Cycling adventures: road racing bike
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Cycling adventures: road racing bike

October 25, 2019

Hi, I’m Daniel Oakman, senior curator
at the National Museum of Australia and welcome to my
cycling adventures. Today I’ll be riding this
carbon fibre road bike in a race with the Canberra
Veterans Cycling Club. That’s me in the red
and white jersey. The kind of racing I’m riding in
here is called the criterium. We race for a certain amount of
time – in this case 20 minutes – then a bell is rung and riders know they have two laps to race
before the finish line. We’re moving off steadily here with each
rider finding a comfortable position. The key to this kind of racing is conserving
energy by drafting behind your competitors. By staying out of the wind
a rider can move easier than if they are on the front
facing into the wind. Typically, riders will try to stay together, but sometimes a rider may surge forward
in what is known as an attack and try to move away
from the group. Riders however who attack too
early might run out of steam and be forced back
into the bunch. I have drifted a bit far back and I am now attempting to move
towards the front of the race. This bike is perfectly designed
for this kind of racing. It’s light, durable and responsive, ideal
for weaving in close to other riders. Sitting in an upright
position however does mean that you’re not in a
particularly aerodynamic position, hence the need to draft behind others
becomes even more important in a race situation. Today is pretty windy so I’m
looking to gain as much shelter riding behind my competitors, that way I’ll hopefully be able
to save enough energy to finish. Now the pace is really
increasing here and you can see the riders
strung out into a long line. I’m being forced to
ride a lot harder as the wind cuts across the
group and big gaps are formed. I’m struggling to hold the wheel
of the rider in front of me especially around
these corners. The smaller group off the
front have stayed together and they will do so
until the finish. I’m just hopping from group to group
until the end racing for the minor placings. This kind of competition was really
the first style of cycle racing that captivated Australian
sports lovers. As popular as
football and cricket thousands attended venues to watch
short criterium races like this one and longer endurance rides,
some going up to six days. It’s been great to come here today to get
a feel for what it’s like to compete and get a sense of the many factors
that decide the criterium race – the bike, the fitness, race tactics, the weather, and
of course the decisions and strengths of other riders. I can really see why many cyclists
get hooked by this kind of racing. Thanks for watching and I’ll see
you on my next cycling adventure.

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