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First bunch race- tips?

Old 09-02-21, 10:29 AM
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rivers
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First bunch race- tips?

I'm racing in my first bunch race in just over 2 weeks. It's on a purpose built cycle track that's about a mile in length, and I am a bit nervous. I've been racing in TTs for a few years now, and a crit is a totally different beast. I'm used to just racing my race, and not worrying about anyone else. Any tips for a racing newbie who all of a sudden has other people to deal with?
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Old 09-02-21, 10:47 AM
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Protect your front wheel. Surf it like you're driving in highway traffic. If you're not moving forward you're moving backward. If you feel someone's shoulder or elbow lean into it and not away. Don't worry too much about winning your first one
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Old 09-02-21, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by wktmeow View Post
Protect your front wheel. Surf it like you're driving in highway traffic. If you're not moving forward you're moving backward. If you feel someone's shoulder or elbow lean into it and not away. Don't worry too much about winning your first one
Thanks. I'm not worried about winning. If I make 2-3 laps before being spat out the back of the group I'll be happy.
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Old 09-02-21, 11:07 AM
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Try to stay in the mid-front of the group. Don't get squeezed on the inside of corners; be sure you can hold your line in the corners and don't swing wide. Don't get out front. At first it may feel like you can, but don't; you'll get caught and dropped.
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Old 09-02-21, 11:16 AM
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Echoing the most important advice already offered...Protect your front wheel.

If you're not already comfortable riding in a tight group, find some local group rides to do between now and then. One of the biggest hazards to everyone is a rider who is nervous, twitchy, and over-reactive because they are scared to be close to other riders.
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Old 09-02-21, 11:33 AM
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wktmeow has good advice. I will also add stay in the drops when you are in close proximity with other riders - don't let your bars get hooked on anything. Stay loose, not stiff, otherwise you'll get bounced around.
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Old 09-02-21, 12:04 PM
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Stay out of the wind as much as possible.
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Old 09-03-21, 05:14 AM
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Warm up well, line up on the front, and mentally prepare yourself to go really hard for the first 2-3 minutes to get and stay towards the front (not at the front). This will get you significantly further in the race than 2-3 laps if you're ready to go hard versus trying to ease into it.

Stay on the outside rather than the middle of the group. You can't move up in the middle, and you end up going backwards as those on the side move up.

Once you're at the back, you're likely to be done soon after, so don't go there. Keep moving up on the sides.
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Old 09-03-21, 08:11 AM
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Bring extra toilet paper, and factor in time for a last minute poop break.

This may sound ridiculous, but at least for me, when I first started racing, I'd get a last minute nervous stomach and need to find a bathroom.
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Old 09-03-21, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Bring extra toilet paper, and factor in time for a last minute poop break.

This may sound ridiculous, but at least for me, when I first started racing, I'd get a last minute nervous stomach and need to find a bathroom.
Never went away for me, all part of the ritual now
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Old 09-03-21, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Bring extra toilet paper, and factor in time for a last minute poop break.

This may sound ridiculous, but at least for me, when I first started racing, I'd get a last minute nervous stomach and need to find a bathroom.
It happens to me for time trials, so I fully expect it will be the same for this race. Luckily, it's located at a sports field/pavilion and there are full on locker rooms, toilets, and a cafe.

I just find the prospect of racing with other people around a bit daunting.
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Old 09-03-21, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rivers View Post
I'm racing in my first bunch race in just over 2 weeks. It's on a purpose built cycle track that's about a mile in length, and I am a bit nervous. I've been racing in TTs for a few years now, and a crit is a totally different beast. I'm used to just racing my race, and not worrying about anyone else. Any tips for a racing newbie who all of a sudden has other people to deal with?
If you post in the existing topic in the FAQ at the top of the 33 page, any information added will be more visible and helpful to others in your same situation:

https://www.bikeforums.net/33-road-b...s-tip-two.html
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Old 09-04-21, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by rivers;22213573[color=#dddddd
]It happens to me for time trials, so I fully expect it will be the same for this race. Luckily, it's located at a sports field/pavilion and there are full on locker rooms, toilets, and a cafe.[/color]

I just find the prospect of racing with other people around a bit daunting.
The above comment indicates you need more pack riding practice prior to racing or you have the requisite practice and question your skill. Try to be confident, controlled and relaxed.

My add is practice clipping in. As a time trialist, we are used to standing held starts clipped in. I have read a lot of race reports where the racer lined up, felt great, warmed up and then could not get clipped in and ended up chasing from Offthebackistan. So practice clipping in on the first pedal rotation and keep practicing until you do not miss. And be in the right gear for that clip in and start.
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Old 09-04-21, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
The above comment indicates you need more pack riding practice prior to racing or you have the requisite practice and question your skill. Try to be confident, controlled and relaxed.

My add is practice clipping in. As a time trialist, we are used to standing held starts clipped in. I have read a lot of race reports where the racer lined up, felt great, warmed up and then could not get clipped in and ended up chasing from Offthebackistan. So practice clipping in on the first pedal rotation and keep practicing until you do not miss. And be in the right gear for that clip in and start.
Clipping in won't be an issue. We haven't had held standing starts in the UK because of Covid, and even though all the rules have been lifted, most club events don't have a pusher-offer just because it's one less volunteer you need. I haven't ridden an open since all restrictions have been lifted, so not sure about those. Regardless, I'm used to clipping in. I'm not new to group/pack riding, they just tend to be more social rides in no more than a group of 12 or so. Depending on the group, we might practice a bit of a chaingang. But for the past 18 months, I've mostly been riding with the same people at a sociable pace on anything from 30-140 mile social rides, with many cafe and pub stops (and a few bikepacking adventures). Even though it's a tight group, it's with people I know well, there's no competitiveness, and our actions are predictable. It's a cat 3/4 women's race, so there aren't likely to be a massive number of riders (capped at 25). It's just a bit of an unknown for me. I've ridden up at the track a few times (my coach has weekly sessions on it), and have a few more coming up to really get used to it. I don't know why I'm so worried. It's likely to be about 20 riders, and I've done plenty of mass start events- the biggest being about 700 people (event called Chase the Sun, held on the summer solstice. 205 mile ride across the UK and everyone starts together- and the group stayed as one for a good 35 miles).

Last edited by rivers; 09-04-21 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 09-06-21, 01:39 PM
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Ride predictably & smoothly. Don't make sudden moves. Don't slam on your brakes. Look ahead to see if the group is slowing or accelerating, to anticipate speed changes.
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Old 09-07-21, 06:04 AM
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Most of the obvious technical advice on what to do and how to behave in the race has been given already. I'd just like to add: Enjoy the experience! Of course there will be nerves, i still get them every race but it's all part of the experience.

There's nothing quite like racing in a peloton in my view. the focus, the speed, the exhilaration.
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Old 10-05-21, 07:48 PM
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Everyone says "Protect your front wheel", but what they don't tell you is that by the time stuff gets near your front wheel, it's often too late to do anything about it.
You have to look 3 or 4 places ahead of you - even farther ahead - and watch the general movement. Constantly. The flow should be FOWARD. When people start to move from side to side or when speeds change abruptly (usually slowing), that's when crashes happen. Otherwise, try to RELAX and just go with the flow. Understand that when something happens on the far right side of the pack, it will affect the far left very quickly.

Since this is your first pack start, you may get "shot out the back" in the first mile or so because you're not comfortable with the proximity of others. But if you're able to hang with them, always watch the speed of the leaders and get ready to pass the slower riders in front of you without hesitation. Don't be afraid to tell slower riders to "stick" or hold their line while you pass them.

Do not thumb your nose at them as you pass. That's frowned upon.
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Old 11-17-21, 01:00 PM
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I made a video about it when I was a noob.
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Old 11-20-21, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by rivers View Post
Clipping in won't be an issue. We haven't had held standing starts in the UK because of Covid, and even though all the rules have been lifted, most club events don't have a pusher-offer just because it's one less volunteer you need. I haven't ridden an open since all restrictions have been lifted, so not sure about those. Regardless, I'm used to clipping in. I'm not new to group/pack riding, they just tend to be more social rides in no more than a group of 12 or so. Depending on the group, we might practice a bit of a chaingang. But for the past 18 months, I've mostly been riding with the same people at a sociable pace on anything from 30-140 mile social rides, with many cafe and pub stops (and a few bikepacking adventures). Even though it's a tight group, it's with people I know well, there's no competitiveness, and our actions are predictable. It's a cat 3/4 women's race, so there aren't likely to be a massive number of riders (capped at 25). It's just a bit of an unknown for me. I've ridden up at the track a few times (my coach has weekly sessions on it), and have a few more coming up to really get used to it. I don't know why I'm so worried. It's likely to be about 20 riders, and I've done plenty of mass start events- the biggest being about 700 people (event called Chase the Sun, held on the summer solstice. 205 mile ride across the UK and everyone starts together- and the group stayed as one for a good 35 miles).
This to me is significant. If you're doing an 80 rider race, there's a lot more "pack dynamics" with significant shelter from the wind, significant accordion effect in corners, etc. It's also a LOT more forgiving, so if you have a moment of difficulty, if you are overgeared or out of position or something, you have some cushion to make up for the mistake. In fact, for me, I consider any field under about 50 riders to be small and therefore challenging. Anything under 30 is extremely challenging.

So based on a 20 rider group, Cat 3-4 women, I'd think of the following more specific things:
1. It's absolutely crucial to be sheltered. The strongest riders will be substantially stronger than the weakest, since the range will be from "almost a 2" or "should be a 2" to "I just got my license".
2. Gaps are deadly. If a gap opens up a couple riders in front of you, and the rider/s don't look particularly energetic about closing it (tired, looking down, stays in saddle even when accelerating) then that rider may be over their limit. Get around if you can and get back into the field.
3. Inevitably there will be the big surges, maybe out of a corner or just as the wind changes. When these surges happen you need to make sure you're one of the energetic ones.
4. Watch out in tailwind sections. That's where the draft is less significant, so if the pace goes up a lot (it will naturally go up a bit), and you're already in trouble from an earlier bit of race, the tailwind section can finish you off. In windy crits with a tailwind section, it's always the tailwind section that sees me go off the back. I can shelter in a headwind fine, where I need 100w to keep up with guys going 400w, but if they do 400w into the tailwind section I might need 300w to stay with them.
5. Most women's races end up being a "watch each other and wait for the move" kind of races, at least around here. This is because everyone is being told that it's absolutely crucial to be sheltered (lol). That means don't get caught behind the riders that lose the wheels early on. And then it might actually be boring as the race plods along. When the excitement starts then you need to be on.
6. Be aware of the shape increases in pace. You should respond, you don't necessarily need to be the one chasing, but the sensations of making a sharp move are very different from the efforts on a sustained climb or ride.

If you find yourself to be one of the stronger riders, then make the race more difficult. Push in the tailwind. Push in a crosswind (if wind is hitting you from the right side, move to the left curb and go hard). When riders ease up for some course feature (turn, hill, wind change, etc) make a dig.

If you're off the front in a break, don't pull more than 20 pedal revs at a time. It's sort of arbitrary but most riders can pull 20 revs and still be good enough to get back on after pulling off. Better too short a pull than too long.

I have a feeling the endurance will be absolutely fine. It'll be the sharp pace changes that will challenge you.

You say "track" but it means a closed circuit, not an actual velodrome? Like there is a closed circuit course at a track but there is also the "track", aka velodrome.
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