1st Crit of the Season

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Deafwolf, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Deafwolf

    Deafwolf New Member

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    Hey gang. I'm back. Had a good time after last years season. I road in the LA triathlon and ran my first half marathon in 1:50:48. Now it's back to crit season and time to retrain the legs for power and lactate threshold.
    The first race with CBR, California Bicycle Racing was at Dominguez Hills, CA. Here is a short synopsis I hope gets dome of you fired up. Dominguez Hills is a great course, it has four relatively wide turns, no strategic cornering required. The race was set for all right turns today. There was a fair breeze blowing thanks to the Santa Ana winds, but not too strongly as I had feared driving in. the course is mostly flat with a slight decrease in elevation after turn #1 and slight increase after turn #3.
    Disclaimer: Forgive some of my rudimentary explanations, but being that I was a beginner last year, I still like to explain some of the basics for those who have never raced before and would like to learn a little more about it.
    My day was pleasantly full. I felt great waking up this morning. Healthy and full of confidence. It was also nice to get a good 7 hours of sleep last night too. Started the morning off with coffee and juice. Then loaded the bike and made it to the race site about 9am. Race was at 9:55 so I had time to sign my waiver, register, pay, and warm up on my trainer for 20 min. A trainer is a mounting device that allows me to ride my bike while stationary. It's absolutely essential to warm up the legs before a race for optimum performance.
    I raced in the Master 30+ Cat 4/5 category. The race is 45 minutes of riding around a circular track. Cat 5 is the entry level for beginners, where I am currently at. After 10 successful "pack" finishes, I can upgrade to a level 4. A pack finish means I completed all the laps with the group without being dropped. Racing is a constant hedge of riding and cornering (turning) in tight groupings. It's a little stir crazy as one rider can lose control and take out a whole group. During some attacks rolling in the group, we reached speeds up to 29 mph. If I'm close to the front, I can make my turn at that speed by maintaining a relatively straight line going through the turn. However, racing is a constant jockey for position. When behind other riders of the group, the group tends to slow down going into the turn causing an accordion effect as everyone accelerates hard coming out of the turn. It's very exhausting on the legs. On some straights, it's possible to rest and roll, but those are also good times to move to the outside and gain position. I even took a short time at the front pulling... all of two turns, less than half the track. When up front, you get all the wind resistance. But it was nice to cross the starting line in 2nd position just once before getting sucked back into the group. And then the recovery is hard because now the legs are depleted somewhat and riders won't let me back in. They are not slowing down. So I have to find this inner reserve, stand, and push hard to get a modicum more acceleration to get me back to speed.
    If there is one thing I can't stress enough, it's HOLD YOUR LINE. Make certain that you are focused in front of you and you go into that turn steady. Remember that riders are on either side of you, even if you can't see them. They're there, and if they are overlapping, they might go down. If you are newer to the sport, I recommend staying in the middle or to the outside. It is harder to pull a turn smoothly from the inside, and you slow down more because of the sharpness of the turn. From the outside, you can maintain more speed and if managed correctly, you can move up the line for a better position in the pack.
    Many riders come as teams of 3 or 4. It helps because they can support each other in pulls and in opening up lanes of attacking. And when some of the stronger riders break free, the other can cause the rest of the group to slow by suddenly changing position and opening the wind to the group, or by blocking. It's pretty hairy at times. Riders are constantly yelling, "watch your line, hold your turn". It's really exciting. Last lap is called out and riders are going hard the whole loop. The group is separating which makes it insanely more difficult to draft. coming thought the final turn, I stood up and laid in the acceleration, sprinting. One guy next to me was doing the same, and he was just a hair faster than I, but he couldn't hold it for the duration and I edged out in front. I passed two other riders who had were not sprinting. It doesn't really mean anything since I am no where near the top 20 among this 105 riders present. Yeah, there was quite the turnout for the first race of the season. End result, I am happy with my performance today. And as I said earlier, I still have all my skin.
     
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  2. crawfordguard

    crawfordguard New Member

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    Hi my name is Dustin and I'm 19 years old, I've never raced before and I want to start racing in these crits but I'm not quite sure how to get around to doing this so I was hoping you could help. I went out last sunday (January 23) and watched the races hoping that would help out but it was still pretty confusing. I'm just curious how to sign up, what to sign up for, and all the waivers and forms I have to complete. Any help would be great, thanks!
     
  3. finnrambo

    finnrambo New Member

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    if you have a velodrome around do races there to learn the tactics before you go to crits also a good indicator if your ready to race or not is to do a TT or a HC and see how well you do
     
  4. stowy

    stowy New Member

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    Hey Deafwolf and all,

    Nice post, it is interesting reading about crit racing on here. I did my first crits last year, probably about 10 or so, just with the local club. I decided they were pretty boring because there were no hills to break up the group on, and I like hills. also I can't sprint.

    But reading all the stuff on here about crits inspired me to get into it again this year. The first of the year was tues night this week and I rocked up to have some fun. For a local field it was a good group, probably 20 riders or so (i'm in a regional area in queensland, australia). There were a few strong guys there.

    I found that there were about 5-7 guys doing work and attacking, bringing back attacks, and so on, and a bunch of guys just sitting on the back getting a nice tow. I had started the race with all the intention of doing no work, and chasing the chasers, but as soon as someone went, i was right after them, and ended up doing tons of work! I felt great, some high intensity stuff i've done lately i feel paid off because I could recover from attacks and go again quite quickly.

    But in the end the bunch was still all together, despite my fears of someone getting away (and hence my constant chasing). One of the stronger guys attacked hard on the 2nd last straight, about 500m out, and the group reacted and started chasing. Suddenly i was on the back of the pack and going as hard as I could to hold on!

    In the sprint i pretty much finished dead last, despite feeling like i was one of the stronger guys in the race, but obviously not for sprinting!

    What can I learn from this? Where should i try and be in the pack coming around the last corner? What cadence do you want to try and be at before accelerating for the sprint? Do you stay in the one gear when sprinting or change gears as you pick up speed?

    All i can think is that 1, i did too much work during the race, 2, i was in a bad position to respond when the last attack came, and 3, i was in too low a gear and my top speed was too low to figure in the sprint.

    Would appreciate some advice from some wise crit racers about what i can do to go better in this. I've got a tri/mtb background and am good in hills and ok with TTs, but I really feel like i lack punch in a sprint. Given so many races here come down to sprints i need to do something about this. I've started doing a few uphill sprints in realtively quick sucession to improve my top end and sprinting form, but i think i'm missing some critical strategic knowledge.

    Cheers

    Stowy
     
  5. Deafwolf

    Deafwolf New Member

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    Hey Dustin,
    If you are in the Orange County or LA county area of California, then you can get involved with CBR Racing. They start a weekly race every Tuesday at Eldorado and every Thursday night at Irvine Great Park. Here's the link to their page. (http://www.californiabicycleracing.org/) Check it out. You do not need to be a member to race, but they will charge and additional $5 at those races. The Sunday races are a little more expensive. The next race is on Feb 20. Everyone starts at the Cat 5 level. After 10 "pack" finishes or a placement in the top three and you can get promoted to Cat 4. Cat 1 is professional/elite. There are also several races posted with USA cycling (https://www.usacycling.org/) I hope this helps you get started. If you have more questions about technique or training, keep asking. These people here are a wealth of information.

    Stowy,
    Sounds great. I enjoyed your write-up. The real racers here always say the best position is in the front group, maybe the first 9 riders depending how they spread out. Being at the front gives you the advantage of traveling in a straighter line on the turns while drafting. Thing is, there are always going to be attacks. Also, there are going to be teams, especially at the higher cat levels. Keep working on staying towards the front of the group. If you want to take a turn at pulling the front, keep it it 20 seconds. 30 seconds max. Then grab a wheel as soon as it comes up. It's going to be a fight sometimes to displace one rider for the wheel because you need to outpound a fresher rider for a spot. You may have to drop back a few places and grab when you can, then work your way back up again. The time to take off, if you legs are strong enough is on lap number two. If you see a group take off in the first 50-70% of the race, they will most likely be pulled back in by the group. But on the last 3 laps, that is when attacks can get serious and hold out. So if you see a group of 3 attacking, and it usually happens on the outside while going up a small incline or against the wind, then latch on to those three. And if you are not on the outside when it happens, you are stuck and can't get out of the pack, so you need ot think about it ahead of time. You are going to have to sprint. But if you can be towards the front, you have a better shot at placing.

    I'm still working on getting into the top 20. I can finish with the pack, but I need to do more work on my legs to make that last lap count.
     
  6. stowy

    stowy New Member

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    Hey Thanks DW for the advice, I'll bear that in mind, the next crit is tomorrow night weather permitting (been a bit stormy here lately.

    Been trying to do a bit of work on my sprinting lately, so will be good to give that a go, but if there's a chance to break away in the final laps i'll give it a look.

    Our local races sound pretty low key compared to yours, as i said we only get a small field and even fewer of them are actually good quality, strong guys, though most of them seem to be able to hang in the bunch and beat me in a sprint! So got to try and improve it.

    If race is on tomorrow i'll post here after.

    Cheers
     
  7. stowy

    stowy New Member

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    Hey I did another race this morning in brissy, we had about 30 guys this time and most seemed quite fit, so was good to have a good pack to race with.

    The race was on a car racing circuit, and thankfully for me, it had a couple of undulations in it! The lap was around 2.3km, and there was a reasonable rise which then dropped down into the finishing straight.

    I was worried about my legs having had a pretty hard week, but after a few laps they warmed up quite nicely, knew i wouldn't quite have the top end punch but was fine to hang in and do some work. There were plenty of breakaway attempts but with such a large group and the downhills into long straight sections, no one was able to break away.

    felt good over the hill every lap and always went from the back half of the pack to the top 5-10 riders over the hill without exerting myself too much.

    Hard part was on the bell lap coming into the hill for the last time, i was placed around 20th in the pack, and had to ride up and around a few guys with the front going very hard. Managed to get over the top in around 15th, then rolled down the hill on the outside, getting myself into the top 10.

    The bonus of having a downhill into the final straight is you don't have to wind it up! You hit the straight going about 55 and sit on someones wheel,, then put it in 53-11 and sprint with 200 to go. I was pretty happy given my general poor sprinting ability to finish around 8th in the sprint, especially given my condition and placing for the final section.

    Can't wait to try another! one in 2weeks but will be pan-flat, could be tough. One the positive i will be racing only B-grade men, whereas today was A/B combined.

    Got a 40km TT power test next week, finally get some numbers i can work with!
     
  8. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    Nice progress, you'll be racing with the kool kids in A grade before you know it. For the record, most of them really arn't as good as they think they are /img/vbsmilies/smilies/ROTF.gif smash 'em!
     
  9. frankiemuniz01

    frankiemuniz01 New Member

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    Many riders come as teams of 3 or 4. It helps because they can support each other in pulls and in opening up lanes of attacking. And when some of the stronger riders break free, the other can cause the rest of the group to slow by suddenly changing position and opening the wind to the group, or by blocking. It's pretty hairy at times. Riders are constantly yelling, "watch your line, hold your turn". It's really exciting. Last lap is called out and riders are going hard the whole loop. The group is separating which makes it insanely more difficult to draft. coming thought the final turn, I stood up and laid in the acceleration, sprinting. One guy next to me was doing the same, and he was just a hair faster than I, but he couldn't hold it for the duration and I edged out in front. I passed two other riders who had were not sprinting. It doesn't really mean anything since I am no where near the top 20 among this 105 riders present. Yeah, there was quite the turnout for the first race of the season. End result, I am happy with my performance today. And as I said earlier, I still have all my skin.
     
  10. stowy

    stowy New Member

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    ok for the sake of disclosure I did my 40km TT test on an ergo today, and averaged 333watts, or 4.25watts/kg. My goal is to train FTP as long as it takes to get it to 5w/kg and above, i need at least another 45 watts. Any idea how long this might take?

    I was pretty pleased with the result given I've only just started taking this seriously with FTP efforts and stuff, although I'm sure all the hard bunch rides are pretty close to the same effect.
     
  11. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    How much do you weigh?
     
  12. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    No one can really answer that question with any accuracy but you're looking for roughly a 17% increase in FTP. Unless you're very new to cycling and regular training that'll probably take several seasons as an increase from season to season of 4-7% is typically considered quite good after the first year or two of training. But as Swampy seems to be suggesting you might be able to get there a bit more quickly by dropping below your current 78 kgs assuming you're not already very lean.

    You also did the test indoors on the trainer, many folks find they can produce more power outdoors. It's possible you're already closer to your 5 w/kg goal than you may realize.

    -Dave
     
  13. stowy

    stowy New Member

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    That's interesting thanks Dave. 5% improvement hey, that's around 15watts. Yeah, I am pretty lean, have been riding for a few years pretty steadily. I weigh 78kg, height 181cm (~5'11"). Don't eat much crap really so would be hard to drop much weight I think, but I may see a nutritionist to confirm.

    It would be interesting to see if I could do more power outside, but it's unlikely, as I was absolutely killing myself on that ergo! Unless it's because the perceived effort outdoors is lower, I guess that would make sense.
     
  14. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    I'd suggest starting with a good body fat test (e.g. underwater weighing, bod pod). If you've got some room to drop body fat and stay healthy then the nutritionist should be able to help you achieve that goal. I say that as someone married to a nutritionist and RD. She really struggled to accept that my race weight was actually healthy, it 'looked' too thin to her, it wasn't until I showed her test results from a good underwater weighing facility that she accepted that what looks 'too' skinny is still within the acceptable range for healthy adults. Now a body fat test is part of my mid winter, pre-season ritual to make sure I'm still targeting a healthy but lean racing weight. But she sure helps out tons when it comes to good advice on what and how much to eat to achieve and maintain that race weight.

    Google body fat testing for your local area and see what comes up, lot's of universities and sports testing/training facilities offer the service for a reasonable fee and there are some cool mobile testing labs in cities that travel around to gyms and health clubs offering tests at a reasonable price.

    -Dave
     
  15. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I'm 5'11 and my race weight was mid to low 140s - or about 64kg. Now I'm a fair hefty porker and 77kg.
     
  16. bgoetz

    bgoetz Member

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    Stowy, those are some pretty nice numbers. 5watts/kg would make you a pretty strong rider, heck 4.25watts/kg is a strong rider IMO. What Category do your race in?


     
  17. Sanjuro

    Sanjuro New Member

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    Agree with Swampy. I'm 6'0" on the dot and weigh 66.8kg and have room yet to spare, aiming for ~65kg. You absolutely have room to spare. Hardest part is the discipline to get there.

    I cant do it without counting my calories some days to get an idea of what's going on, what I burned on rides, what I need to refuel, and to still continue to be able to train and get the weight going in the right direction. Did that for some time and now I have a good instictual sense of it all, but I still track it most of the time when I am in weight loss mode as I need the discipline. Some can do it just fine without tracking. Granted, this I did October through February. Went from 75kg to my current ~67kg during that time, and have been hovering around and just below 67kg for a couple weeks now, since its easy to drop the few more in the coming weeks of higher intensities. Bit easier I think to drop significant weight during that time and still transition into base than it is when now the heat is on. You can still do it though. Good luck with that.

    Have to agree with others too - nice numbers. Good luck going forward.
     
  18. stowy

    stowy New Member

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    Thanks guys for info, yeah I'm an ok rider, but I'm in australia so i don't have a category. I race A grade most of the time up here. On the coast where I live though there's plenty of awesome riders that can kick my arse! Well at least a handful. But in Brisbane I'm nothing special I'm sure compared to the A-grade guys.

    So what's an expected race weight body fat? I've had it done with the bioimpedance sensors before and it said around 10%. I've got a bit of upper body muscle from things like swimming, kayaking and mtb'ing. Not sure how much i can lose.
     
  19. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    10% aint bad... but where there's a will, there's a way. It'll come off. After a race just go ride some more or stick in an extra hour if you come back from training feeling OK and you have some time to spare. There's no rocket science to it, thankfully.

    Do you still do swimming and kayaking?
     
  20. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    It depends a bit on your age with younger elite cyclists getting down as low as 6-7% body fat and older age graders safely getting down into the 8-10% range. But what really matters is making sure you lose any weight slowly enough and carefully enough as you approach the low end of your target range that your sustainable power doesn't start to fall.

    FWIW, I've had really inconsistent results with impedance based body fat measurements. I participated in a university study once where we all got tested by underwater weighing, skin fold calipers, and a few different versions of impedance based methods (feet only, hands and feet, a bunch of electrodes connected in different places). Underwater weighing was the standard everything else was compared to and it came down like this:

    - Skin fold, pretty good with more experienced folks doing the testing, not so great with the grad students that hadn't had much practice.
    - Impedance methods high for some folks low for others but widest spread of results of all methods used. In my case underwater weighing put me at 7% but the lowest of the impedance methods put me at 16% and the highest at 19%.

    An athlete I'm working with now uses a home scale with built in impedance body fat estimator. It puts him at 11% body fat, recent underwater weighing put him at 15%.

    Impedance based tests probably work great for some, but I'm skeptical after seeing the widely varying results over the same group of athletes.

    -Dave
     
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