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Fast Furious Fun of Criteriums
Date: 25 Oct, 2005
Contact: Amy Taylor-Mason
Mobile: 021 2534789

Summer time dawns not only extended sun light hours for us to work on our mid-thigh tan lines but also a chance to get out adrenalin glands thumping through Criterium racing.  Many cities around NZ have summer Criterium races where bike skills can outweigh fitness and craftiness is key.   So let's have a brief look at some essential skills to make sure you have fun and stay upright this summer.

 

To bake the cake the oven must be turned on…

  • Warming up is as essential as getting to the start line on time.  Your heart, lungs and legs need to be ready for the intensity it is about to experience so include in your warm up some "race pace" efforts of 4-5minutes duration. 

Knowledge is power and that is what you want…

  • Knowing the course you are racing helps the mind and body relax.  If you can ride the course in your warm up, get a feel for the corners at speed and take note of the wind directions.

The race always begins…

  • With a count down and a click into the pedals.  Some riders spend the first 10minutes of the race making up for the mistakes they made in the first 10seconds.  That is lining up at the back of the bunch, in the wrong gear and not being able to click into your pedals.  That is self-handicapping at its best.  Always line up with your big chain ring ready to go, and in an easy gear on the rear cluster so you can accelerate off the line easily.   Start on the front or near the front of the grid so you don't get stuck behind everyone.  It is much easier to start the race at the front of the bunch and stay there as opposed to at the back and trying to move your way up.

Around we go…

  • Cornering is by far the most important skill in Criteriums.  It can create big gaps in bunches when riders cannot corner properly.  
  • If you are not confident at cornering glue yourself to a skilled rider and let them do the thinking for you.  Follow their wheel around the corner.

The rubber band can only be stretched so far…

  • Never ride down the back of the bunch.  Cornering "hubbards" tend to be down here placing the rubber band game with each corner.  That is they are on the bunch heading into the corner but then are five metres behind coming out of it.  

Ready to pounce…

  • In the final few laps of the race position yourself carefully but riding in the top quarter of the field.
  • For the final sprint be ready in a gear that you can accelerate but also wind up.  There is nothing worse than having to change gear mid-sprint.  It will slow you down and distract your focus.

Don't give up …

  • Until after the finish line.  It is incredible how many races can be lost in the final two metres of a Criterium so be sure to keep the power on the pedals until you feel the tape pass under your wheels.

Look into the palm of your hands…

  • Prevention is easier than cure.  Wearing the correct clothing means throwing on some gloves as nature always ensures you throw your hands out in front of you to brace a fall if its going to happen. 
  • Despite the warmer weather always wear an under top incase of a crash.  Each layer will "slide" across each other preventing nasty abrasions.

There are just a few things to think about before the Criterium season starts.  Enjoy, and just remember – don't put your hands up until after you have crossed the line.

 

Amy Taylor-Mason is an Auckland based Exercise Physiologist and Cycling Coach with a MSc(Hons) in Sports Science. One of the founders of Kinetic Edge Training Technology (www.kecycling.com) she coaches recreational to World Champion cyclists and has been cycling herself for 15 years.  She can be contacted on amy@kecycling.com

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