Wednesday, May 2, 2012

the training crit

Ideal Market Crit - Category 4/5

The training crit holds a special place in the training plan of a cyclist. A training crit is not like other races and can be used in a number of ways to help push yourself to become a better racer.

First off, the dynamics of a training crit are different than that of a regular race. In a training crit, everyone is pretty much there for the same reason; to get a good workout. This is different than your standard race. In a regular race, the victor is typically the one who does the least amount of work which can result in a race that actually quite slow in pace. By contrast, the training race tends to be full gas for the duration. Everyone is there to stretch their limits.

Secondly, a training crit provides a great opportunity to race with better riders of higher categories. At the Ideal Market Crit, the 3s are grouped in with the 1/2s. This is huge as the dynamics and tactics of racing are of a much higher skill level in the 1/2 field. For example, the first training Crit I did this year contained a few riders from the Optum/Kelly Benefits team. I watched with great interest in how they raced. They would send a guy to attack and keep a guy on the front of the field to disrupt the chasers and keep the peloton under control. I was really impressed by how a sliding into rotation could completely take the group off the task of chasing the breakaway and how attentive the teammates were in ensuring the break had a good chance of staying away. I used this same tactic at the Mead Roubaix a few weeks later. I had a teammate in a break and applied what I learned to take control of the front of the race. I would have never known how to do that on my own, but by watching and paying attention during the training race, I was able to pick up new skills.

Finally, the training crit provides a sometimes needed break from the monotony of intervals. Intervals are a necessary evil for bike racers. But a training crit is a great alternative. You will likely find yourself pushing harder during a race than training on your own. Not only that, but it also provides a good confidence boost to know where you stack up relative to the competition.

I highly recommend seeking out a local training crit. And don't just sit in, use it as an opportunity to test yourself and try out new tactics. Save the sitting in for the weekend racing.

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