Criteriums, or rather crits can be funny things. One week you’re flying around a course effortlessly and the next you’re hanging on for dear life.
As most of my regular readers would know by now, a crit is a bicycle race held for typically 60-90 minutes, on a 1-2km circuit, usually in the downtown area of a city in the USA where you race around the circuit doing laps. These races make up the bulk of the American Cycling Calendar and if you want to succeed in the States on a bicycle, best you learn how to ride a crit.
A few weeks ago after the French Broad Classic Criterium, I was in love with crits all over again. A 5th place on the night along with a 2nd in the mid race prime had earned me the Pez Cycling Sprinters Kersey in the SRS series.
Fast forward a few days and we are at the Crossroads Classic. A 6 day omnium, with 5 crits and 1 road race. I really suffered through the first crit and managed to finish in the front group but down in 24th place.
Onto the next race and I was eager to make amends. However the race had another idea for me and along with ¾ of the rest of the field we were out of the race less than 30 minutes in. The circuit (650m in length), was perhaps too small for an 80 strong field. I have no room to complain though; it was the same for everyone.
The third evening of Crossroads took us to the Salisbury Downtown Crit. Again after the previous evening’s disappointment I was keen to make amends. I had a better race but was not where I wanted to be yet and finished towards the back end of the front group.
The fourth crit took us to downtown Statesville for an ‘L’ shaped 6 corner, 1km circuit. It was a fast and flowing course which saw us average over 45km/h! I was riding and positioning better and took 16th on the night, a step in the right direction, not quite a step onto the podium though.
I have learnt over the past few months there are so many factors that affect bike racing and especially crit racing. Your start, your positioning, your legs (duh), your mental state, your preparation going into the race etc. etc. I could go on and on. Ultimately at the end of the day, control what you can, and don’t worry about what you can’t.
Although I titled this blog, “My love-hate relationship” with crit racing, on reflection I wouldn’t say it actually ever gets to hate. Some races go so well I think ‘Ah I’m going to become a crit dog!’ and some not so well, it’s not so much the hate but rather the disappointment.
I have one more crit left to race in the States and I am looking forward to it. I have got to end things on the right note! Here’s to floating around that course effortlessly.
*crit dog – American slang for a bike racer who just races crits.