Cycling 103: Chesapeake Criterium

The final installment of the “Cycling 101” posts might make you scratch your head and question the sanity of every racing cyclist. Here, we meet the Criterium. Watching this race might make you dizzy; participating in it defies any logic I can piece together. Yet, D did it twice in one day.

Chesapeake Crit WarmupChesapeake City Hallspecialized allez

In a Criterium race:

-Racers are divided or grouped by category (aka Cat); for this event, there was a Cat 4/5 race, a Cat 1/2/3 and then age-specific events (which is rare).

D rode twice because he did an age-group race and the general 1/2/3 race.

-The laps are high-speed, high-intensity, and typically only one mile long.

-The race length is either minutes or number of laps – i.e. they may race for 45 minutes, or race as long as it takes the group to race 45 laps.

Yes, 45 ONE MILE laps. I know. (“45” being an arbitrary number here.)

The race often includes a prime (“preem”) – i.e. a prize for winning a mid-race lap. This is noted by a bell or race director announcement prior to the designated lap, and basically means there’s a random sprint and then they all just keep looping around again.

-Riders that fall behind and/or get lapped (remember how this is only one mile long?) may get cut from the course. Safety first!

This all depends on the race directors, the technical difficulty of the course and how many people fall back. In some cases, lead groups of 3-4 racers may be lapping the main group but everyone still gets to keep racing.

Yes, sometimes I think they must make this stuff up as they go, too. But somehow it all works…

-Winning requires a mix of skills! You race for distance, speed, sharp corners and a sprint finish.



{Photos courtesy of  Bob & BJ’s SmugMug}

Spectating is very entertaining here; I can walk to any part of the course and see them two minutes later, or sit comfortably in a lawn chair enjoying my post-run laziness, and get up every 3-4 minutes to snap blurry pictures and watch them zip by!

Spread Love Spectator

When in Chesapeake, why not rep my favorite granola {LoveGrownFoods} and hydrate courtesy of D’s team, representing the District {DC}? Exactly. Perfecto.


These guys are tired after essentially sprinting alongside each other for over an hour, not to mention some of them did this twice with only a short break in between! The Crit is an easy race to host because it only requires enough street permits for one mile’s worth of road. It’s a good race to ride if you want to test out some speed but not all on your own

And while you’re on the search, we recommend racing by a beach so that your evening “cool-down” can look like this:

Virginia Beach walk

Thanks to Amy & Steve for meeting up and revealing this “secret” quiet beach!


Any Crit-lovers out there?

Any runners also wondering how in the world the mind can entertain you for the same one mile loop on repeat?

Next up: the distance! In September, we visit the “Gran Fondo”…



Filed under cycling, learning, new things!, travel

5 responses to “Cycling 103: Chesapeake Criterium

  1. Thanks for these posts. My husband is just getting into bike racing, so I love reading about it! This seems the craziest- a group of competitive guys riding together really fast on a short loop. Did you see any crashes? At least it’s spectator friendly!

  2. That is so many kinds of crazy! You couldn’t pay me to ride fast in a pack like that. Ha! Go D!

  3. oh me me me! we love watching the austin Crit. So intense! the women scare me haha. Go D!!!

  4. The whole concept of the Criterium race (or the “Crit,” as I’ll now call it, as if I know what I’m talking about) is totally fascinating and terrifying to me—it’s nice to have some images to associate with the verbal descriptions. It’s also nice to see a slice of my temporary home represented on here. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the beach, and so glad I got to share in the fun of your visit!

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