By ALP Coach Alison Powers
My first roadie race was in 2005 in New Hampshire. It was a Criterium, and other than watching the Tour de France on TV, I had never seen a road bike race. I knew nothing about racing a criterium and I made many mistakes that day. On April 27th, my fellow ALP Cycles Coaching coaches and I will be coaching a criterium clinic from Specialized Boulder. We are going to teach the things I didn't know 14 years ago in New Hampshire.
4 things I didn't know about Criterium racing.... we'll teach in 3 weeks.
1) Tactics. I had no idea about race tactics in a criterium or really any race at all. I had a fair amount of mountain bike racing in my past and I just usually rode away from the field on the uphills and hoped to not get caught on the downhills. That tactic didn't work in this criterium. I rode on the front of the race for the entire race, pulling the rest of the Cat 3/4 field around and around. 40min later, with 200 meters to go, everyone- EVERYONE- sprinted past me to the finish line. In this year’s clinic, we will teach you different ways to win bike races based on the course and your own strengths and weaknesses.
2) How to ride in a group, especially around corners- Part of the reason why I rode on the front of the race, that day in New Hampshire, is because I was afraid to be near any other riders. And, going around a corner in a pack of riders, forget about it. That made me really nervous. Riding in and navigating through a group of riders is a skill. We’ll teach that skill.
2) Sprinting- I was a typical ride-by-myself-hammering-at-all-times kind of rider. I never changed pace, I never got out of the saddle, and I had never sprinted on my road bike. Sprinting is so much more than fast twitch muscles. It’s about body position, muscle recruitment, gearing, timing, and positioning.
4) Cornering- I did not know that my "normal" cornering skill and ability was faster and more confident than most other rider's abilities. 14 years ago, I slowed down to wait for the group to catch back up with me after each corner (I did not know about attacking, or breaking away, or finishing solo). Fast cornering, on any terrain, is about confidence. You must have confidence in your body position, where you are looking, what your bike/tires can do, and most of all, be able to relax and go through the corner with speed. We’ll teach you how to find that confidence, ability, and speed.
After coaching and teaching for 10 years, I now know that my mistakes above are common "unknowns" for many bike racers- both new and experienced. Come join Jennifer, Patricia, Brie, and me April 27th for 3 hrs of criterium racing 101 learning, practicing, training, and becoming more confident and faster. It's only $50 and the proceeds go to ALP Cycles Racing to pay entry fees for team races. Pre registration is required and up to 5 upgrade are points available. Register here.