Friday, March 20, 2009

An enigma inside a conundrum, or something like that

I freely admit to being a bit odd. I prefer hiking up the mountain to taking a chairlift. I ride a mountain bike with just one gear most of the time. Some would say I make things more difficult than they need to be.

Inside those oddities are more oddities. For instance, as much as I like climbing and skiing mountains, I don’t like exposure. And as much as I enjoy being outdoors and in nature, I like road biking every bit as much as mountain biking. In fact, there are aspects of riding on the road I like better, like starting the ride from my driveway rather than a trailhead.

But as much as I like road biking, it scares me way more than mountain biking ever will. Sure, there’s the obvious fear of being hit by a car, which isn’t an issue on trails. But even if you factor that out, I’m still more at ease on the MTB. For some strange reason dropping off of something like this doesn’t bother me.

But the idea of crashing on the pavement really does. Go figure, because sandstone and pavement have about the same ability to inflict damage. Yet for fear of crashing, I am a complete and total pansy descending on the road bike. And since I have never watched a criterium where there wasn’t at least one crash, I have never entered a criterium for fear of being part of said crash.

That’s all about to change, however. You see, my brother and I decided that this year we wanted to race Lotoja as Cat 4s. Upgrading from Cat 5 to Cat 4 is a simple process: you need to do at least 10 mass start events. Since the quickest and cheapest way to get 10 mass starts is by doing crits, we’re heading to Rocky Mountain Raceway tomorrow to take part.

One tactic for avoiding a pileup is to go out early and ride alone. If you can hold off the field, you’re golden. If you can’t, you’ll probably get spit out the back and end up riding alone anyway. Given that I’ve been sick all week and my lungs are still full of junk, you tell me which is the more likely outcome.

4 comments:

  1. I've never ridden a crit either, and for similar reasons. Hearing people call it riding with "Crash 5s" doesn't make me feel good. GOOD LUCK, and HOLD YOUR LINE!

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  2. Try to stay out of the back 1/2 of the pack... almost anything bad that happens will filter back to that bunch and be amplified.

    Watch everyone closely for the first 5-10mins and get a feel for who the goofballs are. You can tell pretty quick when people don't know what they're doing. Maybe somebody always cuts people off... maybe they're swerving, maybe they hit their pedal on every corner. Just log the race numbers in your head and STAY AWAY from then on. While you're at it, you'll likely notice somebody that's smooth and solid, lock onto their wheel and just hold it.

    Generally I think an inside line is safer as it's harder for somebody to take you out. Also it usually gives you the option of avoiding traffic by counter steering into a tighter line.

    Ideally... get close to the front, but out of the wind... 5-10 people back and just hold the position all race. The pack will be constantly flowing & rotating so you'll have to fight a bit to stay in the spot but it's worth it.

    Sorry for the unsolicited advise... but I love my crits!! :) But ya, I've been down on the pavement in a few too... just get crashing out of your mind as it's the last thing you really want to focusing on.

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