Early season crits

My goal this season is to race our local crits which start in May. However I have noticed that there are some early season Sunday crits about an hours drive away, starting this Sunday for the next 6 weeks. As I’ve never raced before I think taking part in these crits might be a great way to start developing the skills needed for racing. I am only just starting the third week of SSB2MV so I’m a long way off peak fitness. Do you think this is a wise move? If so, how would you rearrange the workouts? I’m thinking of moving the usual Sunday sweetspot sessions to Saturday and completely removing the Saturday Threshold / OU sessions. Or do you think it’s better the other way around?


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Early season crits are there so you can get some reps under the belt before your actual goal races. I would say just go and race. In Nor Cal, our early bird races are accompanied by a skills clinic for the cat 5 racers where you can work on bike handling. I suggest doing the clinics if you are in our area. You wont know if you are ready until you go out and race. :slight_smile: Rearrange your schedule as you see fit.


+1 for @DylonFujifilm suggestion. Here’s the Early Bird crit flyer. Yes, if you live in NorCal you shouldn’t think twice about doing this:


I did last Sunday’s clinic and race. Excellent experience. Planning to do the next 2 Sundays as well. If you don’t live in NorCal, see what is available in your area through USAC:

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Early season crit racing is a great way to get in the racing mindset and also learn a lot through experimentation and trial and error.

I’d say that swapping out the Saturday OU/ Threshold workout for the race would be most appropriate considering the intensity profile of the Crits :+1:. In these cases, you will complete the SS Sunday Workout on Saturday, and then race the Crit on Sunday. This approach will also be gentler on the legs as well, leaving you a bit fresher for the Crit than if you were to complete the O/U workout the day before racing.

Happy racing!


Thanks everyone. I’ll move the sweetspot session to Saturday so my legs aren’t quite as tired for the Sunday race.

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FWIW: I decided to postpone my scheduled Saturday ride (threshold) and did Petit instead (1 hour endurance). For me it was great decision as gave me the freshness to hang with the chase group when a few guys twice went for a breakaway and we caught them. And then in the final lap I was able (despite being 61 in the 35+ category) move up to about 8th position). While I would not have won, I had the legs to move up further but being as this was my first crit ever, I didn’t want to take the risk amongst a few sloppy riders in our pack.

It was a total blast!!! You will love it! . . . hoping the weather holds for this Sunday’s crit :slight_smile:


So I took the plunge and raced yesterday. Oh man was it hard :face_vomiting:. I lost contact after the first few laps due to poor positioning and had to dig deep to get back on. Lost contact again mid way through when I misjudged a corner. Again I caught back up.

When with the group I found it super hard to stay near the front. Ended up spending most of the time near the back.

Last few laps some riders kept making mistakes, one in front of me on the very last lap just before a short sharp kicker. Had to brake to stay upright which meant I spent the last lap chasing back on. I caught them just as they were winding it up for the sprint so shut it down and crossed 10 seconds or so later.

Mission complete, finish and finish in one piece :grin:

I really enjoyed the race but I was so sore afterwards. My legs haven’t felt that sore and I haven’t felt that tired after a bike ride in quite a long time. I’m wondering if I’m biting off more than I can chew this early on in the season. I’m still in SSB2 so haven’t really done anything above V02 yet. Yesterday I spent just under 9 mins in the neuromuscular zone in a 50min race!

I think the mixed ability didn’t help. I’m in the UK so as a newbie I’m cat 4. The race yesterday was mixed cat 2 - 4 and this will be the same for the next 5 weekend’s.

Gaining race skills is great but I don’t want to do that at the cost of getting injured or burning out before May when my local crits start. I’m therefore thinking of missing the next few weeks and then reassessing.

I think I’m doing the right thing but it sure feels like I’m being a bit of a pussy and needing to grow a pair! :thinking:


Ive found that crits are 50% physical ability and 50% race craft. You can win a crit with a sub 250NP


Not at all buddy. Cat 2s don’t mess about and it sounds like you got a good workout for your efforts. If you can mix it up with these racers early season, you’ll be absolutely flying later in the season. Wouldn’t want to meet you in a Cat 4 :wink:

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I’m so jealous when I see topics like this. Roads are a mix of grime, snow and ice here. Enjoy those early season crits!

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Fantastic experience! I’m doing my 3rd crit clinic and race this Sunday. I’m also in SSB2 as you are. I learned a LOT from my first two. Here’s a few experiences/comments:

a. It’s not critical to be up front (better, of course, if you have the energy for the sprint).

b. what is critical is recognizing good vs bad riders (our mentors talked about this in our post race review). and there is good and bad riders in both the front and back. good riders are steadier, not just in holding their line, but lack the jerkiness of surges and slowing down where energy gets sucked. they also know how to corner (critical for continuous spinning and maintaining momentum).

c. if you aren’t draped over your car/truck’s steering wheel after your race, you haven’t raced. As Amber Pierce talked about in the podcast, there is a huge mental burden in addition to the physical demands of the race (i.e. needing to be fully alert the entire race, anticipate, make adjustments, etc.).

d. On the physical side, in addition to specific power demands, staying in your drops for an entire race has its muscular demands if you are not used to it - I certainly wasn’t (I’m a climber playing around in a whole new territory).

e. You likely have plenty of fitness for the events. It’s these huge # of differences from regular group riding, regardless of the pace, that take learning.

Have fun and keep at it!

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On d. → that’s a great observation. Crits are my favourite races and being comfortable in the drops for longer periods can be quite important (not essential though - listen to one of the early podcasts with @Pete and they talk about differing styles of hand position during crits). I use the SSB workouts to make sure I’m not getting lazy on positioning - so typically spending at least one of my longer intervals in the drops, or potentially even a recover ride completely in the drops. It can take some adjustment, depending on how aggressive your cockpit is.


I’ve never raced a bike before but after a year+ of listening to the podcast I really want to try it, and I’m finally going to take the leap and go to a practice crit series that’s starting up here next week.

I’m in SSBLV1 right now, riding Tues/Thurs/Sat mornings very early usually. The practice races will be 25mins long on Tuesday nights, and I’ll have the opportunity to do 2 25min races. How do you all think I should adjust my training for this? Should I skip my Tuesday morning ride so I’m fresher? Or stay consistent on the plan and accept the extra TSS from the practice races?

I’d be tempted to keep the Tuesday session but adjust it slightly. Try and keep the intensity low but use the workout as a primer. Get the body and mind in gear. You could also look to reduce the workout to a 30 minute session, which will reduce the TSS. Just keep an eye on the IF factor.

Do you get a break between the races, like a debrief? Chance to catch your breath?

Sounds like there will be an Open race, a Women’s race, and then another Open race, and $15 gets me the ability to do both Open races. So I’ll get to catch my breath for 30 mins in between

@bobmac @DylonFujifilm I’m in Marin County! Do either of you two know if the early bird crits in Fremont will happen next year? My plan is to do SSB these next few months in preparation for these early bird crits.

Surprisingly, it is listed in the NCNCA draft schedule. Here are links to the FB page and draft schedule. However, as none of the clubs on the peninsula are having organized rides due to Covid, I suspect that EB’s will be canceled. We’ll see.

maybe @dhellman knows? I am curious too, although knowing the insurance hassles faced by our club in Folsom I suspect nothing is happening in January 2021.

@bobmac thanks for the links!

@bbarrera it looks like the sheet @bobmac posted has them in Jan with a possible postponement to Feb. Let’s hope these happen!

@victormora @bobmac last I talked with VeloPromo, he’s rather skeptical about whether this is actually going to start. SJBC isn’t able to really start our Cat’s Hill planning yet because of the uncertainty, and that’s at the end of March. I need to talk with VeloPromo again, so will see if I get any further updates. There is a group out of Fresno who did an EB series last year and is considering doing both EBs and running a regular race as well. I’m not really sure how they’re going to be able to get the permits, but this is what I’ve heard.

The links that Bob provided are the best ones to look at for communication and schedule.

If I hear anything further I’ll be sure to share here!