When to start training for crit season

I’m newish to cycling (less than a year) and have never raced, but am looking forward to racing this upcoming crit season. I’m also new to structured training (besides Zwift which isn’t very structured) and just started the low volume base phase to maintain the fitness I gained over the past summer.

I’ve got 12 weeks of SSB, 8 weeks of build, and 8 weeks for specialty. This gives me 28 weeks until the end of this plan, which leads me right into spring time, which is when crit season usually starts.

Am I on the right track with this? Is there something else I should focus on instead?

Thanks in advance for your help.


Awesome that you’re thinking of dipping your toe into racing!! Good luck!

If you’re thinking of racing Crits, don’t underestimate the importance of bike handling skills. Lacking fitness won’t lose you a crit, but lack of bike skills will. Your plan for fitness is sound, make sure you leave time in there for bike skills:-)


I’m doing the same as you pretty much, except I plan to race from January through my build phase.

Why, because even with group rides and chaingangs, I’m pretty sure I will need to still work on bike handing if I’m actually going to get good results.

So whilst suffering in the paincave is good, make sure to practice cornering too. But yes, base build specialty (don’t forget short power build). Just do some group riding too. Be super comfortable holding a wheel and surrounded by others.

Thanks for the tips. One of the local race teams here in Chicago hold a weekly group training ride, which i’ve ridden a few times. I’m definitely going to do this as often as weather permits to get better handling skills.

Have you raced before? And used TrainerRoad in conjunction with racing? Curious how that works for you. I’m assuming it will work out great as you’ll be racing while your building.

I’ve done some group rides, and am getting the hang of holding a wheel. Just need to do it some more to be fully comfortable.

Thanks for the pointers!

You say you’ve only been riding less than a year, don’t forget to enjoy cycling as well! Also don’t neglect working on the technical side of things.


Don’t forget, you don’t need to finish the plans before you race. Tactical awareness is a big part of racing so very useful to just get stuck in and race more often


I’ve been a cycle commuter for years, but just recently got into road cycling, so I do get out and just enjoy being on a bike. It’s the best way to get around!

1 Like

Do you have any tips for practising the high speed cornering required in crits? I did my first season of crits last year and sucked at cornering.

I’ve not raced. I’m very content holding wheels though as where I live there is somewhere you can go and do that all morning long with complete strangers for practice.

Cornering is also what I think I need to go ham on though. But practicing descents helps, plus from endless amounts of racing games etc I’m perfectly understanding of what a good line is through a corner. It’s more learning to trust just how fast I can take a corner.

No, I suck at it too!!!

If you can, get someone you know who’s got good bike skills to go for a few rides with you and give you some tips. Our club captain took me and another rider out on a little technical circuit and helped us figure out where we were going wrong. A lot if it was to do with confidence. Just following someone at speed can really boost both confidence and skills!


Apologies for being a downer, but the barrier for entry to even your standard “industrial park / parking lot” crit is really high, and getting dropped on the early laps sucks … trust me :cry:

What’s your FTP and w/kg, if you don’t mind me asking? Regardless of the answer, should you plan to go out and race, if for no other reason than to see where you stand? Absolutely. Should you keep your expectations firmly grounded? Even more so.

What barrier to entry? You basically just need a bike, a helmet, and a one day license.

A fitness barrier, my friend. As I found out (multiple times) without a certain base level of power (raw FTP, VO2max and anaerobic) you’ll quickly get tailed off the back and you’ll end up just time-trialing it. That’s no fun.

Ahh yeah, been there. But I think it was more that I wasn’t good through the corners and kept having to sprint to catch back up and then eventually just petered out and had to time trial for the rest of the race. Not super fun but I was lucky enough to get lapped with 1.5 laps to go and experience the super fast finishing laps from the back of the pack which was cool.

Hey there I’m from Chicago too.

Dates aren’t yet announced for the spring races so I don’t have exact dates yet.

But, you should do the Skyway Classic Crits. They are in early April, 4 days, Monday - Thursday evening. You’ll get some great experience there.

You can try and be in Build by then. But you’ll do fine if you are still deep into SSBMV2.

To make planning easy, If you are going to do the Intelligentsia cup races, you could start there and work backwards.

The one issue so to speak about asking for planning help. Is that you need to define the specific race that is important to you. You should target that race and build your plan backwards.

I’d also suggest you build in an extra week or two that you are going to ‘lose’ along the way. If you have a vacation you need to plan around that. Or if you get sick that gives you time to recover and fix your training plans.

I have a 228 FTP at 3.2 w/kg. I definitely am going into it knowing i’m not going to place well, or get a DNF depending on how strict the race officials are with timing and being lapped. It’s definitely going to be a trial run knowing what to expect.

I feel like i’m decent at cornering as i’ve practiced that quite a bit riding around the city here with traffic, other cyclists etc. I just need to get more wheel holding practice.

It’s good that you are comfortable with cornering but it is a whole other skill to be able to do with when your speed and line aren’t totally in your control. And unfortunately this isn’t something that is easy to practice outside of racing.


Hey fellow Chicagoan! Do you still live in the area?

I’ve not heard of the Skyway Classic Crits, but will look into them. A quick browse on their website shows they are for cat 4 and 5 and used for training purposes. I’ll definitely take advantage of this.

Thanks for the tips!