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Pack Riding: A new racer should be comfortable riding in a pack in close proximity to other racers. The best way to train for this is by doing group rides and learning to ride elbow to elbow with your peers. Even experienced mountain bike racers can be spooked by how tightly experienced road racers ride. Group rides provide the population needed to ride in a pack, experience drafting, and learn how to predict moves of others around. Most populated areas have plenty of group rides ranging in length and speed.

Cornering: Cornering is a skill that is needed to be a successful crit racer. Taking a corner at high speed without slowing down is a lot harder than it might seem. When speeds get high in a criterium, the racers are usually going single file or two abreast through the turns. These racers are usually starting the turn on the outside, nearly hitting the apex of the corner, then again moving to the outside of the next straight away. By doing this, they are turning a 90 degree corner into nearly a straight line, allowing them to hold a lot of their speed. They do not hit their brakes, except in the case of an emergency.

Watching experienced racers take corners while they race, or following them while they warm up on the course, is a great way to learn. There are a number of things that an experienced cyclist will do intuitively while cornering that are essential to being successful. Some experienced racers can pedal through corners, but while learning, a novice should coast with the outside foot down (eg. left turn, right foot down). This foot acts as a pivot point and should hold most of the racer’s weight. A racer should always look forward, where she wants to go, and also watch the few racers in front of her to see if they are slowing down or accelerating out of the turn. Cornering can easily be practiced in an empty parking lot, marked with chalk or cones denoting the inside and outside curbs. It should be noted that while warming up at 15 mph a racer may be able to pedal through a turn, but as the speed picks up the racer will lean more, and pedaling while leaning could cause a pedal to strike against the ground.

Acceleration: Being able to accelerate can be the difference between winning and losing a crit, or finishing and not finishing. Racers usually “jump” out of every corner during a criterium, causing hundreds of accelerations each race, and most races are finished with a sprint for the win. Sprinting is just as it sounds, being able to go from a high speed, to an even higher speed. The sprint at the end of the race is the hardest, maximum effort a racer can do, and can usually only be replicated a few times per race. The smaller accelerations can be caused by the need to close gaps to the riders in front, who may have had a cleaner line through the turn, or may have accelerated, or “attacked” out of the turn. These small jumps can be replicated on any ride simply by jumping for 15 or so seconds per minute, over and over. This could even be done in conjunction with cornering drills in an empty parking lot. Invite a few friends and you have... A training crit!





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