My 7th Criterium, I finished! And I crashed :(



Deafwolf

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Jun 21, 2010
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Beginner's perspective Crit #7. Ontario CA. Cat 4/5 , Age 30+

As I sit here writing this latest entry, my hands and arms are bandaged with telfa, conform wrap, and net dressing. I also have a 6x8 telfa and gauze dressing taped to my right outer thigh and a 4x4 of the same behind my left shoulder. No, I didn't have gloves on. I kept telling myself I need em, but kept putting it off. Fortunately the abrasions are not that bad. Ok, now to the tale.

I was very optimistic entering this race. Riding with other beginners age 30+ gave me a little hope that I would have a better chance of keeping up. I was totally right. I also went easy in the beginning to take advantage of the pack. But I have to say, there were a lot of Squirrely riders out there. Many of the other racers were very vocal and complaining about it. The pack slowed at every turn, but mostly by drifting, not by braking... I was able to conserve a lot of energy by shifting to a lighter gear going into the turns and almost immediately shifting to a heavier gear after entering the turn and pedaling through them. Only scraped the inside pedal once.

There are 7 turns in the 1.2 mile course, and none of them sharper than 90 degrees. All very wide too. From the start, it was L, L, L, R, L, L, R. And some of those turns could be managed following a straight line if followed just right.

About the 4th or 5th lap, I got stuck in a bad way between two squirrely riders. We were turning left at turn #1. The inside rider turns wide forcing me to go right to avoid him. Then the outside rider goes sharp and in, coming in from my right. I attempted to slow and clear his wheel but now I'm too squirrely going right and my front wheel drifts into his rear wheel. And that's an automatic losing contest. My front wheel turns hard left, the bike and I fall over to the right and my bike and I skid the pavement. No one else went down I think. I'm kinda ****** off right now. I get up, re-seat my bottle that popped out, lift and spin my wheels (which are still true) and hop back on. A motorcyclist following the pack stops to see that I am all right. He asks if I am going to continue I think, but I can;t really focus on what he is saying other than I am alright. While pedaling, I figure I am going to have to exit the course when another rider comes up besides me. Not sure what happened to him, but he says we get a free lap.

Awesome! SO I am thinking, COOL! I know how to catch the peloton and exactly where I want to do it too. Mind you, my hands are bleeding all over my bars and I'm altering my grip to stay off the sensitive spots.So I continue riding the loop, I complete 2 laps and then see them coming from behind. The other guy is ahead of me some 200 feet. I told him to conserve his energy for the catch. Any how, the group is coming up and some guy in front yells "Stay out of the pack!" Like I was going to try and dive into the front on a free lap rule. Sheesh, I have a little understanding of etiquette. I ride outside and about 1/2 to 2/3rds through, I jump back in. I would have gone to the rear, but there was all this room for me.

Beginning Riders: Note:
I made a gross error here. When you fall down, blow a tire, skip your chain, or any number of situations which make you eligible for the free lap rule, YOU MUST stop at the wheel pit and check in. The pit manager will tell you when you can continue. I didn't do that.

So I am back in the group and going pretty strong, albeit a little fatigue is setting in from the solo riding. The riders are still complaining quite vocally about riders slowing, even braking at some really easy turns... but the ride goes on. At 3 laps to go, I am definitely feeling the fatigue setting in. If the peloton had attacked at that point, I would have been done for. But it only sped up a little.

Two laps to go and some riders are struggling to get outside and advance, but there are so many turns in this short course that it is very difficult.

Bell starts ringing, one lap to go. Everyone is speeding up. I'm starting to fall back, but fighting hard to stay in. I decided at the 3rd lap that I can actually finish this thing, and dammit I really want to! At turn 7, most of the group has pulled away, but there are stragglers that I am still passing. I don't know if they blew up, gave up, or what, but hell if I am slowing down. I crossed that finish line, both bloody hands in the drops and split a grin so wide the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland would have been proud.

I finished my recovery lap and pulled into the first ad tent. And with application of cleaning and stuff, not my abrasions hurt. Stuff burns going on!

The results:
I finished 43 out of 47 riders, even with my rule violation.

My Bike:
My bar tape is completely shredded and bloody and will need to be replaced. The handle bar is severely scraped, but not bent or crooked. The side of my right pedal (shimano SPD clip-ins) likewise is scraped silver, but operational. The right side of the saddle is also scuffed, but serviceable. My helmet is completely intact, no cracks, punctures, or depressions. It is a little scraped and dirty though. The wheels are good, but I need to look at them again later just to be sure.

After the race, I drove to the Emergency Room (ER). Since I work for Kaiser, I have great insurance for only $5 copay per visit. I also know many of the staff. The doctor cut off the dressing and evaluated me. All abrasions and bruises. No need for xrays, although my left shoulder hurts now. The ER staff applied topical lidocaine to numb my skin for cleaning. OMG and does the **** burn when it goes on. Ow ow ow ow ow. The doctor wanted to put me off work for 2-weeks. And I told him, "No way." I'll go nuts. Abrasions and bruises.... you're kidding me. I got the nurse to talk him down to 3 days of light duty. I actually like my job. Sheesh.

So the bike is back in the garage, and trying to bathe myself was a real challenge. No, I do not have any help. So I'm grounded for a little while. But I'll tell you, crossing that finish line for the first time was so great. Even haven fallen down, I had so much fun. Crit season is almost over. Now the team members are trying to talk me into cyclocross. I think I amd going to go back to group rides and training for a while after I recover. But I will be back. Sorry this tale was so long, but I had a lot to tell. And please, please, please, beginners, do not let this keep you from racing. It's never a matter of "if you fall", it's a matter of "when". You can call me crazy, but I just love it.
 

CalicoCat

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Jan 10, 2010
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Sorry to hear that you crashed. I am glad that it hasn't taken all the fun out of racing for you. And I am glad that you are reasonably ok!
 

BamaJason

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Mar 17, 2010
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Great account of your race! I've been thinking about doing a crit series next year,but I know there are folks much more advanced and with much nicer gear than me. I don't want to get in anyone's way.
 

Deafwolf

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Jun 21, 2010
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BamaJason said:
Great account of your race! I've been thinking about doing a crit series next year,but I know there are folks much more advanced and with much nicer gear than me. I don't want to get in anyone's way.

That's why they have different categories. As a beginner, you are Cat 5. After scoring enough points, you can move up to Cat 4. Ladies start at Cat 4 since there is no Cat 5 category for them. This tends to put you with riders closer to your experience level. As far as getting in the way, they are going to get in your way. It's part of racing. If you do a fair amount of group riding, you can get a feel for tight riding in a pack. The most important skill to develop, in my opinion, is how to turn a line without being squirrely.

As for gear, my bike is as entry level as they come. And I still see people riding steel bikes at the Great Park in Irvine.

Here's how it started for me. A friend encouraged me to try one. I was scared as hell. You can read it here, "First Crietrium, Beginner's Perspective". I rode hard, but I got dropped from the group before completing the 2.5 mile loop. But the beauty of that crit race is that you can continue riding the full hour duration of the race. I got motivated to build the legs and stamina to keep up with the pack. And that thought has been my main focus to my training. I even changed to a different group ride in a different city because they ride faster and harder. So give it a try sometime. Be safe, a little daring, and ahve fun.
 

Toggles

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Apr 14, 2010
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Sorry to hear about your crash. I was out racing at Ontario this past weekend too, but I did the 4/5 race. A couple guys crashed in our race too but it was in a straight away, I'm just glad I'm not in Cat. 5 anymore.

Have you tried the Como Street group ride that starts out of Tustin on Sunday mornings? That is a great training ride that goes through Santiago Canyon.
 

Deafwolf

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Jun 21, 2010
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I heard about that ride. I have not done it yet. I am riding with Team Velocity on Saturdays. Their groups are excellent. But I do need to try the como ride. Where and when does it start?

Also, congratulations on moving up to Cat 4.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Deafwolf said:
That's why they have different categories. As a beginner, you are Cat 5. After scoring enough points, you can move up to Cat 4. Ladies start at Cat 4 since there is no Cat 5 category for them. This tends to put you with riders closer to your experience level. As far as getting in the way, they are going to get in your way. It's part of racing. If you do a fair amount of group riding, you can get a feel for tight riding in a pack. The most important skill to develop, in my opinion, is how to turn a line without being squirrely.

As for gear, my bike is as entry level as they come. And I still see people riding steel bikes at the Great Park in Irvine.

Here's how it started for me. A friend encouraged me to try one. I was scared as hell. You can read it here, "First Crietrium, Beginner's Perspective". I rode hard, but I got dropped from the group before completing the 2.5 mile loop. But the beauty of that crit race is that you can continue riding the full hour duration of the race. I got motivated to build the legs and stamina to keep up with the pack. And that thought has been my main focus to my training. I even changed to a different group ride in a different city because they ride faster and harder. So give it a try sometime. Be safe, a little daring, and ahve fun.

You don't score points per-se in Cat5 events. You earn a credit for each race and 10 credits gets you your Cat4 upgrade.

3 more events and you'll be there... Or you could find a clinic that offers credit towards your upgrade.

When you get to Cat4 you'll have to earn your points based upon finishing position. More points are available in road races than crits and the bigger the field the more points on offer.

The main 'bike factor' for riding in a bunch is having a good balanced position on the bike so you can remain fairly low and have you hands remain on the drops and the brake levers - obviously not at the same time though. You'll want to try to avoid an overly forward position especially on a bike with a shortish top tube as this will put too much weight on the front wheel and make your bike seem squirly.

Tire pressure is important too. Don't just go and blast 120psi in your clinchers and think nothing of it. If you're pretty heavy that might be fine but if you're light or the road surface is bumpy try 100 to 105psi if things seem overly rough at 120 during warm up (if you get a chance to ride the course). This could be another thing that makes life much easier mid corner.

Being relaxed - it's a skill that's only acquired through experience but once you get used to just sitting in a bunch at 25+mph and you're able to just look up the road and not stare at the wheel infront then life becomes much easier.

If you're in a club that has some cat1 and 2 riders ask them for advice. It's no secret that folks that like bikes will often spend hours talking about bikes... If you need more advice check with your local district and see if there are clinics available.

If you have the legs for it and the race schedule has the option, ride two events in one day. Often Masters racers get the option of riding their masters class and the regular open category. Events organized by sport ase in NorCal give a discount on two events on the same day within the same series. This may or may not be applicable elsewhere.

Good job on finishing the event and keeping the moral and motivation up.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Toggles said:
Sorry to hear about your crash. I was out racing at Ontario this past weekend too, but I did the 4/5 race. A couple guys crashed in our race too but it was in a straight away, I'm just glad I'm not in Cat. 5 anymore.

Have you tried the Como Street group ride that starts out of Tustin on Sunday mornings? That is a great training ride that goes through Santiago Canyon.

You could always say that the Cat4 guys are just slightly more experienced Cat5 guys who have a little more knowledge and as they say, sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. False confidence is even worse...
 

SUBIEspecial

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Jul 21, 2010
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this story gave me jitters of excitement. i cant fricken wait to get back and start racing and what not!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D
 

Toggles

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Apr 14, 2010
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swampy1970 said:
You could always say that the Cat4 guys are just slightly more experienced Cat5 guys who have a little more knowledge and as they say, sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. False confidence is even worse...

Yea I know that, but at least you don't get riders that have never ridden in a group before.
 

Deafwolf

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Jun 21, 2010
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Most races here do allow masters to ride in more than one event. I'll most likely try riding two races after I buy a full membership next season. The discount is $10 for any additional races. It's a really fun course with all it's turns. As for the points(# of races) and upgrading, I need to check on that since most of my races have been with California Bicycle Racing and only 2 with USAcycling. I'll ask when I go to the Irvine Great Park race again. I need some time for my wounds to heal though. I think I'm going to need at least a week off. If I can get my bike back to full functionality, I may attempt a group ride this Saturday. It all depends how much pressure and grip I can tolerate on my hands. Thanks for the excellent posts and feedback.
 

Deafwolf

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Jun 21, 2010
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One more race coming up at Dominguez Hills, CA. 9/12/2010. We'll see if I heal up enough for some more fun and one more run.
 

swampy1970

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Toggles said:
Yea I know that, but at least you don't get riders that have never ridden in a group before.

This past weekend was the first races I'd done in just over 13 years. Racing as a cat5 guy was light years different that were I was at back in England but it was 'fun'. The scary thing for me, as I'm packing in a heap of races to get cat5 out of the way this year, was that the guys that seemed to create the moments of danger weren't the cat5 riders (at least not the ones who identified themselves as Cat5 on the line). You could tell a couple of the new guys were quite nervous though.

Of course this was just two races and a limited number of riders but it startled me a little.
 

swampy1970

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Deafwolf said:
One more race coming up at Dominguez Hills, CA. 9/12/2010. We'll see if I heal up enough for some more fun and one more run.

That's weeks away. You'll be fine. You'll be up and at 'em way before that unless you've got some deep cuts with stitches.
 

Deafwolf

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Jun 21, 2010
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:p:p:p:D:D:D
I bought some Peral Izumi Gloves last night at performance.

Along with new bar tape, and choc full of advice on my bike. Turns out I bent the handle bars a little on the fall, right side. I'll need to get a heavy duty screw driver or something to try and bend it back out. It's not far though. Repair guy also said I bent my rear derailer slightly. I'm probably going to have to remove these things from the bike before I try to apply force to them. I should take some pictures to show the damage. You guys want to see?
 

Deafwolf

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As promised, here are some photos. In order of appearance:

the handle bar was the first part to hit, and the concrete shredded through to the metal below. The handle bars are slightly bent inwards, but I am riding it anyways.

The right pedal has an all silver edge.

The rear derailer also scraped good.

Sorry it's sideways, but look closely and you'll notice that the long arm of the rear derailer is not parallel with the cassette rings.

My saddle got scuffed too.

It took me a few hours, but I pulled the bottom bracket out from inside the frame. The LBS mechanic said it was fine. Not gritty.

I removed the rear derailer and the read derailer handle from the from, put it in a vice, and straightened the rear derailer handle. The long arm of the read derailer now runs parallel to the cassette and shifts correctly.

I adjusted my shifters for better control riding in the drops. Then I re-taped my handle bars.

I replaced my old Fortezza tire (3+ years old) on the front wheel with a brand new Continental GP 4000

I need to get the wheels trued now. I'll have the LBS do that since I don't have a truing stand.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Deafwolf said:
As promised, here are some photos. In order of appearance:

the handle bar was the first part to hit, and the concrete shredded through to the metal below. The handle bars are slightly bent inwards, but I am riding it anyways.

The right pedal has an all silver edge.

The rear derailer also scraped good.

Sorry it's sideways, but look closely and you'll notice that the long arm of the rear derailer is not parallel with the cassette rings.

My saddle got scuffed too.

It took me a few hours, but I pulled the bottom bracket out from inside the frame. The LBS mechanic said it was fine. Not gritty.

I removed the rear derailer and the read derailer handle from the from, put it in a vice, and straightened the rear derailer handle. The long arm of the read derailer now runs parallel to the cassette and shifts correctly.

I adjusted my shifters for better control riding in the drops. Then I re-taped my handle bars.

I replaced my old Fortezza tire (3+ years old) on the front wheel with a brand new Continental GP 4000

I need to get the wheels trued now. I'll have the LBS do that since I don't have a truing stand.

Ah, just a few love taps.

Several hours to pull out the bottom bracket? Dare I ask how you got that out given that it took so long?

If you have a GP4000S with chili compound, I'd get another one for the back too. They really do stick much better than anything else and I reckon the back will let go before the front... way before. One think to note about new Conti GP4000S is that they're a little 'bouncy' when new. If you normally run 115psi or there about, run about 10 psi less.

If there wheel is only out in one spot, leave the wheel in the bike and close up the brake calipers and have at it. Remember to 'spread the love' over several spokes instead of tensioning the hell out of just one and remember that spokes don't tighten themselves during use - adjust the ones that you think are loose :p