First USAC race tomorrow (Jan 26)

Some riding buddies from Wed night have prodded me to get out and race, and listening to Nate on the podcast I took a deep breath and entered my first crit tomorrow.

First thing I learned: pay attention to starting times. Cat 5 race at 7am and sunrise is 7:15am. Which means finding an old pair of Rx glasses, as my cycling glasses are too dark.

Could have entered Cat 4/5 and raced at 1:35pm when it is going to be warm and sunny. Too busy with home projects to go back for a 2nd race. Consolation prize - Jonathan Lee is racing 20 minutes after we finish. From our local Wed night ride I see a couple of Cat 2s and a Cat 3 are racing later, but I’ll be long gone by then :frowning: Really should have paid attention before registering!

Do I need to print the Authorization to Ride Receipt and bring it to registration? Not sure how the heck I’m going to warm up, later in the day I could have ridden in for an easy 45 minute warmup. Other than a positive attitude and warm gear (37F starting temp), anything else I should bring? Thanks in advance!


Good luck, be safe… AND HAVE FUN!!! :smiley:


:point_up_2:t4:All of this!


Congrats!! Just remember you need to FINISH–it doesn’t matter what place you are, since it’s strictly a Cat 5 race. Keep an eye on what wheels are out there, and avoid the sketchy ones. Keep your hands in the drops. It’s your responsibility to protect your front wheel.

You don’t need to bring the receipt–they should have the copy of your registration there, since you prereg’d. I’m assuming you did a one-day license. Were you able to do the license online? Or do you have to do that in person? Bring ID so they can confirm you are who you claim.

If this is your first crit: take anything off your bike that could fall off. That means no saddlebags, no pump, no lights. Cameras like GoPros are ok because they’re usually bolted on. Check your tires ahead of time. You can have a bottle, but you really don’t need one for the short duration of the race (especially given the temps). If you really want a bottle, only put a couple of inches of water in it.

As the first race of the day, you’ll be able to warm up on the course. That will give you a lot of time (in the dark, unfortunately…) to check out the course. What I normally do is warm up on the trainer and then do a few laps on the course, but several of my teammates prefer to just warm up directly on course if at all possible. With such an early start, it’ll suck, but just plan on getting there really early to get set up. At least you’ll get an awesome parking place!

Also, I know you’re busy, but if you can make it to the Early Birds on Sunday in Fremont, I’d highly, highly recommend them. This Sunday is the last one in Fremont, but they’re having some others in February. Let me know if you need more details.

Finally, don’t forget your shoes, helmet, and bike. :slight_smile:
And, HAVE FUN!!! :+1:


@dhellman thanks! The plan is to finish, even if I drop off the back. I’ve got a 2019 license. Thanks for answering the receipt question. I’ve got the fundamentals of riding fast and protecting my wheel from the local Wed rides, feel good about that. There are 28 registered, was surprised to see that 7 are affiliated with a team.

Any issue with wearing my club kit? First and only pair of thermal knickers. Recall hearing/reading that might not be ok on the podcast or forum. Alternative is pulling something together around arm/leg warmers.

Relieved to know we can warm up on the course - the other consolation of going first. Not planning on bringing the Kickr, and I prefer warming up on roads. There is a paved bike trail along Sac river just a half mile or so, that was going to be my backup plan.

Short race like you said - 30 minutes and done.

At lunch I found a Strava segment “Cal Aggie Finish” and pulled leaderboard, then filtered by our club to short-list it to 32 people. First guy from a year ago sprinted that 0.4 mile segment at 32+mph / 48 sec / 698W. Hmm, probably not a cat 5… so I went to the next one from a year ago and was rewarded with a pic of the conditions at 7am when it was also 37F:

Yep, a handful of people already wearing sunglasses but mine are too dark.

p.s. sadly I can’t make EBs, and I don’t see any in Feb - so please let me know.

Fantastic! Be sure to have a copy of your license ready to show at reg. Easiest way is via the USAC app. Pro tip: take a screen shot of your license, so if you’re doing a race at a place where there isn’t good cell service, you’ll still have proof of your license. (Won’t be an issue tomorrow!)

Nope. Wear it. You’ll be fine. And warm. :slight_smile:

Yes, just beware that it’ll be dark! Same with the bike trail… so whatever lights you use on the warmup, be sure to take them off for the race.

I’ve been known to wear sunglasses in early morning if I knew the sun was coming up shortly. But definitely err on the side of your own vision!!

I guess the next ones aren’t up yet. I’m not sure when they’re posting them, or what the logistics are yet, but this is what I saw:

Are you on Facebook? The NCNCA group is a really good place to get information like this. Larry Nolan posts a lot of stuff about Early Birds. I just ping’d him to find out when they’re adding these to the NCNCA calendar.

1 Like

Thanks. I’m not on Facebook.

Do you know anything about Folsom Winter Crit?

Seeing “Elite 4/5” spooked me a little. I’m basically comfortable at 25-30mph in a smaller group of 10, but those are fast group rides with cat 2/3/4 guys stretching their legs.

Also, I’ve got a K-Edge for Garmin 520 and Nightrider. The light isn’t going anywhere.

No worries. When I hear anything, I’ll ping you here.

I’ve never done it, mostly because it’s still a little early in the season for me. You can always google for race reports online, although you may not find one for the 4/5s. I think if you’re comfortable in groups, you’ll probably be fine. You just mostly need to watch out for the idiots out there who think they should be in that hole that’s too small for them, or that swerve too much or have no idea how to corner. I don’t think you should be worried about the mixed fields… the 4s may be slightly smoother than the 5s. I should also note that I’m a woman, and men’s racing is different from women’s. It’s rare for women to get a 4/5 race–usually it’s a 3/4/5 race with 3s picked separately from 4/5s. I don’t think they ever have a W5-only. Red Kite has started racing all fields together (picked separately). So, racing with mixed fields is basically the norm. Just go for it. The 4s are basically just 5s with a couple more races under their belts. :smiley:
The one warning I’ll make: this is early season. People are still remembering how to race. So watch yourself, please! It’s better to drop back and have a low finish than to crash.

1 Like

Thank you, and I’m not going for results at this point. Just want to get a great workout and have fun!

1 Like

Awesome! Great attitude.
Looking forward to hearing how it goes!!

1 Like

I’ll be watching my handlebars after listening to the last podcast! Usually the small guys take advantage of my draft. At my age and engine I’m more the lead out guy. It’s all good even if I’m the launch pad for others :+1:t3:


YES! Good luck and remember to HAVE FUN!

1 Like

Good luck and kill it!

1 Like

Good times, looking forward to the next one!


Kept it rubber side down and had fun?

Congrats :smiley:

Cal Aggie Crit Cat 5 race report

First race and I loved it! The last 6 weeks haven’t been the best - due to lingering chest cold and work stress I’ve been struggling on the trainer. Not feeling strong right now and knew my fitness wasn’t high enough to be competitive. However I’ve been inspired by Nate’s stories on the podcast, and reading all the stories in the forum. And with my 60s fast approaching, no time to look in the rear view mirror its gotta be pedal to the metal.

So in the words of Warren Miller “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do” I got my 2019 racing license and jumped into my first race.


How it went:

  • field of 45 at start
  • race moved from 7am to 7:20am, just after sunrise :+1:
  • 32F / 0C for entire 30 minute race
  • clear skies and dry roads
  • first lap 250W just above current threshold
  • dropped off peloton on second lap, solo’d most of race and was surprised by number of people behind me
  • finished 23 out of 41 (4 DNF)


  • no trouble holding a line on tight turns
  • no trouble holding wheels or being in a larger peloton
  • limiter: ftp of 250 (reconfirming my “ftp >270” rule of thumb)
  • limiter: current weight affecting breathing and aero position
  • limiter: my body needs a solid 30-45 minute warmup, only had 13 frozen minutes including riding back to car for sunglasses and warmer gloves

Thank you @dhellman for sending me the link to pro photos!

I bought the most unflattering picture to use as motivation (my wife told me to buy the front-on pic):

Keeping it real, not happy with my mid-section in that pic…

That is now my “before” picture, as a bookend to a future “after” picture later this year when I’ve lost 25 pounds and raised ftp above 270W. My goal is to come back next year and compete for a top 10 finish :biking_man:


Good job getting out there! I love that Warren Miller quote and your bike looks sick.

1 Like

thanks! Wheels caused a few heads to turn after the race, a bit embarrassed the engine currently isn’t a better fit for the bike!

Good on you for pinning it on! No need to be embarrassed.