I checked the USAC schedule and there happens to be a crit close to me on a closed auto race track next Saturday. I’ve only been training for six months and have never raced on a road bike, let alone ridden in a group. However, I grew up racing BMX at a high level. I have good bike control and I’m not scared of being in a pack at high speeds. I think I’m capable of about 20mph for 40-60min. Would this align with cat 4/5? Should I go for it?
I hate to be overly cautious, but crits are something that really require a base level of fitness – getting dropped in a real crit (as opposed to a practice one, where you can just hop back on) is pretty disenheartening.
What’s your FTP and w/kg?
I’m at 256 right now. Averaged 245 for a 50 minute zwift race a few weeks ago. puts me just over 3w/kg
It’s not Cyclonauts is it?
I would be less concerned with fitness and more concerned with safely riding in a group. That said, it’s probably good experience assuming you will not be putting yourself or others at a higher risk than necessary.
I’d say just go for it. If you get dropped, then you’ll know. Don’t try to start a breakaway or do anything heroic your first time out, hang in the group, take your pulls, see how you feel. Sign up for the lowest level you can. Most the Cat5 crits I’ve seen are usually about 35mins, so you won’t be suffering THAT long Good luck, report back after!
No it’s at Waterford HIlls race track in Michigan. I’m not a big risk taker so I don’t think I’d put myself in a situation I couldn’t handle. However, I’m nervous that I wouldn’t be aware of certain cues or unspoken rules since I have no group ride experience.
Sounds good, thank you! If you get dropped are you flagged off? Looks to be a little over a mile loop so I assume they don’t want lappers on the track?
In my local crit series they let you finish and earn your points, but it might depend on the course/organizer. See if you can find who organizes the race and reach out ahead of time, I’m sure they would be excited to have fresh blood.
Not a chance I’d enter a crit race without a single group ride beforehand. You’re just asking to wreck yourself or even worse, wreck someone else. IMO, you’d be much better off do a road race first as they’re typically much less punchy and intense with a lot less chance of a wreck.
There are many unspoken rules and courtesies in a group ride that carry over to a racing environment. Without so much as a single group ride on your resume, you’re just begging to injure yourself or someone else which could put an end to your racing for the rest of the season - let alone get into your bank account fixing your busted up bike.
Do yourself and the rest of your fellow cyclists in the area a favor - get some group riding experience before you dive headfirst into a crit of all things.
Yeah do it. Cat 5 is all about gaining experience. Your BMX time is gold. You’re good. No need to overthink it.
I appreciate the response. I’m not wreckless but I understand why you wouldn’t want me out there. I’ll try to find a weekly group ride in my area. What’s the best way to do this? Call bike shops?
The never riding in a group thing is an issue but your BMX experience should come back to you. If you can survive the first half of the race, you’ll probably be back in the saddle and better off than at least half the field in terms of bike handling I say go for it and treat this like your first group ride.
FWIW, closed auto race track crits are usually a little less technical than your general 4 90 degree turns racing around the town square crits. If you’re going to dive in head first, this is probably about the best place to start.
That’s what appealed to me. Closed course seems like it would mitigate some of the risk. I’ve also been riding at skate parks the past few years so I feel good about my general bike skills.
I race that track regularly! As crit courses go, its not technical. There used to be some killer cracks in one of the corners but it was repaved over the winter.
Aside from the June 1 race, there is a summer race series at Wateford with races every other Wednesday evening. There was on last night and the next one is on June 5 https://www.flyingrhinocc.com/race-series
Where do you live? PM me and I might be able to point you to some local group rides.
I missed the part about the extensive BMX experience.
That being the case, I’d still caution you on attending a crit race for your very first road bike group ride experience.
If you decide to race though- I’d definitely focus on sitting at the back and watching how the race unfolds.
As far as how to find group rides in your area - social media, especially Facebook is really good for that.
You can also call your local bike shop and ask them where the rides are, what times they kick off, and what speeds they typically maintain. Over here in Florida, we have a huge amount of rides going nearly every day with a lot of activity on the weekends.
Best of luck!
Oh nice! A wednesday night race might be a better fit for my first time. I’m in Chesterfield (Macomb Twp) out near Lake St. Claire. If I had to guess, there are probably group rides in Shelby Twp around Stoney Creek park or maybe in Grosse Pointe. Seems to be a cycling presence there.
I’m not familiar with the east side group rides. I’m not sure how up to date this schedule is but check out the Wolverines Sports Club and see if the 2 east side rides are still going. http://www.wolverinesportsclub.com/WSC_Ride_Event_Calendar.html
Thanks, I really appreciate it. Looks like one leaves from a bike shop about 10 minutes from me on Tuesday nights. I’ll hit a few of those and then come out for a Wednesday race later this summer. That seems like a good game plan.
Most people around here start racing at the Waterford spring and summer series races so they are pretty beginner friendly. The 4/5s race the B race for the series and there are always a few A riders (P123) who ride at the back of the B race and mentor.
Check out Starva and you can find race files to show you what a 4/5 or “B” race will be like. There are also videos on YouTube. The course is about 1.5 miles so its pretty hard to get lapped. In the series races they will let you back in as they are training races. The 4/5 races (the “B” group) can be fast as there are always a couple people who are one or two races away from upgrading to 3 but, everyone just finds their own level so you can still get some good group racing experience in even if you are not in the lead group.
There is a little hill on the back side that makes things interesting, its short but you can end up having to put out some big watts for 10-20 seconds to keep up there. That can take a toll after a while if you’re not ready for it.
One tip I have is its a course that many people will know like the back of their hand. Given the frequency of races there, it probably accounts for about 70% of the race miles most folks around here do. So, if everyone is in on one line and you think you’ve discovered some secret new line - be careful!
Thanks for all the help. yeah I figured the hardest part would be jumping into a race on a course that most would already know so well. I found a few strava files from riders near the back of the pack on a race a few weeks ago, and I think I could hang in there. Sounds like a great time!