I just signed up for a criterium race which is scheduled for 2nd October. Anyone here has any experience in criterium races?
I’ve done a fair few crits at various different levels. What would you like to know?
Good morning @Coach.Andy.T from Malaysia!
As far as I understand crit races are pretty fast paced races is that right?
I saw in the schedule of events for the day, for the category which I have signed up for, the duration of the race is 30 minutes + 3 laps. Would that mean that the race will be held for a maximum of 30 minutes and it ends with 3 sprint laps?
As I have no experience in this kind of race events, what should I be looking out for and precautions to take?
Hope to hear your inputs Coach!
Yes crits are quite fast paced and sometimes a bit technical. With those guidelines the race will go for 30 minutes, then after that point there will be 3 laps until the finish and the sprint for the line.
In crits it is important to try and stay up towards the front of the race, this means that when the bunch goes round corners, you will get less of the elastic effect, where riders at the back have to slow down more than riders at the front. I would also expect HR to be high from the start, as the races often start very fast. The power will vary with surges and lulls in pace, but often such short rests that HR remans quite elevated.
For before the race it can often be very helpful to have caffeine, as well as mouth rinsing with a carb drink, so swilling it in your mouth like mouthwash. Also have a good carbo meal 3ish hours before the race to ensure you’ve topped up the muscle glycogen stores.
Hope that helps!
Awesome input Coach!
I guess my intuition was right about the “30 minute and 3 laps” thing and thank you for confirming it. Each lap will be about 2.2km from what I saw and read on the route map for the crit race.
When you mention staying up towards the front of the bunch, I got a little nerve wrecked. In those sportives I have attempted so far, I was never really at the front or even the middle as I don’t want to get caught up with all the stop and go at the start line. Would starting somewhere in the middle be good?
HR I would suspect would be high too due to the adrenaline and also being nervous and not knowing what to really expect. In terms of power, should I be riding at Zones 3 and 4? How should I pace it because I don’t want to end up blowing up after the first 2 or 3 laps. I would also like to know how should I pace it so that I don’t get overlapped by the leaders.
As I only have like 3 weeks (technically 2 weeks as the coming week I will be going on a vacation), I am not sure if loading the 2:1 criterium plan would be good for me.
I am going for the crit mainly for the experience it brings to the table and not so much about winning. I did tentatively set myself a goal to finish in the top 30s if that is possible.
May I ask, what is the top 30 target based on? Have you seen timings from previous races, know other racers etc?
I know literally nothing about crit events, even less about yourself (other than KoS, so, badass obviously… ) but I know from personal experience that arbitrary goals can be very hard to calibrate. It is often better to set something based on what you know, i.e. individual performance/achievement.
E.g. (and purely arbitrary examples), hit a new max wattage in the last 10mins, be strong enough to go full gas in the last lap, work hard on the group riding, whatever. Or, just simply to have fun and be happy with the effort!
Just my 1.5c of course (inflation…), but I sense the goal is to get something out of it and enjoy it. Be wary of being so tied to a goal that may be unachievable that it ruins what would otherwise be a great experience.
So being at the front or moving up towards the front is usually advantageous for crits, mainly if they are narrow or twisty courses as those are harder to move up in. It just gives you a bit more control over your speed as you don’t have to break for the multiple riders infront which usually means slower cornering speeds and more chasing back on.
I would suggest focus on AC/NM sessions or some of the Pro Rides in the week before the week of the critical. For the week leading up, treat it like a 4DP test week and taper for the race
@DarrenWCKam I don’t race Crits but I do race short track XC MTB and there are similarities. Generally you need to get comfortable with your heart pounding up in your throat for much of the race. As @Coach.Andy.T notes, I found NM and AC work really helpful so you can push hard but still be able to recover while under load.
Hahaha yeah you know very little about me except being that super #badass for Questing on the rollers.
Actually the tentative goal of being in the top 30, is just a goal I set for myself but of course not knowing what to expect having not done crit races prior to this.
But as my previous post, I am mainly going for the experience it brings. I will adjust my goals accordingly on that day itself nevertheless
Thanks for the inputs Coach, truly appreciate it very much.
We have a plan set in stone then, to start somewhere in the middle and make my way up towards the front or at the very least stay in the middle and not drop back.
Speaking about the course, I will share the course map hopefully tonight, I have driven past before and it looks pan flat save for some potholes on the road. Malaysian being Malaysian roads
In terms of the training, sure let me look into NM and AC efforts kind of rides. In fact, I loaded up the Crit plan but the training will end a week after the race, so I guess I will have to play it smart.
I am due for a HM and 4DP, so I much as well get to it too.
Hey Sir Jon! Thanks for the inputs too. They are definitely priceless.
I remember doing hill climb reps with my HR really pounding in my throat and that was even before I started using the power meters. I can only hope I am still able to pull it through.
As much as this crit is a test of my physical ability, it’s also a test of my mental strength. You know as the MTP mentioned before, the difference is in how well we manage the mental game.
Efforts like the Nine Hammers and The Rookie would be a good start perhaps? The Omnium too maybe?
@DarrenWCKam Note that you can also set the plan based on the end date as well as the start date.
@DarrenWCKam I would put Fight Club at the top of the list and maybe some of the micro-interval NoVids but those other workouts you mentioned would no doubt be helpful as well.
Oh wait, I can do that?
Let me check it on my personal computer later tonight. I was looking to do something like that actually
Ok thanks for suggestions Sir Jon! I am thinking of Team Scream too
@DarrenWCKam Yes - toggle the “Schedule from” and it will give you both options.
Thanks again Sir Jon @JSampson . I tried to schedule it to the end date but it kind of like messes up the calendar. Anyway I have made my kind of prep plan which includes the Nine Hammers, Fight Club, Omnium and Team Scream. Hopefully that will work out for me since as @Coach.Andy.T mentioned to work on NM and AC efforts to prepare myself for what’s to come
By they way, the route map is below:
Little to no elevation gain at all as the Google suggests.
Like the coach said, staying towards the front is very important. Try to remain within the top 10 to 15 spots the entire time. You will find the speed stays fairly steady up at the front, in the back everyone has to break as the bunch squeezes through the corners then the bunch stretches out and those in the back have to sprint b ack up to speed after coming to a near stop.
The trick is, everyone is trying to be near the front, so when you get up there you can’t just rest there, you have to continually be swimming towards the front. Another mistake a lot of beginners make is shifting to a harder gear and jumping out of every corner. In a crit with many corners that is a lot of sprinting and you’ll tire out. Instead, downshift to an easier gear and use your leg speed to accelerate out of the corners (or maintain speed if you’re in the front few) – like driving a car, you don’t slam into a high gear and punch it to accelerate.
Treat the final corner before the finish line as though it were the actual finish line, usually the first couple of riders through there will be the first couple of riders across the finish line.
Try to be in the top three at that final corner then sprint with whatever you have left for the finish. Don’t worry about wasting your energy or something, nine times out of 10 if you wait you will wind up far in the back, but if you go for it you might wind up in the top five.
Solid advice there @gbyrne and I really appreciate your pointers there as must as Coach Andy’s.
Will do what I can to be as close to the front bunch as possible with no experience going into my first crit race as a cyclist.
OK got it! That’s a good pointer there. Will take note of it.
Cheers mate! Truly appreciate it!
Good for you, Sir Darren! I’d strongly suggest you do the new Santos Festival of Cycling Criterium we just added to the ProRides section of the app. It will give you an exceptional insight into what it’s like in the pack as well as the effort necessary to accelerate out of all those corners. Check it out!
Thank you for the heads-ups Sir David! Will definitely give it a try (come to think of it, there is no try ) this on my weekend ride.
I think for a change, I shall use the turbo and not the rollers this for this. At least there’s a better feel for what it’s like