August 1, 2011

Crit Chat

We finally got ourselves to a race this weekend!  I say "we" because when The Cyclist began this endeavor, we agreed it would be a team effort.  We make a good team.


For the most part I am in charge of food (aka "fuel")....
...spectator seating...

...(these Kelty chairs are super comfy!)...
...and sometimes activities for me and/or The Munchkin (more about him later)... 

The Cyclist is responsible for his gear, driving to and from whatever event and, of course, racing...


Before I give everyone the scoop on the race (it was a biggie), I wanted to put on my teacher hat and give a little race tutorial.....

Here goes....

The Cyclist mostly races in Crit's.  "Crit" is short for Criterium, which is defined by Merriam Webster as, "a bicycle race of a specified number of laps on a closed course over public roads closed to normal traffic"  (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/criterium).

For those who don't know cycling, I like to describe it as NASCAR on bikes.  Basically, there is a one mile (usually loop, or modified loop) course where riders race for a specific period of time, usually 1-1.5 hours.  Once the time gets down towards the end, lap cards are put up.  The first rider to cross the line wins. Crit's are often held in a business park type area.  Larger events are on main public roads or in the center of town. Crit racing is very exciting to watch because the race passes by often and as a spectator you are free to walk the edge of the entire course.  Crit's are especially exciting for me to watch because The Cyclist is a sprinter. 

To keep the race even more exciting, there are usually primes (read preem).  A prime is like a race within the race.  The announcer will ring a bell and announce over the loud speaker "prime lap" as the riders pass.  Whoever crosses first on that lap, wins a prime, or prize.

In cycling there are categories - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, PRO.  Everyone starts as a CAT 5 (women's categories start at CAT 4), and from that position you must earn points to advance to the next category.  Each advancement is harder to achieve.  Points are initially earned by completing a number of races (with the group) in a given period of time (usually a calendar year), or, by placing in and/or winning races.  Races are usually scheduled by category - all 5's, 4/5's, 2/3's, 2's, PRO/1/2 and PRO/1 (or some variation of these). 

Essentially, CAT 1's are professional riders, but aren't considered PRO until they are picked up by a professional team and paid to race.  Most CAT 1/2 teams offer sponsorship to their riders for various products.  My Cyclist is a CAT 2.  

Another thing about cycling - it is a team sport.  There is a lot of strategy happening at all times.  I would like to comment more on this, but I am still trying to learn and understand it all myself.  I think spotting strategy is easiest in races like Tour De France.

Probably my favorite part of racing is being outside and travel.  The Cyclist and I like to explore and this is just another way of doing it.  Plus, we have met a lot of really great friends through the cycling community.  Last (and maybe most importantly) we feel like it's a great example for The Munchkin to spend time at fun events that also encourage being fit and healthy.

So, hopefully my "Crit Chat" wasn't too painful! Later this week I'll give a low-down (and much more exciting post!) of Sunday's race - Tour De Nez.





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