get a lot of practice but I have learned this:

figure out how to gauge your speed going into the corner so that you sail into it, getting closer to the wheel in front of you without hitting it, and not using the brakes at all (if possible).

it will save you a ton of energy overall if you can never brake for the corner. sometimes you are forced to though.


I love being in front because I can just hammer the corners. for some reason I think I might have the descender gene, since I tend to fly away on twisty descents even though I am pretty lightweight.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by substructure View Post
Not to be a stinker, but there is a ton of info on this subject in this forum.
Training for them
Racing in them
What to do
What not to do
What to expect
etc.
correct.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Aero Sapien View Post
I have a few road races under my belt now and am interested in trying a crit. Basic question: how does one prepare for a crit? I can't think of anywhere to simulate high speed cornering with a large pack =/

Is it a given I will lose horribly my first crit?
You can still practice cornering .... Work on taking them as fast as possible without changing your line or touching your brakes

You can do short intervals to get used to the accellerations.

No, a guy at work started racing this spring at the local training crits (Cat 4/5 for him). Finished mid pack the first race, a little better the next, and 4th the week after. He's no prodigy, just been riding on his own and the local group rides since last year . It wasn't the most demanding race, so it was a good place to start.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Grumpy McTrumpy View Post
we don't get much opportunity to do technical crits around here so I don't get a lot of practice
.
after last weekend, riding the city park crit in denver, i had the same lament. really wish we had a local practice series earlier in the year than our late june one.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:25 AM
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Folks around me have been saying, "just hang on for the first 15 minutes, then things will slow." Problem is, those first 15 minutes are puke-inducing, lungs-on-fire, holy-shiitake-mushroom-what-did-I-get-myself-into fast.

So, that being said, I echo badhat's warm-up suggestion. I was blown off the back in those first 15 minutes, and it was obvious I didn't warm up enough. (it was also obvious I'm weak and fat, but that's another post in another sub-forum)

* be warmed up. Like really warmed up
* don't think you can sit and watch; you'll be busy on the throttle for the first few laps
* line up near the front
* fight to stay there
* intervals intervals and more intervals. --the hardest part is matching the race effort in training. You have to make yourself hurt.
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Old 06-08-10, 10:29 AM
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Find empty parking lot. Design course around curbs/poles/shopping carts. Go like heck.

Seriously. Make it tight and challenging. See how fast you can lap it then try to go faster.

If you're confident in your bike skills you'll be more comfortable squirrel hunting.
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Old 06-08-10, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by superdex View Post
Folks around me have been saying, "just hang on for the first 15 minutes, then things will slow." Problem is, those first 15 minutes are puke-inducing, lungs-on-fire, holy-shiitake-mushroom-what-did-I-get-myself-into fast.

So, that being said, I echo badhat's warm-up suggestion. I was blown off the back in those first 15 minutes, and it was obvious I didn't warm up enough. (it was also obvious I'm weak and fat, but that's another post in another sub-forum)

* be warmed up. Like really warmed up
* don't think you can sit and watch; you'll be busy on the throttle for the first few laps
* line up near the front
* fight to stay there
* intervals intervals and more intervals. --the hardest part is matching the race effort in training. You have to make yourself hurt.
Hahahaha reminds me of my last race...On the 3rd lap of a 5 lap circuit race, was near the top of the big climb, just off the back, and my team director yelled something similar to me "keep going things will slow up a bit now"...

Problem was someone forgot to tell that to the pack

Almost caught them....
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Old 06-08-10, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rbart4506 View Post
Hahahaha reminds me of my last race...On the 3rd lap of a 5 lap circuit race, was near the top of the big climb, just off the back, and my team director yelled something similar to me "keep going things will slow up a bit now"...

Problem was someone forgot to tell that to the pack

Almost caught them....
Proof that Masters racers are going senile. They were told. They just forgot.
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Old 06-08-10, 11:28 AM
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How I learned:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...hen-youre.html

Cornering:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...ing-lines.html

Stuff on racing/crashing:
http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...-crashing.html

Also, in the sidebar of the blog, there are videos. Go to the YouTube pages and watch Plainville videos. Those videos have the most cornering. You can get some good pack feel in the later videos (2010 vids).

Hope that helps
cdr

*edit* Although warming up is important normally, I do fine with minimal/no warm ups. Some of my best races this year were done on 0, 16, and 23 seconds of warm up. That represents the time required to walk, walk part of the way, and walk all the way from registration to the start line (20-30 yards). I'm not saying skip the warm-up, but you should try everything and see what works for you.

Last edited by carpediemracing; 06-08-10 at 12:10 PM. Reason: warming up note
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Old 06-08-10, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by superdex View Post
Folks around me have been saying, "just hang on for the first 15 minutes, then things will slow." Problem is, those first 15 minutes are puke-inducing, lungs-on-fire, holy-shiitake-mushroom-what-did-I-get-myself-into fast.

So, that being said, I echo badhat's warm-up suggestion. I was blown off the back in those first 15 minutes, and it was obvious I didn't warm up enough. (it was also obvious I'm weak and fat, but that's another post in another sub-forum)

* be warmed up. Like really warmed up
* don't think you can sit and watch; you'll be busy on the throttle for the first few laps
* line up near the front
* fight to stay there
* intervals intervals and more intervals. --the hardest part is matching the race effort in training. You have to make yourself hurt.
Yes, like really, really, really warmed up. Some guys like to break a sweat on the trainer, but I don't feel warmed up until I'm just about soaked.
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Old 06-08-10, 11:50 AM
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I started doing a local weekly crit this year. First one I drifted to the back and stayed there most of the race (went off the front for one lap) just to observe and get comfortable on the corners. It's a little more work at the back but I am using them for training so I don't care. By the second race I was comfortable cornering at speed and spent most of the time near the front, covered a few attacks and finished 4th.
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Old 06-08-10, 12:53 PM
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As long as we're on warm-ups, there's a lot of variation there. I tend to feel best with a loooong, low-intensity warm-up, maybe 40 minutes at endurance effort. I'm sure that there's a good short warm-up profile that I could do in 15-20 minutes, but I haven't experimented with this in any systematic way. The end result is that I tend to roll around a bit a few minutes before the race, and that's the extent of it. I usually do fine; at least, I've never been dropped in a crit because I wasn't sufficiently warmed up. I'm able to hang with the high-intensity pace in the first few minutes of a crit at virtually any level of fitness. It's the end of the race that I need to worry about. Other people need a warm-up if they don't want to get shot out the back right away, even if they're in good shape.

As for the cornering, pack skills, etc... there are a lot ways to practice it, but the best way to practice is to get out there and race a crit.
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Old 06-08-10, 01:21 PM
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the more fit i am the more warmup i need. i've tried many variations on warmups but havent found any specific protocol that is a silver bullet.

on cornering, i work with jr. who lives near me. he joins me on interval rides that we do around our local soccerplex. we do cornering drills in the stadium parking lot between sets. just a few minutes. i wont claim to be awesome, but i'm not bad at cornering. i have jr. follow my wheel, we do figure 8s around parking landscape areas that divide the parking rows. that gives us left and right turns and one off camber at the bottom of a hill. it's helped me and him too.

while it's necessary to increase speed to replicate race situations, fwiw, i also like to do some exageratedly slow corners to really pay attention to the effect my inputs have on the bike.
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Old 06-08-10, 03:09 PM
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As far as cornering goes, I feel like sometimes I nail it and do a perfect job holding my line and zipping through a corner. Other times, I seem to veer straight off and never fully corner. It's like I have a very shallow apex (the angle of my turn would be like 150 degrees). Not quite sure, I tend to believe I am leaning myself/the bike but I don't actually corner; I just end up going across the yellow line and veering into oncoming traffic.

Carpediem, I read your blog; I've done a few organized road races so I am fairly comfortable riding in the middle of a tight pack. However, you suggest in one of your posts that sitting up is better than braking, etc. I'm a fairly short and thin rider, so I don't catch as much wind at all sitting up, especially if there is someone in front of me catching it all. Would you recommend feathering the brakes in that case?

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Old 06-08-10, 03:39 PM
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Last night I was talking with one of my team sponsors/"semi-elite" racer from the 1980's about the differences between lower "Cat" crits and upper "Cat" crits. We agreed that they are totally different animals not only because of the skill level, but also due to the length. In the lower "Cats" the pace usually starts out hard and gets easier. For the upper "Cats" it usually starts out easy and gets harder and harder.

At Cat 3 you are on your own.
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Old 06-08-10, 05:15 PM
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nothing wrong with pulling during the first lap to get the choice of lines through the corners if you're feeling strong
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Old 06-08-10, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by mollusk View Post
Last night I was talking with one of my team sponsors/"semi-elite" racer from the 1980's about the differences between lower "Cat" crits and upper "Cat" crits. We agreed that they are totally different animals not only because of the skill level, but also due to the length. In the lower "Cats" the pace usually starts out hard and gets easier. For the upper "Cats" it usually starts out easy and gets harder and harder.

At Cat 3 you are on your own.
An old-timer was telling me the same thing yesterday about upper-cat racing, road-races specifically. He said "the fast guys go slower, but get faster as the race goes on."

Sounds good to me.. but where do the 3's fall into that? Hard from the gun, and a longer race?
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Old 06-09-10, 06:23 AM
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This year I've raced P123s with a few good 1s in there; Cat 3s (2 "real" races, Ninigret and Somerville; Cat 3-4s; Cat 4-5 training race.

4-5s - moderate pace under pressure (25-28 mph), relatively high amounts of "off" time. I haven't looked at the data too closely but to give an indiciation: avg HR 145, avg power 154 (np 235); avg speed 24.2 mph. This was last Wed night at Bethel. Some riders thought it was a "hard race". I did this race because I'd just ridden 70 miles, was suffering from heat exhaustion, sun poisoning, and cramps, and I didn't think I could finish the race. I could climb at race pace with my legs twinging (they were threatening to cramp from lap 2 on), held on for 5 points sprints, and led out the final sprint.

3-4s - moderately high pace under pressure (28-30-ish), less "off" time (few laps out of 30). Avg HR 154, ap 179 (np 267); avg speed 26.1. This at the same course as the 4-5s. I placed 2nd in this 3-4 race, and it was the highest pressure race (my own goals) I did this year.

3s - moderately high pace under pressure (30-ish), less off time (0.5 laps of 15). Avg HR 169, ap 201 (np 235), avg speed 27.0. This at Somerville, should be the hardest or second hardest race I'll do (Harlem Crit is the other one). I was totally done at 400m to go and didn't sprint.

P123s - training races only so far, at least that I've completed. Very high pace under pressure (32-35+ mph, 38-40 in cross-tailwind conditions), almost no off time (less than 1 lap in 33). Avg HR 164, ap 234 (np 280), avg speed 25.6. I was active in that race so not just sitting in. Led out sprint, never sprinted. No breaks succeeded. This from a few Tuesdays ago.

The good Cat 3s, like the ones that used to be 1s or 2s (former winners of Cat 1-2 Killington, Fitchburg, big big big races), they sit in for a while, doing absolutely nothing. But when they go, they go really, really hard. If they get away, fine. If they don't they'll sit in until the last few laps. They can usually place in 123 races.
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Old 06-09-10, 09:46 AM
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I practice the Mad Skillz needed in crit racing with some of my riding buddies in a local graveyard. Here is an invite from this past March.

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/6332697/
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Old 06-09-10, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Aero Sapien View Post
As far as cornering goes, I feel like sometimes I nail it and do a perfect job holding my line and zipping through a corner. Other times, I seem to veer straight off and never fully corner. It's like I have a very shallow apex (the angle of my turn would be like 150 degrees). Not quite sure, I tend to believe I am leaning myself/the bike but I don't actually corner; I just end up going across the yellow line and veering into oncoming traffic.

Carpediem, I read your blog; I've done a few organized road races so I am fairly comfortable riding in the middle of a tight pack. However, you suggest in one of your posts that sitting up is better than braking, etc. I'm a fairly short and thin rider, so I don't catch as much wind at all sitting up, especially if there is someone in front of me catching it all. Would you recommend feathering the brakes in that case?
Sorry missed this.

Feathering brakes is fine - I do it all the time. But if you can coast, poke yourself out in the wind a bit, you'll slow down dramatically, even if you're not "big". One of the tricks to becoming better at drafting is to avoid using brakes for feathering. Start balancing "air braking" and actual braking.

If you're not hitting apexes, you may be looking at the wrong place, i.e. down. Look forward, push with the inside hand to initiate turn, and you should see an improvement in your cornering.

I recently had a very rude surprise. With a new frame and new aero wheels, I found out that I tend to drift wide in turns. I learned this the hard way, at a major crit - I almost hit the curb with 2 turns to go, sitting 2nd wheel, at Somerville. I've since realized that the wheels don't let me corner really hard naturally. I'm going to work on it, so I'm in your position now. Therefore the lessons have come back to me
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Old 06-09-10, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
3s - moderately high pace under pressure (30-ish), less off time (0.5 laps of 15). Avg HR 169, ap 201 (np 235), avg speed 27.0. This at Somerville, should be the hardest or second hardest race I'll do (Harlem Crit is the other one). I was totally done at 400m to go and didn't sprint.
damn, that's too bad. i was gonna give you a killer lead out, as promised

in all seriousness though, while i can probably hang with the cat 4's and did become the sandbagger (or king of the D's) in collegiate D's after just four races this past collegiate season, i'm still six races short of that cat 4 upgrade as of now. now it looks like i won't even be at the race as i will need to accompany my aunt who's visiting from the old country

Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Feathering brakes is fine - I do it all the time. But if you can coast, poke yourself out in the wind a bit, you'll slow down dramatically, even if you're not "big". One of the tricks to becoming better at drafting is to avoid using brakes for feathering. Start balancing "air braking" and actual braking.
CDR, could you explain what you mean by better? I actually drift out to slow down (or sit up) and used to find it harder to just feather a brake.
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