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What to expect in my first criterium?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm doing my first in a few weeks, and looking forward to it. At 38, I waited a long time! Actually, I rode track in the 80s, then took a 15 year layoff, returned to the bike last year, and voila, here I am.

What should I expect, besides to get blasted by a bunch of younger guys? (it's open age, cat 4/5 in California).
post #2 of 12

Re: What to expect in my first criterium?

Quote:
Originally posted by Aztec
I'm doing my first in a few weeks, and looking forward to it. At 38, I waited a long time! Actually, I rode track in the 80s, then took a 15 year layoff, returned to the bike last year, and voila, here I am.

What should I expect, besides to get blasted by a bunch of younger guys? (it's open age, cat 4/5 in California).
First crit rule: Stay calm.
Second crit rule: Stay up front.

Both are easier said then done.

If its a typical crit, I think you will be in for the usual race habits, just with a bit faster and edgier pack.

Expect attacks o plenty, but resist the urge to participate in everything and just sit back and learn how the peleton moves through the course. You may find handy places to move up in some corners, and other places where its a good idea to stay out of the wind... all this depending on what type of course it is and who shows up.

Expect guys in your category to be a bit more vocal then usual as well... and don't take it personally. Be wary of drifting to far back - you may be gapped off from the yo-yo effect. Try to stay in the top 10 or so positions to avoid this. Also - resist the urge to break at every impulse or movement of the pack... at the end of your crit all that breaking ads up.
post #3 of 12

Re: What to expect in my first criterium?

Quote:
Originally posted by Aztec
I'm doing my first in a few weeks, and looking forward to it. At 38, I waited a long time! Actually, I rode track in the 80s, then took a 15 year layoff, returned to the bike last year, and voila, here I am.

What should I expect, besides to get blasted by a bunch of younger guys? (it's open age, cat 4/5 in California).
good luck
all u need to do is stay calm in the beginning and dont break away
and stay in the front 1/3 of the pac
post #4 of 12

Re: What to expect in my first criterium?

I think crit racing is fantastic.

Ive only been doing it (a lot of it) for about 8 months .

Theres some things which strike me as totally consistent.


1. Longer breaks rarely succeed in lower grades (especially on flat courses. (Sounds like you are racing solo, and in lower grade)

2. Sprints are usually won by the same guys, sprinters.

3. Non sprinters can win in last few laps when pace is kept very high. I wonder why non sprinters all line up every week in bunch gallops in some vain hope the speedier riders will all fall in a heap (not likely)

4. Guys get dropped when:

a. Tired riders leave gaps.
b. they attack to too often.
c. Miss a significant break (and cant stay with the chase)
d. on hills

5. Crashes only happen when people overlap wheels.

6. Tired riders overlap wheels more than stronger ones.

7. Corners are a bad place to be at the back, but on long straights, the back isnt really that bad.

8. Hot dog courses are really bad ones to find yourself at the back,

9. Younger riders can be easily beaten by older "SMARTER" riders.

10. Things can get heated, but lets face it - we all love it!!

Hope you have fun

What a great sport!!

Nicko
post #5 of 12
yea, something I can contribute to.

I had my first crit race this past sunday, the second anual nike vision crit. Maybee someone saw me get my ass kicked? I was riding a 87 Lemond Coors Light bike. Cat 5.

Anyway, here's what I learned. Stay in the front. If you do that you'll be ok. I ended up in the middle/back, and when you approach a turn, all these Cat 5 people like to slam on the brakes. The first 3 laps, the average speed was about 30 mph, and when you hit a turn, people not in the front would slam on breaks down to 16mph, and then sprint back up to 30. This flat out wore me out, as I only had 190 miles under my belt this season. Other than that, have FUN. I did, I loved the experience, and I cant wait till the next, I'm bosting my intensity 10x, and plan on kickin butt next month when theres another crit at the same place.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Whoa, 30 MPH! I'm panicked already!

Overlapping wheels? I've only seen one crit, and it looked like everyone overlapped wheels all the time. So proper form is to try and line up in rows? OK, good to know.

Staying toward the front sounds great, but if everyone is trying to do that, then what? :-) I understand the yo-yo effect, and can easily see how that would hugely wear me down quickly.

If a break starts in front of you, and you don't want to go with it, what do people behind you think assuming they want to go? Theoretically now I'm in my own air, no longer drafting anyone. Which means I'm in trouble! Is there a method/rule to letting others ahead to chase that break, or an expect way for me to get off the front?
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by Aztec
Overlapping wheels? I've only seen one crit, and it looked like everyone overlapped wheels all the time. So proper form is to try and line up in rows? OK, good to know.
Overlapping as in actually touching wheels... proper form is to be smooth and be a part of the flow.


Quote:
If a break starts in front of you, and you don't want to go with it, what do people behind you think assuming they want to go? Theoretically now I'm in my own air, no longer drafting anyone. Which means I'm in trouble! Is there a method/rule to letting others ahead to chase that break, or an expect way for me to get off the front?
The pack is dynamic, and will flow around you. If you dont want to go with an attack, just try to make sure your not blocking anyone else. This doesnt mean you have to sit up and lose 30 positions. If a chase gets organized, and you dont want to be part of it, dont take halfhearted pulls. Just stay out of the way and let them work. If you see a better opportunity later on, take it and commit all the way.

Being that this is your first crit, take it easy. You will have your hands full just maintaining position in the pack and getting used to the close proximity of the other riders. Just relax and learn how the pack moves through the course... and have fun.

- n -
post #8 of 12
Just make sure you always have a wheel and dont lose it!!
post #9 of 12
One of the first things I learned in my first crit is that it is very fast. Average speed in first race was 26.5mph on the second race the average speed was 27mph. Fastest speed in the straights for sprint points was 35mph. Second thing I learned, stay in the front of the pack and I don't mean in the front first 10, just on the front of the pack. Average time for crit races were 35 to 45 minutes with 3 additional laps.

Depending on who organizes the race you may be racing not only with CAT 4,5 but with JR's and some females. Why? I don't know just is.

Basic thing to remember is have fun don't get dropped and train hard. Also on the turns, its all true you go from 30mph to 16mph back to 30mph, this becomes very tiring. Try to stay in the front so you don't have to deal with all that.

Finally, if you get dropped from behind don't give up, continue until you either get lapped and the officials remove you from the race and if you do get lapped, when the group comes back around just join up in the back and try to stay out of the way for those in contention for a position. Just finish the race.

Happy trails and have fun.
post #10 of 12
i remeber my first crit, it was a cat 1,2,3 (flight A), and it was all the above plus some. the speed was extremely fast, but once i got the hang of it, it was nothing. i'm not going to say stay in the front at all costs, that might not be possible, just stay away from the squirrels ( those younger riders who can't hold a line to save their lives). watch for the attacks, they will come left and right, it's almost pointless for some of them, cat 4/5 is full of guys that will chase until they explode. these newer guys have no idea about tact but whatever. let them take you for a ride, you don't have to pull there will be plenty of youn'uns up there and if you do stay near the front you can fake it, and no one will get pissed if you take the sprint. main thing is DON'T CRASH and stay away from those that look like they will. bon chance and have fun.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by firegooroo

...
Finally, if you get dropped from behind don't give up, continue until you either get lapped and the officials remove you from the race and if you do get lapped, when the group comes back around just join up in the back and try to stay out of the way for those in contention for a position. Just finish the race.
...
Exactly what happened to me at my first criterium:

As a beginner (on the road, I’m MTB racer for two years now), I put myself at the end of the pack, first straight – everything Ok, first corner – drop four changes, take it with easy and when I notice it, they where 15 meters ahead, then 16, 17, 19 … they where departed.

What was left? To ride alone vs. the wind, knowing my bike at race conditions, enjoying it and doing my best effort. There I was about the middle of my race when I got lapped by two elite riders (they started 2 minutes before my group), then other 3 passed by and then a pack of about 20 riders came by my left. I let them pass and I join them at the back, I’d keep up with them, if they accelerate I did to, if they take the corners fast I tried to hang out.

They where at the second quarter of they race, and the rhythm was fast but steady at almost 40 Km/h (about 24.5 m/h), I enjoy the 20 Km. (12.5) that rode with them. 800 meters (half mile) before the finish line of my race (they where half way of theirs), I start accelerating and when I where at the front of the pack I was at full speed at 52 Km/h (32.3 m/h), the elite that was at the front watched me and he accelerated following me, then all the pack was at my speed behind me and I pass the finish line at the front of all of them at that incredible speed (for a MTB biker in the flat).

It was great, it feel so good, it was amazing.

Next race, I will put a line to attach my self to my group and I will not let them go, lets see what happen.

Regards
post #12 of 12
I have just done my first crit and won it. Yes it was a bit of a fluke. The info that I got from this thread made all the difference. Thanks. It was FUN!
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