My first race

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by A shiny little box, May 15, 2003.

  1. A shiny little box

    A shiny little box New Member

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    I will be racing for the first time on June 1st. I will be racing against 15-18 year olds that are all category 4 or 5. The race will be around 20 miles (two loops). I just wanted to know if you could give me some advice on some tactics during the race.
     
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  2. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    It's nice to know where you stand fitness wise. If you have been on group rides and have done ok, you should have the fitness to survive your first race, but racing is the ultimate test.

    People who have never raced before often are amazed at how fast the pace is. In a crit, expect to come up to full speed very quickly and it will basically stay there until the end. Field sprints typically determine the winner. The race will be very demanding, and will probably be the hardest thing you have ever done physically in your life.

    The biggest thing to do in your first race is survive and not crash. Bike handling is extremely important, since you will be going at least 26-28 mph inches away from several dozen riders. Be sure you can grab a water bottle, drink, and replace the bottle in the cage with one hand while riding at high speed. Dropped water bottles can cause crashes. Hold your line. this means not going into other riders paths. It is critically important not to be labeled a "squirrel" or "fred" by the local peleton. This means you are a poor bike handler, and are likely to cause others to crash.

    If you develop a reputation as a dangerous rider, nobody will ever want to have anything to do with you, and you will quickly leave the sport. Your local peleton is like an extended family. Everybody knows each other, often quite well, sometimes intimately, and anything that disrupts the family harmony can result in harsh sanctions. I know a guy who was a well known racer in my area. On a fast training ride with lots of National/Masters champions, he crashed. He blamed 4 other riders for the crash, one of whom was a National criterium champion. Of course, it wasn't their fault. He even went as far to sue them in court!!! Needless to say, he was never welcome at races or rides again, and quickly faded into obscurity.

    You may also notice a lot of talking or yelling in the pack. Other riders may yell at you, telling you to move over so they can have a better line, or they may yell at you telling you to pull longer or harder or whatever. Ignore them. Sometimes riders will intentionally brush elbows or otherwise make contact with you. Sometimes riders will force you into a curb, gutter, or barrier. This is foul riding and shows poor sportsmanship. Sometimes, foul riding causes crashes that results in severe bodily injury.

    Don't let yourself be pushed around. Hold your line and refuse to move. These "bullies" will always mess with you if you let them. Nobody wants to crash. If they know you refuse to be pushed around, they will leave you alone and work on someone else. Sometimes, fist fights can break out over things like this after a race in the pits.

    I knew a guy in a 1/2/Pro race in Colorado who shattered his elbow because some lamer forced him into a concrete bridge pillar at 28 mph. They were in a 4-man break and the guy was worried about the competition.

    FOUL RIDERS DESERVE WHATEVER HAPPENS TO THEM AFTER A RACE!!!

    Don't let this negativity scare you from racing. Most likely, these situations will not materialize. Foul riding represents the worst in our sport. Again, it is very important to hold your line and not crash other riders. Respect yourself, respect others, and ride clean. You won't have any problems.

    As for race tactics, don't blow yourself up by doing too much too soon. If you are lucky enough to be in the front at the end, try to be the second rider on the last turn, on the last lap before the sprint. Let the rider in first, lead you out, then sprint past them. That's a textbook crit victory, and doesn't always work out that way.

    Just try to learn as much as possible and don't crash!!!


    Good luck!!!
     
  3. Karlo

    Karlo New Member

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    I'm surprised at how scary you make racing sound. I'm not terribly experienced with racign myself, and the little experience that I do have is in my very small hometown bicycle club, so I can't say much for anywhere else. We don't even have enough people come out to bother with categories.

    That said, I think the most important thing to do at your first race would be to relax, stay with the pack, and observe. Get some experience, learn what people do, and don't even think about winning. Save that for another day.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Lazy legs

    Lazy legs New Member

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    I agree with Karlo, go out to enjoy your 1st race and LEARN from it. Soak up the atmosphere and check out the experienced riders. After the race go over the race again in your mind, over and over, replay it to yourself to see what they did where and try to figure out why they did it, figure out for yourself if you think you can gain by doing the same and then remember to do it next time around.
    I hope that you don't experience everything that J-Mat referred to but be prepared for it 'cause it can happen at any time, expect the worst, and anticipate it.
    To sum it up I think you must go out to enjoy it and learn!
    BTW good luck and let us know how it went.
     
  5. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    I wasn't trying to scare anyone about racing, just to expose the dark underbelly nobody ever seems to want to talk about. If you know what can happen it won't be as much of a shock if you do see it. Bicycle racing is serious stuff though, and is not the same safe environment you will find in soccer or basketball.

    Where I live, the fields for all the categories are ususally at least 40-80 riders, with field limits of 100-150 on a .9 mile crit course. That's a lot of people fighting for position at 30 mph!!!
     
  6. Shabby

    Shabby New Member

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    The lower grades, where this guy is presumably going to start, are unlikely to have as much rough stuff as the higher grades.

    In my experience, most of the yelling and shouting is due to people not holding their lines, or going through corners on the inside.

    But do remember that cycling is a sport where you will develop a reputation if you ride like a maniac or without concern for anyone else. And then you'll find every gap closes is while you're in the bunch, every breakaway you're in gets chased down etc.
     
  7. nferyn

    nferyn New Member

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    Another solution is being so much better than the competition that you won't have to ride in the pack. One example was Edwig van Hooydonck (who won the 'Ronde van Vlaanderen' in 89 and 91). When he just started at the pro level, he wasn't very secure in riding in the pack. In the youth categories, he was so much better than the rest that that he never had to learn how to ride in the pack: he attacked in the beginning of the race and the others never caught him back. Unfortunately very few have the talent for these kind of exploits

    Niek
     
  8. A shiny little box

    A shiny little box New Member

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    Thanks a lot for all of your advise.

    I have another question. Since I have about a week left until the race, how should I train for it.
     
  9. Brogar3

    Brogar3 New Member

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    I thought I would throw my two cents in as well. I just came off my first race, a quick Crit in Indianapolis. With all the addrenaline in your body, the pace (at least for me) was very manageable. I found myself off the back of the pack after a crash I narowly avoided and caught up pretty easily. Physically, I could hang with the pack, no problem, psychologically tho, I had and still have a lot to learn. Approach the race focusing on two things. First, learning as much as you can during the race, and second, simply finishing. I got caught up in the middle of the pack and when guys went down in front of me, there was no avoiding it. I found myself out with two bummed rims halfway into the race. From talking with other people, there are two ways to avoid something like that, either get up into the front third of the bikers or hang back in the back with enough room to maneuver around crashes. be safe and have fun.
     
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