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I have done 4 Cat 5 crits this year (as well as several road races). Most of the crits have been crash fests. I had my first crash in one of the crits when several riders went down in front of me leaving me nowhere to go. In yesterdays crit, there were 3 different crashes in the Cat 5 race. From what I can tell, its mostly from people just doing stupid things. Get a flat in the middle of the pack and immediately pull to the side thus taking out people around him, or swerving to avoid the dot on the road or small pothole. I know its not called "Crash 5s" for nothing, but do 4s get any better? Are the Masters 35+ safer, since hopefully we all recognize that most of us have to go to work come Monday? I am not going to claim that I'm the strongest rider, but its hard to think about putting my nose up in the middle of the pack when I know that the likelihood of someone doing something dumb to take people out is pretty damn high. I know, stay in the front, but that is easier said than done. It seems like most of the trouble happens at the border between the front 1/3 and the next 1/3, as riders are moving up and back in those positions. It would be great to just get to the front and stay there, but I know I don't honestly have that in me. I race because its fun, but I'm a 38 year old father/husband, so there are things that are more important to worry about. Maybe this is nothing more than a useless rant, but as I think about doing more racing, I'd like to hope that the 4s are a little safer. Thoughts?
 

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Depends I have seen super safe but hard as heck masters 35+ but you also run into stuff like this weekend one guy (a very experienced former pro) grapped another guys (also former pro) helmet in one of the last turns in an attempt to get an advantage going into the sprint, no one went down but it wasn't fun to be behind. I wouldn't say the masters are completely safe but it does seem like people know how to react to the stupid stuff better.
 

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Maybe a little. The masters race will be a little safer than 4's from what I've observed, though you will be racing against guys in categories above yours (you have to at least be a 4 to race masters, also). In that sense, master's races are like women's racing where they often make all of the categories compete with each other (since the local race fields are smaller). Trial by fire for the beginner, but you can learn a lot from racing with more experienced riders.
 

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generally, the faster the race, the safer.
that's a pretty rash generality, but I think it's true enough. if everyone is lined out instead of bunched up, then there is less chance of a problem. It's usually not the initial miscue but the reaction that is the problem. Masters (generally) are at least as fast (very often faster) and generally are more experienced and react better to disturbances in the force I mean the pack than 4's or even 3's.
Cat 5's are often safer than 4's because the fields are smaller. 3/4 races in my experience are among the worst -- you have guys with really good legs, but the spectrum of experience is pretty vast -- with new 4's to lifer 3's. 3/4 is actually not very different from straight 4 races, although the straight 4 races seem maybe a tad safer; maybe the experience spectrum is a little narrower.
you pays your money; you takes your chances.
 

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It depends on the course. On your typical crit course with wide turns, you will find cat 5's crashing on the straightaways. You'll find Cat 4's crashing in the turns when attacks are going on, and you'll find Masters crashing on the bell lap, trying to get that final advantage before the final turn.
I had a very technical crit yesterday where there were crashes in just about every field. Turn #3 went from a wide road to a narrow parkway. There was also a downhill zigzag after the start finish line. People ate it in both locations because it was pretty hard to go two wide through the areas. Two people crashed in my race. One of them departed in the meat wagon.
 

· Cpark
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Andrea138,
Wow, crash in the women's race? Now, that doesn't happen too often.
Hope you were not involved in it.

I don't think there is a whole lot of difference in cat 4 and 5 but I'm not 100% sure since I never raced in a cat 5 race. Yes, I'm an old timer, there was no cat 5 when I started back in 80's.
I do find the master's race to be far more predictable than cat 3 or 4 race but that's my opinion.
 

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cpark said:
Andrea138,
Wow, crash in the women's race? Now, that doesn't happen too often.
Hope you were not involved in it.

I don't think there is a whole lot of difference in cat 4 and 5 but I'm not 100% sure since I never raced in a cat 5 race. Yes, I'm an old timer, there was no cat 5 when I started back in 80's.
I do find the master's race to be far more predictable than cat 3 or 4 race but that's my opinion.
I wasn't in that wreck (though that is one of my teammates laying on the ground playing dead so that Laura van Gilder won't eat her).

Yeah, women get tangled up occasionally- the wrecks in big P1/2 women's races happen about as often as the P1/2 men's races, and they're usually caused by excess speed into corners or handlebars getting tangled (or some girl wanting to get on the wheel in front of you and elbowing you into a curb). At the local level, wrecks are usually due to bike handling errors (since the categories often all race together) but aren't as common because the fields are usually smaller.
 

· No Crybabies
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older = safer

First of all, crits must the most dangerous form or cycling, short of X Games, there is. Won't do it any more.

I find that there is a much greater difference in safety between under 35 and over 35 racing than between the Cats. After all, the only difference between a 28 year old being a 4 or a 1 is just going faster. But, people, as they get older, tend to value not breaking bones more. They have been hurt before, know it hurts, know it may mean lost work, know they will have spouses yelling at them (again), and just won't do as much stupid crap or put up with anyone else doing stupid crap.

Last spring, on a 65 mile hilly road race, masters 45+ 4/5, there was one guy constantly moving up and back, back and forth, just a total dumbass. So, a few of use discussed it, then I pulled up next to him and calmly told him that he was riding erratically, and everyone would appreciate it if he would ride more steadily. He calmed a little, pulled a few times, then dropped out half way. Everyone else was happy. That's how we do it in the masters.

I've seen plenty of dumbass stuff in every Cat, though. Now that I think about, how often were there stupid crashed in the TdF? Not the kind where they are cornering at 40 mph, but just riding along and someone clips a wheel and takes out 5 people. Kids.

;-)
 

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Either you're racing, or you're not racing. If you don't sometimes put yourself in danger, then you're not racing, and you should stay back and let the racers sprint it out.
On the other hand, once you get fit, cat 5 races can be rather easy. Just let the idiots take monster pulls while you sit 10 back. If you can hold that place, you've got a ticket for a top five placing.

Remember, you can only die once, and compound fractures do heal.
 
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For me the 4's were worse than the 5's. Bigger field limits, and more people who feel like they should contest at the end because there are now points on the line. The 3's are where it starts to get better. Masters are definitely safer, but often times are as fast the 1-2 with all the former pros in the race.
 

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Some people crash well, others don't. Doesn't matter what category they are in. The Red guy must be some sort of moron. He should have lifted his front end and rode over the guys bike. He would have still crashed, but the damages to himself would have been less. Almost looks like a rookie screw up.

PS If he had held on to the bars, his back would have slamed into the other guys legs and bike. Busted leg for mister Yellow, and maybe a busted rib for mister Red.
 

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MR_GRUMPY said:
It depends on the course. On your typical crit course with wide turns, you will find cat 5's crashing on the straightaways. You'll find Cat 4's crashing in the turns when attacks are going on, and you'll find Masters crashing on the bell lap, trying to get that final advantage before the final turn.
I had a very technical crit yesterday where there were crashes in just about every field. Turn #3 went from a wide road to a narrow parkway. There was also a downhill zigzag after the start finish line. People ate it in both locations because it was pretty hard to go two wide through the areas. Two people crashed in my race. One of them departed in the meat wagon.
Grumpy, sounds like we were at the same race again. Fun course, but that chicane was downright nasty! FWIW there was no crash in the 5's or over 30 race. Every other field had one.

In my personal experience, there are more crashes in 4/5 races than in the 5's. But, the 3's crash more often and HARDER than anybody. I attribute that to the longer races... In a 20 minute Cat. 5 race, you just don't see the same mind numbing fatigue that you do in a longer 4/5 or 3's race.

I know that when I make it to 3's, I'll probably swith exclusively to masters (which seem to be a lot faster, but also smoother).
 

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32and3cross said:
Depends I have seen super safe but hard as heck masters 35+ but you also run into stuff like this weekend one guy (a very experienced former pro) grapped another guys (also former pro) helmet in one of the last turns in an attempt to get an advantage going into the sprint, no one went down but it wasn't fun to be behind. I wouldn't say the masters are completely safe but it does seem like people know how to react to the stupid stuff better.
At 6'2", 225# I haven't had anyone pull any stunts like this. There's no place for crap like this in racing.
 
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