First Road Race - 15 Mile Criterium - Help Please

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by justcycling, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. justcycling

    justcycling New Member

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    Hello,

    I am going to take part in my first road race ever this coming Saturday and I was hoping to get some advice and help as to what to expect, how to prepare this week, and anything else.

    The race is a 15 mile criterium (17 laps, 0.88 miles each lap) that is completely flat and I had the chance to get out to the course today to give it a shot. I rode the course in 45:30 with some heavy winds on the straights. I was also riding by myself. There are a few tight corners but nothing I couldn't pedal through. I also rode with sore legs today after doing 65 miles the last two days, so I am hoping that I can lessen my time with fresh legs.

    I have never ridden with a group before and have done all my training on my own so far. I ride about 175-200 miles a week or about 10-15 hours a week. I usually ride at about 20mph with some moderate hills and I sprint at points on the flats. I was just wondering what to expect when I enter the race and what it is like to ride in a large group, especially when it comes to taking a corner. Also, how should I pace myself. Is 20-25mph pace good enough for this race?

    I am hoping to get a time of 40:00 on this race. Oh, and I am 18 years old, racing in the Junior 17/18 Category.

    Thank you very much.
     
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  2. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    If you've never ridden in a pack before... it'll be "interesting" ;)

    For the start, make sure you're on the start line at the front of the bunch. Get to the start early. Prepare to go really f**king hard at the start... you may/may not need to but expect too. Do your best to stay close to the front - you might not think it but in general, it's easier in the first 1/3 of the bunch especially when the pace goes up. You also get to miss most of the crashes.

    Because of the likelyhood that the start will be quick - make sure you have a really good warmup before the start. If you have a small folding trainer you can take with you then do 20 to 30 minutes on that - starting off fairly quick and throwing in some hard efforts towards the end. These will help get everything warmed up nicely for the start. Don't confused being hot and sweaty with being "warmed up" and ready to go. You need to do at least a few minutes around threshold. Try and finish the warm up as close to the start time as possible but leave yourself a window of ~5 minutes spare to get to the start because if you don't chances are that some minor thing will happen and you'll be rushing around like an idiot. Sign in with the organizer as soon as you get there. IF you're not registered already, do so online if possible.

    Don't worry about the time for the event - it doesn't matter. Junior categories can be tricky to call - there could be a few kids in there that are the next Lance Armstrong waiting to happen or you could be with a field of guys that have no clue whatsoever and are doing their first event.

    For training this week - don't do anything hard the day before but if you do want to go out on the bike then do so. Take it fairly easy during that ride but don't be afraid to add a few efforts of a few minutes each if you wanted to have a good dig up a hill or do a longish effort for a town/city sign...

    Have fun and remember - the tires go on the pavement not your elbows, hip or face... :p
     
  3. edward5709

    edward5709 New Member

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    Hi,
    As swampy1970 said really try and stay at the front. I would say within the top 1-10 places as this is where the more experienced riders are, so therefore your less likely to have some pillock brakeing right infront of you and you ending up on the floor. But dont let the other riders bully you into staying too long at the front and only chase people down if its benaficial to you, not the guy telling you to do it. And if youve got no other events comeing up soon, then really go for it, as this could get you recognised by the club and they will then help you progress.
     
  4. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Some good advice above, hopefully what I add can be of some value:

    - get a good night sleep on Thursday. I imagine your race is early and and nerves can sometimes get in the way orf a good night sleep.
    - don't eat anything "exotic" the night before.
    - you mentioned tight turns in your post... do not pedal through the corners. All it takes is one tiny touch to cause a devastating wipeout at speed.
    - do not overlap wheels with the guy in front. Not even an inch. The guy in the back is usually the one who goes down.
    - Swampy mentioned this: warm up properly, at least 15 minutes (maybe longer) with a couple of short efforts of around a minute or so close to redline to clear the pipes out. If the race starts hard, you could be off the back quick without a proper warmup.
    - No training you do between now and then will serve any benefit, if anything it may just kill your legs for the big day. Take it easy.
    - Make sure you get to teh race early with enough time to warmup and get your number on.
    - If driving to the race, instead of riding, make sure you have all your kit laid out and ready the night before.
    - Pace yourself according to the group. Your main goal is to finish the race upright. Everyone thinks they are going to win the lottery the first time they play.
    - Spend as little time in the wind as possible, seconds heere and there add up quickly. And here is the big thing: if you find yourself where you are pulling a few riders do not start riding harder, just keep the same pace. One common beginner mistake is to want to look strong in the eyes of your peers. This usually just serves to empty the gas tank.

    The advice on staying toward the front is very good, especially in terms of a chance at victory or avoiding accidents. However, as this is your first race there are many things that wil require conscious attention, things that become second nature after several races. It is more important to stay safe than to stay in the top 10 at all times. It's sometimes hard enpough for seasoned racers to maintain that position, especially since everyone is looking to be in that position. Sometimes that very phenomena is the actual cause of the accidents. Because of your riding experience and never having ridden in a group either in a race setting or a casual one, I would actually caution against trying to stay in the top 10. If it happens and you don't feel nervous go for it.

    Good luck!
     
  5. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    My first crit was a USAC sanctioned practice event with 4 separate points events for a combined score. Various strategies involved to maximize points and place in each race. Rule for one race was last rider to cross line on each lap was eliminated until only one remained. Others were various lap primes for position on specific laps.

    I won one race and placed second in each of the other 3 races. Worked out for enough points to take 1st for the event. My strategy was just to ride my butt off and stay in front. What I realized after the event was that if you set a strong enough pace, the rest of the pack will be happy to let you lead them into the last corner, where one or more will then be happy to steal your glory. Note to self ... let someone else do some of the work for a while and look for your Renshaw to deliver you to the line. :grin:

    Have fun and good luck!
     
  6. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Have these overnighted to you...

    http://www.mtbr.com/cat/mtb-apparel-and-protection/armor-and-pads/rockgardn/cya-shorts/prd_361258_134crx.aspx

    They used to make a criterium hip pad insert to go inside your shorts, but I can't find them on the web. You can cut up a piece of closed cell foam and make your own. They look like ass, but have saved many a hip pointer.

    As stated above, the start will probably be like a launch pad at a dragstrip. Power away hard and try your damnedest to stay in the top5-6 riders. Please note: EVERYONE will be rocking this same genius plan. Smooth is fast. Stay off the brakes if you can.

    Stay about a foot off the dude in front of you and look ahead thru the turns.

    If you end up blowing and drifting rearward try to stay on a wheel and work the inside of the turns. Stay alert for riders that are tiring, riding erratically, etc. If you make it thru to the last five laps and are still with the pack, try to move up safely gat away from any squirrels you spot.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
  7. justcycling

    justcycling New Member

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    Thank ya'll for your suggestions on what I should do and what I should expect! I'm wicked excited to see what it's like and how it will go.
    Luckily, there is a training group ride in my are so I can hopefully do that before the race on Saturday, seeing as I've never ridden in a
    group before. I hope to do well and I'll post back soon to let you know how my first group ride went/how the race itself went. Thanks a ton!

    Keep the suggestions coming if you've got any more, the more the better!
    I'm also going to shave my legs tomorrow for the first time ever... that should be interesting, but hey, got to do what you got to do.

    Thanks again, ya'll!
     
  8. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Go easy behind the knees or your bathtub could end up resembling the shower scene in Psycho. I stick to clippers, a little more stubble but that just let's my lady know that underneath the feminine exterior I'm still her man. The massive striations and excessive vascularity dont hurt either. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
     
  9. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    My suggestion is to sit in back, relax and watch the race.

    My math (175 miles / 10 hours) indicates your 20mph is more like 17-18mph. That is a big difference. Race pace might be 25mph. Sit in back and relax. Don't get in the way of people who are comfortable riding with others. Getting in the way causes accidents. Accidents at 25mph damage human and bicycle parts.

    Don't expect to be able to pedal through the corners at race speed. You might try to do 1 lap flat out and see if you can pedal through the corners at 30mph. (I don't expect the race to go that fast.)
     
  10. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Unless you are wearing the body armor suggested by Bob, I'm inclined to agree with this sentiment. Based on the mileage you indicate you may very possibly be stronger than most of the folks you'll be lining up with. But the pack skills required at race speed take time to develop. It's possible based on the upcoming training group ride you may be a natural. The folks giving advice to stay up front are certainly well intentioned, but I'm gandering they may have years of experiences and dozens if not hundreds of races in their legs. Sometimes we forget what it was like learning how to walk. The rider themself is the best judge - if the group ride is comfortable, race the race. You'll know better than anyone where to sit in the pack. If all goes well this will be the start of an illustrious career in racing, and there will be plenty of podium opportunities down the road.
     
  11. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Well...other than the kamikaze last turn nuclear-powered crashes in turn 4 that 'can' involve the front half-dozen riders, the usual slam dances take place mid-pack and to those tiring in the rear.

    The rubber band effect in any crit is pronounced, but in Cat 4/5 racing it is generally insane (at least in my area). Over-braking to compensate for slow cornering skill.

    Worse, the average speed of our suicidal Cat 5's is only slightly slower that the 3 race!

    Therefore, bike handling mad skillz aside (like 95% of any Cat 4/5 racer pack exhibit any ability do anything but deplete the shelf stock of the on-site ambulance!), my advice is take the free ride up front, sink or swim and stay out of trouble as best can be done.

    I never wore the crit pads out of vanity (do these armor pads make my hips look fat?), but they sure as hell made good sense to me as I watch the typical 4's fly, inverted, past me!

    But, i DO agree with the others in saying perhaps it is BETTER to get some knuckle time training with a group or club before diving into the deep end. Meh, who am I to give that advice? I went to scholl of hard roads and took on-the-job training!
     
  12. justcycling

    justcycling New Member

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    17th out of 25 in the Cat 5 this weekend with a time of 39 minutes for 15 miles (2 minutes behind the race leaders). I'm feeling pretty good about this seeing as it was my first race and I'm excited to start racing some more. But for now, time to train, train, train!

    Thanks everyone for the pointers and all!
     
  13. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations!

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif
     
  14. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Nice job!
    Sounds like bike and self came away without incident and ready to give 'em hell again. Three "trains" ,,, you're taking this seriously. <grin> Have fun..
     
  15. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Good Job!
     
  16. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    Way to go! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif
     
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