When I first saw the USA Cycling National Road Championships Criterium course five days before race day last week in Louisville, Kentucky, I was intimidated by the corners. I thought that I should practice one corner, because there were corners within the corner and multiple lines through it. The corner was a set of left turns going around the wrong (left) side of a roundabout, and if you took the correct line, you could carve a nice arc while pedaling. My dad had us go down the road and take the corner the way he wanted us to. We did it a couple of times until we got it perfect. What I discovered was that if I found that line, I could go much faster than I had thought was possible.
Here is a video of us practicing the race line on the corner:
When we started the actual race, it was sunny but it had rained all morning and the road was still wet in places. I felt pretty good about the race because I got called to the line and got a great start in the second row. The corner that I was practicing was the second corner out of four. The first lap of the race, I saw a kid in front of me almost hit a hay bale. That scared me for the other corners and I didn’t go as fast as I might have. So I lost my good position. I heard the bell lap and I thought that I was stuck in the middle of the pack, and out of contention. But when I saw the corner that I had been practicing, I thought it was all or none, and I made a break through the peloton being aggressive and using all the room I had in order to get my bike through and take the race line that I had been practicing. I moved up five or ten spaces and ended up in a great position for the upcoming sprint.
Here is a video of the race going through the corner I practiced:
Unfortunately I followed a big rider for the draft into the second to last corner, we got squeezed, and I was not in contention for the sprint. But, because of my race line through the tricky corner, I finished higher than I would have otherwise.
Here is a video of the bell lap:
And a video of the sprint:
PS – you can learn skills like taking the race line at my club’s Beginning Racer Program in Redlands starting 7:30 am this Sunday, July 10 and also July 17, 31 and August 7. Click the link below for the flyer: