February 13, 2018

If you are like us who spend hours on social media, you have no doubt seen a great deal of photo's from some of the local Criterium races. If this has inspired you to give it a go but are maybe a little apprehensive here are a few tips that may help you muster up the drive to give racing a go.

Criterim racing takes place on a loop about 1 km long with some tight corners, and last 30 to 60 minutes depending on the catagory. You don't need to be a hammer or king of the shop ride--anyone with a road bike and a helmet can enter, that said there are a few things you should be aware of before you jump head long into the bunch.

CLOSE QUARTERS

Though racers technically shouldn't make contact in the pack, it happens often and a little preparation will help you avoid crashing. Join local group rides to build your pack-riding prowess and situational awareness. For more practice, go to a grassy field with a friend and knock shoulders and handlebars at a low speed. If you are not sure of your skill level in the bunch and this makes you a little anxious, most local clubs will put you into E grade before competing to judge your competency. Golden rule, hold you line and don't half wheel!

 

TRAIN FOR SPEED

Racing is the best training, when it comes to crit racing this is especially true. Successful racers can sprint out of corners lap after lap and still have energy for the finish. We are not experts but we would suggest interval training so when you get in the bunch you can cover the accelerations, attacks and sprints. As well as consistently racing train the way you intend to race.

GET READY

If possible, preride the course to get acquainted with its turns, rises and descents. Then, if you have a stationary trainer or rollers, complete a 30-minute easy spin 45 minutes before the start. Finish the warm-up with three 15-second sprint efforts to prepare your body for race intensity.

CARVE TURNS

Focus on the curve's exit, not the wheel in front of you. Keep your hands in the drops and place your weight on your outside pedal, with your foot in the 6 o'clock position. This lowers your center of gravity and increases stability. If you feel uneasy, stay outside the pack on turns--you'll have more room to correct your line. Remember above all else to hold your line through the turn and not to make erratic moves, remember there is a bunch of cyclists around you all doing the same thing.

DON'T PANIC

The first 20 minutes of the race will be fast and furious with plenty of attacks and breakaway attempts. Rarely does the winning move come in these opening 20 minutes. In most cases the race doesn’t truly begin until the last half.

While everyone else is blowing themselves to bits in the first half of the race, sit in, conserve your energy, and wait for the action to really heat up.

ATTACK THE PACK

There's no surefire way to predict whether a break will be successful, but attacking when the peloton least expects it, or is just unwilling to chase, helps your odds. Take off when another break is pulled back or in a strong headwind. If you're a climber, you can also surprise the bunch by attacking before--not on--a hill. If you're a strong sprinter, try surging ahead on a smaller climb. But a break can succeed only if you strategize with other strong riders willing to work together; otherwise, you'll be back in the pack before you know it.

 

FINISH SMART

Focus on the last lap. Get yourself into the top 10 and pedal hard through the last two turns. Start your sprint about 200 meters from the line and give it everything you have. Keep your hands in the drops and your head low to reduce wind drag. Don't go for it if you're not at the head of the pack, though. Sprinting for 13th place, is how crashes happen.


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