how to train to win my first criterium race.



stevechow

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Mar 11, 2006
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hi, i would like to know how to train to win my first criterium race. as i am a skinny guy, i am also thinking my energy/strength will be unfavorable to me. most of the people in criterium are medium built and muscular. anyway, i would appreciate comments and training regimes that i can work on towards my goal.



Regards,
Cao
the crazy cyclist
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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I think there's a few similar threads that's been posted on here in the last decade or so - the search function will likely provide a gold mine of information.

Cliff notes "50,000ft overiew" version:

-Learn to ride in a fast bunch.
This will allow you to stay in first 1/3 at all times. Become comfortable with pedalling through corners such that scraping your pedal on the ground doesn't spook you. Become comfortable with being surrounded closely by people at speed and not have to keep looking at the back wheel in front - judge your distance to the riders bike by the distance to their body and not the bike - this way you can keep your head up and look for attacks or crashed and react in a timely manner.

-Since you're a skinny guy who may (or may not) lack explosive power then you'll rely more on your sustainable power to put the hurt on folks. Sustainable power is key to every cycling event bar track sprinting and I'm guessing there's a fair aerobic component to that. Read Andy Coggans pursuit prep - do a google search for "The individual pursuit: demands and preparation. Andrew R. Coggan". There's no short cut or magic 6 week program to racing glory but I do see plenty of sweat, pain, discomfort and lots of progress should you follow that plan. That said there's no 1 year program to racing glory either but you sure can make a lot of progress during that time. Don't try and short cut it by moving to the VO2 max prep unless you really have all the base (LT focus) of hard miles done already as you'll need that training and the adaptations it'll bring for the VO2 work to really shine. That document that Andy put together is probably a little overkill for what you're looking at right now and you could trim it down a bit but everything is there. Wednesdays session could go in or be trimmed down during the LT and VO2 phase, the weekends could be a little shorter but they are essential. The "specific" phase at the end could be tailored to include efforts on a short circuit (industrial park in the evening?) so you can do intervals on the road with corners included in the efforts.

Without the ability to put in a big 20 second effort that'll split the field you'll likely need to put in efforts more akin to a shortened version of a pursuit or a long Kilo. Find a tricky part of the course, go really really hard for 1 to 2km, see what, if any, carnage has been done and then do it again... and again... and again... and again until either you pop or the rest of the field does. The idea is string everyone out and hope that you force people to crack and leave gaps that those behind cannot close. Rinse and repeat.

- In training, remember to also train for things that people typically dont expect - people attacking through corners, attacking after the crest of a hill not just before it or on top of it. Get used to big efforts mid corner and hitting a big gear downhill by doing sprints in the biggest gear you can handle at speed going down hills similar to those you'll encounter during local races.

-Remember that bike racing is like poker on wheels.
He (or she) who shows his hand the least until it's "money time" often wins - translated, the fewer really hard efforts you need to make the fresher you'll likely be at the end. The winners often pedal hard the least. If you're not somewhat fresh in the last 1/4 and you've been sitting in then you're likely not trained enough to win. If you're the "new guy" who chases down all the breaks in the first 15 minutes then you'll be stuffed at the end. Since we're talking tactics start getting used to thinking "where is the wind coming from?" If you can mentally picture where you'd expect a rider to be drafting on your back wheel then you can picture where you'd need to ride in order to stuff them in the gutter unable to get a draft during your big efforts or to figure out where you need to be to get shelter from nearby buildings in a town center race. Going really really hard during a race and towing people around, unless you're actively working with folks in a break, is a really really dumb idea. Often the bunch follows "the racing line" for convenience or "just because that looks the correct line to take"... Maybe play devil's advocate if you find yourself on the front during the start of the race and take everyone down what looks like the correct line but in reality you'd want to be on the otherside of the road when attacking.

- Make sure your bike really does fit you and get used to riding in the drops or low on the brake hoods. Don't wear baggy clothes if you're at all serious about an event, skinsuits and the TT specific mitts are far more efficient. Get better tires and inflate them to the correct pressure. Use latex innertubes. If you don't need a bottle during the event, spend the 60 seconds to take the bottle cage off too. ;)

There's lots and lots of stuff and the above is really just a few ideas of what to look for, how to think about what your training might look like (and how to avoid the common - i have an event in 3 weeks a 4 days and need to train for it - question) and a couple of hints and tips.
 
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May 25, 2011
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2 words.

Sprint Training.

This will up your speed by massive amounts.
do the following.
on a nice flat bit of road - get on the bike and have it rolling along at a slow walking speed - then accelerate as fast and hard as you can - once you are at full speed stay there for no more than 2-3 seconds max.
brake - turn around - and repeat.

if you want to increase the burn as it were - do the sprint training up a gradient -
DO NOT maintain the sprint speed for longer.

on a seperate time stamp - not immediatly after do long sprint training.

get a nice stretch of flat ground. - again starting at a slow walking speed
accelerate as hard as you can - sprint as hard and fast as you can - burn burn burn -
but as SOON as you can no longer sprint at 100% coast to cool down and stop.
turn around - repeat.

again it's really important to STOP when you are not sprinting at 100%
It seems kinda counter productive - but trust me.
sprinting at 99% you need to stop

do this and normal fast cycling / training.

and your new cruise speed will be what is now your sprint speed.
your new sprint speed will be as fast as you can physically move your legs
and your acceleration and hill climb attack (short uphill sprint as a posed to 10 mile uphill slog) will be amazing.
 

jsirabella

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Jan 1, 2005
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+1 for swampy there. That is a nice concise list of items to keep in mind. Too many people think it is simply an issue of short bursts (which there are plenty) but so many more issues will really make the difference between hanging on till the end or out the first loop.

Also one piece of advice no one mentions. Do not be discouraged the first or for that matter the 10th time doing it. So many people the first time out there do not even finish the first loop with the pack and they go away angry and "never again" attitude. You will probably need to ride several times before you really have a chance to win. The most important thing is finish it! If you get dropped or not just look to it as another training session and finish the ride and record your time. Than I look at the best time and see how far I am off without the help of a group.

One other thing, you should first do lots of group rides if you can. If you do not do well in group rides chances are you will not do well at the crit. Once you get better at the group rides, do the crit. Last and by far not the least "DO NOT RIDE SCARED" If the idea of crashing is too much for you, do not do it. People love crits cause they are short and local so the weekend warrior can get in a fast race and than still have time for family. But it is also has the most crashes. There are lots of different races you can do.

Just my 2 cents from my experience with crits...

-js
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsirabella .
So many people the first time out there do not even finish the first loop with the pack and they go away angry and "never again" attitude. You will probably need to ride several times before you really have a chance to win. The most important thing is finish it!


There is lots of good stuff on training around here, like Swampy said, but this little tidbit shouln't be understated. Winning your first bike race is like winning the lottery... the first time one plays, everyone thinks it's going to happen to them. It is however the right attitude for a bicycle racer to have, and many seem to absorb this mindset early on in life or not at all. Sounds like you have winning potential!

PS. I got dropped my first race, 3 weeks later was finishing with the pack, two months after that I managed a 2nd. I know some who didn't get dropped their first race, and others like jsirabella mentioned who got dropped and never came back. Racing is tough business. Good luck and let us know how it went!
 

jsirabella

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danfoz->My first crit at Prospect Park, the guys were packing up the tables where you register when I finally finished. I was starting to finish with the pack after several months. I am now getting back into riding this year as I had to take about year and half off with issues. I am hoping it will come faster the next time around!

-js
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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Yeah, crits are 'a tough row to hoe' if you're not physically gifted, or don't have an endurance-oriented athletic background. Took me 7 races before I was able to finish with the pack.

How to win your first race? You gotta walk before you can run, grasshopper. I suggest you start by reading all the info on crit racing contained in this forum.

Short story is: build an aerobic base with lots of time at and just below your threshold power, then top that off with some anaerobic intervals. No revolutionary training protocols out there; just gotta do the work and be patient - it'll (fitness) come - and while you're resting, not while you're training...
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by jsirabella .

danfoz->My first crit at Prospect Park, the guys were packing up the tables where you register when I finally finished. I was starting to finish with the pack after several months. I am now getting back into riding this year as I had to take about year and half off with issues. I am hoping it will come faster the next time around!

-js
Good for you for finishing, that's my new modus operandi. I used to just discretely slip out at 3rd St. after getting dropped in the earlier season races with no hope of recovering, oh the shame. That tiny little hill has broken many men /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

If you ever see a white Cinelli say hello, it's probably me.

-Dan
 

jsirabella

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dan->A fellow NYC rider. Yes that little hill have fooled many a rider. As soon as you think it is over, it just keeps going and going and going. On my first crit I made the usual mistakes of starting in the back and too low a gear. Hit the hill, look up...huh...where did they all go? Man I was ****** and that was the day I finished and they were packing up the tables!

I will look for you the day I return. It is a good race to start your hand at racing.

-js
 

bgoetz

Active Member
Nov 25, 2010
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Lots of great advice here, I would like to add a couple more things:

Watch the shoulders/hips up in the group, the more you watch these things the better you will get a reading when the pace is going to pick up and you can be proactive vs. reactive, "shoulders drop, get ready for a surge".

Also, with watching the wind, there are times that you need to do everything you can to be in the best position, sometimes this means attacking on a corner to get the sheltered line. This is especially true when the sheltered line is along the gutter of the road, I will head right for it, even try to be the 1st person there and then back off, making others come around me to the outside where I can pick up their draft.

Good luck, crits are fun!!