Lapped riders, Crits suck



LewisBricktop

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Sep 10, 2006
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So, just to reaffirm my disgust for criterium racing, i went to my first in a while today. 20 or so in the pack. Everyone sits steady for the first few laps, but after watching the race before me wait until the last 2 laps to do anything exciting i decided to shake things up early. after the next 2-3 laps, the field was split roughly into 2 groups (contenders and pretenders). it stayed this way for awhile, accelerations from the lead group being marked quickly.

as we're crossing the start/finish with 5 laps to go i can see the pretenders up ahead about to get lapped. im looking to the officials on the sideline to pull them off since we should really be heating it up soon, and nothing. whatever. first turn, were right behind them into the headwind. second turn, bad news. im not sure exactly what happened, only that riders from both groups got tangled up into the crosswind and i hit the bike of the guy going down in front of me. bruised collarbone.

why do officials feel the need to treat riders like 5 year olds and let them finish the race when they are only getting in the way. its annoying and ive certainly done my last crit.
 

tonyzackery

Well-Known Member
Dec 23, 2006
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Nothing inherently wrong with crits IMO. Sounds like your frustration would be better placed with the race officials than with the type of race...The group getting lapped should also know to neutralize and move to left or right to allow the passing group a clear lane...pretty basic racing stuff here in Vancouver...

Personally I enjoy crits far more than road races due to the higher average speed of crits and because the hills are ALOT shorter...Obviously, 195lbs and 3k climbs at race speed do not a good marriage make...but give me a flat crit and those 145lb mountain goats better take for cover on the final sprint for the finish:D .
 

dwaller

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Aug 31, 2004
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My 15 year old son did his first and last Cat 4 Senior Mens Crit last weekend. This looked like a relatively safe course, wide streets, four corners, no other turns, fairly flat. My son was doing his best to stay out of trouble, in the first third of the field, not taking risks, etc. Unfortunately the pack was a disorganized mob. Riders got gapped/dropped on the uphill straight, but the leaders didn't work on the opposite downhill side, allowing all the gapped/dropped riders to catch back up, just before the most critical turn in the course, the corner leading to the uphill straight. These less fit riders were attempting to pass in this corner so that they could get a jump on the uphill section and do less work there, and hopefully not get dropped. In the middle of the turn, my son was being swarmed on both sides by these riders coming up from behind. About halfway through the race, a rider dove to my son's inside, going for a gap that wasn't there. This rider chose to run into my son instead of the curb, hooking my sons handlebars and taking him down. He landed on my son (breaking his own fall), and then immediately scrambled back onto his bike without a word to my son and continued racing. My son was not so fortunate. He landed on his tailbone and was just laying in the road for about 30 seconds from the pain. About $300-400 damage to the bike, saddle bent by my son's crotch, amazingly both the left pedal and the right brake lever shifter trashed (we can't figure out how that happened), front wheel tacoed, tire tracks on my son's back from riders behind running into (over?) him while he was on the ground. Needless to say my son was a little depressed, as this was his first real Senior Mens race. Thankfully my son's injuries appear to be fairly minor; sore tailbone, crotch and some road rash. I knew Crits could be a little dicey, but after this experience my son is going to stick to road races, time trials, and mountain biking. There are too many desperate, reckless, unskilled characters doing crits in the lower categories. My son told me that the race was no fun even before the crash, because it was too nerve-racking just trying to avoid a collision and there was no selection going on (couldn't get rid of the less fit riders). Only one rider out of a field of 29 had been dropped from the main pack at the halfway point of the race.

LewisBricktop said:
So, just to reaffirm my disgust for criterium racing, i went to my first in a while today. 20 or so in the pack. Everyone sits steady for the first few laps, but after watching the race before me wait until the last 2 laps to do anything exciting i decided to shake things up early. after the next 2-3 laps, the field was split roughly into 2 groups (contenders and pretenders). it stayed this way for awhile, accelerations from the lead group being marked quickly.

as we're crossing the start/finish with 5 laps to go i can see the pretenders up ahead about to get lapped. im looking to the officials on the sideline to pull them off since we should really be heating it up soon, and nothing. whatever. first turn, were right behind them into the headwind. second turn, bad news. im not sure exactly what happened, only that riders from both groups got tangled up into the crosswind and i hit the bike of the guy going down in front of me. bruised collarbone.

why do officials feel the need to treat riders like 5 year olds and let them finish the race when they are only getting in the way. its annoying and ive certainly done my last crit.
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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Crashes happen frequently in road races and crits - even the pro1/2 guys crash pretty frequently during a given season...as long as you race, there will be risk - goes with the territory. Those racers that are scared of crashing are probably worse bike handlers than those taking the risks, IMO...

Sorry to hear of the OP's and your son's injuries, but it should've been pre-understood that bike racing is inherently dangerous - high speed, limited space, and sheer numbers make bike racing inherently exhilirating as well. Personally, I was taken out (not purposely) during a track race in January (broken hand, mild concussion) but I was back on the bike and racing asap. When one falls off the horse, one gets right back on...
 

davidwaller

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Dec 31, 2007
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Of course there are risks, and there is some danger. That is universally understood by anyone who races bikes or who watches bike races, and goes without saying. My son is an excellent bike handler who just happens to care alot about whether or not he crashes, which could result in a seaon-ending, or a career-ending, or even a life-ending accident. That is a sensible position to take as a developing bike racer. If one cannot race due to injury, one cannot advance, and there is the distinct possibility of abandoning the sport if one is sidelined too frequently or for too long. When you are in the middle of a pack and you can't move to the other side when someone comes into you and takes out your steering ability, bike handling skills cease to be a factor. One takes calculated risks in virtually every activity. This type of Crit racing does not satisfy my son's criteria for risk/reward. The risks are too high, and the potential rewards are too low. Of course there are riders who find this acceptable. Everyones calculations are different. Some people find these types of crit races more rewarding, and/or are more willing to accept the likely consequences of participating frequently in these types of races. The higher category guys crash as well, but they do alot more races and racing miles, and I would bet that their crashes per mile raced are alot lower than in Cat 4, which I've heard said is THE most dangerous category to race in. My son was back on the bike (different bike) training the afternoon after the race, sore crotch, tailbone, road rash, and all. Lesson learned, he won't make that same mistake again. The statistics (1 cat 4 crit = 1 crash) are compelling. He's done alot of Crit training races on a closed course, junior races and been doing virtual races (club A rides) in huge packs for years, so he's not inexperienced at riding in close quarters in a pack. This was his first ever crash in about 3-4 years of fast group riding and racing, so he is an excellent bike handler and has good pack skills.
tonyzackery said:
Crashes happen frequently in road races and crits - even the pro1/2 guys crash pretty frequently during a given season...as long as you race, there will be risk - goes with the territory. Those racers that are scared of crashing are probably worse bike handlers than those taking the risks, IMO...

Sorry to hear of the OP's and your son's injuries, but it should've been pre-understood that bike racing is inherently dangerous - high speed, limited space, and sheer numbers make bike racing inherently exhilirating as well. Personally, I was taken out (not purposely) during a track race in January (broken hand, mild concussion) but I was back on the bike and racing asap. When one falls off the horse, one gets right back on...
 

tonyzackery

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Dec 23, 2006
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My apologies - you thought I was attacking you so you got defensive. This wasn't my intention at all - just pointing out some of the realizations I've discovered with regard to crit racing in my, albeit limited, experience. Hope your son has a crash-free racing career...
 

LewisBricktop

Member
Sep 10, 2006
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davidwaller said:
One takes calculated risks in virtually every activity. This type of Crit racing does not satisfy my son's criteria for risk/reward. The risks are too high, and the potential rewards are too low.
that is basically my beef with crits in general. this particular instance included some other factors, but i generally think that crit racing requires a higher willingness to risk injury/equipment disasters/expenses than RRs.

tonyzackery said:
Those racers that are scared of crashing are probably worse bike handlers than those taking the risks, IMO...
tonyzackery said:
if the fear of crashing makes them nervous and timid when riding in the pack, then you are certainly right. someone touching their brakes a bit too much around a 90 degree turn is all it takes to cause some trouble. then again, an experienced rider who has crashed several times can carry some reckless confidence into the same turn and get laid out by an outside curb or cut someone off on the inside causing half the pack to eat pavement. as you said before, it depends largely on preferred style of racing.
 

JAPANic

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Aug 11, 2003
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Every crit I've ever done in Japan has had motorbike leaders and sweepers. Their job is to warn the laggers to get off the course or to move to one side.... The lead motor bike will lead the leaders around the riders about to be lapped.

Some races the rule is to get off the course if you're lapped but not all races. Never seen a problem with them getting in the way.

I did see a problem though when 2 races on the same course separated by a 1 minute start time tangled up and the last lap was a disaster. No accidents... nobody knew who was who at the finish line.
 

Frigo's Luggage

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Sep 16, 2006
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Welcome to crit racing.

I have to say that the safety of a race largely depends on the group and the course. I can show you crit courses that are perfectly safe and road courses that are terribly dangerous. I would rather race against Cat 4 crit monkeys than Cat 4 road racers that are spooked by crits. The experienced crit guys are much safer and better bike handlers than the road racers that shy away from crits. If you are going to advance in this sport, you have to learn to race shoulder to shoulder. You have to learn to turn hard at high speed and you have to learn how to avoid the squirrels. If you stay away from crits, you will be sorry later on when you don't have the bike handling skills you need.

If you want to be safe, you should ride TTs. If you want to race, you should do some crits. Don't let one bad experience get you down.

So, let the wounds heal and then get back to the next crit.

Just my opinion.
 

parawolf

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Jan 16, 2006
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The problem with "Cat 4" or as known in Australia, "C-Grade" is that they are riders that are 'strong enough' to stay with the bunch and put in efforts to cover acceralations, but when they are on the rivet, they have no concept of being able to handle a bike.

So you get people that go straight out of Cat-5/D-Grade because they are too strong there, but they haven't learnt to handle a bike yet around a corner in a group. Also those that don't know when to put the pedal down through a corner, as evidenced by the all too frequent pedal strike noise in crits.

Unfortunately there is no (or minimal) recourse for recouping damage to the bike from those that caused the accident. Someone going up the inside in car racing and punting the opponent off the track would be an instant black flag as they were in the wrong. The same thing should be in place for crits. Too many black flags and you have a suspended license.
 

jwalker

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Aug 14, 2006
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Everyone has to learn how to race, and not every one who starts racing can hold with the pack on their first attempt, the ruiders at the front should of called them aside and let them know you was passing.
 

dsschanze

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Jan 14, 2007
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I've had pretty good experiences with crits and the only time I've crashed in a race was a road race, however I was a little annoyed with the last crit that I did. It was about a .6 mile 4-corner course, not too technical, but since I raced juniors, they had both us 15-18 y/o's race with the 10-14's. I don't know if the official didn't think that the 10-14's wouldn't be able to stay with the 15-18's, cause when they started to get lapped all they were was an annucance to pass every time and they nearly caused a few crashes, including me cause they wouldn't get out of the way.