#5 — Crit Characters: 4 of the best!

So it is finally October and, true to form in Melbourne, Spring is still deciding whether it wants to show up and grace us with its presence. That said, the only other thing more certain than 3 degree morning rides and 30 degree evening rides is that our beloved crit racing is back!

The pushing of pedals while turning left for an hour is finally back and after the first hit-out of the season it got me thinking of the all too familiar characters we inevitably become and encounter each year while pinning on a number.

In the interests of full disclosure at some point in time I have absolutely been, or at least tried to be, each one of these guys. Awkward turtle….

So here goes, my favourite 4 types of crit racers.

1. The Breakaway ‘Expert’.

The way this one plays out is all too familiar — 3 minutes in, it all seems pretty civilised, you’re giving your best ‘suns out tongues out’ to the paparazzi aaaannnnd then the frantic calls of ‘UP UP UP’ come from back down the bunch. What do you know, our resident breakaway expert has taken zero lessons on board from last season and is at it again.

When our friendly breakaway expert is in town crits are filled with more attacks and chase downs than spokes in the peloton. The crowds watching on tell me the sprinters can be overheard conveying their dismay when they realise their easy ride to the finish isn’t going to be so, well, easy!

Honestly if they’re chatting away I can’t hear a thing above the thumping of my heart in my ears.

In a cruel twist after the 350th attack the breakaway fiend can often be found yo-yoing off the back of the bunch with two laps to go and rolling in 30 seconds down on our ultimate victor. But this is why we love them, their bold and brave style is what gets them noticed. Well it is either that or their fluro bike.

Chin up — there is always next week!

2. The ‘I’m here for training’ Character

The #forevertraining character usually comes in the form of a whippet hill climber and features a solid engine, zero sprint game and quite literally no cares about winning. They’re typically motivated by one thing and one thing only — ripping people legs off. Sound familiar?

Observed in the wild, we typically find our racing to train friend chasing down our breakaway compadre or forming a pre-race alliance with them. Rumour has it that if you are lucky enough to be within earshot of them at the start-line you will be treated to the blueprint of how they plan to shelve the field and ride away in a solo break to ultimate glory.

3. The ‘Thoroughbred Sprinter’ Character

*Cue 2Pac on blast* The real stars of the show have arrived.

Rolling in, crew in tow these are the serious folk and they are rocking their Velotoze on a 30 degree day to prove it. The thoroughbred needs no introduction, they race every week and race for nothing other than the top spot of the podium.

Once racing is underway, you’d be forgiven for thinking they missed the start. Alas, you would be mistaken! In reality the thoroughbred has a secret powerup allowing them to remain invisible for 98% of the race while allowing them to resurface within the last 180 seconds.

When these guys show up they tend channel their inner Ron Burgundy and blurt random phrases bearing no connection to what is actually going on around them. My favourite is ‘mangoes 2 for $5’… Seriously… I wish I was kidding!

Anyway, once they’ve announced their presence, they tend to just go hell for leather in the final and give your wheel a good quality chop on their way to victory. Kudos, where kudos are due, a win is a win.

4. The ‘Road Captain’ aka ‘El Capitan’ character

The informal safety officer and peace keeper of the peloton.

El Capitan will call you out on your inability to hold a line, pedalling through highspeed corners and remind us all that dive bombing into corners is dumb. They are also often called on to sort out mid ride disputes between wheel hunting whippersnappers who are ready to take their biff off the bike.

El Cappi’s level of care for their fellow races does not mean they should be under estimated. Good’ol Road Captain is usually absurdly strong and knows the game inside out. If you think this character ‘accidental’ rolled off the front and got 5 bike lengths on the bunch I’ve got news for you — their ‘accidental’ roll off the front wasn’t accidental and stop waiting for someone else, chase and chase now. Because by the time you all look at each other the chief is around the next corner dropping more watts than any of you can throw down and you’re now resigned to racing for second place.

So that’s it! There isn’t much left to do aside from jumping in, signing up and pinning a number.

Happy and safe racing.

P.s. — Mangoes 2 for $5 — I seriously can’t make this stuff up…