Crit Racing for beginners or cyclists with FTP below 200watts

I would like someday to try out criterium racing, however, I’m very discouraged that this is a possibility that would be very unlikely for me because I put out very little power, even though my W/kg is about 3.3.

The question is, should I just give up the notion of attempting any kind of crit racing if I can’t even sustain any power beyond an FTP of 175? Just trying to be realistic.

About me: I started TR over a year ago with an FTP about 140 and now at my highest at my plateau of 175, and given my physiology (super skinny) and age (fossil at 58), I’m not optimistic that I can get past another 10 watts.

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Don’t sell yourself short, is there a Vets or Masters crit series nearby? A good chunk of crit racing is sheer power but there is a lot to be said about tactics, sitting in, timing attacks, etc. Get out there in race, if you’re starting in D/E grade for Cat 5 you’ll be in good company, especially if it is age based. Get out there and race, nothing will boost your FTP more than racing yourself into form. Finally, at 3.3w/kg I think you’ll find you’re much better prepared than you think.

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Ftp is 175 and it puts you at 3.3w/kg?
Find a crit with a hill in it. Not too short, not too long.
Enjoy!

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There are other aspects and metrics especially in criterium racing that better predict results than FTP.

Yes, give it a shot. Just promise to enter 10 and then make the call. Experience knowing things that have zero to do with fitness can “tip the scale”. Train your limiters and race your strengths. Have a blast! They are infectious!

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A lot of older guys up here seem have FTPs greater than 250. Just afraid I will get dropped within the first kilometer because they can generate so much power that I won’t be able to even draft. No fun to ride solo when spat out the back so quickly…but just looks fun to try something like that out…

Thanks for the encouragement! I’m currently experimenting with training for more power. It seems the big chainring, low cadence power training helps.

The best way to find out is to go try it.

I’m guessing you’re relatively small. You should be able to hang really well in a crit by drafting. You’ll also be able to save a lot of energy because the accelerations won’t be as hard on you as they would a 190 lbs (85 kg) rider.

As long as you don’t drop yourself by taking turns slow and losing the draft I think you can hang just fine. And as you get better and better maybe you’ll find you’re actually good at them!

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“More” power is the goal, yes.

Non-fitness techniques to save energy:

  • @Ramon_Thompson mentioned finding a hill. I said race your strengths. Same idea. Find courses or expend energy when it favors your skill set to put the hurt on the heavier more powerful guys

  • Move up on the outside of the group in corners is super easy to gain position vs. getting stuck inside.

  • Learn to brake late.

  • Use momentum. While you don’t want to be in front…if you are rolling/accelerating past the group just tempo and keep going past the group. They will spend more energy catching up.

Fitness related:

  • Yes a higher FTP is always better. In training to raise FTP you’ll likely improve every other aspect of fitness. So base, build.

  • What most people overlook is the ability to go in the red over an over.

  • Similarly, to going into the red over and over the ability to recover “quickly” is paramount.

  • How to do this? Honestly, take a look at the criterium specialty plan which looks like it’s taylor made to emphasize repeatability, going deep over and over and recovering from those efforts.

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Definitely find a ‘training’ Crit that will let you drop back in if you fall off the pack, at one local crit I do there are usually several people who get lapped multiple times. It’s pretty discouraging to travel to a crit and get pulled 5 minutes in.

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If your Why? is to experience the thrill of crits and to have fun, but not wanting to get smashed and dropped on the first lap…you should join a club and do club races (aka Tuesday Night World Championships). There’s usually 2-3 ability groups so you shouldn’t get dropped and still be able to enjoy the thrill of crits. You’ll learn how to race crits, learn tactics and team work, grow your abilities, skills, and confidence. I also think crits are a lot harder than road races so keep that in mind as motivation, racing crits is going to make you a much stronger rider.

Just for reference, I hated crits (still kinda do), mostly because of the super fast blast off starts and continuous high speeds with zero down time; totally opposite to how a diesel/climber (me) races. That said, my most fun ever race was a crit and I even made a championship podium. If you REALLY want to race crits and have fun, you can definitely do it, it’s just going to take practice and training.

But also remember, the most winningest bike racer in history only has like a 30% win rate, so…just like everyone else who’s ever raced a bike – you’re gonna get dropped at some point. Just accept it and move forward.

Have fun!

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THIS ^^^^

Everybody has been out the back at some point, for one reason or another. The only shame in bike racing is standing on the sideline WISHING you’d actually tried. Most people surprise themselves when the flag drops. Give it a try :+1:

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Thanks Nate! I’m really tempted to give it a try. I’ve seen some of the guys out there. Their quads are twice as big as mine, I kid you not. A little intimidating.

Thanks for the great advice!

@Captain_Doughnutman I think it would be fun just to experience it. But, my lack of absolute power, together with my non-sprinting ability are the major things that are holding me back just to try it out. Thanks for the advice!

@Nate_Pearson - I told my mom she married the wrong guy. sigh

There’s three crucial things in crit racing…

  1. The ability to go into the red for short periods repeatedly and recover quickly.
  2. Bike handling skills.
  3. Safely riding in a bunch.

First crit I ever did I was shocked at the ferocious pace out of the corners. I was in the red the entire time for the first 10 mins, having to put in 1000W+ efforts just to stay in touch. It wasn’t a lack of power that was the problem, but my inability to corner as fast as the other riders. And wasn’t just about late braking, but a lack of confidence in my bike handling skills. Needless to say I DNF’d as I was utterly spent.

A also remember a crit a couple of years back that I was hoping to win, but ended up cruising round at the back. Not because I didn’t have the pace or the skills (which I worked really hard on), but because of the dangerous riding of some of the other riders in the bunch that had no idea how to race safely.

More important than FTP in this kind of racing is repeatable 15sec and 1 minute power.

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In my first race I was hopelessly dropped after the first corner. Later in my racing career, I always made people chase me at the start. It seems like there are a lot fewer practice crits than there used to be, but a fast group ride can give you this experience. In a beginner race, I think it’s always easier near the front. Just don’t be out in the wind.

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You should watch a bunch of Vegan Cyclist vids on the ol youtubes.

He races a ton of crits…never wins…but always has decent footage and analysis of how the race went.
You can learn a few things to practice in your first few races.

(And don’t forget to watch the TrainerRoad crit analyais!!!)

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+1 Love me some VC (Tyler Pearce) vids. He’s a whole bunch of fun!

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One of the “problems” with 55+ masters racing at least where I am is that about half the guys were Cat 1’s or 2’s back in the day. So when they decide to get it on, they can go. But the big positive to this is that by and large the field is very experienced. This makes it much safer than a Cat 5 crit (your other option) and the races tend to be much more tactical than the lower categories. Its like a pro race, only slower :wink: In addition to making the racing tons of fun, the experience of the field has the added benefit that we are not always going balls to the wall. Your average 58 year old former Cat 1 is perfectly happy to be going 18 mph if there is no good tactical reason to go faster. At 3.3 w/kg, you are most definitely not going to get dropped in teh first few laps and if you can draft, you could easily still be around, at the end.

Jump in and see how it goes!

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