Newbie Struggling with Crit Races

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  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,720
    mrpbennett wrote:
    I was just looking at crit races and thinking if I should enter one...but after this i'm going to bail and train more :lol:

    My suggestion would be not to do that. If there is a crit local to you, then just enter it and try it out. Whatever happens, at least you will know where you are, fitness wise - and you will have learned some race craft as well.

    Even if you do 'bail and train more' the chances of getting dropped in your first few events are still pretty high.
  • Shirley BassoShirley Basso Posts: 3,132
    Agree. Plus it's excellent training regardless of what happens.
  • mrpbennettmrpbennett Posts: 102
    I’ll have to see if I can find some in south London around SE3 then. Unless anyone knows of any?
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,720
    mrpbennett wrote:
    I’ll have to see if I can find some in south London around SE3 then. Unless anyone knows of any?

    Crystal Palace, Redbridge/Hog Hill, Lee Valley and Cyclopark/Gravesend are going to be your nearest venues.
  • mrpbennettmrpbennett Posts: 102
    Imposter wrote:
    mrpbennett wrote:
    I’ll have to see if I can find some in south London around SE3 then. Unless anyone knows of any?

    Crystal Palace, Redbridge/Hog Hill, Lee Valley and Cyclopark/Gravesend are going to be your nearest venues.

    cheers dude ill check these out
  • dhp2dhp2 Posts: 20
    Thanks again for all the help!

    Ok, I've checked back on my stats.

    I now weigh 14 stone 2 (hadn't weighed myself in about a month)

    The 2,200 watts was just once and may have been a false reading. I've checked back and I usually hit around 1,800.

    I did a 100 mile ride today averaging about 14mph with 7,500 feet of climbing. Average watts for that was less than 200 but it was very hot in fairness.

    Having read all your responses I'm going to keep going to the crits and getting dropped as I think it's a good work out if nothing else. I'm going this week with a team I've just joined.

    I'm also going to try out intervals - I always figured that as it's so hilly round here I was kinda doing them naturally. But now I realise it's all about repeatable bursts in a short timeframe. I think this should give me better chances of staying with the bunch and learning some race craft - I realise I am a long way off competing for any wins.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Intervals are essential.
  • Shirley BassoShirley Basso Posts: 3,132
    Glad you're not disheartened. Racing is excellent training anyway!

    100 mile rides are nice to build your base fitness but intervals are key to building speed and recovery.
  • nweststeynnweststeyn Posts: 1,574
    Agree... up here in Scotland most 4th cats I race with week in week out are fighting for license points (and struggling to get them) at 4w/kg... My best result this season has been an 11th with an FTP of 332 @ 85kg. That's just about enough for me to hang in there, but everything has to go perfectly and I have to be tactically spot on (which I never am).

    4th Cat is only called 'beginners' by old schoolers trying to wind us up or by people who don't know what they're talking about.
    I think the standard now is surely higher than 2008?
  • ProssPross Posts: 21,133
    No one is going to do you any favours in a race. You have to fight (safely) for your position and without a good racing brain / positioning you are going to have to use far more energy to keep up. You need to plan in advance so that when you come out of a corner you aren't left on that exposed side of the bunch. You can either keep at it and learn from the experience or quit but I suspect most people who have raced experienced similar in their first few races. It took me a season before I got my first bunch finish. Also, most people start with crits as they seem accessible (and, in many cases, are the only regular 'road' racing available these days) but it is sometimes easier to hang in on a road race if you can find a flatter circuit as they spend less time strung out and you have fewer corners to deal with. They can also give you a better chance to warm up as they often have a decent length neutralised zone whereas crits you have to be warmed up and ready to go flat out from the gun.
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,210
    I think the standard now is surely higher than 2008?
    it is. yes. since 2014 fitness levels have massively improved in races in the south east as well as UK wide. the OP should find a club where they do fast chaingangs, or just get out there and hurt himself and get stronger generally. also look at handling drills and work on his weaknesses.
    if you can surf the wheels and use a monster 2200w kick at the end you'll be winning races rather than flapping around worrying about getting dropped.

    also don't worry about FTP at 4th cat. follow the right wheels (even if it hurts a lot), and keep your position in the group.
    concentrate on finishing a race in the bunch and then work up from there.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,720
    philbar72 wrote:
    since 2014 fitness levels have massively improved in races in the south east as well as UK wide.

    I personally don't see any evidence for that. Average speeds (such as they are) for circuit races don't seem to be noticably higher now than they were back in 2014, 2012, 2008 or even the 1990s, as far as I can tell. YMMV...
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 5,278
    dhp2 wrote:
    Thanks again for all the help!

    Ok, I've checked back on my stats.

    I now weigh 14 stone 2 (hadn't weighed myself in about a month)

    The 2,200 watts was just once and may have been a false reading. I've checked back and I usually hit around 1,800.

    ..........................................
    I'm also going to try out intervals - I always figured that as it's so hilly round here I was kinda doing them naturally. But now I realise it's all about repeatable bursts in a short timeframe. I think this should give me better chances of staying with the bunch and learning some race craft - I realise I am a long way off competing for any wins.

    1800 watts is still a very good number, I'm no sprinter but I'd be surprised if there are many 3/4 cats knocking out those sort of numbers so that's a strength right there.

    If you can get some higher intensity training in (the racing will obviously count but it's an expensive way to get training) then with that sprint you may be closer to competing for wins than you think - if you can get in the mix you should have a shout.
    Holbrook Sports FC Women - sign for us
  • daddy0daddy0 Posts: 686
    My peak power is about 1450w and I have won a few bunch finishes with that.

    Just stay in the bunch for as much of the race as poss. Don't let any breaks get away if you have the energy to chase. Be in the top 10 going into the last bend. Don't get jumped or blocked in the sprint. Job done.
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    Haha I can barely hit 1000 watts!

    But I'm not known for my sprinting ....
  • lee_d_mlee_d_m Posts: 51
    As others have said, you need to get fitter. Tailor your training to your racing. There’s not much point doing a 5 hour ride if your races last 45 minutes.

    Lots of 30x30 intervals will help and just racing in general.

    The standard at cat3/4 is very high. I can just about grab a few points in Cat3 and I’m 60kg with an FTP of 276w. Having a good sprint helps a lot but it’s no good having a good sprint if your spritning from 20th place on the final straight.
  • cruffcruff Posts: 1,394
    I struggle to explain to people in my club that most improvement you make prior to racing is done by you, yourself - not in a group. In the past two years, as race captain, I've had more and more people ask me how to get 'faster' - but since the answer invariably involves 'ride more', 'ride harder', 'ride longer' and 'ride harder for longer' people invariably end up NOT doing this, then when they come out on a race training ride and get dropped, moan that 'the club' isn't doing enough to help them improve.

    I agree - in a pan flat crit, 240w FTP should see you be able to get round with the bunch (provided you're not a COMPLETE diesel and only have one pace, so you can respond to surges (which will be constant for the first five laps in most 3/4 races as everyone sh1ts themselves when someone pings off the front)). Good news for you is that if your power numbers are even remotely accurate, 1800 watts for even 5 seconds should see you cream most 4th and 3rd cats in a bunch sprint

    Training specifically for crits involves lots and lots of intervals. On top of whatever you're doing already, try incorporating three or four interval sessions a week - one of longer over-unders, one of sprint repeats, one of high cadence work and one 'race simulation' (big effort at 150% FTP, hold for a while then TT at FTP for five moinutes, followed by a couple of nasty sprints at the end). DIal the longer rides back until winter so you don't destroy your legs, and periodise your training so you have a three week 'build' followed by a week of 'down'

    PS: I say all this as a [email protected] third cat who has no sprint and can't make enough of a separation to win from a break :lol:
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • mellexmellex Posts: 214
    I entered my first race last year. Cat 2/3/4 Road race. To say that I got spat out would be an understatement! There were a few DNF riders but technically, I was dead last. Did I moan? No. I learnt, and bloody quickly.

    After a very, very average winter of turbo sessions and base miles on the roads, I've gone from Cat 4 to Cat 2 in six months and I am nothing remotely special. You just have to dial your mind into what you're about to do. Accept that it's going to hurt. The faster/stronger you are, the more it'll hurt because if you race the same venues, you'll become a 'marked' rider. Everyone will want your wheel but no-ones going to help you.

    Learn to wheel surf but give good clear calls if you're moving through the bunch. Why put your nose out front if you've got a sprint like yours? Play to your strengths. You're not racing to do your fair share of the work, you're racing to win.

    In my experience, a good Crit bunch is like being in a music festival crowd. People are going to bump you, push past you and sometimes chat s**t that's no good to man more beast. Just keep your mind focused on what you went to the track to do, race.
  • Vino'sGhostVino'sGhost Posts: 4,320
    Llandow is a good circuit to race on but they he op is heavy and weak. Throw in the bit where you have two sharp bends before rejoining and 1 or 2 laps is his lot.

    You might sit in better by traveling to castlecoome and getting used to keeping your position. They also have 4ths there frequently and large fields. It’s easy to stay in there. Build some confidence.
  • dhp2 wrote:
    Just got back from my second ever attempt at a crit race. I was dropped on the first lap and got ushered off the track.

    The bunch was just building up speed to about 35mph as we turned a corner into the wind and I found myself getting pushed out to the exposed side of the bunch - quickly losing speed with nobody letting me back in. By the time the bunch had filtered past me and spaces began to open up I had lost too much speed to slot back in.

    My first race (last week) wasn't much better, I kept with the bunch for about 2 laps before getting dropped. They let me continue last time and try to jump back on every time I got lapped. By the end I'd been lapped 3 times but thoroughly enjoyed it.

    This week I was left feeling angry and cheated out of what was meant to be a beginner's race.

    These are 50 minute races and there are about 50 people in each race. The 'beginners' race is for 4th, 3rd and Women. It's an old airfield track so pretty exposed to the wind but plenty wide enough with some nice chicanes.

    I was on my own so after the race I just got in my car and went home. I saw another 4 leave the track as I pulled off so it must have been too quick for them too.

    I want to learn race craft and build on my speed but crits just seem very clicky and like unless you're in a skinsuit with no hair on your legs you don't deserve a space in the bunch.

    Please someone convince me I'm not wasting my time and money on this?

    Not everybody is cut out for crits, they are fast punchy races accelerating hard out of corners and fighting to stay near the front. I was / am a pretty good road racer but I never did do very well at crits or short circuit races for that matter preferring the true road race.
    Try different genres of the sport and find what suits you best
  • I know it’s not great advice mate but keep pushing on. I’ve done 2 races now and notice a big difference in how I performed on the 2 different layouts.
  • LWLondon wrote:
    With respect, I can average over 20 mph solo on flat rides (40 miles) and have averaged over 19 mph solo on 75 and 65 mile rides respectively, also solo (albeit on the flat). I would still expect to be dropped in a cat4 race.

    Really?! What are you doing in Cat4 races to get dropped? Or are you just assuming? I don't think I could average those paces at all, but I just got promoted to Cat3, with an FTP of 245 (at 72kg - hardly a magnificent w/kg!)

    Average speed ins't the issue; managing the attacks, surges, and closing gaps efficiently/not letting them form, handling skills, pack skills, are all key to saving energy and not getting dropped. I tried some commentary on one of my criterium races and I hope there is some value to it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlrGx67fmP0.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,337
    Just a bit of info for you. I'm a USA cycling official. The Club I belong to holds races every Tuesday evening mid April to mid September. So I attend a bunch of races as the official. One crit course, in particular, that we use has 11 - 90 degree corners in slightly less than a mile. That's a lot of sprinting to keep up coming out of the corners for 30 to 35 laps. You've got to be able to sprint mto stay in the race. Here in the states club, local and regional races are mostly crits and knowing how to sprint is not lost on our club members. Since most of our club members have jobs and maybe families their training time is limited. While that may sound bad it's actually a good thing in that they train harder and shorter instead of long drawn out rides which don't help their sprinting and just sap their energies. it's nice to think that you can do well at long road races AND grits, and a few can, but the reality is unless you time is unlimited then it may be best to simply focus on your crit training than trying to do everything. Keep your training hard and short. Rest a lot.
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