Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

First crit in the bag

Old 05-15-15, 02:11 AM
  #1  
hansen01
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First crit in the bag

A year in since I bought my long coveted road bike (a whopping $360 on cl). Since then I have dwindled down to 1 day a week in the gym and lost about 30lbs of muscle/fat. I ordered a group set upgrade and told myself I would finally sign up for a race when it arrived and I got it installed. So after that and a week of rain I was licensed and nervous as could be. Of course I read every thread I could find about first race experience and watched the recap of the weekly crit series for 5 weeks straight. After all of that I have to say it went pretty good.

Cat 4/5 of the weekly crit series. I went in saying I just wanted to hang on as long as possible but I knew I would be in a funk if I ended up getting dropped. In all honesty I have been stressed harder on the weekly sprint night and hill climb. Anyway I stayed with the pack in the top 10-15 and was a little hesitant at the sprint just because I didn't know how/when/what was going to happen. Once I figured it out I started digging and overtook a few people and got caught by 1 or 2. Next week I will try to make a move right as the pace,drops before the final sprint. It may be stupid but considering I am a 5 points don't really matter right now.

So my words of advice, which may be somewhat divisive. Before you race find a fast group ride and ride it until you can hang on longer than at least a few guys with team jerseys. I'm not talking about the social ride I'm talking the ride where people are there to work and will make some max efforts. If your dying to race then the adrenaline and burn you encounter on a fast group ride may be enough to hold you over until your really ready.

I was a little concerned about cornering since I have never done it. I was surprised at how well the bike handles when you really take some speed into a corner. I went in with mindset that if the guys in front of me didn't go down then I wouldn't. After a couple of laps I actually started to get annoyed with all of the braking into the corners. It didn't seem necessary.

Get the first couple "deep burns" in before the race. I am always a little faster after I have busted through the first couple acid build ups. I think the same is true for most people.

My biggest question before I decided to go for it was, "Am I ready?" And I kept waiting for someone to tell me, "blah blah blah you've come a long way blah blah I think you would do alright at blah race." I admit it was weakness but such things are life. On the other hand about 25% of the field just threw away an entry fee and a day license (some within the first 20 or so seconds of the race). Yeah yeah... experience right? Like I said before go find a really fast group ride,and you will get your experience. Once you have worked that over and are no longer getting dropped before the strava segments start... go race. I am not a seasoned vet or the authority on the matter but if you heed my suggestions chances are you will show up to your first race look around and see familiar faces, then say to yourself, I got this!
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Old 05-15-15, 07:16 AM
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mkadam68
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Congrats. Well done. Most people get dropped in their first race. Good job.

Originally Posted by hansen01 View Post
Next week I will try to make a move right as the pace,drops before the final sprint. It may be stupid but considering I am a 5 points don't really matter right now.
No it's not stupid. It's one of the reasons for Cat5: learn what your strengths are. Can't do that unless you experiment.

Also, it's not that they don't matter, it's that Cat5's don't get points. You upgrade after finishing 10 races.
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Old 05-15-15, 08:37 AM
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Cool. Mirrors my first race experience ~4 years ago. I nearly psyched myself out before I did it, but once in the field I realized it wasn't so different than a fast group ride and given how tight-knit the cycling community is here I already knew about half the field. Now, if I show up to race and don't recognize someone in my field/know their strengths/weaknesses, it's surprising. Once you trust the people around you and lose the jitters so you can close the sphere, it because a lot more fluid and enjoyable. Go check out this forum's racing sub-forum. I spent a lot of time there reading threads before I ever raced and I learned a lot about pack positioning, handling, and tactics that have helped me make it all the way from Cat 5 to... Cat 4, with consistent top 20s.
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Old 05-15-15, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
No it's not stupid. It's one of the reasons for Cat5: learn what your strengths are. Can't do that unless you experiment.
Im hoping I can build some new strengths also.

Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
Go check out this forum's racing sub-forum. I spent a lot of time there reading threads before I ever raced and I learned a lot about pack positioning, handling, and tactics.
I will definitely be doing that.
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Old 05-15-15, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
Congrats. Well done. Most people get dropped in their first race. Good job.

No it's not stupid. It's one of the reasons for Cat5: learn what your strengths are. Can't do that unless you experiment.

Also, it's not that they don't matter, it's that Cat5's don't get points. You upgrade after finishing 10 races.

Didn't it used to be all you needed was 10 massed start races? Or did I dream that? Seems to me they were only interested in your starts, not being able to make it to the end.

Probably not a bad idea to make that change.

the sad part is that there are very few places where you can join a club or whatever and learn how to race. In Europe all the kids race in a club with coaches, that's how I get started at 9 years old.

Jumping into the deep end of the pool before you know how to swim is tough.
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Old 05-15-15, 11:16 AM
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Road Category Upgrade Guidelines - USA Cycling

Have to finish 10 mass start races. I guess if you got pulled it wouldn't count, but generally I think the upgrade depends on your regional USAC person. I added 2 or 3 unsanctioned training races that never actually happened to my resume when I applied for that upgrade and they gave it to me, so YMMV.

Naturally, since I was really only 7 races into my career, I wasn't ready for the massive speed/handling skills increase with the 5 -> 4 jump and caused a 40 person wreck on lap 1 of my first race as a 4.
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Old 05-15-15, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
Naturally, since I was really only 7 races into my career, I wasn't ready for the massive speed/handling skills increase with the 5 -> 4 jump and caused a 40 person wreck on lap 1 of my first race as a 4.
Is there a big difference between 4/5 and 4 races? For the most part around here it's a 4/5 race unless there is prize money involved. That being said I did see a massive difference between 4/5 and 1/2/3. Less braking into corners and less columns in the pace line unless someone was on the move. The 4/5 was basically a cluster about 5 wide during the straights. I spent a lot of the time just trying not to get boxed in after some guy quit and forced me into the sideline. It took me about 1/2 a lap to get back on.
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Old 05-16-15, 06:15 AM
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FYI, racing forum, read the new to racing sticky and make yourself at home:
"The 33"-Road Bike Racing
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Old 05-16-15, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by hansen01 View Post
Next week I will try to make a move right as the pace,drops before the final sprint. It may be stupid but considering I am a 5 points don't really matter right now.
Go for it. Mix things up. What woks one week may not work the next week. Experiment.
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Old 05-16-15, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by hansen01 View Post
Is there a big difference between 4/5 and 4 races? For the most part around here it's a 4/5 race unless there is prize money involved. That being said I did see a massive difference between 4/5 and 1/2/3. Less braking into corners and less columns in the pace line unless someone was on the move. The 4/5 was basically a cluster about 5 wide during the straights. I spent a lot of the time just trying not to get boxed in after some guy quit and forced me into the sideline. It took me about 1/2 a lap to get back on.
I was just being sarcastic, there's really no difference in speed/ability between 4 and 5 fields, and generally they're combined here as well (though the 4s like me who are gluttons for punishment can also race 3/4 fields). 1/2/3 races are a big, big step up for speed, tactics, everything. Not so much the 4s.
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