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Mountain bike racer's first road race, questions(11 posts)

Mountain bike racer's first road race, questionsscc
Jun 27, 2001 7:31 PM
I race Sport XC MTB, 3 years now, and want to mix in some road racing between XC races to keep sharp and build strength/endurance. i've got a Cat 5 crit, 35min, 1.7mi loops, coming up, got any first timer tips?


What is the start like?
When to attack?
How to prevent eating the pavement?
How to ride with others in close format?
What is the finish like?

Thanks! -Gary
re: Mountain bike racer's first road race, questionsMeMyselfandI
Jun 27, 2001 8:26 PM
It won't start like a sprint in mountain bike racing.

Don't bother. Just sprint to the line like everyone else. However if someone does attack and looks like he is going to stay away, join him.

Generally speaking, if you don't want to crash, you don't do 5s races.

If someone's behind you, don't hit your brakes. Hold your line. Don't stay at the front the whole time.

It's a line that you sprint for at the end of the race. However you only sprint for it if you are with other people.
thanks nmscc
Jun 27, 2001 9:21 PM
I was in your shoes earlier this year...biknben
Jun 28, 2001 9:51 AM
I'm an Expert class MTB racer. I've done about 7 road races this year. It's a different beast all together.

The start is nothing like a MTB race. There's no hurry but it's not a snail's pace either. The pace of a road race is the complete opposite of a MTB race. Road races begin slower than average and steadily increase to a peak at the finish.

Don't worry about attacks yet. Get used to the different format. If you're exceptionally strong, try to go with others when you see them launch off the front. Don't bother chasing one guy. If you see 4 or 5 go off the front, it may be worth it to get involved. Keep in mind that most attacks are BS. Often, an attack gets 10 seconds ahead and reality sets in.

Prevent eating Pavement? When you find an answer let me know. Staying towards the sides of a group rather than in the middle will decrease your chances of getting tangled. Staying to the inside on corners won't hurt either. If people go down in a corner they will slide to the outside. There are dozens of tips but it boils down to luck in most cases.

Riding with others in close proximity is something I still haven't grown accutomed to. 10-man paceleine is one thing. A 40-man pack is another. I tend to stay on the perimter of the group. This way if things get squirrly you have an "out". This will also give you room to accelerate if you want to join an attack. That assumes the pack is not occupying the entire road.

The Finish??? Think of a herd of elephants charging for the last drop of water in Africa. It's total chaos. I'm still trying to figure out why guys sprint for 30th place. The last one to two laps will see a dramatic increase in the pace. If you're close to the front around the last turn then give it all you've got. If not, since it's your first race, slide to the side, sit up and watch.

To put it in perspective, I got dropped in my first 3 races. Since then I have a 4th and a 5th place finish. The others, I just rolled in with the pack. It takes some getting used to.

Good luck!!!
ride at Jim Thorpe?climbo
Jun 28, 2001 10:31 AM
biknben, we are riding (MTB) at Jim Thorpe sunday. Don't know your e-mail so thought I'd try this. If you're interested let me know, it's a full day event.
further clarification (another epic post from LFR)lonefrontranger
Jun 28, 2001 11:39 AM
--What is the start like? Criteriums are a bike race in a blender turned up to puree: the best fun you can have with your clothes on IMO. Get to the start warmed up, ready to rock, and line up on the front, because the first 3-5 laps are generally the fastest. It's not quite the intensity of getting the hole shot into the singletrack, but you do want to go into that first corner about 3rd/ 4th wheel and stay there. Don't pull through, it's a race, not a training ride, and since you don't have teammates, it's you vs. the pack. Be a sneaky b*strd and slip back a spot or two when you see guys on the front dropping back - the 5s probably won't notice this tactic, and if you're a good bike handler, you can slip inside on the corners and use the gaps that always form on the accelerations to get that 3rd/4th wheel back. The first 15-20 minutes is the hardest. If you ain't moving up, you're moving back, if you get my drift. Cat 5s typically slam on the brakes entering, then sprint out of every corner. The further back you are, the bigger the accordion effect gets, and the last few riders are doing crack-the-whip through every corner. It doesn't take long for the elastic to break.

Crits are run on time, not distance. If you get lapped (or lap others), remember that everyone finishes on the same lap as the leader(s). They should remove lapped riders, but if they don't, watch out for them on corners and sprints - they're supposed to yield, but it doesn't always happen. You will most likely have several primes (sprint prizes) during the race. Primes (say "preems") are a good way to get dropped if you're daydreaming or goofing off at the back. When that bell rings, get your act in gear because the next time through the line, the guys who just can't live without that $5 or box of last year's PowerBars are going to be dicing it up hardcore style at the front, and a savvy rider sitting in 5th-10th place will often use the ensuing chaos as an opportunity to launch a counterattack.

--When to attack? Don't. The exception is if you get past 25 minutes still in the front group and feel like God is your Cadillac. If you do, slip off to the side, go like a raped ape and don't look over your shoulder.

--How to prevent eating the pavement? If you don't like the wheel you're on, fergawdsake get off it. Don't pedal the corners unless you have Speedplays or a death wish, doubly so if you are using dirt SPD's (absolutely no lateral clearance). Modulate your speed prior to and accelerate through corners rather than hauling brakes at the last minute.

--How to ride with others in close format? Be the bike, Grasshoppah. Be smooth, very smooth. Ride in the drops with relaxed elbows and use your forearms to protect your bars from getting tangled. Don't fixate on the seat cluster in front of you - ride with "soft focus" to see the whole picture. Never, ever, ever overlap wheels with someone in front of you- if he moves his bike over, you are a road pizza and he rides away. If you get bumped, or the hole you're in is vanishing, don't panic or give the guy a Memphis Sleeper to pass him, just gently lean back towards the offender using your hips/shoulders and don't surrender your line or hit the brakes.

--What is the finish like? Bug freakin nuts. If you don't get tunnel vision in the final two laps, you might need to upgrade. Ride straight, keep your head on, and motor all the way through the line. Don't sit up abruptly, as there will be guys behind you sprinting like madmen for 37th place. Good luck, keep the rubber side down, and give us a race summary when you're done.
further clarification (another epic post from LFR)jaybird
Jun 28, 2001 12:33 PM
great advice... btw what is a Memphis Sleeper? I would just add that if you can stay in the front 1/3 of the field you will be fine. and the effort that is required to stay there is all technique. it takes a lot more energy chasing down the field than staying with it.

There is a reason that "Cat 5s and 4s" are called "crash 5s and 4s" Hang tough...
Memphis Sleeperlonefrontranger
Jun 28, 2001 1:30 PM
= a quick forearm / elbow shot to the head and/or upper torso, used by some guys as a passing option in tight singletrack. Not technically illegal, but definitely rude and usually uncalled for. You truly wouldn't employ this in road racing, as it's categorically verboten - I was indulging in hyperbole to emphasize a point.

Paola did this to Marga Fullana in Sydney, which justifies my long-standing intense dislike of the cheezy wench. Her boobs don't impress me, and her attitude and pharmacological habits (ever wonder why her neck & brow ridges have increased drastically in size since '95) leave something to be desired. Meowrr (being gratuitously catty).
Thanks for everyone's advice NMscc
Jun 28, 2001 8:59 PM
re: Mountain bike racer's first road race, questionsWoof the dog
Jul 4, 2001 2:21 AM
I agree with other posts here completely. A couple of things. If you want to escape practically all crashes, stay in the first 5-7 other words in the front. Don't pull, but look back sometimes and if you see you are with a small bunch of guys you gotta show that you are willing to participate in the break. Hard to do with cat5's 'cause they behave like shakin' cows drafting off of each other...thats their downfall. Fall back and tell them to take the pull. You must not pull at all in the lap before the last. That is a perfect waste of energy when you will need it the most. Don't use the breaks in the corners, you probably know. If you are like 20th and in the corner, everyone slows down so you can jump on the inside and cut off like three people. There wouldn't be a crash because speed is slower. For the sprint...get a good leadout: how to do it? well, you gotta stay in the front, about three, four people behind. If there is a corner before the finihs, everybody will go crazy hot coming out of it, so you gotta stick close to your hopefully strong leadout (third rider) as possible because he will take the brunt of power expenditure to accelerate, and you can save energy to pass him. When to pass? if you are going lets say 35 mph, you are behind your lead out which got a lead out from someone else. You gotta take that into account. Its hard, but if your leadout is 5 or 4 average car lengths away from the finish line you should jump out as hard as you can. Maybe even earlier. I made a mistake by jumping out too late only to be beaten by two inches from third place. I think its better to jump out earlier than later. If that happens you can at least use saved energy to beat the leadout. If its a 30 men finish, you need to be on the outside. You escape crashes and you have space to draft off of the people i.e. past them. But don't stick out too much, 'cause you need someone else to pull you through last 200 meters before the finish. I touched wheels plenty of times and so far so good, didn't go down yet, thank God. ....scary to think about it. I attribute it to having a good balance because I can trackstand well and rode rollers all winter. Practice with a friend on the grass. When hearing and seeing touching the wheel of another ride, don't try to bounce back, continue leaning into it a tiny bit, but not too much. Slowly bring your balanced weight to the opposite side of the contact. That will straighten your bike out. Just don't freak out!!! and practice!!!
Another thing that you can do: make sure your numbers are on the right side and correctly and securely attached. If you have a trainer or even rollers set up right in front of the start line on teh sidewalk and warm up, do some hard jumps, but BE VERY SURE to get off and be ready at the line BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE GETS TO IT, like five minutes before the start, or even 10 minutes. Its a must. I've won a crit simply because me and my teammates where around the first corner while everyone else was still clipping in. Hahahah. We got like two minutes on the pack. But this of course depends on teh course, if there are many corners, you gotta be in the front line to start because everything stretches out and its hard to gain places because of the corners. And thats another thing about criteriums, they do start out fast, just like races I assume, and if there is a hill and you are a good climber and sprinter, you can kill lots of people in the first 4 laps because of that climb. If you can recover well and stay in the front, people will drop, because in crits the first few laps legs feel like dead wood. My small theory is that if you sprint and pull a little at the beginning you can warm up better than just sittin' in the pack, so try a little of that, but not for too long - don't pull after second lap. You are probably a good cornerer, so use it...lean the bike far, sometimes you actually start hearing rubber to squick (sp?) on the pavement, so do be careful. Tak
part 2Woof the dog
Jul 4, 2001 2:24 AM
Part 2.
Take the insides of the corners by warning others: they will be scared to death and will not ignore you and thus will leave you more space. Yelling something like "inside, inside" works, no matter how redneck it sounds. Its also a good manner, as long as you are not rude. But don't be reckless and cut people off, you want friends in the pack. Make sure you use good rubber. Tires must not be new because new tires sometimes slide out. I even take out a small file and file a new tire sides if thats the first time i use it and its a crit coming up. Obviously, all you want to do is to take off that glossy film on a new tire...thats all. Oh, man I wish someone else gave me all these advices when I was starting out. I really envy you, 'cause you now know all of my little secrets for crit racing. Good luck and be first at the start and finish line.
Woof, the crit dog.