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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This past Monday evening, I finally got up the nerve to enter my first crit, which was a pretty low-key opportunity for first-timers and Cat 5s (no Cat 4s) to go head to head. It was a complete blast, and I want to thank this board for all of the advice handed down. I kept my strategy pretty simple, but in hindsight, I can see where everyone's pearls of wisdom can have relevance.

As for the race itself, my main goal was to avoid crashing, so I stayed up front (never more than fourth wheel back) the entire race. Unfortunately, that meant pulling more than I should have and I was fairly gassed at the end. Nevertheless, I finished third behind two guys who sat in the entire race. I am fairly certain that second would have been mine if I had saved a little more energy. The guy jumped by me at about 100 meters and got a two bike length lead, but I managed to reel him back for a photo finish (a little more than a tire width). First might also have been possible, but the guy won by a full bike length and probably backed off a little at the end.

One race obviously doesn't make me a veteran, but here are a few afterthoughts and questions:

-- It's not always safe up front. I was second wheel coming out of a wide turn and into a fairly long straightaway. The lead guy pulled for about 50 meters and apparently didn't like the headwind, so he decides to fall back. But rather than pulling off at speed, he hits his brakes and then moves over into my front wheel. I managed to stay upright, but it was a close call. After having a few words with him, the guy fell back and I never saw him again.

-- As many have warned, watch out for the squirrels and keep them behind you if at all possible. Staying too far up front may have cost me the race, but there were some tight turns, including a four corner combination that created a lot of traffic and anxious situations for those in the middle and back. Based on the post-race chatter, I am quite glad I raced as I did. No one went down, but there were many, many close calls--some people just can turn for $hit and get very tense and nervous.

-- Don't overthink these beginner races or give your competition too much credit. As noted above, I tried to keep my strategy simple, but there were times when I regretfully second-guessed myself. One guy went off the front about mid-way through the race, and those of us who were up front decided to let him dangle. The gap eventually started closing on its own, and then one of his teammates jumped and bridged. I started thinking of various race reports and advice on this board and talked one of my teammates into reeling them back in. So we go to the front and do a fair amount of work (mostly me), and the next thing I know a third teammate of the break guys takes over and closes the last 50 meters or so. I quickly realized they didn't know what the hell they were doing and that I wasted a fair amount of energy snuffing a threat that didn't exist.

-- There isn't a lot of teamwork at this level, but if you are on a team, at least talk a little beforehand and during the race to get a sense of the team's strengths and weaknesses. Don't expect much, but a little coordination could make a difference. My team didn't do this, and in hindsight I think that's why an independent stole the win. He just sat back at about 4th-6th wheel the entire race and watched the two larger teams work against each other. During the last few laps I tried to talk the guys up front (including some of my teammates) into forcing him to pull, but to no avail. Props to the guy for a smart race, but a little coordination on our part would probably have made a difference.

-- Be careful throwing your bike at the line. I had been warned about this, but with the fatigue and excitement of a sprint finish, my knees were a little wider than they should have been and I threw the bike so far that I nearly went off the back. I actually felt in control and didn't wobble in the slightest, so it wasn't too disconcerting, but it did surprise me a little.

Thanks again to all
 

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hehe.. I'm sure your rear tire would eat right through you shorts at speed. :eek: Ouch!

Henry V said:
-- Be careful throwing your bike at the line. I had been warned about this, but with the fatigue and excitement of a sprint finish, my knees were a little wider than they should have been and I threw the bike so far that I nearly went off the back. I actually felt in control and didn't wobble in the slightest, so it wasn't too disconcerting, but it did surprise me a little.

Thanks again to all
 

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Good Job

Henry V said:
As for the race itself, my main goal was to avoid crashing, so I stayed up front (never more than fourth wheel back) the entire race. Unfortunately, that meant pulling more than I should have and I was fairly gassed at the end.

SNIP

He just sat back at about 4th-6th wheel the entire race and watched the two larger teams work against each other. During the last few laps I tried to talk the guys up front (including some of my teammates) into forcing him to pull, but to no avail. Props to the guy for a smart race, but a little coordination on our part would probably have made a difference.
Couple quick observations.

Why did you pull at all when you came to the front you should have immediately pulled off dropped back and worked you way into 4-6th wheel there is not reason to sit ath the front.

Which leads me to my next comment there is no way to make someone pull if you were for example pull off and leave me on the front I would simple slow down to the point of stopping pedaling entirely if need be to make someone come around me. People will occationally get bent out of shape that you won't "work" but every effort you make in a race should have a purpose and that puprose should not be to help anyone else do well, unless its a teammate (even then chasing usually a wast of energy someone else will usually do it for you, and if they don't - bridge, don't chase).
 

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Teams in a Cat 5 race....? And you say that an independent "stole" the win? Considering there were teams in this race, he was at a definite disadvantage and should not be characterized as stealing a win. How many of you folks see teams in Cat 5 races? That is a new one to me...
 

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HokiePride said:
Teams in a Cat 5 race....? And you say that an independent "stole" the win? Considering there were teams in this race, he was at a definite disadvantage and should not be characterized as stealing a win. How many of you folks see teams in Cat 5 races? That is a new one to me...
Every race I do over in Northern VA.

http://www.bikereg.com/events/conflist.asp?ID=3510&z=1#8
NCVC, Whole Wheel, POWER.

The wait list is almost 30 deep now for Cat 5!


The Richmond race I just went to had about 10 riders on the same time.

RFK race is a little more spread on the teams : http://www.bikereg.com/events/conflist.asp?ID=3181&z=1#3
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
32and3: This was my first race and I made a number of mistakes, but I still finished third and learned a lot in the process, so I didn't screw up too badly. As I said, my main goal was to stay upright, which is why I stayed toward the front. I could tell from some of the talk and noise behind me that there was some scary, sketchy riding going on, and I think the eventual winner had to brave some of this in order to save himself for the sprint. I might try to sit back more the next time, but during my first time out, I wanted nothing to do with guys who couldn't hold their line through corners. FWIW, I worked a fair amount on my cornering before even thinking seriously about racing. Somewhat to my amazement, I was able to pedal through tight corners where most others couldn't hold their line even without pedaling.

As for being at the front and pulling, that generally happened at the beginning and middle of the race when there was a guy off the front. I worked it out with a couple of other guys, not all of whom were on my team, to trade off and keep the break in check. Later, when things came back together, I sat back much more, which is why I had something left at the end. Would I have done things differently in hindsight? Probably, but once again, self preservation was foremost in my mind.

Hokiepride: Perhaps this is just semantics, but I loosely use the word "steal" when someone wins who probably shouldn't. And I don't mean it as something negative. In my view, the guy played the two biggest teams very well and deserved the win. It's just that under the circumstances I think we let this one get away, considering that he didn't just take off and leave everyone in the dust.

As for Cat 5 teams, I am also using the word "team" fairly loosely. We had a handful of guys in the same race who happened to be wearing the same jersey, and, as I pointed out, we failed to talk at all in advance of the race and only very sporadically during the race. One of our guys got dropped before the mid-way point and ended up getting lapped, and two of our guys sat back in the pack until the end and didn't want to do much of anything. That left me and one other guy to try and do a little coordination, but he wasn't all that strong near the end and, on the whole, we pretty much sucked anyway at team tactics. Such is life.
 
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