4th Criterium, Beginner's Perspective

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Deafwolf, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. Deafwolf

    Deafwolf New Member

    Jun 21, 2010
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    Here with my fourth installment. I rode in a different crit this time, one I have never done before. And I had some issues before I even left to get started. This crit race was the "Monkey & Son" criterium in Dominguez Hills. It's the 8th race of the season, one more race to go after this. I was advised early on that this race would be faster than the previous ones I have attended. First, the track was much shorter. The riders are all Cat 5. The ride was scheduled for 30 minutes. Race starts at 7am And I was late!!!

    While doing my standard bike check, topping off the air in my tires, I made a tear in the stem of the tube while attaching the pump to the valve. I felt the air leaking out around my hand and I knew it was history. You just can't patch those kinds of flats. So I threw the bike on the bike rack on the car and removed the rear tire. It took me about 15 minutes to get the bike operational again.
    When I arrived at the race site, it was already 7am. I rode to the sign-in desk asking if I missed it. Apparently they just completed the little pre-race workshop (Every Cat 5 gets one) and all the racers were lined up. It was hustle, hurry, get your ass going. The lady at the desk pinned my number on and I just signed the waiver and rolled out. (I pre-registered thank god). And as I'm rolling up, we're off. I got a rolling start with no warm-up. At least I'm already clipped in. I roll into the pack from the rear, right behind the guy racing with one leg. Seriously, he had one leg, the right leg was amputated above the knee with no attachment. The pace was moderate but began picking up after the 2nd turn. I manuevered more to the center of the peloton. I'm actually feeling pretty good. Being a shorter track, I was braking far more than I'm used to at the corners. 2-laps, 3-laps, legs are getting tired but I'm still pumping. (quick note, all the turns are to the left) Then an interesting thing happened. I tried something different. At the 2nd turn, I took the outside and rolled through the turn smooth and came out with a lot of speed. I mean I was rolling up fast along the outskirt of the peloton, so I poured it on a little and started advancing quickly to the front. Here's where I notice that the first 6-7 racers are all rolling single file. As I'm rolling up I hear someone shout out, "RIGHT SIDE, RIGHT SIDE"... I must have started something. I was taking it as an opportunity to advance to a better, more forward position in the group and just kept rolling because I could. I pulled up to the 4th positioned rider going into the 3rd turn. Again, a smooth turn and I'm kinda fighting to share a wheel. And the guy bumped me. First time I've ever been bumped, this light pressure to my left arm and then gone. I looked over at him and he was just looking forward. The bump didn't do anything to my line, but I was just kinda surprised! Well all this happens in the span of a few seconds. And next thing I know, people are passing me. I was not pedaling any slower, but the peloton must have started going faster... and it wasn't all neat and pretty anymore. I think it was a counter attack to my attack, but I couldn't keep up the pursuit. I did get back into the peloton towards the back. Even the one-legged guy is in front of me again. (In my defense, he's got less weight to carry around than I do, but seriously, that guy was fantastic.) Another lap and I feel the steam running out after the 3rd turn and I can't hang on any longer. Lasted about 16 minutes and there were only 3 more laps to the finish. I was so close to completing my first crit with the group.

    Lessons learned here and some personal thoughts:

    I still switched between the hoods and the drops. I'm just not feeling comfortable and stable enough on the turns from the drops.

    Shorter course, means more braking and accelerations. I can see more clearly the things you were talking about in reference to wanting to be towards the front. The front 7-riders were all riding a smooth line. All you had to do was follow the tire in front of you. So that is where I want to be. Behind rider #7 was a large pack/cluster.

    Turning from the outside has the advantage of a straighter line which translates into less speed loss at the turn. I felt like I was rolling just inside the wind tunnel even though I was along the outside. Inside of turn = shorter distance, but the outside of the turn equals a straighter line = less speed loss at sharp turning.

    Warm-ups, Smarms ups.... I may have done better had I warmed up before the race. note to self, get up earlier, arrive earlier, and warm the **** up.

    Always have a spare tube handy. Always.

    Again, your thoughts and perspectives are appreciated. And if this helps any newcomers, please leave some feedback too so I know I am helping others while others are helping me. Even a happy face is nice LOL.

    And I promise to removed the "beginner" word from the title once I complete my first crit without dropping. The season is almost over, but there is some good opportunities for training, so I'll be posting some thoughts in the training forums.

  2. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2008
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    Congrats. Some good lessons learned there.

    The line taken by most isn't always the fastest line. If you suspect that there's a faster line just have a looks during one lap but don't make a move to progress more than one place.

    Figure out where the wind is coming from It's harder to pull back an attack is it's launched in a tail wind. Make your move entering the corner and take the faster line to get a gap. Use the faster exit speed to enhance your effort... Or you could save that line for when you're getting tired.

    If you notice a train of riders coming through, gauge your effort and desire to cut in based on where you are on the current line. If the move that's passing you, you might want to hop in the line. As soon as you think a gap will appear between the advancing line and yours, put in a little dig and bead for the gap... If you ride up the inside of the line you'll find a way in either before or during the next corner.... Or you could just suck it up and go around the other side of your group - which, if your group is smaller than the train of riders coming up the outside, will take less effort.

    As you ride more races you will become more comfortable and start to notice more of what's going on... but you will likely out of cat 5 by then.

    With regards to bike prep, get everything done apart from tires the night before... Including getting bottles prepped (carb drinks will keep in a fridge or portable ice chest overnight) bags packed and everything ready to go. You saw the importance of some prep (registering online) - just take that a little further and your day has a distinct chance of going a lot smoother. Plan to negate the worst possible case and things normally go OK.

    Continue having fun and you'll probably be progressing faster than you expected..