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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm doing my first crit on Sunday. 1.2 mile course with 3 curves and long straight away to finish. I saw one crit years ago so I'm not sure what to expect. My biggest questions are about the finish. Its only a 35 minute race, but how do you know when you are on the last lap?
 

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There will be a lap board counting down the last number of laps. Expect the countdown with 5 to go but, the race official will tell you when you are on the line just prior to start.

What they do is time the laps and get a feel for how long the laps are and then calculate laps to go for you. For example if you guys are doing 1 minute laps then 30 minutes in the lap board will show 5 to go...you'll get a bell on the last lap. Pay attention to where the board is and get used to looking at it when you come through the start finish. Easy to lose track if new. Even experienced guys lose track from time to time.
 

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They'll also ring a bell (usually). Of course, they do that for primes, too. Sooo... keep an eye on your time, an eye on the lap cards, and listen for the bell.

And if in doubt, get to the front!
 

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Usually the lap board counts minutes up. When it gets to 28-32, it will start counting laps down. They will say 3 to go, then 2 to go, and then ring a bell when it is one lap to go.
 

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Show up to the line warmed up (but not cooked). Short crits often go full-bore from the start, and you don't want to be shelled in the first five minutes. Stay towards the front, because you'll get caught up in the slinky effect in sharper turns and will be forced to bridge as riders let gaps open. The less matches you burn, the better.

If there's prime laps, make sure you know how many there are and keep count. Some race directors like to have one a couple laps from the end to break up the pack for the finish. If you're not with the guys that contested the prime that close to the end, don't expect them to sit up and wait for you.

Most of all- Protect your front wheel. Lay off the brakes in turns. Keep your skin intact. Have fun. Especially that last one.
 

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My beginner crit recommendations:

Like mentioned above show up warmed up and ready to go from the gun.

Sacrifice the sighting lap (walk the course or get there early enough to ride a few laps before the race before yours). Instead stage yourself before the finish (off the course) and wait till you think you can line up withe out the officials send you off to ride another lap. That way you start on the front line. Have you been practicing you crit starts? If no start doing that.

When the race starts make you goal to stay in the first 10 for the first 10 laps. Normal after 10 laps your going good and the race has settled down and you can actually start racing.
 

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It's the guy's first crit. It's just pedaling a bike. On a road. In circles. Not much to think about. Nothing to worry about. Have some beers the night before. Mix in some freaky good sex and show up relaxed and go with the flow. Have fun.
 

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It's the guy's first crit. It's just pedaling a bike. On a road. In circles. Not much to think about. Nothing to worry about. Have some beers the night before. Mix in some freaky good sex and show up relaxed and go with the flow. Have fun.
Wiser words have ne'er been spoken on your first race. There are three possible outcomes in one's first cat5 race:

1. you lap the field (...multiple times) and realize you should have started competing when you were 12 (or maybe not, it's a tough life)
2. you find that you don't really like the competitive side of the sport
3. you place somewhere mid-pack and want to do better. Now it's time to start fine tuning things.

So, how did it go? Finish with rubber side down hopefully!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I raced a cat 4/5 race as my first race. No age classes. Short race, 35 minutes over a 1.2 mile course, so there were only 8-10 laps. I hung with everyone for the first 2 1/2 laps and then could not keep up the pace. Someone else dropped off and we rode together most of the remaining race. Finished something like 39/50. Wasn't happy with my sprint finish but chalk it up to experience. At 63, I guess I can't complain too much.
 

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Wiser words have ne'er been spoken on your first race. There are three possible outcomes in one's first cat5 race:

1. you lap the field (...multiple times) and realize you should have started competing when you were 12 (or maybe not, it's a tough life)
2. you find that you don't really like the competitive side of the sport
3. you place somewhere mid-pack and want to do better. Now it's time to start fine tuning things.

So, how did it go? Finish with rubber side down hopefully!
You forgot the most likely option:

you get dropped and ride around until you're caught or pulled.
 

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Finished something like 39/50. Wasn't happy with my sprint finish but chalk it up to experience. At 63, I guess I can't complain too much.
I'm of the opinion that you don't sprint when you're dropped from the group. Others disagree, but you do something stupid in a sprint for 30th, and that's an issue. At that point you're not really racing as the race is gone.
 

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While I agree that if you're racing P/1 or any category where you are dropped after completing your assigned a role to support the team, no sense in risking a crash for zero tangible gain. Heck, might as well just DNF in those situations if it isn't a stage race. Especially as a 5, though, there is benefit to practicing everything in a race situation - fliers, chasing breaks, sprinting for 30th. Those early races are the opportunity to learn the skills, hopefully not at the cost of your or someone else's skin.
 

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You forgot the most likely option:

you get dropped and ride around until you're caught or pulled.
Yup, that's what happened to me in my first race, got dropped hard on lap 2.
Caught a few of the other dropees. Ended up with a DNF because some dopey kid was sucking my wheel in our pathetic peloton of 2 and wound up touching my rear wheel, and predictably spilled. My RN instincts kicked in and I circled back to help.
 

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I've gotten dropped so many times... Normally not a big deal in crits as you just duck out at a corner. Problems arise at bigger crits with barriers lining the road and throngs of people (usually drunk) that laugh and point and heckle. That's embarrassing.

Road races can be awful if you're still a long ways from home, though. Can make for a long, mentally-tortuous ride back to the car.
 

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While I agree that if you're racing P/1 or any category where you are dropped after completing your assigned a role to support the team,
Haha. That doesn't happen at the amateur level very often/ever.

And even at PRT races, if the dudes doing the work are so blown they get dropped, it's usually with only a lap or two to go and the field is likely shattered as well.

If you're not being paid really well to do the job and you're on the front going so hard you get dropped as soon as you pull off, you should reexamine what the hell you're doing on the front in the first place! That's no good!
 
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