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Downers Grove, IL Race Report(20 posts)

Downers Grove, IL Race Reportt-dub
Aug 19, 2003 4:20 PM
I'm in my first year of racing and for my eighth event I competed in the Downer's Grove, IL Sports Grand Prix Cat. 5 criterium. The course is a 1.2 mile figure eight with a short steep hill on the back side followed by a long gradual decent winding back to the front straight. The finish line is 150 meters from the last corner and is slightly uphill. This is the same course as the national criterium championships the next day. Most of my races have been against fields of combined 4's and 5's but when going against just 5's I've done pretty well including a 3rd place earlier this year against a field of about 24. For that reason I was pretty optimistic about my chances for Saturday's race.

While watching the junior's race before mine I happened to chat with a guy who had raced in the 4's earlier. He said to make sure I lined up at the front because turn 2 is pretty tricky and if you get nudged off your line it might be tough to catch up to the front. Right. So when the course was clear for a warm-up recon lap I went once around. When I got back to the start finish straight there were already thirty people lined up three to four deep. "So much for that" I thought. I should have skipped the lap since I had already warmed up for about an hour. I could have looked at the course by doing a lap before an earlier race I'm not competing in. These thoughts occurred to me on the drive home. Anyone, anyone?

Anyway, the race has about 45 riders and goes for 20 minutes + 1 lap. The gun goes off and as usual the initial pace is pretty tough. The front of the pack is really pushing it and I'm not liking my chances for getting up there. However, I weathered the first several laps while gradually picking up positions one by one. As I moved to the front I noticed that this really mitigated the 'accordian effect' and was worth the energy expended. I was able to establish a nice groove during the middle laps and there was also a lot less 'squirrelliness' near the front. We were strung out mostly single and double file throughout most of the course although during the descent following the hill there was always a slight lull where we would be 4 to 5 across before the next turn and the pace lifted again.

At 2 laps to go the pace is blasting but I'm hanging in and riding just over my lactic threshhold. They ring the bell for the last lap and I'm thinking 2 and half minutes and its o-vah! I'm about 10 riders from the front but gaps are forming and riders are slipping back while I try to keeping moving ahead. After the hill there's no lull just more pain. With 2 corners to go another rider in front of me can't hold the pace and slips back. I jump across the gap and head for the last turn picking up another position. Towards the finish I'm out of the saddle and sprinting for the line. But another rider was on my wheel and tries to pull around me. I'm now sprinting as fast I can, concentrating on a high pedal speed. At the line I throw the handlebars forward in my best McEwan/Cipollini/Zabel impression. It works. I nip him by just inches for 7th place.

It was one of the hardest efforts I've ever given. On the last lap I was way into the redzone and then I had to give even more in the sprint. On my cool down I could feel the blood draining from my arms and legs. I thought I was gonna hurl but I had already left it all out on the course. Helluva feeling. Way better than leaving thinking you could have given more.
Great report & great result!! (nm)TFerguson
Aug 19, 2003 5:38 PM
Thanks TFt-dub
Aug 20, 2003 9:49 AM
I'm glad you liked my report. I just wanted to give a little back to the community. I've been reading this message board a lot this year and have picked up a few tips from all the race recaps. Its great reading. How did you do on Saturday?
Got off my trainer, then did everything wrong...TFerguson
Aug 20, 2003 10:14 AM
I'll post a report later if I get the guts.

More like 90+ ridersallezdude
Aug 20, 2003 7:05 AM
I rode the same race- asked the sign-up offical how big the field was and he said 88- that was about 40 minutes before the race so I'm sure it was more like 90+ guys racing.

The worst part was the a**hole* who were trying to pass on the turns instead of on the straights like you're supposed to. They don't have enough kick to do anything on the straights so they dive in fornt of you in the turns.

Anyway just missed you- I took 9th.
Thanks for the head countt-dub
Aug 20, 2003 9:57 AM
I looked at the results sheet and saw 41 names. My family said that they pulled about 5 or 10 stragglers out towards the end so I did some rough arithmatic. Maybe there was another page of results. With 90 riders I'd say anything in the top 10 is pretty good.

I saw a lot of corner cutting in the race too - especially at the turns before and after the hill.
Does anyone ever get DQed on corners?filtersweep
Aug 20, 2003 11:27 AM
Does anyone ever get pulled out of a race for crossing lines on corners. There is always an official at the corners, and rules regarding cornering, but does anyone ever end up DQed?
I'm an a**hole, I'm an a**hole!!!shirt
Aug 20, 2003 10:16 AM
I pass in turns all the time, both on the inside and the outside, even in the 1,2,3 races I do. Notice others doing it as well. I never heard that you weren't supposed to do that. I'll make sure word gets round the peloton...

LOL...I guess I'm in trouble now too...biknben
Aug 20, 2003 11:18 AM
I guess I missed that part of Racing 101. If others are willing to slow down and leave room, I'll be more than happy to move up a few places.

Being passed in the corners is proof that
i you
could have gone faster. You loose!!!
me three nmgreg n
Aug 21, 2003 8:14 AM
You might be!!jhr
Aug 21, 2003 12:00 PM
It really depends on the situation. If a guy in front of me is not riding the fastest/best line through a corner (ie. his poor bike handling skills are slipping a gap that I ultimately will have to close) I go right by without a second thought. Inside/outside it doesn't matter. If you can ride through a corner faster than someone else without barging or forcing a guy in front of you to alter his line as you come past I say more power to you.

What is an a--hole move (and if you try it with me more than once you will get flicked) is when someone who isn't strong enough to move up in the straight portions of the course try to compensate by crashing headlong into a corner and count on barging other people out of their way. They usually appear on the inside at the last minute, and think that by saying "inside" they are automatically entitle to space. What they do is cause everyone to check up or alter their line outside and thereby slip a gap. It always makes me laugh (its like calling "dibs" or something) that they think by saying "inside" you must make a space for them. I always give those guys one free one then the next time they better be prepared to ride through some dirt/grass or bunny hop a curb, because I am not touching my brakes or altering my line because they are not smart enough to figure out that 5 abreast at 25-30 mph isn't going to work.

Interestingly they are usually the same morons who will fight you for 33 wheel in a line of 40 on lap 2 of a 50 lap race. They waste more energy fighting a meaningless battle, than they would just slotting in the first available spot.

One thing to keep in mind...shirt
Aug 21, 2003 12:31 PM
There is a situation that has no great solution. This is the scenario where you have a huge field on a very short, very twisty crit. I did one a few weeks ago, with ~120 guys on a 6-turn, .7 mile course. While the pace was very high (the average on my computer was >31), there were too many people to have a smooth, two-abreast paceline. It looked more like a standard euro peloton, so on every corner things got dicy for the guys about three bikes back from the head, where the group started to swell in width. Merely maintaining your line was a pretty dicy proposition, and moving up in the corners didn't do much to change that dynamic. Everybody was doing it, and nobody crashed because of that.

However, the off-camber crowns took out about half a dozen... :-)

Also, in response to your comment about guys saying, "inside" and expecting you to make room for them, my feeling is you should. I see guys get squished into that position and they have no choice but to be there. If you're closing the door on them the second time they do it, just because you think that's the right thing to do, I'll say you're most certainly an a$$hole, and a stupid one at that. The guy dropping down your inside who needs room is much more likely to take you out with him rather than the curb you hope to push him into. However, I respect your posturing for what it is and you have my utmost cowering respect.

I don't think so...jhr
Aug 21, 2003 7:51 PM
Dude unless you are a serious Euro-pro you aren't doing 31+ in a big mass, unless its downhill. If your at 31+ your lined out 120 guys end to end. Even in the Tour this happens at between 34 and 36 mph unless its downhill or a major tailwind.

Second you missed my point about guys coming up on the inside altogether. If a guy winds up in a tough spot through no fault of his own I am more than happy to give him some space. Just like I don't fight for 50th (verses 51st or 52nd)wheel. But races are full of knuckleheads (I don't know if you are one or not)(certainly you wouldn't expect anyone to simply accept your word on the subject) who willfully put themselves where they don't belong assuming someone will simply cut them a break. Fyi, I will not make any claims about my bike handling skills (it would be nothing more than conceit) except to say I try and stay out of situations that require me to display great bike handling skills.

The fact that you haven't crashed anybody yet doesn't mean you are a great bike handler or that you are not annoying/pissing guys off. There is a local pro in our area who swears there is this one particular pro who is such a bad bike handler no one will ride behind him. He spends the whole race fighting for position, because everyone is afraid to ride behind him. They literally attack around him. He can't understand why he can't (actually he isn't allowed to) hold his position in the field. Perhaps you ought to look in the mirror and consider you might be this guy in your area.

Finally, I would suggest that if the entire race is run at a speed where you can't move up on the straights, or on a rise then perhaps you are in over your head. Again I am not saying you should never move up in a corner, but it should be done when it can be done safely, without disrupting other riders who are riding good fast lines in the corner.

Frankly, your post conjures up images of a guy I used to know who loved to talk about what a great bike handler he was, and then a minute later he would start showing off all his crash scars.

The world's flat, too.shirt
Aug 22, 2003 8:06 AM
Yup, the average for our ~50 minute crit for the Masters at Davis, CA on the 4th of July was right at 31mph. The Pro/1/2s were at 33. This, unless everybody's computers suddenly rose up in rebellion and embraced new math without telling anyone. And like I said, we were pretty lined out, except there were too many people to be lined out completely.

My main beef with your previous posturing really had to do with the fact that you somehow have the ability and focus to continually evaluate everyone's riding style around you, and somehow actively separate the wheat from the chaff so you know whom to punish and whom to let in. If you're that aware of everybody's individual riding, I'd say you're not paying very close attention to your own.

I can move up on the straights but it takes less energy to do it in the corners. I race to place well, and hopefully win, not impress my co-racers with my strength in the middle of a race.

FYI, I've won races in the last two years, and I haven't crashed in one since 1988 (and you're right, I've got scars with matching stories.)

The world's flat, too.jhr
Aug 22, 2003 10:08 AM
It is incredibly tiresome to debate something with someone who makes unverifiable claims in support of their position. So therefore, I won't even try.

Clearly you must be the fastest, winningest, and best bike handlingest cowboy in all of California.

The world's flat, too.Nightengale
Aug 27, 2003 1:59 PM
Its certainly bloody flat in Davis. I remember doing that race, it is fun. I got fourth a couple times. Moving up is what its all about, where you do it doesn't matter.
You might be!!Nightengale
Aug 27, 2003 1:52 PM
Well said.
I'm an a**hole, I'm an a**hole!!!xcmntgeek
Aug 24, 2003 7:37 AM
I agree, there are times when you have to pass in the corners. For example: I did the Tour d' la Abitibi in Quebec in July (Jr. only world cup stage race). Imagine this, 180 guys on a 2.2 k crit course in the pouring rain. The pace was to hard to try to pass on the straight aways (or maybe I'm just to slow, but it was strung out) but it would bunch up in the corners as either the Belgian guys slowed down before they sprinted out of the corners (big accordian efect) or there were mass pile ups. If you weren't moving up in the corners, you were falling back. It made for some very interesting 'dive to the inside and brush your shoe on the curb' or 'god, I hope that french guy doesn't crash and take me out again' moments
But they corner so gd slow...TFerguson
Aug 20, 2003 10:28 AM
I was in the Cit 40+, which means they are just a little older than your guys and you are right, I didn't have the kick on the straights. I was in a small group of about 10-12, second or third group off the pack, and I could safely pass most of them in corner 4 and a half of them in corners 5 and 6. I could pass half of them in 4 on the outside. If I did brake to their speed in the corner, I had to accelerate out even harder. If I shot through under them then I was in front and pushing wind. I really didn't know what to do.

As far as "trying to pass on the turns instead of on the straights like you're supposed to.", I would have to say, if there is room, that's racing. Maybe we could get comments from the more experienced on this board, if they can remember Cat5.

Aug 20, 2003 12:29 PM
"If there's room, that's racing."

Cat-5 is pretty funny. I also remember it. I recall touching a guy's hip once just to let him know I was in his blind spot, and he said, "WHAT? What's your problem dude!?! Do you have a PROBLEM??" Of course, I did the worst thing possible: I laughed.

Another recollection: A full S-5 pack dipping into a 90 degree corner with ~20 different panicked voices yelling, "HOLD YOUR LINE!! HOLD YOUR LINE!!"

I remember another guy _barely_ touching the guy in front of him, so he locked up his front brake and crashed himself out into the grass.

Really, you can't pay for comedy this rich.

M 1,2,3 races are a little different. If you can pass on the inside in a normal crit corner and make it stick, you're cool. If you take people out, then you're an a**hole. The best policy is just to make sure you're a good bike handler, and then try to exploit those opportunities. Frankly, I RELY on being able to move up that way as a race comes to its' conclusion. Haven't crashed anybody out yet, and haven't been yelled at. And when I see a hairball pass that works, I generally think, "cool..."