2022 Early Bird Cycling Race Training Series
The NCNCA Early Bird race clinic has come and gone. For those not familiar with it, the Early Bird clinic is a 4 week program that introduces skills needed to participate in racing over the course of 4 consecutive Sundays. In addition to the clinic and drilling, there is always a practice crit after the clinic for the day. If you are new to racing, this is a highly recommended series of clinics to attend. While you won't learn it all here, you will at least get some basic knowledge of cornering, line choices for cornering, riding in a pack, riding next to others, paceline drills, drafting, and much more. This year the event was held in Livermore, CA and VSRT had a pretty solid turnout each weekend at the clinic and races. In terms of the racing this was a great intro into crit racing. For the 35 and under age group (They split races up into women, juniors, under 35, and over 35), these practice crits summed it up great. It was fast, 25-26 average MPH for 50 minutes, and as many new time attendees mentioned, there was a ton of surging. This is commonplace for lower category crit races as young riders tend to sprint out of every corner and oftentimes in lower categories the line choices are not the best, so the race is by no means smooth. Unfortunately, in both races I attended in the under 35 age group, there were crashes. Yes, in crits and road races, crashes happen, we were all fortunate on VSRT to get out of them with minimal injuries and bike damages. These races should help us all sharpen our pack riding skills while at the same time identifying riders we should steer clear of....I didn't do a great job of that! I am fortunate to be older, so I was able to join the over 35 age group races and in comparison to the under 35 races, they were very easy. If you are over 35, I highly suggest doing these races because the risk is exponentially less than riding with the youngsters and the speed is a mile per hour slower or more, with virtually no surging. In the end, these clinics and races are great reminders for some very entry level skills that we all should have but many don't. The races are a great test of fitness as we approach the start of race season. If anyone wants to practice bumping out on the road next time, let me know!
PS. Huge Shoutout to Velo Promo for hosting these training series every year and also to Greg Beliera for the amazing photos!