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Criterium Report: The Breakaway That Almost Happened!(5 posts)

Criterium Report: The Breakaway That Almost Happened!Marlon
Aug 1, 2001 9:20 AM
Continuing on in the vein of the last few race reports I've done:

The Scene: 40-some people, men and women, in the "B" level Tuesday nighter crit (cat 3 to 5), 45 minutes + 7 laps on a roughly 1km rectangular course. 6 neutral laps, then all go for broke. Average speed around 40km/h, but this time, we were up to about 45 I figure. Maxed out around 55km/h. FAST for novices!

The motive: I was dropped like a sack of rutabagas on the first crit, but the second one went better with me trying one attack and finishing around 10th. This time, I would kick ass.

The Goal: To kick some road butt and have fun.

The Synopsis: The six neutral control laps went by fairly easily, with the usual banter ("Why are cyclist's butts so skinny? I want more draft - I want more ass!") and me trying to explain to a new-found friend in the pack about my theories about hamsters and criterium racing. Despite the pleas of "keep the speed down for the beginners", things quickly exploded with a few abortive attempts off the front. Sneakily and steathily, I fixated myself to numerous shapely bums, and eventually found myself in 3rd, in good shape and feeling bored. "Time to turn the screws!" I thought, and with only roughly a quarter of the race done, I stupidly proceeded to launch an attack just as we approached the first of two tight corners. Here's the thought processes, as I can best recall:

1) uuuuurrrggghhh corner corner corner
2) aaaarrrggghhh stomp stomp stomp
3) hmmmmpppphhh corner corner corner whoa that was close
4) dang... tired... better see what's happening behind me
5) hey... HEY... I'm AWAY. I'm riding ON MY OWN - IN FRONT.
7) Dang... there's a lot of guys.
8) Holy smoke... that's a big pack.
9) HOLY S**T. THEY'RE ALL CHASING ME. run away! run away!

Despite taking some very good corners, I faded after about a lap, and was quickly reabsorbed, with looks of either respect or admonishment from the others, I couldn't tell. After some panting and resting up, I hung around for a bit, looking for friends who were supposed to help me with attacks, but gave up eventually, and found myself back near the front. Over the course of the next while, I continued to do myself proud by leading a few chases, taking short pulls and signalling off (gained some good comments from higher cat racers at the same time!), and working hard when necessary. Eventually, I launched a 2nd attack, and like the first time, I got away. It was kind of funny the way it happened - one guy attacked, and I immediately covered it, along with another guy. Weird thing though - no one else followed. Screaming, "I'll help you, I'll help you", we banded up and all was good for all of about half a minute, and then my two erstwhile partners shut down. Disgusted, I bravely plowed on, moving ahead and briefly glimpsing the two other guys get absorbed. No miracles this time though - I was caught eventually. Barely having time to recover, the last laps turned into a speedfest, and after a bit of desperate sprinting, I slid into 4th place at the end. Not bad for my 3rd crit, and I'd gained mucho respect from the upper cats for the aggressiveness and good pacelining skills.

So, the lessons learned here? My cornering seems to have worked well, and I'm going to practice some more. I still need to loosen up and work on holding my line in a tight pack in the corners, but all looks good for the upcoming season, when I take out my full license for the first time. Let's see what happens...
Great reading!rollo tommassi
Aug 1, 2001 1:54 PM
loved your "1 thru 9" section, very funny. I can 'hear' the same thing in my head, too. Sounds like you've earned some respect along with your fitness.

Do you like the neutral laps? Did this help calm the nerves of everyone? How long was the course - 6 laps could be a long time!

Anyway, keep up the good work!
More infoMarlon
Aug 2, 2001 5:10 AM
Thanks for the comments! I figured these reports would provide a bit of spice for regulars and make a good intro to racing for newbies on the board.

I think the neutral laps are a great idea. Everyone's a bit excited to start off, and the neutral laps (strictly enforced!) definitely help calm people down.

The organizer of the crits has structured the "B" crits to help beginners get into criterium racing in that you have 1) the six neutral laps at the beginning, going at an easy pace of around 20-22mph so that total beginners can get a feel for what it's like riding in a big pack, and 2) an "A" crit rider (usually a volunteer cat 2 or 3) who becomes the unofficial tutor of those who get dropped. All dropped riders are required to pull out to the far left of the course (still riding) and group up with the "A" crit rider, who then gives them tips and pointers, and when they're ready, he pulls them back into the pack on one of the straightaways. If any dropped rider starts getting too squirrely or looks too tired though, the "A" rider will pull them out of the race. Also, if you get dropped after three-quarters of the race is done, tough! No free rejoining the pack. This is mainly for safety, I'm told - the organizers don't want a huge pack of 40 riders screaming out of the last turn and sprinting together. Makes him nervous, heh heh.

In any case, if I haven't mentioned it before, the race is great in that everyone's courteous (plenty of "insides!" shouted, occasional steadying hands, warnings and apologies if someone doesn't hold his/her line, etc.) and that women are also given a fairly good support, especially the new ones. Often, if a new woman to the crit starts to flag, a couple of the better guys drop back to give her a pull back into the thick of things.

So, I'm pretty stoked at getting into the "A" races and getting some primes. More races coming up, this time with prize money (no more last year's powerbars for me!), so we'll see what happens:)
More infoflyinbowlof milk
Aug 12, 2001 4:39 PM
I wish I could get into Crit racing,but Right now I can only do 11.6 to 13.6 avg speed. But the funny thing about me is that I can do up to 20+ on flat terrian. But congradulation for raing like that in Crit. Maybe one day they will have Crit races like that Here in North Carolina for people like me. Hint:(Afro_american)
Where is this? I gotta try. Anything like this in D.C. area?nmbill
Aug 3, 2001 1:33 PM