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All or Nothing Baby!!!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've just finished my first collegiate season and am left wishing I had done more to improve my crit performance. but the problem is that I'm not really sure how to train for crit racing. I started doing a lot of hill work the past month and i have noticed a big improvement. But this doesn't seem like it will really help with crits.

Any advice on specific training for improving my abilities in crits. I seem to struggle with just keeping the pace. I can finish mid-pack in an ITT, but when it comes to crits I'm off the back after 3/4 of the time.

Thanks!
 

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Banned forever.....or not
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When you say "improve", do you mean "improve" your head, or "improve" your body?
I know people who are TT aces, who are always hanging at the back of a crit.
If it's your body, you need to do "Crit intervals", where you stay in zone 4, except when you jump every 30 seconds, for 10. If it's your head, you need to do lots on Crits, to learn how to hold your "space", and how to take other rider's "spaces".
 

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chica cyclista
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Grumpy's right, you need to figure out if this is a mental or physical issue first. If I had a dollar for every TT "star" who's off the back / struggling in a crit, I'd be a wealthy woman.

First think back on your races. When you say you "struggle" does that mean you losing position on every corner due to people "infringing" on you, or did you hold on just fine until the pace got nuts (they jazzed it up a hill or there was a prime or some other kind of big acceleration)

Specifying that for starters will give the experts like Mr G. way more to work with. If it's physical condition, then VO2MAX intervals will get you a long way to there. Anyone here can describe them: they are the ones that will make you puke. If it's mental issues, then go play some bike polo with your dorm or frat buds, learn how to fall down and take contact, or put some downhill pads on and launch yourself off some drops. Either or both will get you a long way towards there. Riding 30mph at close quarters takes focus. you need to learn how to pay attention to what YOU need to do (move up, take that gap, get away from Captain Squirrelly there on the inner line, etc...) without letting it affect you or making you burn anymore matches than necessary. That takes some time and zen-like focus and concentration. The last rider I started (as a n00b coach) had it almost instantaneously, but many don't get it for several seasons. Bottom line: in a crit it's absolutely critical to pay attention to where you're going, not to all the screwed up bullshit going on around you. That'll do for starters.

me I just listen to some NIN and Gwar, chew on red hot nails then cuss out my mom before I hit the start line. Puts me in the right frame of mind everytime.
 

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short answer: find local weekly training races - most areas have these (and most are crit-like courses). It is really hard to simulate the efforts of crits doing solo intervals. Crit efforts are hard AND not standard periods or work/recovery. During them be as aggressive as you can - try to attack, get in breaks etc - even if it means you blow and need to take a lap off to recover and get back in.
 

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Technique is also important, learning to think ahead with your gearing (you know the jump is coming after the corner, downshift for it), and staying off the brakes. Do lots of crits and you will get better at it. A huge part of your pack position is your personal belief in where you belong. Do you belong in the front? Really?
 

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All or Nothing Baby!!!
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can't say it's just mental, or just physical. but I do know when I drop off the back it's usually because the pace increases on the last few laps and I'm so drained by the time I get there that I don't have anything left.

I get what you're saying about doing some interval type training in a 'very uncomfortable' zone. I'm going to start doing more of this. I have been focusing on hill work for our championship race, but now that that's over, I'm reflecting on where I need to improve the most (everywhere).
 

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Positioning is also critical during a crit. If you routinely stay at mid-pack or farther back, you're going to yo-yo, especially coming off of corners. Typically, gaps will occur farther back in the pack coming off a corner, and you're going to have to sprint to catch back on. That will wear you out and you will have nothing left by the end of the race. As someone else mentioned in another post, take advantage of practice crits and concentrate on trying to stay near the front.
 

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Gut-Wrenching...

austincrx said:
I can't say it's just mental, or just physical. but I do know when I drop off the back it's usually because the pace increases on the last few laps and I'm so drained by the time I get there that I don't have anything left.

I get what you're saying about doing some interval type training in a 'very uncomfortable' zone. I'm going to start doing more of this. I have been focusing on hill work for our championship race, but now that that's over, I'm reflecting on where I need to improve the most (everywhere).
Crits are, for me, a few critical "gut-wrenching" efforts combined with 'full attention', the rest of whole race. Unlike longer races where you'll 'dig deep' at times (but usually with the 'rest of the race' in mind), many crits call for all out total effort during the course of the race...If you do get spit out..you are usually done, so you have to give everything...Forget holding something in reserve for the rest of the race..There is no rest of the race if you don't hold on.

Paying full attention can reduce the number of all out, do or die efforts you need to make in crits. Experience helps..fewer mistakes mean fewer "Oh S**t! There they go!" efforts are needed.

Be especially watchful of gaps ahead. Look out for teams 'gapping' for their leaders benefit. Guys are really pretty good at that...It takes full attention to see what's up all around rather than just being focused on 'not losing the wheel just ahead of you' If you get behind a guy letting a small gap open each time...go around and don't let him take that place back..he'll just do the same again...working for his team leader and making you pay.

Focus. Keep in mind that you MUST work for that final second of the final lap..That is where the results are recorded..as you cross the line. If a 'move' during the race is not helping you towards crossing the line ahead of your competitors, it doesn't count.

Have fun with the crits..they are exciting and involved..

Don Hanson
 

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All or Nothing Baby!!!
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks Don and everyone.

I appreciate being able to ask seemingly dumb questions and getting good responses, not smart-arse ones. I'm going to do a local crit series here for improvement and practice just staying very near the front.

Truth be told, i have only done 2 crits. the first one of the season where I was injured and the last one of the season where I wore my self out during the road race the day before, and got only about 5 hrs. of sleep (typical for a college student). The first one I was fine in, stayed with it until they 'took off' with 3 laps to go and I was caught in the back and it seemed that the back half just said 'I don't feel like it' and I got stuck. The last one was crazy. it had 79 feet of climbing per lap in a .79 mile lap. needless to say, dropped immediately (too tired from the day before).
 

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What Would Google Do.
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do them and race as hard as you can for as long as you can, and you'll improve as get spat out the back and hang on for dear life.
 

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austincrx said:
I seem to struggle with just keeping the pace. I can finish mid-pack in an ITT, but when it comes to crits I'm off the back after 3/4 of the time.
I used to get my friend who owned a moped and one time a week he would lead me through curves in a industrial warehouse district away from the city limits. It was on the weekend and there was nobody around. The idea was that I would get used to drafting at incredible speeds. I built up the speed and was not fearful of the blind curves anymore.
 

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technique is hugely important in crits, right from the start. how many of you have lined up a few rows back, and have looked up after clipping in to see the front turninng the first corner already? then you chase for 4 laps just to get up front where you should have been from the start. a square crit course present 4 chances for some people to not sprint, and other to have to sprint like mad to stay on. which one will you be? cornering 4-wide is also important. controlling your position so that you get prime spot through corners, also essential. oh yeah, and after all that, crits can be quite areobic. do your intervals. I do what I call attack sprints: you go 2mins at 90%, then 30 secs at 100%. do this for 8mins, then 5 min rest. repeat 3-4 times
 
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