Another Monday, Another Crit

I rode the Monday PIR series again this week, only this time went with the Cat 4/5 men instead of the novice group. Biggest difference is the length – 16 laps instead of 7 – so it’s about 30 miles instead of 14. It’s also a much bigger group (35 riders vs 10) and the pace is faster (we averaged 24.5 mph last night, finished the race in ~1:20). My primary goal for the evening was to just stay with the main group and get a feeling for the race and getting position. The overall pace of the race was much less difficult than the Sunset Crit on Saturday – more surges, less consistently high pace.

I really focused on staying on a wheel the entire race (sometimes I get a little lazy about that and end up working too hard) and as the race progressed, was able to start choosing who’s wheel I wanted to be on to get the most advantage (good handling skills, big body to block the wind, moving up through the pack). That was fun. It is a constant battle though if you aren’t in the front 10 or so – everyone is trying to move up around you, so if you’re in the middle of the pack & not moving up, you’re falling back because people are going around you.

There was a break of 3 riders, and I’m not sure, but think it ended up sticking. The pack couldn’t get itself together to chase and they were organized, and after a couple of laps they were out of site off the front. Good effort by those guys – it was windy and tough to hold a high speed with a small group.

So, the big learnings this time around:

  1. Cornering at speed in a group 4-riders wide can be sketchy, especially for the 2 guys in the middle. Inside is easy – just follow a tight line. Outside isn’t bad, you can swerve out if you need to (but would be taken out in a crash). But the middle is tough and you’ve really got to focus on holding a good line tight and close to the inside guy to not take out the guys outside of you.
  2. Tight corners and big fields are brutal – a lot of slowing and sketchiness by everyone, then a big acceleration as the field tries to match the speed that the front folks carried through the corner. Much better to be in the front if possible and have more freedom to take the corner at speed and carry speed through the exit.
  3. The pace was high, but the sprint was doable at the end. I still had enough left in the tank to follow a wheel and get some good acceleration to the finish line. I need to work on my high-end sprint speed and acceleration, but I can at least hang with the 4/5 guys.
  4. Speaking of the sprint – the finish line was directly into the wind on a long straight away. While you still want to be near the front, being set up a few places farther back is ok with a headwind. Each lead-out is going to be pulling for a little less time before the next one, so 4 or 5 guys might cycle through instead of 2 or 3. Need to be careful here though, as being farther back brings some additional risk. I’ll have to keep watching how to set up the sprint and the effects the conditions have.

Overall, a good time, a longer race, and definitely got more comfortable riding in a large group as the race progressed. Next week I’ll focus a bit more on the finish or getting a Prime, we’ll see. But got the Swan Island Crit on Saturday! Races a go-go!

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~ by orangematt on August 12, 2008.

One Response to “Another Monday, Another Crit”

  1. Yay…Way to go Matt!!!! xoxoxoxmomxoxoxox

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