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Road Racing Doesn't Suck - Continued

sight is often out of mind, otherwise breaks should be utilized to attain primes or MAR standings. Though heroic, a break is a surefire way to waste yourself.

Otherwise, the race is decided in a bunch sprint on the last lap. Sprints are as exhilarating as they are dangerous (anyone catch that huge pile-up in this year’s Tour of Romandie?) Most locals ride a conservative race saving energy for that final smack-down, crapshoot nuclear holocaust on the last lap. I can’t win the damn things so I have no good advice for you other than don’t crash because you will get rolled over thirty times or so. That said, if you’re too far back in the pack coming into the sprint you won’t get any position unless the whole field wipes out in front of you (I had this happen once... and it was my best place!) If you’re leading the sprint out too early from the front you won’t get it and most likely play lead out train for some particularly cagey apes. If you’ve ever been passed by a semi going forty you know what it feels like to have the sprint blow by you and suck you into twentieth. That said sprinting is equal parts strategy and incredible fitness, something else I know nothing about… figure it out yourself and maybe I won’t see you at the bar Thursday night.

Crit racing is all practice. Here’s what you need:

License ( - $60 gets you a sticker, some deals on car rentals, cheap accident insurance and a year’s worth of racing. You will begin in category CAT 5, 4 for women, and can upgrade based on a set number of race starts. After that its all points going up the line from 3, 2, to 1 which is essentially pro material. $10 day licenses add up quick for all but the most casual racer.

Bike - Though you don’t see many bikes advertised as crit bikes these days, a road bike with a short wheelbase and steep angles will serve you best in corners and sprints. Avoid triples and overly upright bikes. Drop bars only, no flat bars or aero equipment for safety reasons (imagine the running of the bulls). Carbon rigs are all the rage but a weekly crit race will be doing that bike no favors.

Gear - There are some dress code rules regarding races so please leave your speedo and tri singlet at home, your Cutters gear may be ok, but a nice kit is faster and more comfortable. Helmets go without saying - the days where officials let you split your head open during races are long gone. Clipless shoes and pedals are a necessity. You needn’t go broke buying the latest gimmicky bullshit, you can get a great deal at local bike swaps on lightly used parts.

‘Tude - Its most important to bring a positive, friendly, confident but not cocky attitude to the loop. Remember its just a weeknight amateur race, its about earning your beer calories and breaking a sweat. Have fun, don’t crash!