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How do Crits work?(4 posts)

How do Crits work?New B
Apr 3, 2001 5:04 AM
I am new to bike racing. I don't quite understand how criteriums are formatted. What is the deal? Also, what is the structure of the USCF catagories? Why should I become licensed? How does one know what cat one is in? I realize that these are broad questions but any help would be appreciated. Thanks for the help.
re: How do Crits work?Wayne Scott
Apr 3, 2001 8:34 AM
Crits are usually run around a short loop of less than 1 or 2 miles, usually are based on time. Such as 1 hour plus 2 laps, they usually have a counter, telling you how many laps to go when it gets toward the selected time. USCF categories, 1 through 5, with 5 being beginners. You're a 5 automatically, once you have started in 10 mass start events (that is, not time trials) you can upgrade to 4. Once in 4 you need to earn points by doing well in races to move to 3, etc. Unless your 30+, then you can do masters irregardless of your category, but thats probably not a good idea, since 30+, are harder than the 4/5 races. Lots of races have 4/5 combined fields, you may want to look for a race that is only 5's for your first couple of times. There is a certain (well, large) amount of snobbery/intolerance in cycling so if your doing things in the bunch that others don't like, you can almost count on being told. This is in part understandable, since whatever you're doing is probably increasing the chance of a crash. You don't need a license if your a cat. 5, you can buy a one day license at a race for 5 dollars (I think), so unless your going to race alot don't fork out the big money until you know you're going to stick with it.
re: How do Crits work?veloMike
Apr 3, 2001 5:57 PM
Criteriums are very different than other types of bike racing. The course is short and usually flat (therefore fast even in the lower categories). You have no choice but to start in category five unless you are a pro in another sport and petition your regional USCF rep for an upgrade.
Stay near the front of the group. That way you will avoid the crashes (they occur regularly). You have two options to win. Stay near the front and if the field splits you will be in the front group. If you are a powerful rider you might try to break away from the group near the end of the race. If you are a fast finisher you can try to stay in about fourth place until the last 100 meters or so and sprint for the finish. Usually the guy who is first out of the last corner wins the race (unless the finshing straight is really long. Train for speed. Learn to pedal at a fast cadence (80 - 100 rpms). To have a chance of winning a cat 4/5 race you will need to be able to ride at about 25 mph for an extended period of time on a windless flat (at least 20 minutes). If this is too hard, you are probably not fit enough. The group will probably see short bursts of speed in the lower 30's throughtout the race. Stay in the draft and stay near the front. Also learn to corner at speed. Cornering is probably as impoortant as speed in a crit. Enter the corner with the crank on the outside of the corner down. Push down on this crank with your foot while pushing down on the inside handlebar with your hand. Keep your head up (this is very important for your balance) and look at the exit of the corner not the bike in front of you. A euro pro once told me that the secret to cornering in a long pace line is too let about a five foot gap open between you and the bike in front of you as you enter the corner, then don't touch your brakes as you round the corner. This way, as all the riders in front of you brake as they enter the corner you will be catching up to them so that when you exit the corner you will be right on the wheel in front of you and won't have to work so hard as the group accelerates out of the corner. However, if you do this when the group is going slow or if you let too big of a gap open up, someone will come from behind and get in front of you. Crits are a constant fight for position: all the riders behind you want yours.
re: How do Crits work?dustin
Apr 8, 2001 9:15 PM
man, i saw my first crit this weekend and it was great. 30mph going into a turn.....niiccee...those guys have some endurance.