It’s faster than you can ride on your own. It’s more energizing than any other ride. It’s a battle of wits and a game of cooperation. It’s a little bit scary, but a TON of fun if you are prepared.
Imagine yourself riding as hard as you can. Your heart rate monitor is reading higher than you have ever seen it! Your heart feels like it’s about to explode. It’s like a hard interval you don’t want to finish. Then you feel the bike lighten up. You’ve locked into someone’s slipstream. It’s a sensation of speed. Not like a downhill speed, but more like you are floating above the ground and being pulled through the air by the rider in front of you. This floating feeling gives you a few seconds of rest. Your heart rate drops down to a familiar level and you know you got this.
This is the feeling you get in a crit. It’s bigger than you.
If you think you are ready to race your first crit, then you should already be doing group rides. If you’re not, then find a fast group ride and see if you can hang in there. That will give you a true perspective as to how fast you actually are. You gotta do group rides on a regular basis. Why? Because you might be fast, but unless you master the group ride, you won’t know how to conserve your energy during your first race. Every time you tap those breaks, you’re losing energy. You don’t want to find yourself tapping the breaks and then having to bust out a high power output because you created a gap. Mastering the group ride will teach you to stabilize the energy you spend throughout the ride.
What about winning? Well, the point of racing is to win! Your goal in your first race might be to not get dropped, but yeah, sometime you wanna win! The key is to conserve your energy and position yourself in the right spot so you can get a good lead out to the finish. Let your competitive spirit take charge on this and put that hammer down.