Types of races
Bicycle road races include multi-day stage races such as the famous Tour de France to Criteriums, which are races based on a circuit – usually less than a mile in length – and run for a set period of time. Criteriums, like the Priority Health Grand Cycling Classic, are the most popular form of road racing in North America. Typically the race runs through a closed-off city center.
Professional vs. amateur – what the rankings mean:
Cyclists are ranked through the U.S. Cycling Federation (USCF) based on race results calculated using the USCF Results and Rankings Program. “Category 1” refers to professional cyclists, and Categories 2 through 5 are amateur rankings. Masters cyclists are age 35 and above. For a complete explanation, see www.usacycling.org.
Watching the race:
The Priority Health Grand Cycling Classic is a criterium: Cyclists circle a looped race for a set period of time. The cyclist who rides the longest distance during the specified time wins the race. Competition requires technical skills – especially the ability to take corners quickly and sharply, and riding safely with a large group in order to avoid crashing. In most Criteriums, cyclists reach speeds of up to 40 mph.
Like most sports, cycling has its own lingo. Here’s a list of common terms to help you understand the race.
- Attack. A sudden attempt to get away from another rider.
- Blocking. When a rider tries to get in other riders’ way. This is a part of a team strategy to slow down other cyclists to allow other team members to get ahead in a breakaway.
- Bridge the Gap. When a rider – or group of riders – tries to reach a group farther ahead.
- Breakaway. When a group of riders get ahead of the pack (or peloton)
- Cadence. Pedaling rate.
- Chasers. Riders who are attempting to “bridge the gap” in attempting to catch the lead group.
- Circuit. A track that is ridden more than one time during a race.
- Criterium. A bike race in which cyclists ride on a circuit for a specified length of time or distance.
- Drafting. Riding closely behind another rider in order to get into their slipstream. The lead rider expends up to 30 percent more energy than the following rider.
- Drop. Getting left behind or losing contact with the group of riders.
- Field. The main group of riders – also called the pack or peloton.
- Force the Pace. When a rider goes harder than the rest of the pack to increase the pace.
- Gap. The distance between groups or individuals.
- Hammering. Steady, strenuous pedaling.
- Hook. When riders use their wheels to hit rider(s) behind them – may be intentional or accidental.
- Jump. A sudden acceleration, most often at the start of a sprint.
- Kick. The final burst of speed in a race.
- Mass Start. When all racers begin at the same time.
- Pack. The main group of riders – also called the. field or peloton.
- Peloton. The main group of racers – also called the field or the pack.
- Prime (pronounced “preem”). This “race within a race” gives cyclists the chance to win a prize for being the first to complete a specific lap.
- Slipstream. The air pocket created by a moving rider. Other riders “draft” in the slipstream to conserve energy.
- Sprint. A burst of speed to finish the race – usually involving more than one rider.
- Take a flyer. When a rider heads out in front of the pack, usually alone.