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Crit Racing

Old 12-17-18, 10:00 PM
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NyoGoat
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Crit Racing

I'm a family man, with growing kids. I used to be a runner and I did a few big races each year. A few years ago I started doing triathlons, and I really like them but I find it hard to train well in each sport. I'm debating trying crit racing this year but i'm afraid that I won't be able to dedicate enough to it to make it worth it. There are weekly races here that are tuesday or wednesday nights. I'm not sure that I can commit to weekly races. Can I do well / really enjoy crit racing if I only participate once or twice a month? Will it give me the same satisfaction as 2 big races a year?

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Old 12-17-18, 10:06 PM
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Crit racing can be a lot of fun and is certainly less of an ordeal than a triathlon. If you have a local series, you can race as often or as infrequently as you'd like and get something out of it. It's supposed to be fun.

In regards to training, unless you are of exceptional talent I would expect to spend around 8-10 hours of cycling/week to be reasonably competitive.

Lastly, we do have a Road Bike Racing sub-forum where you'll get more useful, informed and experienced advice than you will in Road Cycling. If you'd like me to move it, just reply here or PM me. Happy crit racing!

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Old 12-17-18, 10:32 PM
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Oh! I didn't see the road racing forum. Perhaps it is better to move this topic there
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Old 12-17-18, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by NyoGoat View Post
I'm a family man, with growing kids.
My impression of crit racing is that it is one of the more dangerous forms.

Just something to think about.
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Old 12-17-18, 11:50 PM
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Make sure to read through the “New To Racing?” sticky thread at the top, and then maybe lurk in the training thread. Many of us are family guys.
Personally I think the ability to race several times a month is a lot better than just focusing on one or two events a year. It’s a different mindset: you’re not putting all your focus on one race. And it’s a different training approach.

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Old 12-18-18, 02:34 AM
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Assuming it won't compromise your family and job (mostly medical related in case of a crash), go for it. I enjoyed crits and time trials when I was younger on the east and west coasts (1970s). I wasn't any good at it but I had fun. A good day was finishing in the pack without being dropped. I did some large group rides too but always stayed well back away from the riders who were actually racing.

A bad day... well, I only had one, my first crit when I crashed on the final sprint. Lots of road rash, some bruising, nothing that kept me off work the next day. I was in the Navy at the time, in a year long training program at the national hospital in Bethesda. My supervisor for that particular rotation noticed my injuries and told me to cover them up with bandages and full length scrub gowns or long sleeve uniform of the day until they healed. I asked why. He said it's because I didn't get permission to participate in off duty sports and any injury was my problem and might result in disciplinary action if it interfered with my duties. So I sucked it up and took care of my own injuries. But, again, it wasn't bad. I was only 19 or 20 and bounced.

At age 61 now, a lesser crash would probably break stuff. I'd like to try time trials, maybe next year, but no more crits, thanks.

Well organized areas and events will offer opportunities for training, including how to draft and ride in tight, fast groups. Some folks in the local fast clubs sponsor training days on a relatively closed course with little vehicle traffic (state park, controlled access, good roads). They work on paceline techniques.

A well run event will be as safe as possible and organizers will do what they can to minimize risks from exhausted riders who might endanger themselves or others. Depending on the course and conditions they might pull riders who get dropped or lapped, or allow them to continue and finish if they can do so safely.

There are a zillion crit videos on YouTube but the best are still by SprinterDellaCasa (he's on BF under another name). With lots of helpful and sometimes entertaining captions, he puts you into the moment by moment mindset better than anyone.
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Old 12-18-18, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by NyoGoat View Post
I'm a family man, with growing kids. I used to be a runner and I did a few big races each year. A few years ago I started doing triathlons, and I really like them but I find it hard to train well in each sport. I'm debating trying crit racing this year but i'm afraid that I won't be able to dedicate enough to it to make it worth it. There are weekly races here that are tuesday or wednesday nights. I'm not sure that I can commit to weekly races. Can I do well / really enjoy crit racing if I only participate once or twice a month? Will it give me the same satisfaction as 2 big races a year?
To be successful at crits generally requires that you race a lot of crits. There's a ton of little things that go into doing it well, as with most things. Once or twice a month likely isn't going to be sufficient for that if you're looking to stake out a semi-permanent place on the podium, but if your goal is to get in a fast workout and the like, then that should certainly work.
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Old 12-18-18, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
My impression of crit racing is that it is one of the more dangerous forms.

Just something to think about.
Impression?
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Old 12-18-18, 08:18 AM
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Just show up and try it.

Back when I was riding week night crits, the “B” packs weren’t that tough and I could sit in, no problem, as a very casual racer. I rode cautiously and didn’t do well, but I certainly had fun. I was in medical school for four years of my racing “career,” such as it was, and couldn’t have done more than a race a month.

As as for the risk of injury, it is real and I wouldn’t do it today in my 7th decade, but back then it felt fine. I saw a few crashes, but nothing bad happened to me.

Last edited by MoAlpha; 12-18-18 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 12-18-18, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Impression?
As a spectator.


-Tim-
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Old 12-18-18, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
As a spectator.


-Tim-
I don't think crits are more dangerous than road races. Actually, nearly all of the worst crashes I've been a part of or witnessed were in road races.
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Old 12-18-18, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't think crits are more dangerous than road races. Actually, nearly all of the worst crashes I've been a part of or witnessed were in road races.
I appreciate your experience.

The OP said he has children. That's why I brought it up.


-Tim-
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Old 12-18-18, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't think crits are more dangerous than road races. Actually, nearly all of the worst crashes I've been a part of or witnessed were in road races.
Came here to say this.

The worst wrecks I've seen/been involved in were RRs, which is somewhat counter intuitive as a spectator like Tim would think. It's because crits tend to be a series of sprints between corners in a mostly single-file line (depending on the pace at the front) so crashes are most often one or two riders losing it in a corner and sliding off the course. The road race crashes I've been caught up in are almost always when someone attacks, there's an effort, and then the attacker is brought back and the main group bunches up in tight quarters on a straight road. That's when people start bumping hips, and when someone swipes a wheel and a rider goes down mid-pack, the people behind that rider have nowhere to go and it turns into a big pileup with more broken bikes and bodies.

Not saying the same thing can't happen in a crit when the pace slows and pack bunches, it just seems more common in the RRs I've done. When the pace goes down during a race and the pack bunches, I get real nervous and tend to either ride far to the outside of the group or try to get to the front ASAP.
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Old 12-18-18, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by NyoGoat View Post
I'm a family man, with growing kids. I used to be a runner and I did a few big races each year. A few years ago I started doing triathlons, and I really like them but I find it hard to train well in each sport. I'm debating trying crit racing this year but i'm afraid that I won't be able to dedicate enough to it to make it worth it. There are weekly races here that are tuesday or wednesday nights. I'm not sure that I can commit to weekly races. Can I do well / really enjoy crit racing if I only participate once or twice a month? Will it give me the same satisfaction as 2 big races a year?
Like MoAlpha said, if this is a weekly local training race series it's probably split into A/B fields. Hanging in the B field usually isn't that hard if you've ever done fast group rides, but of course it depends on the depth of talent in your area. Training races usually let people take free laps, so if you get dropped you can wait for the field to lap you and re-join. Encourages newbies to come out and hang as long as they can to gain experience. I say go for it. Our weekly Tuesday night crit series in the summer (even though I've hardly done it the last 2 years due to work schedule) is one of my favorite things to do on a bike, and how I've met many of my best friends in the cycling community. There is always a risk of crashing, but simply crashing doesn't mean you are going to the hospital. I've wrecked in races/group rides 5 times but the worst injury I've had thus far was a lot of road rash and a gash that required some stitches. Worst bike "injury" was a broken RD hanger and some broken spokes, plus scuffed tape/paint chips etc. I don't think the risk outweighs the fun factor.

Last edited by Dan333SP; 12-18-18 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 12-18-18, 11:00 AM
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Crits are a blast. What Rubik, TMonk and Caloso said is pretty spot on.
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Old 12-18-18, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
Came here to say this.

The worst wrecks I've seen/been involved in were RRs, which is somewhat counter intuitive as a spectator like Tim would think. It's because crits tend to be a series of sprints between corners in a mostly single-file line (depending on the pace at the front) so crashes are most often one or two riders losing it in a corner and sliding off the course. The road race crashes I've been caught up in are almost always when someone attacks, there's an effort, and then the attacker is brought back and the main group bunches up in tight quarters on a straight road. That's when people start bumping hips, and when someone swipes a wheel and a rider goes down mid-pack, the people behind that rider have nowhere to go and it turns into a big pileup with more broken bikes and bodies.

Not saying the same thing can't happen in a crit when the pace slows and pack bunches, it just seems more common in the RRs I've done. When the pace goes down during a race and the pack bunches, I get real nervous and tend to either ride far to the outside of the group or try to get to the front ASAP.
Also this. One other thing to consider - local crits are more spectator friendly, so fans are more likely to see the crash, unlike RRs, where the really bad crashes happen on some innocuous stretch of road 15 miles from the fans at the finish line.
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Old 12-18-18, 08:41 PM
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moved to Road Bike racing
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Old 12-19-18, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't think crits are more dangerous than road races. Actually, nearly all of the worst crashes I've been a part of or witnessed were in road races.
Correct. We even bring it up on the podcast a lot. This whole "crits are dangerous and road racing is safer" crap has become a reverse psychology experiment-self-fulfilling prophecy. Without even a remote doubt road races now regularly result in much higher incidents and total injuries. So many crits this year went off without so much as a single incident report it was crazy. Currently in Illinois from direct experience as a race promoter, team manager, USA Cycling "staff" I can tell you on direct experience and authority that road races are way more dangerous than crits.

OP - if you are even REMOTELY interested in racing a crit then DO IT! don't even remotely debate it. Do it and see how it goes. You will love it or hate it. You will also quickly figure out if it is something you want to do often or not. You can race as much as you want or not. There are so many factors that play into doing "well" at the beginner level that frequent racing isn't really going to affect you at all. Moving up is easier if you race a ton but in the end if you're in shape you're going to most likely do very well in beginner races. That is the biggest factor.
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Old 12-19-18, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I appreciate your experience.

The OP said he has children. That's why I brought it up.


-Tim-
If we're using children as a reason to avoid doing risky things then in reality he shouldn't be training or riding a bike on streets at all. Far higher chance of being injured or hit by a car there than in a crit race on a closed course. It really has gotten to that point. So few racers and so many distracted drivers. Pick your poison. IMHO.
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Old 12-19-18, 04:13 PM
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I'd say you're far more likely to crash in a crit, hour for hour, than the open road. But training 400-800 hours per year and racing 12 or even 100, it's a bit more even.

I've been hit by cars a few times and crashed in races a few times, and feel more in danger on open roads. Crazy drivers get angry and threaten you, speed by within 12" to piss you off, and getting hit by thousands of pounds of steel isn't the same as rubbing wheels and rolling on the pavement.

I've done hundreds of races and only seen a few broken bones or broken carbon. The worst danger is probably going wide in a turn and hitting a sign post.
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Old 12-19-18, 04:40 PM
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I'd give another vote that crit racing, in particular weeknight 'training crits' are a great introduction to bike racing. If you are lucky, you live where you can get to a weeknight series and give it a shot, and many of these series offer novice clinics to help you get started. While being a regular on the podium takes a ton of dedication and a lot of racing, the vast majority of racers have a ton of fun and make a lot of lifelong friendships with only a rare appearance on the podium at most. Also, you can do well in crits with generally shorter training rides than it takes to do well in longer road races, so less time away from your family. Go try it!
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Old 12-19-18, 06:01 PM
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I definitely feel more at risk on the open road than in a criterium race.
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Old 12-19-18, 06:31 PM
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I broke my hand and needed surgery after getting crashed on the ride back to the parking lot after a road race finished. By far the most dangerous thing I saw that day was a guy get a speed wobble at 50mph on a downhill.

If you want to be safe take up another hobby. There's no aspect of riding outdoors that's safe. People have died in road races, crits, on the track, mountain biking. One year at the NJ state TT a guy rode into the back of a parked car on the shoulder and fractured his femur. Earlier in the day a rider, warming up, flipped a u-turn without looking. He was killed instantly by the car he crossed paths with.

You'll lower your body fat, improved your general health, and have fun. But I've broken every rib at least twice, had hand surgery, collar bone surgery, elbow surgery, and had serious head trauma that will likely have life long effects. But hey I have single digit body fat and a resting HR of 39. Pick your poison.

Last edited by gsteinb; 12-19-18 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 12-19-18, 06:39 PM
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FWIW, the most recent racing death in NorCal was in a TT.
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Old 12-20-18, 07:57 PM
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If you've been around the sport long enough you have either seen someone get really hurt or killed or known someone who has.

This is also true of everything else in life.

Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
I definitely feel more at risk on the open road than in a criterium race.
I still agree with this.
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