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Racers,
I've been riding for a few years and I'm signed up for my first race this weekend. It's a Cat5 (obviously) crit set for 20min+2...and I have no idea what to expect, so here come my quesions. First, what does "+2" mean? Do racers generally bring their trainers to warm up before the race starts? 20 mins is short...do you guys strip your bikes of water bottles, and other unncessary items for a crit if your crit bike is also your training, racing, recreational, etc bike? if you get lapped, are you out of the race?

of course, i don't plan to win or even to do that well...just finishing on 2 wheels is my goal. what else am i forgetting to ask?...i'm sure i will learn a lot come sunday.

thanks for any advice you can offer
 
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Expect to get your but handed to you.

That's what happened to me when I did my first race. It was a 2.5 mile circuit, 10 laps. I got lapped on the fourth lap by a guy on a breakaway. To add insult to injury when he passed he told me to hook on. He was trying to be nice but all I could say was "If I could hook on, I wouldn't be in this position". I dropped out one lap later. What made me mad was that I dropped out at the start/finish right before the rest of the field was about to lap me and 5 other guys dropped out right after. They just didn't want to be the first ones.

Long story short, unless you've been racking up serious miles at a serious training pace...expect the worst.
 

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gnauss said:
That's what happened to me when I did my first race. It was a 2.5 mile circuit, 10 laps. I got lapped on the fourth lap by a guy on a breakaway. To add insult to injury when he passed he told me to hook on. He was trying to be nice but all I could say was "If I could hook on, I wouldn't be in this position". I dropped out one lap later. What made me mad was that I dropped out at the start/finish right before the rest of the field was about to lap me and 5 other guys dropped out right after. They just didn't want to be the first ones.

Long story short, unless you've been racking up serious miles at a serious training pace...expect the worst.
You are not allowed to hook on and he is not allowed to use you to draft.
 

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marc180 said:
Racers,
I've been riding for a few years and I'm signed up for my first race this weekend. It's a Cat5 (obviously) crit set for 20min+2...and I have no idea what to expect, so here come my quesions. First, what does "+2" mean? Do racers generally bring their trainers to warm up before the race starts? 20 mins is short...do you guys strip your bikes of water bottles, and other unncessary items for a crit if your crit bike is also your training, racing, recreational, etc bike? if you get lapped, are you out of the race?

of course, i don't plan to win or even to do that well...just finishing on 2 wheels is my goal. what else am i forgetting to ask?...i'm sure i will learn a lot come sunday.

thanks for any advice you can offer
20mins+2 laps. Alot of people do bring their trainers. 20 mins+2 laps sounds like it will be nothing but a sprint fest the whole way.

Anything less than 45 minutes I strip the stuff.. I'd never have time anyways to refuel. Plus I'm used to riding for an hour without a recharge.

Lapped - yes - probably out of the bike race, they'll call you off the course. just stay wide of everyone and don't interfere (or get safely off the course and ride back to the start/finish and get off). I've been lapped twice on a small field of 8 riders.. so we were allowed to stay out and at least ride. But other courses that are full will pull you for safety reasons (even if you are about to get lapped).

Get involved with some group rides too.. it really helps for practice.
 

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bas said:
You are not allowed to hook on and he is not allowed to use you to draft.
You can draft the leader, he just cannot draft you. - TF
 

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+2 means plus 2 laps, you race for 20 minutes then 2 laps.

yes, bring your trainer, especially for a 20 min crit, it will be fast from the get go and probably won't slow down much, you don't warm up well and you are toast.

No water needed, no repair kits, etc. If you have a spare set of wheels, put them in the wheel pit, most races give you a free lap (prob not in the last 2) if you get a flat, allowing you to hustle over to the wheel pit, change out, then get back on. Check with the promoter about a wheel pit. Forget about changing a tube.

lapped riders are sometimes pulled, sometimes not, depends on teh promoter, they will inform you at the start, or ask. If you allowed to continue after fallling off, be aware of the pack catching up to you and slow down and pull over to the side and allow them to pass... you're done, let them pass and go safely. Do NOT enter a corner or similar technical area ahead of the pack, they may catch you and it will be dangerous.

Good, don't plan on winning, you probably won't, and don't feel bad about getting dropped, chances are good that you will. Most peeps do their first race, some their first few. It takes conditioning, both physical and mental, to be able to hold on with the group. Keep training, keep practicing riding with large groups, keep entering races, and you will be able to hold on, sonner or later. Then you can worry about winning! Plus, wins in cat 5 don't mean anything as far as USAC is concerned, though it feels good.

Best advice I can give is RIDE SAFELY. Ride predictably, don't make sudden moves laterally or by breaking, don't worry if you get close to other riders or bumped a bit as you can ride it out (you'll be surprized how much of a hit you can take and still stay upright and straight if you just lean a bit and ride it out!), don't overreact to thigs, and do not look at an accident occuring to your side and DO NOT look behind you at one either!Be really carefull as you start to get tired, as that is when we tend to make mistakes.

Dropped or not, you will have fun. Even if you are dropped on the first lap, you can learn something... what gear to start in, how quickly things start out, what it's like to ride with 50 other people even if it's for only 1 lap, what it's like to realize that you are falling off the back..... also, watch the other riders. How do they corner, ride together, and communicate. See a "sketchy" rider? Learn from him, what is he doing, why, and how do I not do that myself? Do I do that myself?

Dude, there are a ton of threads here that you can glean info from. Start reading them.

Enjoy the experience, and be safe.
 

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TurboTurtle said:
You can draft the leader, he just cannot draft you. - TF

I was completely unaware of that. I thought you had to stear clear of the race.

Anyways, thanks for the correction, I know you've been racing for quite sometime.
 

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The "trainer" warm up is needed if 1) there isn't any good roads to warm up on, or 2) It's so friggin' cold, that you don't want to get that icy blast in your face before the race starts.
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I always take 1/2 a bottle, just in case my mouth gets dry.
 

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bas said:
You are not allowed to hook on and he is not allowed to use you to draft.
TurboTurtle said:
You can draft the leader, he just cannot draft you. - TF
I'd recommend reading the rulebook, which for USCF races can be found here: http://www.usacycling.org/forms/USCF_Rulebook.pdf

Then you'd know things like this:
3D4. Riders on different laps may work with each other except that no rider may drop back to assist a rider who has broken away from the field [disqualification for accepting such assistance].

Meaning so long as lapped riders are not pulled, riders on different laps can work together however they choose.
 

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Lapped riders in criteriums and circuit races

TurboTurtle said:
bas said:
You are not allowed to hook on and he is not allowed to use you to draft.
You can draft the leader, he just cannot draft you. - TF
Not quite. It depends on whether this was a criterium or a circuit race.

In a criterium, riders on different laps are allowed to work together (that means either rider may draft off the other).

In a circuit race, riders must act as if the race where run on a point to point course (instead of a laps of a shorter course), and can not work together at all.

This is all explained in the USCF rulebook.
 

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hold your line

the best advice I can offer is to hold your line on corners. 50 guys will be going around the same corner at the same time. pick a line and stay on it, and if everyone else does that as well, you all stay on your wheels.

oh yeah, anticipate hard acceleration out of the corners. if you don't anticipate, you will get gapped, and it takes alot of energy to close every time
 

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"oh yeah, anticipate hard acceleration out of the corners"
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Often soon before the corner. (One or two riders can go through a corner, quicker than a pack) In a Cat 5 race, this tactic can cause a crash in the pack, because everybody else will want to go through the turn at the same time. This will rarely happen in a Cat 3 race because.............they are just smarter.
 

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Hold your line!

bauerb said:
the best advice I can offer is to hold your line on corners. 50 guys will be going around the same corner at the same time. pick a line and stay on it, and if everyone else does that as well, you all stay on your wheels.
While what you say is of course true, the initial problem is that many newbies have no idea what the line through the corner is to begin with. Many new racers are neither experienced with riding in large tight groups, nor are they experienced in finding the fast, smooth line in the corners. Instead, they are used to being able to take any line they feel like in corners - which, as you say, can lead to problems if everybody tries to take their own line.

We often hear people yelling "hold your line" in corners. But I'm not sure that really registers with newbies, because as far as they know, they are staying on their own line. The problem is that their line isn't the same as everybody else's. As you say, the key for a large, tight group to get through a corner is for all the riders to hold to the same line through the corner. If you're going to yell anything at the newbies, it might better be something like "hold on to everybody else's line!"

At our club's "Intro to Racing" clinics, we often have new racers who are afraid to corner as hard and tight as others. What we tell them is to remember that, if the rider in front of them made it through the corner on a given line and at a given speed, they can too. That way, as long as the riders in front pick a good, fast line through the corner, everybody else should be able to follow them through it. (And usually the riders in the front got there because they are good at finding the right line through the corner.)
 

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What line is there in a pack of people doing 4-5 wide in a corner? :confused:

I had to slow up cuz the guy in front was slowing up and cutting the corner.. (maybe because someone else in front of him was jerking around).

oh well

Mark McM said:
We often hear people yelling "hold your line" in corners. But I'm not sure that really registers with newbies, because as far as they know, they are staying on their own line. The problem is that their line isn't the same as everybody else's. As you say, the key for a large, tight group to get through a corner is for all the riders to hold to the same line through the corner. If you're going to yell anything at the newbies, it might better be something like "hold on to everybody else's line!"

At our club's "Intro to Racing" clinics, we often have new racers who are afraid to corner as hard and tight as others. What we tell them is to remember that, if the rider in front of them made it through the corner on a given line and at a given speed, they can too. That way, as long as the riders in front pick a good, fast line through the corner, everybody else should be able to follow them through it. (And usually the riders in the front got there because they are good at finding the right line through the corner.)
 

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I like the trainer...it's a much more controlled warmup.

tips: get there early...an hour and a half at least. Do about 30-40 minutes on the trainer with a few short hard efforts. Try to line up at the front for the start and be in your big chainring and about a 16 in back. Follow the wheel in front around the turns and trust the others to do the same. Plan on sprinting out of each turn. take a small water bottle half filled in case you swallow a fly or something. When it starts to go fast remember that it WILL slow down. Never ride at the front. If you do win do not raise your hands. Remember it will get easier.
 

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Mark McM said:
Not quite. It depends on whether this was a criterium or a circuit race.

In a criterium, riders on different laps are allowed to work together (that means either rider may draft off the other).

In a circuit race, riders must act as if the race where run on a point to point course (instead of a laps of a shorter course), and can not work together at all.

This is all explained in the USCF rulebook.
"It was a 2.5 mile circuit, 10 laps." It "should be" (per rules) a crit. - TF
 

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Discussion Starter #17
good suggestions...

wow...good suggestions everyone. thanks! so...how do i determine "the line"? i feel like that will come naturally, but maybe not. any tips?
 

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Course length

TurboTurtle said:
"It was a 2.5 mile circuit, 10 laps." It "should be" (per rules) a crit. - TF
The rules specify that circuit race courses "should be at least 5 kilometers per lap" but that isn't always a hard and fast rule. For example, the Silver City Flyer is run on a 1.8 mile (2.9 km) course, but is run under circuit race rules. Another example is the John Fitch Circuit Race stage of the Fitchburg-Longsjo Stage Race (a major national calendar race), which is run on a 3 mile (4.8 km) course.

At 2.5 miles, that would be a very long criterium course. It could very well have been run as a road race (circuit race).
 

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It was run as a circuit race. The 2.5 mile loop consisted of a few small rollers with a climb right before the start finish.
 
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