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Criterium racing improves cycling skills

May 13, 2013 at 12:13 a.m.


For the past few years, a group of us cyclists have been gathering in Riverside Park on Thursday evenings for a little bit of fast and fun cycling called criterium racing.

Lee Keeling, a local cycling enthusiast, is the one who has regenerated excitement for this cycling genre and is the main organizer of our local crit racing scene.

It's a great way to work on your cycling skills while getting a great lactate threshold workout in. The crits have returned to Riverside Park with the daylight hours lasting a bit longer as we head into summer. I have listed some tips if you are new to criterium racing but would like to give it a try.



What is Criterium (Crit) Racing?

A criterium race is a bike race held on a short course (usually 5K or less), with the race length being determined by either a certain number of laps or by total time.

It takes place on a closed course with multiple laps being ridden. The course we ride on in Riverside Park is 0.7 miles long, and although it isn't "closed," we have volunteers who help with traffic.

There is typically a person in charge who keeps track of laps and/or time, and that person gives the signal when there are three laps left to go, then two laps and finally the last lap, aka the bell lap. Criterium racing is head-to-head racing where average speed and the intensity are higher, and it generally takes a mix of good technical skills as you have to corner smoothly and ride in a large group.



Tips for Criterium Racing

Make sure you warm up well by riding 10 to 20 minutes at a steady state pace with a few sets of intervals done at faster than race pace.

Breaking a sweat and warming your muscles up while raising your heart rate will prime the body for racing so that all systems are ready to go.

Start smart by placing yourself properly within the group. Also, the race starts quickly, so make sure to start in the big chain ring and practice clipping into your pedals quickly so that no time is lost off the line.

Starting up towards the front and placing yourself within the top third of the group actually makes for less work.

Cyclists at the front of the pack generate more momentum because they are the ones who set the pace of the riding. Riders at the front are able to accelerate out of the corners of the course, where those at the back have to brake into it.

This makes for twice the work load, as momentum is lost and then power has to be regenerated.

Position yourself correctly and be ready to sprint twice - once for positioning and another for the finish line. Keep in mind that 200 meters is typically needed to pass someone in an all-out sprint, so don't wait too long.



Criterium Racing at Riverside Park

Keeling feels that criterium racing is a great way to bring cyclists together for some good-natured competition.

He encourages all levels to come out. "We will have a 15-minute warm-up race where the cyclists will self-select into one of two riding classes. This will allow cyclists to be grouped together with those of similar riding abilities."

Criterium races will be held every other Thursday starting next week at Riverside Park, with racing starting at 6 p.m. across from the Texas Zoo.

Local Triathlon Racing Results

Rookie Triathlon, May 5 in Austin - 300m swim, 11.2 mile bike, 2 mile run

Veteran Division

Joe Bratton, 57:30, 6th 40-44 age group (1:57/100m swim; 19.5 mph bike; 7:07/mile run); Brandee Bratton, 1:04:03, 5th 40-44 age group (2:31/100m swim; 17.5 mph bike; 7:18/mile run); Brad Short, 1:09:36, 37th 35-39 age group (2:32/100m swim; 17.3 mph bike; 8:58/mile run); Kimberly Rollins, 1:24:11; 29th 40-44 age group (2:44/100m swim; 14.4 mph bike; 12:11/mile run); Tressa Story, 1:25, 9th 55-59 age group (3:37/100m swim; 13.9 mph bike; 11:00/mile run).

Rookie Division

John Luna, 1:12:33, 7th 40-44 age group (3:02/100m swim; 17.2 mph bike; 9:27/mile run); Carlos Salas, 3rd 1-19 age group, 1:18:06 (3:19/100m swim; 14.5 mph bike; 9:16/mile run).

Spa Girl Triathlon, May 11 in San Antonio - 400m swim, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run

Crystal Cantu, 1:03:44, 2nd 30-34 age group, seventh overall (2:35/100m swim; 18.2 mph bike; 7:32/mile run); Sandra Cowart, 1:09:20, 1st 50-54 age group, (2:41/100m swim; 17.2 mph bike; 8:19/mile run); Ashley Leita, 1:14:51, 2nd 20-24 age group, (2:51/100m swim; 16.3 mph bike; 9:33/mile run); Shelly Srp, 1:16:52, 27th 30-34 age group (2:34/100m swim; 14.1 mph bike; 8:35/mile run); Marie Immenhauser, 1:22:48, 67th 35-39 age group (2:32/100m swim; 14.0 mph bike; 9:31/mile run); Kim Obsta, 1:23:21, 18th 50-54 age group (2:35/100m swim; 13.6 mph bike; 9:50/mile run).

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