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Curious about racing - but don't want to crash

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Curious about racing - but don't want to crash

Old 06-27-11, 12:50 PM
  #26  
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If a 3rd degree a/c sep from 6 months ago is something you still bring up, go ahead and pass on the racing.

You can TT competitively, though.
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Old 06-27-11, 02:53 PM
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I relearned a lot about racing Sunday at the KB Crit. Normally I spend so little time fighting for position that I've forgotten what it's like, finding the sweet spot in the field, etc. I relearned that stuff during those 9 laps.

I then found myself dropping just far enough back that I knew I was now in the crash zone. The crashes just behind me was one big hint, but I realized that I had been in probably the optimum spot in the field where I could maintain position and not use any energy to hold it (other than pedaling etc). I didn't want to risk being in that crash zone and I was a bit redlined so I eased.

I hope to capture that sweet spot in the clip on the race. I feel it was the most valuable thing I came away with from it.

There was also a bunch of stuff like guys thinking they were hotstuff and pushing and shoving needlessly. I saw at least one guy diving across lines in the corners, consistently enough that everyone kind of avoided him, but it wasn't good.
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Old 06-27-11, 03:30 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by kudude
If a 3rd degree a/c sep from 6 months ago is something you still bring up, go ahead and pass on the racing.

You can TT competitively, though.
There are some seriously bad crashes in TT's.

Actually, any time you get on your bike there is the chance of a bad crash. The worst one I ever had was when I was in 5th grade back in the mid-1960's when the chain snapped while I was sprinting all by myself in the neighborhood park in Chicago. No helmets then and I was "out" for 20 minutes. The next worse was doing the local hammerhead training ride where a guy went down just in front of the wheel I was following at 32 mph. This time I was only "out" for 15 to 20 seconds.

Why do I bring this up? Very simple. Most crashes happen during training rides. This is simply because we train a lot more than we race. But it is important to realise that training is dangerous as well. In my mind if you can accept the risk of training, you can accept the risk of racing.
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Old 06-27-11, 03:35 PM
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Semi-related question for CDR and any of the other experienced crit racers:

I know that you've said in the past that you're very risk-averse. I'm having trouble figuring out how to get to the front in the final lap without taking undue risks. I've occasionally had success identifying a leadout and hopping on the sprinter's wheel, but when it comes to making my way up on my own, I always seem to either end up on the wrong wheel or mis-timing the move and being swarmed and boxed in.

Any general tips for getting into that top 5 at the end of a crit, without having to do anything needlessly risky?
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Old 06-27-11, 03:51 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by gbot
Semi-related question for CDR and any of the other experienced crit racers:

I know that you've said in the past that you're very risk-averse. I'm having trouble figuring out how to get to the front in the final lap without taking undue risks. I've occasionally had success identifying a leadout and hopping on the sprinter's wheel, but when it comes to making my way up on my own, I always seem to either end up on the wrong wheel or mis-timing the move and being swarmed and boxed in.

Any general tips for getting into that top 5 at the end of a crit, without having to do anything needlessly risky?
attack at the end of the last prime and pray you'll get to the finishline before you get swarmed. It's effing exhilarating one way or another, and frigging awesome when you pull it off. This assumes that you have the VO2max power to go for it, though. Just make sure that when you feel like you are getting swarmed, stay by the curb as you don't want people not paying attention to slam into you.
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Old 06-27-11, 04:09 PM
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That's always there to try (and I've won like that once) but I'm really trying to learn how to win a bunch sprint (or at least be in the mix at the front of one). There are guys I know who can literally always be in the right position at the end of the final lap. In CDR's videos he seems to do this with ease. But from my perspective, it looks like he's the only one actually trying to move up, and I know this can't possibly be the case.
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Old 06-27-11, 04:18 PM
  #32  
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Learn to move up in the middle of the pack. It is easier than you think especially if there is an early attack to stretch it all out.

Also if the race dynamics slow it all down with only a little bit to go you should use that time to move up. They are fooling themselves into thinking that a little rest before the sprint makes a big difference. Spend a match here and if you have a bunch of matches still left, it will be rocking.
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Old 06-27-11, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gbot
Semi-related question for CDR and any of the other experienced crit racers:

I know that you've said in the past that you're very risk-averse. I'm having trouble figuring out how to get to the front in the final lap without taking undue risks. I've occasionally had success identifying a leadout and hopping on the sprinter's wheel, but when it comes to making my way up on my own, I always seem to either end up on the wrong wheel or mis-timing the move and being swarmed and boxed in.

Any general tips for getting into that top 5 at the end of a crit, without having to do anything needlessly risky?
You should be on the front in the final lap, not making your way up on the final lap...

Having said that, some more helpful advice might be to move up a few spots at a time - one huge effort can do the trick but will cost you in terms of recovery, and you don't want to make that huge effort at the end for sure.
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Old 06-27-11, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by gbot
Semi-related question for CDR and any of the other experienced crit racers:

I know that you've said in the past that you're very risk-averse. I'm having trouble figuring out how to get to the front in the final lap without taking undue risks. I've occasionally had success identifying a leadout and hopping on the sprinter's wheel, but when it comes to making my way up on my own, I always seem to either end up on the wrong wheel or mis-timing the move and being swarmed and boxed in.

Any general tips for getting into that top 5 at the end of a crit, without having to do anything needlessly risky?
It's related to a few things:
1. Size of sphere. No, not your canolies. It's the size of your "discomfort zone" surrounding your bars and front wheel. Mine kind of hovers around 1" to maybe 4-5", depending on the situation. If someone is traveling at a different trajectory than me and his rear wheel is, say, less than 1-2" away from my front wheel, I start getting uncomfortable. If he's traveling at an extremely different trajectory and it's 1-2", I start making evasive maneuvers. The smaller this zone, the more comfortable you'll be in close quarters, and the closer you can ride to those around you. The closer you are, the harder it is to get you off the wheel.

2. Your immediate power vs regular power. If you have good peak power, you're in luck. I learned the hard way that I close a lot of small gaps with literally one downstroke. When I rode a tandem with the Missus (who is not a racer), I realized that I did this because I'd suddenly find myself doing this huge downstroke without the expected "drop of the pedal". It'd turn into 4-5 full pedal strokes, and within a couple miles we got totally shelled. Using high peak power is one of my secrets. When I'm tired I have no peak power and therefore I either can't sprint or end up in poor position (and can't sprint). "Good peak power" means max 1100-1200w in a race, instantaneously, i.e. enough to get registered but no more than that.

Regular power (FTP) is good for sustained efforts but it's not what gets you moving up a spot or two when it's fast. You need really high power, right now. My last lap efforts are typically huge spikes with coasting otherwise. So I'll coast..... Bam Bam Bam coast.... bam coast bam bam bam. Before the sprint my surges may be 800-1100 watts peak. I'm not dwaddling. I'm fully committed to moving up without going into my jump.

3. Reading the race. I've seen sooooo many guys roll up one side then slam on the brakes because they're totally boxed in. You have to be able to read the race and absolutely and positively stop any 99% wasteful efforts. In other words if you think the right side will close up, then it may be worth it to go up that side. If you see the field closing the door hard on the right side, coast. Don't even bother.

4. Move up before it gets hard. I'm guilty of trying to move up when it's not really optimal. For example, in the 2010 Keith Berger Crit, I have two committed teammates. We were working for one. We had a plan - go with 1/2 lap to go. Problem was that everyone else had the same plan. We waited patiently for the first and second turn to go by in the last lap. Then when we tried to move up, we couldn't. We should have moved up at the bell and the first two turns. Then we could hold our position.

Likewise, in crits, when everyone sits up after an all out bit, it's tempting to sit up also. But if you want to move up, if you think it's important, you should keep going for another 10-15 seconds. It could mean the difference between sitting 10th and sitting 80th. When the next surge goes, you'll be in a position to respond. The later in the race, the more important it is to take advantage. I'm just as guilty as the next guy in easing, but if it's important to you, keep going.

5. Know when not to make efforts. Why do I wait till the last minute to move up? Because a lot of times the field is too compact or dicey to risk moving up earlier. It would require extraordinary efforts to maintain position (i.e. FTP), with repeated surges at 800-1000 watts. Do a surge every 10-15 seconds for 10 minutes and you'll kill any chance you have of doing well in the race.

I tailgun mainly because I'm forced to do so. If I play at the front I typically get shelled. Tailgunning is not necessarily a choice. I was redlined at the beginning of the 2011 Keith Berger Crit, just dying, sitting literally in the last 5 wheels. I did every trick I knew to rest into the turns but the relentless pace almost sawed me off the back.

In 2010 I was too smart and waited too long to move up. In 2011 I decided I'd move up earlier. My job was to sit in and let the other team guys play a bit. They'd try to get away if they could, but if not, I'd work the sprint myself. I started getting nervous at 13 to go (not sure why) and then started moving up with 10 to go. I surfed perfectly from 8 to about 1 to go, but then, tired, I got careless and left a tiny gap, maybe 3-4 feet of pavement I should have covered. That was it. I had to dig super deep just to stay on wheels, realized that I was still 40 guys back and it was totally winding up. To move up would require immense sprint-like efforts and the willingness to take some risks in the last two turns. I figured that because I would have to save something for the sprint, I'd have to make some riskier moves in the turns to make things work. This way I'd have something left for the sprint. Either that or I'd use up my sprint getting into position and then blow up out of the last turn. Both options were dangerous to the others. I made an executive decision and sat up.

For FTP racers, the moving up to the front with 10 to go would work and probably work pretty well, assuming the sprint just kept going faster and faster, i.e. a Cat 2 sprint, not a Cat 3 or 4 sprint. For me, with no staying power, I used myself up making the same tactical decision.

6. When in doubt go. My teammate Cliff remembered the Cat 3 fiasco from 2010, where we all got boxed in. Therefore, without the same support as before (all the 3s were saving it for the P123), he went with 1/2 lap to go, exactly where we realized we couldn't move up. He ended up getting 4th in the race. He's more an FTP racer than not - he'll typically average 380w in a race, for an hour - and in the Rent training races he'll usually go with the break.

A long time ago someone told me it's better to be first through the turn and fourth at the line than anything else through the turn and fourth at the line. By being at the front you dictate things. Usually it's for someone else's victory but at least you had a say in it.

7. If you can't win, at least have a say in who does. I'd much rather lead out a friend/teammate than get 10th or 15th. In fact, in the 2009 Keith Berger Crit, I got something like 10th essentially by accident, when I lost my teammate in the last two turns. I finally decided to go to the line but it was a half hearted sprint and not what I wanted to be doing.

One of my proudest races is when I led out a friendly rival (on an "evil" team no less) so well that he could basically coast to the line. I think he won by 50 meters, and there was absolutely no one around him. My leadout, maybe 250-300 meters, was so good I totally separated him from the field. I wasn't concerned with winning that day but I wanted a say in who won. I can say that I basically decided to give him the win when I saw who it was on my wheel, and I had the power to make it happen.

8. Understand your limits. It may be a bit self limiting but I'll sit up if I think it's over. That's when there's no chance for recovery, i.e. with half a lap to go. In the 2011 KB Crit I'd just come off a huge amount of driving, 17 hours the day before, about 4 hours just before the race (Wisconsin -> CT). When the race started my legs felt horrible, we were averaging about 29-30 mph on the straights, and I almost gave up. But I hung in grimly until it eased. Then I started feeling okay, felt some confidence, and moved up. Only with half a lap to go, when I thought about my situation, I sat up. So I did 44.5 laps of the 45 lap race "racing".
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Old 06-28-11, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
I relearned a lot about racing Sunday at the KB Crit. Normally I spend so little time fighting for position that I've forgotten what it's like, finding the sweet spot in the field, etc. I relearned that stuff during those 9 laps.

I then found myself dropping just far enough back that I knew I was now in the crash zone. The crashes just behind me was one big hint, but I realized that I had been in probably the optimum spot in the field where I could maintain position and not use any energy to hold it (other than pedaling etc). I didn't want to risk being in that crash zone and I was a bit redlined so I eased.
It's funny, I had almost the same experience in the M40+. The crash with 2 to go was behind and well to the left of me. When the field eased I should have moved up into that zone you referred to, but I didn't, and thus was never in the right place at the end. This was purely a confidence issue for me. I had the legs.
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Old 06-28-11, 07:33 AM
  #36  
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Identify the riders that are likely to do well in the sprint, and the sprinters that have some team orginization to do a leadout. Then get on those wheels and stay with them.

In a 4/5 race, it's often remarkably easy to get a wheel like that because many other people aren't thinking about which wheel they want.
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Old 06-28-11, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm
You should be on the front in the final lap, not making your way up on the final lap...

Having said that, some more helpful advice might be to move up a few spots at a time - one huge effort can do the trick but will cost you in terms of recovery, and you don't want to make that huge effort at the end for sure.
if you're leading out. otherwise, wtf are you talking about?
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Old 06-28-11, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by plantrob
Been riding since October. I enjoy riding with the "fast" group at lunch where I work, and am just about at the point where I don't get yelled at too much for making jack-ass moves. A good number of the guys on those rides race - most of them can ride away from me anytime they want, but I'm on a par with a few others, so I figure I might be able to hold my own in cat 5. I'm a pretty good climber, can hold on fairly well on the flats, and have very little sprinting ability at the moment. If I took up racing, I'd head for the longer-loop road races with some ups&downs.
So I'm starting to wonder about my original inclination not to race. That's mostly motivated by a fear of crashing (I crashed about 6 weeks into picking up the bike habit, suffered a third-degree A-C separation, the after-effects of which are still bothering me). From comments here & elsewhere, I gather that cat 5 races have a higher than average probability of crashes occurring. So - any words of wisdom? Tips on how to avoid getting caught in a crash? I'm not in a hurry - figure I have some further fitness and skills to develop before diving in anyway...
you can crash a bike anytime you ride it, but odds are you arent going to. otherwise it would be idiotic to ride a bike, correct?

same thing applies to racing. you can crash any time you race, but odds are you arent going to.

due to crashes combined with cars, absence of EMS, and the mixed ability of riders, i've all but quit doing big group rides.
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Old 06-28-11, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
4. Move up before it gets hard. I'm guilty of trying to move up when it's not really optimal. For example, in the 2010 Keith Berger Crit, I have two committed teammates. We were working for one. We had a plan - go with 1/2 lap to go. Problem was that everyone else had the same plan. We waited patiently for the first and second turn to go by in the last lap. Then when we tried to move up, we couldn't. We should have moved up at the bell and the first two turns. Then we could hold our position.

Excellent stuff CDR. I think this one applies to my racing a lot. I need to know the courses I'm racing better and be able to identify where the best spot to move up is. I race a couple weeknight crits that should be predictable (one of them definitely is) - everyone has the same plan, everyone wants to get to the front at the same point in the final lap.

My issue is that I'm not willing to stick the elbows out and really horn my way in there - and this isn't likely to change (size of 'sphere' notwithstanding) - so I guess I just need to get there first. In the 3/4 race this is limited by my fitness - lots of strong 3's out there - but in the 4's only race I should be able to do it.
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Old 06-28-11, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MDcatV
if you're leading out. otherwise, wtf are you talking about?
he means top 10 people not leading.
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Old 06-28-11, 10:24 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by jsutkeepspining
he means top 10 people not leading.
Yes, thanks
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Old 06-28-11, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by gbot
...My issue is that I'm not willing to stick the elbows out and really horn my way in there - and this isn't likely to change (size of 'sphere' notwithstanding) ...
I used to think exactly this: that I wasn't willing to take risks that others were willing to take.

Turns out that all those "risks" I thought people were taking were simply well timed moves to take advantage of the natural movement of the field. My inexperience would have me put in a bad spot in the field where it would be risky for me to move up, but the people moving up were simply following others who were moving up; i.e. they weren't taking risks.
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Old 06-28-11, 10:42 AM
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A couple more thoughts.

First...

I never fight for position, no elbows, no wiggling, no nothing. If I have to do anything, and I mean anything, that is "active" towards another rider (push, elbow, lean, swerve, etc) then I'm in a bad position tactically. I accept this. It's my error, my bad, my mistake. No one else's.

(The other option is I'm about to crash and contact/movement is the only way I'll stay up.)

If someone is active towards me, I will totally race against him, even if it means it costs me something. I totally discourage the "I can push people out of the way" mentality. A good way to race against such a rider is to beat them; the best way is to beat him while preventing him from maximizing his potential, i.e. boxing him in.

Second....

It's not where to move up, it's when. It's not just terrain and wind that determine when to move - racers make the race too. Sometimes it's beneficial to move up from the back of the field just before the last turn of the last lap:


Other times it's better to move up towards the front for the bell:


Sometimes it's beneficial to hang out near the front for the last 10 laps. Etc etc.
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Old 06-28-11, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kudude
If a 3rd degree a/c sep from 6 months ago is something you still bring up, go ahead and pass on the racing.

You can TT competitively, though.
I still think about and deal with mine (albeit a grade 2, one year ago) daily. And I've thought about it in every one of the 30+ races I've done since then. Not sure I would be human if I didn't. I get the spirit of your comment though. If the (perceived) risk is greater than the (improbable, at least in the first year or so) reward, racing is not for you.
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Old 06-28-11, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by currand
I still think about and deal with mine (albeit a grade 2, one year ago) daily. And I've thought about it in every one of the 30+ races I've done since then. Not sure I would be human if I didn't. I get the spirit of your comment though. If the (perceived) risk is greater than the (improbable, at least in the first year or so) reward, racing is not for you.
My comment came across a bit harsh, but I'm glad you gave me the benefit of the doubt.

I just reacted b/c I had the same thing (grade 3 from a crit wreck) and remember being irritated about not being able to grab things above me and put on a shirt easily for a week or so (edit, my wife says it was 3 week. not helping my case any).
I almost died on a bike 8 months ago and was riding not ~6 weeks after that. I'm not saying that makes me anything but stupid, but if you ride (in a race) always worried about crashing then it stiffens you up and makes you more dangerous to everyone else. Sort of self-fulfilling (and also not worth the stress if you can't enjoy it)

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Old 06-29-11, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by kudude
I just reacted b/c I had the same thing (grade 3 from a crit wreck) and remember being irritated about not being able to grab things above me and put on a shirt easily for a week or so (edit, my wife says it was 3 week. not helping my case any)...
I had a grade two and it was 3 weeks before I could wash my hair. 6 months before I could reach across my body and pick something up without feeling like my shoulder blade would come through my collar bone. I still have trouble sleeping on it and its 14 months post. Maybe I'm a wuss...
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Old 06-29-11, 08:40 AM
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slow up hills
 
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Originally Posted by currand
I had a grade two and it was 3 weeks before I could wash my hair. 6 months before I could reach across my body and pick something up without feeling like my shoulder blade would come through my collar bone. I still have trouble sleeping on it and its 14 months post. Maybe I'm a wuss...
we'll call mine a 3- and yours a 2+. I wasn't even really sore after about a month

doubt it's the wuss factor
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