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this sounds really noob... but i wana start racing my bike..
but what is a crit (criterium?) what happens there? how long is the course?
is a crit just like a road race?
also... is soCalcycling.com the only site that offers bike races for Socal?
 

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Crit is a short loop (usually under 1 mile). There's a time limit used to determine the number of laps. Road race is longer, either a big loop or point-to-point.
 

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Captain Obvious
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you would start as a cat 5 in either type of race. expect 30-45 min race for a crit. longer for a road race.
 

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daivs_T said:
short loop ey...
and its just like.. who can complete as many laps in the time allotted?

Well, not exactly. It's a race. Whoever gets to the finish line first on the last lap is the winner. The length is sometimes determined as lucer0 described (e.g., 30 minutes plus 3 more laps), but more often it's a set number of laps determined and announced in advance. Either way, the riders will know well in advance when they are on the last lap -- they're racing to the finish line, not for time.

How many laps you complete is not really the measure, because everybody's going to do the full number of laps. Most crit courses are fairly flat, so breakaways that stay away are uncommon, though small groups or individuals sometimes get away. But most crits end with a pack sprint, or a few riders going off the front near the end. More to the point with respect to lap numbers, if you go off the BACK (i.e., get dropped from the main group), the officials will often pull you from the race, so you don't interfere with the big group when they lap you. So you don't get to finish at all in the situation where you're more than a lap down.
 

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Don't be scared to try racing. In fact, many recreational cyclists want to race....someday..."when they find the time to train properly"...but few ever do it.

Do expect to find a big difference in how hard the effort is for a real race as compared to a club ride, even one with 'lots of racers'. In the club ride or the Saturday bikeshop group ride, you may go all out just to stay with the group, but the pace will be 'varied' much more than in a typical race. In your 'typical' race (and each race can be quite different) a first-time racer will often be surprised by the intensity and the relentless attacks. Racers tend to be sort of serious about trying to beat everyone else, each time out...

It's all great fun and so much to learn once you are sharp enough to hold the pace. A more honest measure of how good a cyclist you are...your finish 'results' speak for you, not your bike, your costume or your 'buffed and chiseled quadriceps.

A crit is probably a better 'learning' race..they are more compact, more eventful and you can often enter multiple fields on the same day if so inclined.. Some are a bit intimidated by the tight quarters you can encounter during multiple laps, but if you have good bike handling skills and are attentive, you'll survive. A road race, you may make your 'rookie mistake(s)" early in the race and end up riding the rest of the way alone, learning nothing more. In a crit, you can sometimes catch back on or team with some other ....riders...and chase back to the main group ....unlikely...but possible.
It's fun..do it..
Don Hanson
 

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Gnarly 928 said:
A crit is probably a better 'learning' race..they are more compact, more eventful and you can often enter multiple fields on the same day if so inclined.. Some are a bit intimidated by the tight quarters you can encounter during multiple laps, but if you have good bike handling skills and are attentive, you'll survive. A road race, you may make your 'rookie mistake(s)" early in the race and end up riding the rest of the way alone, learning nothing more. In a crit, you can sometimes catch back on or team with some other ....riders...and chase back to the main group ....unlikely...but possible.
It's fun..do it..
Don Hanson
Let me add a bit to that good advice. In many areas, clubs sponser "training crit" series which are geared toward learning, and provide even more of the above benefits. They're often on weekay nights, have cheaper entry fees than weekend races, have several self-selected levels (A, B, C) and have somewhat more informal rules. In particular, many allow you, if you get dropped, to sit out a lap and jump back on to the back of the field, thereby getting you more pack-riding practice even if you aren't able to hang with the field for more than a few laps at a time.
 

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Captain Obvious
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JCavilia said:
Let me add a bit to that good advice. In many areas, clubs sponser "training crit" series which are geared toward learning, and provide even more of the above benefits. They're often on weekay nights, have cheaper entry fees than weekend races, have several self-selected levels (A, B, C) and have somewhat more informal rules. In particular, many allow you, if you get dropped, to sit out a lap and jump back on to the back of the field, thereby getting you more pack-riding practice even if you aren't able to hang with the field for more than a few laps at a time.
from the few crits i've done, officials try to let riders keep racing unless lapped riders are causing a problem with the main group or scoring. so get out there and give it a go.
 
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