Simple question regarding drafting in a flat crit



daveydave

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Jun 20, 2007
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I plan to do some crit 4/5 & road racing starting next spring after having a good first year of riding and learning. Got out for a few group rides, but will continue and am pretty sure I have a team that I'll be joining and can help.

So here here's my question:

  • Given a typical US based Cat 4 / 5 crit
  • Extremely flat or rolling / 40 - 45 minutes
  • Peleton averaging your typical 24 - 25 mph
  • Assume a race of 40 - 50 with a pack of 20 - 30 riders in the main group.
  • Assume the rider is taking his or her pulls and not just sucking wheel.
  • Assume the rideris fair - good but not 100% efficient at drafting. Drafting as your average Cat 4/5 rider.
Based on pack riding, drafting and being "race ready" all helping to increase speed, how much speed in MPH is the typical pack rider likely to gain over their typical solo rides at the same distance?

Are most of you Cat 4 / 5 riders putting out hard training rides between 19 - 21 mph and getting 4 - 5mph of aid from the pack? Are your hard training rides faster or slower than that?

Just trying to get a rough estimate on the speed of a larger bubble.

In the small group rides I have done, the ability to ride at a pace 3 - 4 miles per hour faster seemed quite easy while tucked in. What is it like when you are amongst a much larger group?

I'm not looking for an exact answer or a calculator, just an estimate. Such as, I don't typically ride more than x MPH on my hard solo rides, but I'm able to stay with a 24 to 26mph group for Y minutes.

Any information or thoughts are well appreciated!

Dave
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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daveydave said:
....I'm not looking for an exact answer or a calculator, just an estimate. Such as, I don't typically ride more than x MPH on my hard solo rides, but I'm able to stay with a 24 to 26mph group for Y minutes....
O.K., I often ride 23-26mph during 20 minute L4(Threshold) efforts depending on the wind and hold 20-22 mph for hour to hour and a half L3(Tempo) efforts which tend to be loops. These rides often end up being 19-20 mph door to door including warmup and cooldown. My fastest crit this past season was mostly flat with one short uphill and a longer backstretch descent. We averaged 25 mph for the entire race but 26.3 mph for the first four minutes and 27.0 in a break for the last four minutes.

More importantly, typical 20 minute L4 efforts are between 270 and 305 watts solo and the fast periods of this and other crits had Normalized Power hovering around 285 watts. IOW, the speeds were higher than typical training but the effective sustained power was less but also less steady. Peak power during fast crits often exceeds 900 watts not including preems or the final sprint and those bursts happen a few times during the ride with maybe ten spikes over 800 watts in 45 minutes.

-Dave
 

Frigo's Luggage

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Sep 16, 2006
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This is a variation of the "average speed" question which pops up here all the time.

Average speed in bike racing, particularly in crits, is not all that relevant. Its the accellerations that do the damage.

That said, it sounds like you want some sort of barometer to measure whether you will be fast enough. I am a weak Cat 4 but have been racing for 4 years now. Typical flat crits would average about 25 to 27 mph with frequent accellerations over 30 mph. The sprint is somewhere around 35 mph.

I am also a fairly weak time trialist in comparison to other cat 4s. I did one time trial last year on an 8 mile flat out and back course with a strong headwind on the outbound leg. I averaged 23.6 mph. The cat 4 winner was over 27 mph. If I go out riding by myself on a "rolling course" I generally average around 18 mph. If I ride 20-30 miles on a flat bike path, I will generally average about 20-21 mph while riding tempo.

As you can see, my numbers are not spectacular and I am a somewhat competant racer when in shape. All you have to do is bust your ass during the winter and learn from your mistakes in every race.
 

bigbadwoulfe

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Dec 2, 2007
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Frigo's Luggage said:
I am also a fairly weak time trialist in comparison to other cat 4s. I did one time trial last year on an 8 mile flat out and back course with a strong headwind on the outbound leg. I averaged 23.6 mph. The cat 4 winner was over 27 mph.
Was that cat 4 winner using a TT bike?
 

Frigo's Luggage

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Sep 16, 2006
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He was using a standard road bike with clip-ons, disk on the back and a carbon wheel on the front. Nothing all that fancy.
 

ToffoIsMe

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Aug 19, 2005
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Get the CTS criterium video. I was very happy with the way it simulates the seemingly endless accelerations and the lack of adequate recovery. Practice sub-maximal sprints repeatedly, with little rest. Be ready to come close to a sprint coming out of every single turn.

P.S. the chances of everyone taking pulls in a race is little to none. Your goal should be not to pull, or to pull as little as possible, but still stay within the first 10-15 riders throughout the entire race. Then just sprint as hard as you can at the end. Do not be tempted to chase every break you see, especially in a 4/5 race. That is a mistake a lot of people make, so let others make it and close the gap instead.