Monday, June 7, 2010

Love, Hate, and Calculated Risk

I have a fantastic love and hate relationship with Criterium racing.  Critt racing is an incredibly exciting form of bicycle race. Critt`s are short and intense from start to finish.  This is in sharp contrast to a 4 hr road race, or the steady effort of a time trial.  Contested on a short course (0.8-3.0km in length) around city streets.  A criterium will have >50 racers swarming and sprinting around corners for more than 60min, averaging 45-50 km/hr.

Criteriums are full of energy and full of action.  They are a blast to race.  Diving into corners, fighting for position, sprinting off the front and it all depends on you as the engine.  I love Critts they are exciting and fun.

The Engine for a Crit is different than for a road race or Time Trial.  A Criterium Requires rapid-fire High intensity bursts.  Criteriums are also Risky.  In the tight swarming bunch, every one is cross-eyed with the effort and crashes are common place.

 This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

By far the hardest part of a criterium is the first 10-15min.  The first 10min are much like plunging yourself into an ice cold lake.   Every part of your body screams with the effort as you literally go from 0-60km/hr in about 10seconds.  After about ten minutes the shock state subsides, and you are simply uncomfortable as the pace of the race slowly wears on you.  Much like plunging into that cold Lake.

For the rest of the race the pace is set by the attacks from the front 10 racers.   There is a region in the bunch just behind the front 10 where you can ride at reasonable effort, behind this is a nervous area where guys are constantly fighting to move up to the front of the race.  Then at the back is the danger zone,  the tail of the race where every acceleration is magnified like cracking a whip.  Spending ten minutes or more at the back will likely result in getting dropped. 

So for anyone who is interested these are my criterium rules.

1. WARM Up!  start the energy systems before the race starts.
2. It always slows down.  The first 10 min are fast but it hurts everyone so the pace will slow slightly.
3. Move up.  No matter where you are in the bunch, if you are not moving up you are moving back.
4. When you get to the front, Attack!  The front of the race can be referred to as bicycle roulette.  A constant cycle of attacks almost anyone of which could be the big deal.
5. No fear, ask forgiveness not permission.  Aggression does not always mean riding off the front.  Relax, your 20 and invincible.
6. Go for glory!  Make them remember your name.

 Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

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