Awesome folks who turned up at today’s Criterium Skill Session And Race @Bangalore Amateur Racing!
BAR Criterium Skills Session And Race!
It is important that the riders in the community pick up important skills of group riding and bike handling to ensure that the races are safe for everyone. Hence, a bunch of us gathered at KIADB on Budigere road for a bit of Criterium Skills Practice followed by a race.
Essential Criterium Racing Skills:
- Never overtake from the inside in corners. It is a recipe for disaster.
- Do all the braking that is needed to control your cornering speed before you enter the corner. Braking in the corner results in loss of traction and you could find yourself sliding out.
- Take a wider entry into the corner, hit the apex of the corner and exit wide. This will allow you to take the corner at speed.
- Take the corners in the drops. Helps keep a low center of gravity and helps retain better traction of the tires.
- Lean into the corners with the outside foot down and slightly pushing down on the pedal to counter balance a bit for the lean. Also helps avoid pedal hits by forcing to keep the inner pedal raised up.
- Do any gear changes needed before you enter the corner to avoid finding yourself in a wrong gear as you accelerate out of the corner. This is critical in hot-dog circuits involving U-turns where you will be losing speed in the corner. If you are in too big a gear as you exit the corner, it will be difficult to accelerate out of the corner.
- Your front wheel is your responsibility. No point complaining that the guy in front changed lines if you let your front wheel overlap his rear wheel and find yourself cleaning the tarmac with your sparkling new kit.
- Hold your line in the group. Sudden changes of line are dangerous for riders around you. Avoid being a squirrel in the peloton and ride predictably.
- Keep calm and avoid slamming your brakes as a reaction to variations in pace in the group. Slightly move into the wind or feather the brakes lightly to modulate pace. Sudden changes of pace will have a domino effect in the group and can cause chaos.
We went around the circuit in group practicing the points we discussed. One of the laps we rode three abreast with one arm on the next rider just to get comfortable riding close by in groups. Another lap we practiced taking the corners at speed. We did a race pace warm-up lap before we started our 45min Crit race.
Get Your Race Face On:
The circuit we chose for the race was a 2.1km rectangular loop with all left hand corners since we chose to ride it anti-clockwise. We had a speed breaker on each of the 4 corners. A couple were on the entry of the corner and a couple were as we exit the corner. Thankfully they were in such a way that it was not too difficult to take them at a reasonable speed.
As we started, I hit the front and drove the pace for the first couple of laps. The start/finish line was on a slight incline with a fairly strong headwind hitting us. On the other side of the rectangle, we had tailwind and slight downhill. That section had a bit of depression in the road(kind of reverse speed bump) and some rough road. So, we needed to be a bit careful hitting the section at speed. In the first lap itself, I lost my bottle in the third corner as I hit the speed bump. It went under my rear wheel as it fell but I stayed upright as did people on my wheel, thankfully.
After a couple of laps, Phani came to the front and drove the pace for a bit. By then, I realized that we were only 5 of us in the front group with my Spectrum Racing teammate, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, Kartikeya Panwar and a couple of IISc boys, Saurav Mandal and Phanibhushan Simhapatra. Phani has arguably the strongest sprint of the group. We kept going at a rate of 3:30mins per lap and on the 4th lap, I decided to take a break to fetch my bottle as my mouth was completely dry from the effort.
I couldn’t find it as it was picked up by Anantha who also happened to lose his bottle. I borrowed a bottle from my teammate, Mohan who was volunteering at the start/finish today. I skipped one lap and joined my group again. As a punishment for skipping a lap, I decided to take to the front and suffer for the rest of the race. I drove the pace for the next 4 laps and sat up on the final lap as I thought it would be unfair to contest the final lap having missed a lap in between. By that time, Saurav was distanced and only Arvind, Kartikeya and Phani were in the frey. The podium was decided and the order was to be decided by the sprint.
Phani opened the sprint from quite a long way away but still had enough kick to fend off Kartikeya who was right on his wheel and beat him by a couple of bike lengths at the line. Arvind didn’t contest the sprint with the young ones and happily finished third.