Crit advice
Last Post 02/13/2014 03:17 PM by jacques anquetil. 19 Replies.
Author Messages
Hoshie

Posts:115

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01/06/2014 11:59 PM
Some dude on slow twitch wanted to do a crit and was hemming and hawing. So besides the usual crap people post I put a couple of pointers. One thing I said was basically try to not do too much work or take too long a pull at the front especially since tri guys are used to being the motor, but I also suggested that being just a wheel sucker was probably not too cool. Well a bunch of dudes jumped on that and said they disagreed and basically advised never doing an ounce of work unless " strategic". Ie always sit in. Maybe I am old school, but I just t.hink that is totally bad form to never buddy up and work during a race unless you can't. What says you wise forumites? KR - you with me on this? J
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1175

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01/07/2014 12:14 AM
Pssst.....I was one of those guys saying "keep your nose out of the wind" and pretty sure I used the word "strategic".



It is a race, not a group ride. If the whole group is together (and especially if you are riding solo) there is zero need or obligation for you to stick your nose in the wind. Let the bigger teams and foolhardy slog away at the front.

Now, if you are in a break and sucking wheels, then that is bad form.

But I missed your post, either way. I just agreed (for the first time ever) with needsmoreair.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Hoshie

Posts:115

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01/07/2014 12:46 AM
Too funny ck. now I know your true nature...but I agree on the break, nothing worse then one guy not doing any work IMHO. This is not pro tour racing, so dudes acting like they are super cagey upsets me except of course when I am doing the exact same thing. Then, I just feel guilty bout it.

Cosmic Kid

Posts:1175

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01/07/2014 12:53 AM
went back and looked at your post....I actually did see it earlier. Excellent post and Damn good advice, overall, I thought. Better than most of the crap advice given in the thread.

When it comes to racing, it is every man for himself. I once bought into the "do some work" mentality and then would get beat by guys that I never saw once during the race. WTF? Would really bug me. Then the light bulb went on......
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1175

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01/07/2014 12:55 AM
Oh and for beginners I think that advice is especially pertinent. You see guys all the time stick their nose in the wind and blow up and shoot out the back. They would learn a lot more about racing by just finishing then worrying about taking their turn.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Master50

Posts:246

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01/07/2014 10:08 AM
Ever see a masters field where everyone takes the same approach? Avg race speeds in the mid 30 kph? the only place anyone would work was up the big hill on a 8km circuit. Total sprinters could get back on because the pack was so slow. The Cat 4 Women were as fast. I think the prize list was cancelled about mid race. In principal someone must go to the front or there is no race at all. While it is important to preserve your best tools for the right moment there is still some responsibility for everyone to contribute to the pace.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1175

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01/07/2014 10:59 AM
Sure, you can have the odd occurrence where everyone is doing the same thing,,,,but overall, it doesn't happen too often. people have teams or there are plenty of others who don't understand strategy. When I have been in those races, I'll usually say "fook it...might as well get some training in" and start to animate the race.

But even that doesn't change the fact that "stay out of the wind" is pretty sound advice for a newbie. there is zero need for them to pull in their first ever crit. Bike racing is about energy conservation (and proper energy expenditure).....newbies don't know what that is.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
BuffFan

Posts:31

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01/07/2014 11:14 AM
pfftttt.... stay in your wheel house and sick to tri advice will ya ;-)
Keith Richards

Posts:755

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01/07/2014 11:31 AM
Well, a person entering the race has to know a few things about themselves.

Have they ever raced before? Do they have any idea what they are doing?

Can you conceivably put in a decent result?

To me crits have two portions, sometimes three. First portion is splitting the field. In a crit with fellas who know what to do, the first part of the race is all about making the split. You need to stay alert so you can be well placed and not miss it or have to do too much work to get to it before it establishes. I have been known to go to the front come crunch time to make sure the split stays gone when I had the form.

Second part is making any break that goes, but I don't think this needs to be discussed. If no break, see part three.

The third part is the finish. The key to the sprint is simple. The fewer people you pass the better and safer it is. I personally say 10 laps to go is when you need to start getting on the stick if you think you have a chance for a good result. Watch for the larger teams to move up and hop on their train for a trip to the front. It is physical up there so use your body to protect the bike and your position...elbows are your buddy.

If you don't want to (or can't) sprint....slide to the damn back, ok?
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
jrt1045

Posts:362

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01/07/2014 12:40 PM
I had my best results when I rode for weak teams (or had no team mates) and could be completely opportunistic. I rode near the front and only worked when necessary or to weasel away during the last lap or 3. Let all the "teams" do the work. You have to be patient with breaks and only go if it looks to be a legit combo. Don't waste your time with the tools that jump for absolutely no reason, primes if you're in need of gas $. As far as the Slow Twitch crowd, my inkling is that most will struggle with the basics before they can even dream about working at the front, much less win. Crit racing in the US can be a bit of an art

1. turns: there is an art, takes a while to figure out and pick the right moments to be aggressive. Timed right, you can squirt away without expending any energy. Try not to crash in the process. You also save tons of energy by being able to handle this without having to get out of the saddle for each one

2. braking: there's a time and a place, like turning there is also an art

3. bike handling: you're way more efficient when you're not a squid

4. placement in the field: staying at the front takes some practice, so does finding the right wheels. makes everything else a heck of a lot easier

5. motorpacing: forget power meters and all that other crap, this is the secret sauce for success in the US. in the Pro 1/2 there are a few points each race that you have to be able to turn a huge gear with some cadence especially when it heats up at the end, you have to be capable. Track racing on week nights and motorpacing helped me a ton with this. For me the sprint was the ability to hang on when the real teams went to the front and ramped it up. Top few guys are going at it, the rest of us were chewing on our handlebars

6. sleeveless jerseys and aero bars: tell the tri guys to leave them at home

this is what you need to focus on IMHO and it comes around with experience. FWIW: I was 5'10", never more than 135 pounds soaking wet and sprinted like a snail. Won a few, placed in a heck of a lot more and always had fun in crits. You have to be willing to learn, lots of strong folks get dropped their first one
Keith Richards

Posts:755

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01/07/2014 01:56 PM
+1 on being able to turn the big gears with some cadence. Some people never practice working the big gears enough to be able to turn them come crunch time.

++1 on bike handling. I think actual bike handling is lost as an art. To the extent that I think people going for bike fits end up with positions that are good for power and aerodynamics at the expense of handling.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1175

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01/07/2014 03:25 PM
As far as the Slow Twitch crowd, my inkling is that most will struggle with the basics before they can even dream about working at the front, much less win.


Far be it from me to defend ST, but there are some really accomplished bike racers there, likely many more than here. Multiple national champs jerseys and podium slots, etc. Guys like Carl Spackler and nslkevin have very accomplished palamares.

The one thing I would add to your post is "awareness". You can't be locked onto the wheel in front of you.....you gotta be looking 10-15 guys ahead and anticipate what is gonna happen. Attacks, crashes, surges, whatever can all be deallt with much easier if you are looking up the road.

I'd also add that motorpacing is just a variant of training by power, but without the meter to see the actual watts. But that is a different (and longer) discussion.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
jrt1045

Posts:362

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01/07/2014 05:07 PM
your're so right about the awareness factor, some folks just never get that

I like the tri stereotype, can's help myself with that.

motorpacing and track taught me how to sit on the bike and pedal those gears smoothly. Not pedaling squares or rocking the hips, sitting on the nose of the saddle - that sort of thing. hell, a heart heart monitor and tires filled with air was considered high tech back then



Pin0Q0

Posts:229

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01/16/2014 02:19 PM
“Sandbagger” was the friendly term we use to use, even on team mates. I still get them on my wheel once in a while and you can tell who they are as they won’t work at all. Doesn't bother me as long as I get a thx at the end. BAR races around PA are generally flat. I was never a sprinter so we use to take turn pulling and that included other teams too. CAT3 races use to average in the high 20s. Thirty miles just over an hour, Masters use to finish the same course under an hour. Not sure if things have changed now days.
Ron

Posts:34

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02/07/2014 07:37 PM
Ugh, I wish someone had told me before my first crit not to dive bomb corners. Oh boy, was I green back then. Sorry to those I nearly killed.

Cycling is weird to me because I came to it late. I played many other competitive sports, and through college. I was happy to elbow, slash, pull, shove to win or get ahead. No problem, just a day at the office.

I mainly ride now for fun and fitness, but I do group rides that are really races. I like to do my best, but I really have trouble keeping my elbows sharp. Almost like I'm showing off. I don't know how to explain, I guess I'm just not that competitive anymore, only with myself.

Also, I hate being off the front. The thought of a pack of sweaty, heart-racing people chasing me...it's like a nightmare come true. I'd have made a terrible PRO
6ix

Posts:133

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02/08/2014 01:24 PM
As Prefontaine said, a race is a work of art. I have little respect for the guys that hide in the pack the entire race and then sprint at the very end. Sure, they may have won but they didn't make the race. I understand the strategy and I'm not suggesting it's smart to just go to the front and pull the entire pack around. Keep in mind that you'll likely be racing against the same guys every weekend. You will quickly lose friends by sucking wheels all the time. If you're so strong that you feel like hammering away at the front, why not try an attack? That is using your energy and strength to make a measurable gain over your competition rather than showing off.
I had the most success in races that I actually took part in. I was always strategic and would time attacks perfectly. Well, sometimes. Basically I came to the conclusion that if I was suffering like a dog, I should dig super deep and attack. We were all on a mostly level playing field so I figured if I was hurting so were they.
Bike racing is odd in that you have to use your competitors to help you win.
79pmooney

Posts:1191

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02/08/2014 01:37 PM
Well said, 6ix.

Ben
Master50

Posts:246

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02/10/2014 01:46 PM
You will never get good at crits until you have a few under your belt. You need to learn your talents and weaknesses. Lots of advice about staying out of the wind but if you never go to the front you cannot test your strength and only a few riders win off the front just because these are the rarest guys on bikes. Brian Walton was such a rider and I think he won as many from the front as some more specialized sprinters. We have seen the local guy at his first crit riding at the front and killing the field. We are all yelling don't do so much work or sit on a little. At the end of the season he is cat 1 and never listened to a word of anyones advice. You have to test your limits and yes sticking your nose out will burn a lot of energy but you need to measure that ability so take a risk. Certainly once you reach your level of athletic ability and know where you fit will determine a lot of your tactics. Just a sprinter? maybe wheel sucking to the last 150 meters is your best bet. Have a big engine and can TT to beat the home boys? maybe a few solo attacks will garner the greatest glory especially if you can't sprint. Maybe you have to blow a big wad of energy to make the break where your TT engine can be put to work. Not everyone that has spent the whole race all nice and tucked in with lots of energy has the tools to take it to the line and all that being safe does is ensure a pack finish. the road is only so wide and you can't have 40 riders all sprinting across the road. In general every rider is told to protect your energy for the finish but you still need to be a fast finisher to win and if that is not in your tool box it is not the best advice to not take risks. Try everything while you are a student of the art including blowing yourself up at the front. Take chances to learn your talents, strengths and weaknesses. Have fun too.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1175

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02/10/2014 02:07 PM
I think you guys are forgetting one key element in this.....the guy who asked the question was a newbie and this was going to be his first ever crit. Regradless of you preferences for riding at the front, it simply is not good advice to tell a newbie to ride at the front, take pulls or try to attack.

First race in? Learn!! Going off like a wild shot or taking a lot of pulls is a great way to find yourself riding alone for the majority of the race. Sit in, watch the race, learn the dynamics of a race and (most importantly) get to the finish.

Sure, there are the odd guys who can take off in a Cat. 5 race and solo or get in a group, etc. But they are few and far between. For the majority of newbies, they are better off sitting in.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
jacques_anquetil

Posts:231

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02/13/2014 03:17 PM
however, the challenge is to sit in the middle of the pack and not towards the back of the group. too far back of course is a sure way to get in 6-8 hard interval efforts and then explode.

good thread.


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