Sports passion, speed, impudent pushing, elbow work in a close group and incredible acceleration from every turn this is not a complete list of reasons why you should get involved in cycling and take part in criteria races. Our village criterion – Omloop der Kempen, takes place as part of the events dedicated to the race of the same name in the UCI-1.2 category This start has long been put on my pencil, as the main one in the season after the Tour of Flanders, and even the symptoms of the flu virus could not get in my way.
Last year I held out in the race until the last lap and now set myself the task of a confident finish in the main group. I more than coped with the task, albeit not without the help of paracetamol. As a result – snotty, but pleased with the result, I invite you to review the training methods and discuss the tactics and mistakes that I made during this race.
Racers start in three categories – amateurs, masters and recreation alists. The difference between amateurs and masters is only in age and those who are over 40 falls into the second category. Those who do not have a KNWU racing license are registered as recreators.
The racing lap is just over 5 kilometres. Start in the centre of the village, then go to the fields blown from all sides, and again return to the centre. Formally, we go, as the book writes, and the church. Recreants wind 8 circles, masters – 10, amateurs – 12. Groups do not mix.
I do not know how the amateurs drove – I have no acquaintances there, but Roberto went with the masters and their average speed was lower than that of the recreationists: 41.4 km / h versus our 42.3 km / h
Racing without a license is the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, you can always by a single license, but this time the championship among the recreation alists is systematic. Until the end of summer, 5 more starts will take place in the neighbouring villages, on the basis of which the winner of the Kempen Cup will be determined – this is what the natural region that covers southern Holland and northern Flanders is called.
Remembering the disappointing results of last year, when I blabbed in the tail for the whole race, and on the last lap could not close one of the gaps, this time I took the first row at the start and set myself the goal of sitting in the top ten.
Immediately after the starting shot, he sat third on the wheel and, having driven out into the field, realized that I was going in a ridiculous separation. This is one of those moments when it’s too early to twitch somewhere, but you need to go out for shifts and the group is in no hurry to catch up. I quickly accepted and handed over my shift and began to slowly look back. By the end of the first lap we were overtaken and very sharply overtaken. As it turned out, this section will be the most decisive at the distance. Here the wide road narrowed, and after it, there was a very sharp and narrow turn to the finish line. All work on correct positioning was reduced to being one of the first to enter this turn.
In this narrowing, I had to seriously push my elbows once, since two eagles squeezed me into a box and we even managed to rub ourselves with rams, but, fortunately, everything worked out and there was not even time to scream, as a hard sprint followed from a narrow turn to the te finish line … This sprint was repeated every lap because at the end of the straight you could earn a prize beer and announce your name on the loudspeaker as the winner of the intermediate sprint.
Since I tried to stay in the top ten, I had to twitch after every departure – you never know which one will be victorious. All this cost me extra energy and, looking back, I must say that all these departures are a waste of time. The group has always overtaken and I even suspect that the departures were organized by representatives of the two largest teams in the group in order to starve everyone else. After one of these mini-breaks, I went down too deep into the tail and immediately found myself surrounded by people that brake to zero in turns, and then try to sprint to catch up with the group so that the hips wag the entire width of the selected canvas. Sitting behind these guys requires more energy than responding to attacks from the front, so I immediately began to look for ways to return the pack to the head.
There were two laps left before the finish line and I again managed to get into the lead, but, according to the established tradition, he was promptly eaten. The last circle began surprisingly calmly, but it was only the calm before the storm. Before the last turn, such a crush began that I just found a more or less decent wheel and tried not to miss it. I went to the finish line somewhere in the 20th position, continued the dash out of the turn and walked around a couple of people, but I didn’t find the strength or courage for the last dash.
A confident finish, a confident race, and the absence of victorious insolence, sprint and courage is a profitable business.
Quite objectively, I was doing stupid things when I twitched for all the breaks. If you look at my pulse, then only on the 3rd and 4th laps I allowed myself to rest a little, while one of the participants who left me at the finish did not twitch anywhere and regularly rested throughout the entire distance … My heart rate is shown at the top, and the one below is a classic example of a wait-to-finish tactic.
Intervals with a high heart rate are a struggle for a position before the finish line, and the rest of the time this guy did not twitch anywhere and calmly recovered. At the finish line, he had enough strength left for a very powerful jerk, but in this heroic impulse, he managed to drive into the flowerbed and flip through the steering wheel very effectively. I got off with a slight fright and a couple of bruises.
Only Roberto is worse than me in tactical terms. He, as I said, went with the masters and, at an average speed lower than ours, managed to plough 30 watts more in units of reduced power. Strava gives 266 watts versus my 238 watts.
The group of foremen was 3 times smaller than ours and any break of 5 people was dangerous. I watched the masters from the roadside and every time I saw Roberto in the head of the catching group. Thank you, as they say, for your work, but if you keep all this energy until the finish line, you can, after all, compete for prizes.
In the same group, another colleague of ours hit only 231 watts – because he correctly read the race and left for the right people.
This is the coolest skill I’ve learned this season. The breakthrough in this skill came after reading the book Reading the Race: bike racing from inside the peloton. This is by no means a positive review of the book – it basically postulates completely trivial things about the advantages of drafting, organizing turntables and another etiquette of driving in a group, but the art of confident turning is described, surprisingly, very clearly and sensibly: “If you won’t turn to the left, then turn the steering wheel to the right and vice versa! “
If this statement causes a sense of dissonance, then I suggest googling the Wikipedia page about the principles of the gyroscope. The front wheel of a bicycle is just such a gyroscope. In the end, the whole process of controlling the bike in a turn should be called not so much steering as counter-steering. Armed with this rule, I first worked out the technique during solo training and then began to apply it with might and main during race training. The technique works not only in criteria but also on mountain serpentines. As always, the best video about cornering technique can be found from the guys at GCN.
All winter I have been preparing for the Tour of Flanders. He started with general functional training, then continued with a period of Sweet Spot and FTP intervals, and ended with a polarized period of volume and VO2max training.
After the Tour of Flanders, the regular cycling season begins and there is no particular structure here. On weekends, these are the Ardennes Granfondos, and in the middle of the week, there are group training with a bike club or training races-criteria.
If you tune in the criteria for victory, then, of course, you need to prioritize and remove the Ardennes, but, as the classic said: “What for to live like this?” Therefore, I would venture to say that to participate in the criteria without podium ambitions, a mix like mine should be enough. The Ardennes track the maintenance of aerobic capacity, while group training and race training track tactical skill and development of anaerobic recovery.
To all this, I add regular work to strengthen the muscles of the core, plyometrics and yoga, but these are my personal weaknesses, so this round dance continues all year round. The main tools in my arsenal are the FitStar and FitStar Yoga apps.
The next race is on June 23rd, and if I am not knocked down again by some virus, then I will try to perform as well, or even better. The organizers were pleased with the photos this year. Race logs, as always, are in the strava.