First Race: Crashed. Looking for takeaways

So after started road cycling, intermittently, in the beginning of 2021 and TrainerRoad in August 2021 I joined a racing team early this year and did my first crit a couple weekends ago.

I crashed.

The weather was cloudy and there was maybe a drizzle. But it was wet and my backwheel slipped in a wide corner. I ultimately was able to recover and finish with the group which I am taking as a win!

I found the race pace manageable. My FTP is ~3.1 w/kg, thanks to TR, and while I felt like I was working I never felt like I was going to get dropped.

With that being said with the help of teammates and cycling friends I was able to grab some takeaways:

  1. Bike position: I am very high up therefore so is my center of gravity, which may have contributed to my back wheel slipping. I know I should be in the drops more and am trying to work on that.

  2. Bike handling: Up to 2023 I would say 90%+ of my riding was on a trainer with the rest being solo out door rides. Which has led to very rudimentary bike handling skills relative to the fitness I have built re: cornering.

  3. Comfort in a peloton/group ride setting: closely tied with #2 my bike handling is elementary and riding in a group and close to other riders is still new to me. I am making it a priority this year to be in group rides as much as possible to gain comfort.

I am reaching out for any advice and feedback on things to focus on so I can be better for my next race and a better cyclist in general.

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This.

I’d also bet that you grabbed a handful of brake in that corner, trying to scrub off some speed but due to the wet conditions, you locked the rear wheel up which cause the slide.

Another point re: being up that high….your upper body is very rigid and tense, which means everything gets transmitted to your HB. Relax your upper body and bend your elbows. A tense upper body also wastes energy.

Many (many) years ago, our college team used to go around and “chop” (gently) teammates elbows if we saw them riding with locked arms.

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I agree and forgot to mention it as a takeaway.

I academically know not to brake while cornering, especially in rain, and I don’t remember braking.

But I can’t rule out I squeezed the lever because of nerves, lack of comfort, etc.

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Looks like the surface you fell on was concrete? Concrete is always much more slippery than asphalt.

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Couldn’t tell you but I would guess it was asphalt.

Sorry to hear that, hope you pulled up okay.

Sounds like you’re taking the right approach though- dust yourself off, figure out what you can do better, and practise that until it becomes instinctual. The more you corner smoothly, the more those habits will override the instinctual urge to jam on the brakes- and more experience riding outdoors and in the wet will improve your judgement and knowledge of how your bike ‘reacts’ in those conditions. In-person feedback can be really helpful too- around here our local crit organization runs introductory sessions/races mainly focused on skills/group riding, which can be good for getting an ‘outside eye’ and building up some comfort on similar courses if you have something similar available (but group rides are a great way too)

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It was a lighter color in your video…looked like concrete…it switched to a darker surface, asphalt, just past where you fell. I dont race crits anymore but I would never race a crit if the ground was wet.

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I think that is just older, faded asphalt, not concrete.

All is well! Some road rash but I was on the trainer the next day.

I luckily have in person feedback in the form of my team. Good people. And I have a training crit that runs weekly locally which includes an introductory ride an hour before. Need to take advantage of that more.

I’d add to this: consciously think of putting weight on your outside foot and inside ELBOW. If you think of pushing your inside elbow down into the ground, it creates a nice strong chain across the bike from outside foot to inside hand.

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Cornering on the hoods - deffo a condition of too much riding indoors :slight_smile:, riding on the drops is much safer (you have more control, if you rub with anyone you are less likely to hook bars) and the bike will handle a lot better.

Echo what was said about having the outside pedal down and weighted, this will really make make the bike feel like its being pushed into the pavement, also weighting on the inside elbow as above. This is counter-intuitive as it almost feels as though you are steering away from the turn, it’s called counter-steering and its not spoken about much in the context of bicycles but its a fundamental if you are riding a motorcycle. What is Counter steering: Cycling & MTB | Pedal Chile |

Might be worthwhile to check your tyre pressures - here is a good place to start : https://silca.cc/pages/sppc-form (less PSI is it’s wet)

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While I’m definitely not dismissing more group riding as being important, one of the best things I did was “race training” with my clubs coaches. One of the sessions was on to grass and getting comfortable with contact both other riders and wheel to wheel.

Yeah, we used to do that on my college team…goal was to be the last rider standing. We would purposely rub our front wheels against someone else’s rear wheel and learn to lean into the wheel, not pull away. If you do this, you can use their wheel wheel to help you regain your balance as you lean into it.

We’d also grab another rider’s shift cables (days if exposed cables) or even their HB, as well as some pretty aggressive bumping.

Ours wasn’t quite as competitive as that, but definitely learnt how to take and react to contact. But was over a few weeks which included cornering; doing a paceline with least energy wasted; getting comfortable drinking while keeping the power down, covering the brake and not looking at the cage (up or down)*.

*easily practiced inside, but even in races I’m surprised how many have to pause and look down.

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