Sounds of Summer
3“I grew up doing this style of criterium racing. I’ve been a criterium rider my whole life, more than anything. If you grow up racing bikes in the States, that’s what you are. If you can’t ride a crit then you can’t make a living.” Chris Horner, American Europro on crits
Americans don’t have just a season for criteriums. Easily promoted, these events show up all year on our professional racing calendar. Crits are to American racing what Kermesse is to Belgian, or point-en-ligne is to French racing, or left-side of the road Time Trials are to Brits.
Criteriums show up in stage races here and even have their own national championships.
Crits aren’t the backbone of our race offerings but they may be feet that ground an aspiring rider to stand tall and be seen by scouting pro teams. Some domestic teams are crit-specific with rosters of crit specialists – sprinters, lead-out riders, and breakaway experts applied to criterium situations. These special crit scenarios may be translated to road racing or used in certain track events, but some of its fitness and strategies are unique to the discipline.
Many corners in tight proximity create the unique style of criterium fitness, skills, and strategies. The ability to surge potentially hundreds of times, hit corners at speeds greater than made for automobiles, and navigate around others while doing so separates crit specialists from strong road racers, time trialists or match sprinters. Rhythm changes, as a condensed feature, offer specific race segmentation; great crit riders can hear the changing music of the race like night noises to a summer camper. This music is on key during twilight versions of these events when sight and depth perception are replaced by other senses and speedy sensibilities.
As the American peloton grows younger, crit racing has become less important as a pathway to European racing. It’s still a viable path for a domestic career though perhaps not one that pays as dearly.
Prayer for Criterium Fitness
“Jesus, knowing they were out to get him, moved on. A lot of people followed him, and he healed them all… he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.” 4Matthew 25:15
We enjoy our crits. We confess our specialists may overestimate abilities vis-à-vis road racing. We know we need to know how to get around a corner to avoid commotion in the streets. We ask blessing on crit specialists.
Ponder Am I focused only on this specialty? Affirm I put parking lot crit skills to use in other road racing disciplines. Watch the front of the race or you can count yourself out of contention.
3Merco Cycling Classic – NE California, USA, March 1-2, 2008 Stage 1 – March 1: Elite Men Grand Prix, 40 mi “Borrajo claims victory a lap ahead of the field,” by Kirsten Robbins in Merced, California www.cyclingnews.com
4The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson