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More first crit

Old 04-13-05, 06:33 AM
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alison_in_oh
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More first crit

After reading the "first criterium questions" thread I went last night's crit sans bike. It's a casual, local crit; a 2 mile dead-flat course through a business park (open to traffic). The B group did 11 laps. About a third of the pack, including all four or five women, were dropped in the first lap. Everybody just kept gamely struggling along (and getting in the way of both main packs, and screwing up the race coordinator's ability to keep track of placements!) From conversations among the B group riders and from eyeballing it, the main pack wasn't doing more than 24 on the straightaways. I was chilling at 24 in my small ring this morning on my commute, and have ridden on group rides with Cat 2 and 3 racers where I sat in and spun at 26-27 or more. So as far as basic speed/fitness: I think I can do this. I think I'm going to bring my bike next week.

Yes, I'm sure that I'll get gapped and lack power to keep up with any bursts of speed, and yes there's a 120 degree hairpin that scares the crap out of me, but I think if I stay in the middle at the start the laggards will drop off behind me and if I keep an inside line as y'all suggest I'll stay up in the turn. I think I can manage not to completely embarrass myself.

Thanks for the inspiration from everybody else who's overcome the issues surrounding joining a first race.
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Old 04-13-05, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by alison_in_oh
After reading the "first criterium questions" thread I went last night's crit sans bike.
That's a good way to get instantly dropped.
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Old 04-13-05, 10:37 AM
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was chilling at 24 in my small ring this morning on my commute
So you were really spinning out your small ring hmmm!

Remember that average speed means nothing in a criterium. I can ride with cat 2 - 3 guys on Sundays rides too in a paceline. I realize that many of them are just riding tempo and if they wanted to lay down the hammer it may be over.

Criteriums are about accelerating, Road races are more about climbing and constant speeds. Just because you can hold 24 - 27 in a paceline does not mean you will be suscessful in criteriums.

Do not worry about getting dropped, we all get dropped. Use them to work on your speed skills, etc. The more you do the better you will get.
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Old 04-13-05, 12:13 PM
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alison_in_oh
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Originally Posted by my58vw
So you were really spinning out your small ring hmmm!

Remember that average speed means nothing in a criterium. I can ride with cat 2 - 3 guys on Sundays rides too in a paceline. I realize that many of them are just riding tempo and if they wanted to lay down the hammer it may be over.

Criteriums are about accelerating, Road races are more about climbing and constant speeds. Just because you can hold 24 - 27 in a paceline does not mean you will be suscessful in criteriums.

Do not worry about getting dropped, we all get dropped. Use them to work on your speed skills, etc. The more you do the better you will get.
Not so much, if I'd been spinning out I'd have shifted. (I *was* spinning a high cadence, of course -- this season after a winter of indoor cycling I find that 100+ rpms are natural to me.) Since upgrading to 9-speed I find I've got a lot of gears to play with before I need my big ring. I can mash that big ring on the flat when I need to though.

My point was twofold. One is that everybody talks about even cat 5 crits routinely averaging 27. That would strain me even in a paceline. These guys, a casual group of about 20-30 folks, is clearly not quite up to that. If this group is going a speed I can keep up with solo, I am not too concerned about just hanging with them when they're not accelerating. And since I know what it feels like to attain higher speeds with the help of the draft, I've got every confidence that these lower speeds will be a breeze if I'm sitting in.

The other point is that if I get dropped, I can manage that same speed solo. I won't get dropped like a rock and I have a decent chance of catching back to the pack.

Probably because this is still super-early in our season, there's not a lot of effective pacelining or coordinated attacks going on. If I go now the effort is difficult but attainable for me, and will be a good training exercise. If I wait I'll probably be outclassed in no time.

Hold my breath...dive in...learn by doing!
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Old 04-13-05, 03:55 PM
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Hi Alison,
a few weeks ago I was posting about my first Crit. Since then, Ihave done 2 more, and have another one tomorrow evening. There has been a lot of sound advice, ie try to stay near the front, hold on as long as you can...when you are about to pop, the pace will settle and you'll still be in it, etc...

All of which is great advice. Kudos for you for going to watch. But the best advice... just go race. Sure you are going to be nervous, chances are you will get dropped. In which case, no worries, make your next goal of not getting lapped. Try to find another person who has been spit out, and work with them for as long as you can. If you get pulled, no worries. If you get lapped, no worries. Nothing can prepare you for the perceptual narrowing, the whir of the tires, the scared newbies acting tough (usually the one's yelling "hold your line."

Long in short, just go race. You will learn more in the first 5 minutes, then all the advice that anyone can give you here. I have yet to finish in the top 15 for SM4's. I'm not sure if I will at all this year. funny how much more competitive I am on the NORBA MTB Series.

I saw the best bumper sticker at a 2 weeks ago:
DFL is better than DNF, which is way better than DNS!

Cheers and be safe!
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Old 04-14-05, 05:40 AM
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alison_in_oh
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Thanks much for the encouragement, tprtodanelli. All I'm trying to reassure myself these days is that I won't embarrass myself. Anyway, I have to go to these Tuesday crits for at least the next two weeks, because I'm an "advisor" (aka lackey wife of one of the members) for the college team who needs an advisor along to make it an official event. Might as well bring my bike as long as I'm there, no?

Man, my heart's going to be pounding when I get on my bike out there to warm up, and again when I roll up to the staging area...*shudders*

(Please don't let me get in the way and gap someone off...)
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