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I assume you are racing in a combined 4/5 masters? It won't be nearly as crash-prone or as "physical" as some might lead you to believe. In my limited experience, masters seem more sensible.

A dose of reality- make it your goal to stay with the pack and simply finish and you'll do just fine. Pick a wheel and stay on it... if he loses his wheel, pass him. It is your first race- you really won't be able to really be "competitive" until you know what to look for.

Don't look at your speed- and whatever you do, don't look at your heartrate while racing- you'll go mental. You'll find you can do things in a race that you've never done before.

Remember that when you are hurting, everyone else is also hurting.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
The constant yelling of "Hold your line!" is not that productive, but letting people know that you are near them is. Some will complain about this, but so what. At least they know where you are and are therefore less likely to cut you off, etc.

Or more likely!:

"On your left."

"Thanks! Now I don't have to look!" (Wham!)
 

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jcpreuss said:
Okay, 38-years-old, in tip-top shape, ready to rage, going into my first Cat5 crit. My TT speeds are consitently in the 25 mph neighborhood, so I think I should have the legs here. I've already been told Cat5 crits are pretty much chaos...but you gotta start somewhere. My wife is scared to death...thinks I'm going to end up squished. In an effort to minimize that reality...any tips on strategy to stay upright and hopefully competitive?
In my experience, the race to the starting line is one of the most important parts of a crit with a large field. You want to be in the front row if possible, and you want to be able to get off of the line and to the front of the field quickly. Get used to engaging your pedals and starting off the line quickly. I start seated in the saddle with one toe on the ground and the opposite pedal at about 1:00.

Also, its worth noting that crits usually have three parts -- the first third of the crit is balls out. Just hang in there and try to stay up front, and don't blow yourself up.. Things usually settle after a bit, and the pace gets more consistent. This is the second part. Then, towards the end, things get unruly again and the pace livens as people try to position themselves for the finish. In this part of the race, I try to always be on a wheel that is moving forward!
 

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I agree, If you can go masters

I race both Cat4/5 and 40+ Masters. In many of the small races around here they put the masters with the Cat 1,2,3 guys. You can see and feel the difference of riding with that group from the first moment. It is a much smoother, but tougher crowd. Much less of a risk of you going down unless you cause the problem yourself.

If you can TT at 25 you should be able to stay in the front field for the majority of the race.

But, don't expect to win in that field. (don't expect to win in either group on your first race)They will beat you in the sprints. Always maintain a reserve, it's easy to get left behind flapping in the wind in that field. They can jump and be gone before you know what happened. Then you will be left doing a TT again.

I always get tromped in that field but always feel I learned something new in each and every race. The other thing I noticed is the really good riders are only out training in these small races. I've had them drop back and pull me back up when I have fallen off. It's a social ride for them until the last mile or two, then all I see are back sides.

Do the Cat 4/5 races when you need an ego boost. With your speed you can place or even win once you have a little experienced. You won't learn nearly as much in these and you have to keep your eyes open for the unexpected, but you stand a chance of going home and telling the wife you won, verse explaining why you keep on doing those silly races and never winning.

I
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
It's the cleating in on the free pedal that has me the most worried....seems if you miss it the first time, you're toast.
 

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jcpreuss said:
It's the cleating in on the free pedal that has me the most worried....seems if you miss it the first time, you're toast.
This is precisely the reason that I prefer speedplay pedals. The double-sided, easy engagement, is really helpful in crits.

Since you are familiar with motorsports, I'll add one more suggestion. Depending on the corners, you have to decide whether you want to steer (front wheel turned into turn) or countersteer (front wheel turned away from direction of turn) through the turns. When you steer, your bike remains more upright, and your body is positioned inside of the bike (seat against outside thigh, nose over inside hook, right arm relatively straight, but still bent at elbow and relaxed, right hand in hook feathering rear brake when necessary) and you should be able to pedal all the way through the turns at a consistent speed, and thereby avoid the"accordion" effect of slowing and reaccelerating out of every turn.

If it's wet definitely try to steer through corners while pedaling all the time -- if your rear tire slips out from under you, you have a better chance of making a correction and staying upright if force is being applied to the pedals and rear wheel, and the tire can re-engage the road surface.

Of course, for some exceedingly fast turns, a countersteered turn may be preferable. You'll have to feel it out. Obviously, when doing a fast countersteered turn, your inside crankarm must be up, or you'll catch your pedal on the road and go flying. Unless you have impeccable timing, I'd recommend not trying to pedal all the way through a countersteered turn.

Gear selection is also important. Favor a bigger (easier) cog over a smaller one. Spin more, shift BEFORE going into corners, and anticipate the gear you will want on EXITING the turn. If you chose too big of a gear, you will waste your legs quickly while accelerating.

In regard to contact, keep your elbws and arms relaxed, and if you get in a tight spot, get your weight off of the seat, and place your body between your bike and the rider causing the problem. If there are squirley riders on both sides of you, open up your elbows really wide and use them to protect your handlebars. Try not to take either of your hands off of the bars in such a situation.

And finally, here are the rules that no one will tell you about.

(1) if you hear a crash behind you, accelerate hard and ride away as fast as possible. You do not want to be part of the pile, and you do not want to be gapped. It ain't the Tour de France, and there will be an attack as the riders in front try to gap those behind the crash.

(2) If you are behind a crash, and there is no freelap rule, find daylight and try to catch back on. There's not much else you can do. Unless you are with a strong group, or you are superman, your day may very well be over! For such ocassions, I suggest BEER!


(As an aside: Crits with no free lap rule suck! If you get a flat tire on lap 1, you're done and you're out a sizeable entry fee for nothing! Aside No. 2, write your name in permanent marker on the sidewalls of your tires, on all your wheelsets, and bring wheel cards to identify your wheels quickly when they are in the pit. This allows fast wheel changes. Finally, get your wheels out of the pit immediately after the race!, on more than a few occassions, I've seen *******s try to walk away with someone else's wheels after a race).

(3) If you are behind a crash and there is a free lap rule, STOP immediately, put your foot down on the ground (this is important), go directly to the wheel pit (strt/finish), do not equivocate, and say "I'm here for my free lap!" If asked whether you crashed -- you had to stop and you came out of your pedals! While in the pit, drink and recover! Free laps are free rests! Take them!

(4) After a free lap, you will do an assisted time trial start (both pedals engaged, pit mechanic or official holding you upright) from the wheel pit. Make sure that you are in a manageable gear! The official should release you just as the front of the field is passing, so you can join the field at approximately the same point where you were before the crash. If he waits until the back of the field is passing before releasing you, you won't get back on. If he gives you a hard time and doesn't release you in time, do a lap, go back to the pit, and ask him if he can do it again, "this time, the right way." Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

(5) And now, the most cynical rule of self -preservation: If you are going to crash, it is a lot more comfortable, and a lot easier on the body and bike, to land on top of another rider (preferably a big one) rather than on the pavement! This does not mean that you should go out of your way to knock someone down just beause you are going down! Enough said about this one!

Go have fun and stay upright.
 

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hmm at speeds above anything like 15, you're countersteering regardless of whether your put more lean on the bike or lay your body more into the turn. so a 90 degree turn at 27 mph is always negotiated by rotating your wheel away from the turn... there's several different methods of weighting your bike/creating pivot points that are effective, but the mechanism is the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Help me with counter-steering...in a race car, it would be refer to getting the nose down and pointed in and almost man-handling, or drifting out of the corner. This entails a fair amount of wheels slip and you must carry a lot of speed...are we talking the same thing here? Most of what I've read on bike cornering at higher speeds seems to be lean the bike in while shifting your weight opposite the corner. Hate to drag this out, but you're doing such a good job here! Thanks, BTW for taking so much time an thought.
 

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jcpreuss said:
Help me with counter-steering...in a race car, it would be refer to getting the nose down and pointed in and almost man-handling, or drifting out of the corner. This entails a fair amount of wheels slip and you must carry a lot of speed...are we talking the same thing here? Most of what I've read on bike cornering at higher speeds seems to be lean the bike in while shifting your weight opposite the corner. Hate to drag this out, but you're doing such a good job here! Thanks, BTW for taking so much time an thought.
When you countersteer on a bike, you pressure the handlebar with your arm that is inside the turn. This forces the wheel to turn slightly away from the turn. This is probably how you're turning now if you think about it.

I disagree with Aaron about steering vs. countersteering. Perhaps it's just semantic (I think so!). But, if you position you body well inside of the bike through the turn, and slide off the seat slightly to the inside of the bike, you can pressure the handlbars with your outside arm, while your inside arm has more of a bend (90 degrees?) and is relaxed. This causes the front wheel to turn slightly more to the inside of your turn, and the bike remains more upright rather than leaning in dramatically (there will still be some lean of course).

The benefit is being able to continue pedaling even through the apex of most turns, and, again, on slick pavement to have the rear wheel engaged so there is a better chance that you can pedal out of a slip or skid.
 

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yes, you can lean your body into the turn more than the bike, and you can turn the bars towards the corner, turning it like a race car. this is a great way to corner in the rain, but like i said you won't be able to negotiate any real corner at speed doing that. that's probably the way to go around a corner at 15 mph...

but today, in both the B and the A races i did at our local training crit, there were times that i was leaning my body in more and times that i was staying more upright. if you want to pedal through the corner, you tend to keep the bike and your body aligned... you can lean your body in a bit but probably won't be able to apply much power to the pedal stroke and would be better off with a faster entrance, countersteering through it.

the way i prefer to corner is to press the inside bar DOWN, weight the outside pedal, press my inside knee against the top tube, keep my head aligned with the horizon, and head through that way. sometimes i'll point my knee, and end up leaning my body in more, but the bike is ALWAYS TURNING THROUGH THE USE OF COUNTERSTEERING. even if you initiate the turn by simply leaning the bike, you are countersteering. if you were to take a picture of your bike mid corner you'd see your front wheel pointing away from the corner. that's just how it works.
 

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Aaron,

Are you a cat 3 or 4?

I'm a cat 4 and was planning on racing both B and A, but they said no 4's in the A race.
I was under the impression that they would let 4's race A's, but I guess not.

That was my first race of the season, so it was good to get it done and get used to the pack dynamics again.

Fun race, though seeing the crash made it a bit less fun. Do you know who or which team won? With just over 1 to go my teammate launched a flyer attack and I sat on the one guy that went after him.

Unfortunately the 3 of us came together going into the headwind and had all spent too much energy. We hesitated getting organized and then just looked at each other...that was it...the pack came by and I just rode in on the back.

How was the A race? I stuck around to watch some of it and saw a crash take out one of your guys, and a few others including a strong Snow Valley guy and one of my teammates.

Both crashes happened on innocent looking straightaways...ya never know when something squirrelly will happen.

I hope you had a good race.

Chris
LSV
 

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chris, cat 3. i'm the guy with the big dagger tattoo'd on the back of his right leg. we won the B race, more through luck than anything. i got to the front coming out of corner two on the last lap, kept the pace up till the top corner... from there i got to watch ryan, who had positioned himself perfectly, come around everyone for the win.

the crash in the B race happened right when my solo effort was caught... my teammate peter countered, and half way back in the field i heard the noise. that was a nasty sounding wreck but i think everyone came out of it ok. don't know what happened in the A race - but yeah tom godfrey lost a ton of skin when he hit the deck. russ the snow valley guy and another one of the NCVC guys went down too, i guess.
 

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good race...there were some strong riders, you included. i was a little surprised that a good break didn't get established. i guess the right combo didn't get together. i was keeping an eye on one of the red lantern guys that looked to be very strong and riding aggressively. i thought he could get away.

however, it seemed that whenever anything more than a couple of guys went off the front the chase came immediately bring the whole field. i tried to initiate something a couple of times, but probably picked the wrong spot to go...out of the 2nd corner onto the tailwind section prior to the last corner...too easy for people to chase. instead of a handful of guys bridging it was the whole field.

if you have the legs it's probably best to go out of turn one into the slight uphill headwind section making people really dig deep to come after you.

i'll probaby make it out for one more trade zone the week before jeff cup.
 

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i spent 9 laps in a break in the B race last week. actually the winner, ben landers, was part of the move. i think i put too much work into the break, and when he attacked the group i couldn't respond... one of my teammates went up the road to start the chase, i eventually got to him, and we started to work to bring the two back. when we were making noticable progress the field caught us and then everyone kind of sat up. two guys sitll up the road and everyone sat on their thumbs. so ben was able to stick it with a umd guy for the win.

to answer your earlier question, the a race is alot faster obviously. a bit smoother coming out of the corners, and fewer guys pulling cat 9 nose dives on the inside line. so all in all it's a better race... but i usually ride the B race to aggressively to be any sort of a factor in the A... best i could come up with was some blocking for teammates up the road. commendable sure, but it's nothing to shake a stick at.

see you sunday...
 

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Zone_5_Junkie said:
don't wear a camelback...or full fingered gloves (unless it's cold)
I beg to differ on the full fingered glove thing! Racing track, I can see more and more reasons NOT to wear those half-fingered gloves.

Mike
 
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