FLO Factory Team

First Crit Experience.......Hammer Down with Mad Bike Control

The first of 5 weekly Crit Clinics and Races. This weeks clinic focus, Assertiveness Training. This weeks race, all gas!!!

Today was my first ever experience with a bike race, more specifically a Crit, and let me tell you, when people say it’s hammer down all the way, it’s hammer down all the way.

Being a newbie to this format of racing, I was peaked by this race for the fact that they offer a free clinic before the “training race”.  I, like many of the other racers there were all CAT5/noobs, so we were all in the same boat of not really knowing what to do.  They called it a training race because throughout the field they had a couple cat 2/3 “mentors” who were there to watch the peloton and guide it along.  But before the race is where the clinic came in.  The topic of the day’s clinic was Assertiveness Training, being comfortable on your bike while being surrounded and shoulder to shoulder with other riders at +22mph.  Learning not to panic if you get bumped and keeping your line and wheel control.  They split us off into groups where we partnered up with riders to run though drills where we were riding tight and in close proximity, generating that comfortability of riding like sardines.  We also went over different formats of pace lining and drafting (work smarter, not harder).

Onto the race, and what a race it was.  This training race was a 50 min race or 20 laps, whichever came first (remember it’s a training race). The biggest tip I took away from the day is work smarter, not harder.  I kept finding myself out of the draft zones of other riders and spent more energy trying to get on then I should have.  And wondering whether I started out to hard because I kept having people come up form behind and pass me as I was in the middle of the peloton, in the first couple laps.  Luckily, I am pretty confident in my bike handling and was able to hold speed through the corners and hang on to the wheels of some of the riders towards the back.  I felt comfortable with the “mentors” that were slotted in the field with us too. They were never at the head of the race, but only in the middle and at the very end to watch out for stragglers who fell off the back and encourage or give them in race tips to tactics so they could grab back on.  You would occasionally, hear one of them to tell a rider to fill a gap or slot in right here or take this wheel.  They were very helpful and encouraging for many of us new racers, without affecting the overall race. For the next 10-12 laps I was able to move up and down the peloton, jumping form wheel to wheel.

With about 6 or 7 laps to go the inevitable happened, there was a spill.  You always hear about this happening in Crit races, and how frequent they are.  One of the racers in my group slipped out in a turn and ended up with a multi bike pile up.  The crash happened in front of me, but I was able to avoid it and veer to the left.  Unfortunately we were carry 22mph into a corner and going that fast it pretty hard to avoid a crash and be able to maneuver the bike back onto a hard right turn, so I ended up heading straight for a curb, slammed on my brakes to slow down, was able to unclip one pedal and front tired it right into the curb, immediately hearing my tire pop.  I was able to remain upright, but as a turned around I saw 4 riders on the ground and the mentors directing traffic around the spill.  Ambulance came, everyone was ok, no broken bones or anything, just bumps bruises scrapes, thankfully, but that was the end of my race.  I did a quick inventory check of myself and checked my front wheel for damage.  I was surprised to see that my front wheel looked pretty good.  These FLO 30’s are indestructible.  With only 6 laps to go, we walked it back to the starting line.

After the race, we had a race debrief to talk about the overall experience of the race.  Racers got to ask questions about what they saw and what they should do in certain race scenarios they experienced.  Mentors got to comment on what they saw and encouraged everyone to keep coming back and bring more people to learn.  I was able to talk to a couple people who crashed with me and check on them.  Everyone was in good shape and ready to come back next weekend.  All in all, it was an awesome experience and I’m pumped to see what the following weekend brings at the next clinic and race.





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