Beware the novice

Aug 11, 2013
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Seto-shi, Aichi, Japan
#1
Like all JCF regions in Japan, local events are organized... but, please consider this.
A local event is organized by the Aichi CF on a monthly basis. It is a crit around a fairly famous local park, and is on private land, and the road is completely closed.
Last Sunday, a beginner entered the Elite Race (3 categories, Beginner, Sports, Elite) with the 'I want to challenge' attitude, and was doing fairly well until the hammer went down. He was the cause of a huge pile-up... 90% of the field went down, 5 went to hospital, and one is critical. In addition, a huge value of bikes were potentially written off.
The point is that there are few checks at the local level, and it is up to the common sense of the rider what category he chooses to enter. Being elite is not fully about power, but is about the experience, and ability to ride a bike in a peloton at a higher pace.
 
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wexford

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#2
Wow. Thanks for sharing that. I remember how frantic bunch sprints used to be as a kid. Hard to imagine doing one now at a higher pace without regaining a serious amount of experience first. I race cars. We had a novice (who's dad is a racer) join a few races and wipe out some other cars in each race he entered. I stopped doing those races as it was too risky (for self and for car) for a while - so much so that the organizers created a new rule that anyone touching another car or being touched was disqualified. In a car race you pay for your own damage and there is no insurance except on you. I presume bike races are similar.
 

theBlob

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Sep 28, 2011
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#3
That is a tough story, but that is pretty much the story of racing anything. I raced motorbikes here for some time at all the eastern Japan tracks and on any given day there was some clown in over his head and doing something stupid. (Fuji Speedway was the worst)

I saw a guy come around the last corner at tsukuba under a white flag see the ambulance on the track, freak out and low side right into it.

Seriously, you race, you are taking a risk, you have to learn how to minimise the risk, that is where experience comes in. And sometimes...well sometimes you are just going to be out of luck. It's just part of the game.

That said, the organisers have an obligation to create events that do not put event profitability over event safety. The best way to do this is to create a licensing system, that grades people by their experience as well as their immediate speed. Unfortunately I do not know of any such system in anything until you get to the pro level. Basically its a free for all until you are pro!

Like all JCF regions in Japan, local events are organized... but, please consider this.
A local event is organized by the Aichi CF on a monthly basis. It is a crit around a fairly famous local park, and is on private land, and the road is completely closed.
Last Sunday, a beginner entered the Elite Race (3 categories, Beginner, Sports, Elite) with the 'I want to challenge' attitude, and was doing fairly well until the hammer went down. He was the cause of a huge pile-up... 90% of the field went down, 5 went to hospital, and one is critical. In addition, a huge value of bikes were potentially written off.
The point is that there are few checks at the local level, and it is up to the common sense of the rider what category he chooses to enter. Being elite is not fully about power, but is about the experience, and ability to ride a bike in a peloton at a higher pace.
 
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microcord

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Aug 28, 2012
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#4
Welcome new name Tim!

I'm sorry to hear of the crash. Actually I'm now (for the first time ever) reading a book about bike racing, and the crashes sound pretty hairy. On the other hand I half expect them on those Alpine descents.

What surprises me near Tokyo is the population riding big motorbikes up and down passes. They seem to be there mostly for the thrills of the trajectory (no luggage, and they're going way too fast to notice the view, let alone to enjoy it). If they miscalculate a turn they can go over the edge (I suppose requiring a helicopter and making a great mess) or just slam into a car or some cyclists. Yet the roads are hardly policed at all. I did once see a cop give a bollocking to a rider, but it seemed to be just words, not anything looking like a fine. Maybe the cops are busy elsewhere. (Does every police station still have a cop propping up a stick out in front?)
 

theBlob

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Sep 28, 2011
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#5
Here's a novel idea...

Save your posts for things you have the slightest clue about.


Welcome new name Tim!

I'm sorry to hear of the crash. Actually I'm now (for the first time ever) reading a book about bike racing, and the crashes sound pretty hairy. On the other hand I half expect them on those Alpine descents.

What surprises me near Tokyo is the population riding big motorbikes up and down passes. They seem to be there mostly for the thrills of the trajectory (no luggage, and they're going way too fast to notice the view, let alone to enjoy it). If they miscalculate a turn they can go over the edge (I suppose requiring a helicopter and making a great mess) or just slam into a car or some cyclists. Yet the roads are hardly policed at all. I did once see a cop give a bollocking to a rider, but it seemed to be just words, not anything looking like a fine. Maybe the cops are busy elsewhere. (Does every police station still have a cop propping up a stick out in front?)
 
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joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#7
Yet the roads are hardly policed at all.
Not true, in my experience. First of all, police here seems to like to go after motorcyclists more than after any other type of motorist. Secondly, on Tomin no Mori/Okutama, which is an extremely popular route for motorbikes on weekends, I think I have seen police speed traps on more weekends than I didn't see them! Actually, I pointed this out to fellow Half-Fast riders when I didn't come across one on the last BOOB ride. Usually they have the trap fairly early on the climb, before the last villages.

I crashed my bicycle on a ride a year and a half ago, after I had only had it for a couple of months and it made me very risk-averse. I could never enter a race now. When I was younger I had a reputation as a fast driver, but that was a looong time ago...
 

Gunjira

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#9
Tim, thanks for sharing. I still remember seeing you on the podium at lake Saiko of C class just after I had been involved in a crash in B class, when an idiot rider pushed in on the curve with no space left

I think you always have crashes, but many guys are just in over their head like you said. And maybe in a western peloton, the other riders would chastise those novices a lot more before something happens. The next time somebody risks crashing me, I will crash them first.
 
Aug 11, 2013
42
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Seto-shi, Aichi, Japan
#11
Agreed totally.
I have to say that JCRC C Class scared me a little.... haha

Tim, thanks for sharing. I still remember seeing you on the podium at lake Saiko of C class just after I had been involved in a crash in B class, when an idiot rider pushed in on the curve with no space left

I think you always have crashes, but many guys are just in over their head like you said. And maybe in a western peloton, the other riders would chastise those novices a lot more before something happens. The next time somebody risks crashing me, I will crash them first.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#12
@Tim - interesting that they let novices jump into just about any classification (at least at these local or non-sanctioned events.) As the popularity grows for sure they'll need to enforce some category rules. Getting more organized groups on proper race training rides would be very helpful and more seat time on the circuit vis a vis more racing. We've all been there one way or the other and it's only through experience and guidance that you learn the lines, etiquette and skills to compete without increasing risk to everyone around. You just can't expect to go out and race, then manage a bunch sprint without having practiced it more than a few times. Pass on the knowledge ! If you see younger guys struggling with lines then spend a few minutes offering some advise and example. It might save your bike (and theirs) on the next race!
 

FarEast

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#13
This is one of the reasons why I stopped racing the JCRC series - when I started you had to race an X class race before you were given a Cat, regardless if you had a UCI Pro license or JPT in the JBCF. Now they seem to let anyone jump in up to A class and frankly it has been the cause of a lot of crashes, It's also why I don't go anywhere near other citizens races and non sanctioned events - just to much risk involved by people that don't think things through.

One of the biggest causes of crashes is mental fatigue. Ridding in a peloton of 100+ riders takes a lot of concentration and experience, especially at speeds of 50+ km/h on technical courses and one bad move can bring pretty much everyone down.

One of my biggest worries is a lot of riders have no clue about keeping their line when racing and are all over the road thinking that they can pretty much ride where they like without a care in the world.

As someone that races I put my trust in the riders around me, that they know what they are about and that the bike they ride is properly maintained and serviced. I'm shocked with the amount of people that also go out on group rides with bikes that are basically falling apart putting their own as well as others at risk of injury or even death.

If you see younger guys struggling with lines then spend a few minutes offering some advise and example. It might save your bike (and theirs) on the next race!
Oh I help them alright.... normally scream at them telling them to keep their line then pull up beside them and give them a good ear bashing. It's how I learnt and how countless others have learnt.

Actually I'm now (for the first time ever) reading a book about bike racing, and the crashes sound pretty hairy
Crashes are crashes some you walk away from, others you don't and if you talk to anyone that has been racing for years it is part of the territory - one thing I tell anyone that is thinking about racing is except the fact you will crash. It is going to happen regardless and if you worry about it then you are more likely going to crash or cause one. If you have excepted the inevitable then you are able to push the envelope that little bit further.
 

Musashi13

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#14
Is there any way we can make this thread more constructive?

Better than, "Oi! You! Stop it!" couldn't advice, tips, training methods, ways to improve riding in groups, be given?

I just rode in my first crit last Sunday and finished 17th out of 75 entrants but I know I'd have done better if I'd have known where to be and how to act before I went into it. Keeping your line is one thing but which line to keep and where to be in the group are also things one needs to know. I was very apprehensive about getting in the way and causing a crash and, in part, it was this that made me remain towards the back of the main group. This lead to me having to do more work to keep up than others well into the group supposedly had to do. In the end I ran out of steam and fell out the back. Sure, I could have prepared more training-wise and diet-wise but on the day I felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time way too often (not in a "danger to other riders" way just wrong line).

The event was open to all experience levels, btw.
 

FarEast

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#15
Is there any way we can make this thread more constructive?

Better than, "Oi! You! Stop it!" couldn't advice, tips, training methods, ways to improve riding in groups, be given?
The only way you can really learn is by experience, getting out there and doing it and hopefully having someone like me shout at you mid race to keep you in line - yeah it sounds harsh but lets look at the facts - its mid bloody race and a rider isn't going to pull over, whip out a white board and go through the in's and out's of crit racing with you - most are actually hoping you mess up and take out half the peloton as it makes a win easier so having a guy give you an ear bashing mid race is actually doing you a favor.

I've had riders come up to me after the race and apologize and then thank me for shouting at them as it woke them up and got them concentrating again, normally when they needed it with 3km too go when things really heat up.

If you want training and advice then hire a coach, someone with a track record of racing crits and road races with sprint finishes as this is stuff that can't be learnt from a book, they will take you out and work one on one with you regarding techniques. Even 1 day can greatly improve your techniques and I did this with Mike Sly this time last year to help him prepare for Miyada Criterium. I also work with other Pro riders here in Japan who's strengths are more in line with the majority of racing which have hill climb finishes and need tune ups for Crit racing.

Other advice is join a club or team that has an experienced racing squad as again they will pass down the information and skills needed but again you need to get out there and do it while being supported by veterans with experience in this type of racing.

Also I'd like to point out that Tim in the opening post is giving advice, he's basically advising to start slow and enter races that are at the riders level - You might be able to hold 300+w for 10 minutes or have Secret, Hench, Lynch Squad, Hardcore training sessions that pump the ego but in reality they mean jack when it comes to racing (ok being able to keep up helps) as it's normally the veterans that win these kind of races and not through power, so what you need is experience and coaching.

By racing in Cat3 or D,E,F classes you learn the lay of the land when it comes to racing and I would strongly suggest getting a good season of road racing in before seriously looking at Criterium races as these are one of the hardest disciplines of all road racing. Once you have got the hang of riding in a proper peloton and keeping your lines as well as moving around within the peloton you'll start to see how to position yourself for the sprint finishes. Then you'll get an idea of how a criterium works as its basically a condensed road race with all the action happening for the entire race (especially if there are preems).
 

kiwisimon

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#16
I was very apprehensive about getting in the way and causing a crash and, in part, it was this that made me remain towards the back of the main group. This lead to me having to do more work to keep up than others well into the group supposedly had to do. In the end I ran out of steam and fell out the back. Sure, I could have prepared more training-wise and diet-wise but on the day I felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time way too often (not in a "danger to other riders" way just wrong line)
best way to learn lines is get out there and ride, best people to learn from are the fast guys at the front, best advice I ever got was that to avoid crashes ride in front of everyone else, yeah you blow out a lot but it makes you real fast in a hurry. Oh and crashing is part of racing. rubber side down!
 
Aug 11, 2013
42
11
28
53
Seto-shi, Aichi, Japan
#18
James is spot on.
The problem with the guy that went down on Sunday was that he was 3rd in line, and going into the fastest corner on the course. Apparently braking as he went into the corner, and aslo through the corner. It was dry, but braking on a corner is a big NO NO... never happens in the top categories, and always happens in the lower categories. And, demostrates the point I was trying to make.... Having the power to stay with the bunch for even 15 mins is only part of the issue. YOU NEED to be able to handle your bike at that pace as well, and a really big point is having confidence in your own skill...
 

FarEast

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#20
a few E1 riders at the race on Sunday were injured as well from the result of that crash - 90% of the peloton taken out and apparently in a place where it shouldn't have happened.