I just got to watch my first crit this past weekend. It was a .85 mile loop with riders broken up into various categories based on speed and accomplishments I assume. Each event (mens and womens) had a set time ... say 45 minutes, plus 5 laps. So the number of laps in the first 45 minutes were not "important" or counted. Just the time. After the time limit they had 5 laps to finish.
The cool part was that every so often there were laps that had $50 cash prizes for the first rider to cross the start/finish line. And of course there were cash prizes for the first 5 places on the finish line.
I watched a couple mens Cat 4-5 races (the slower group) and one Open women's ride ( all groups of women). The route was a .85 mile lap. The men were averaging 2 minutes 10 seconds a lap, and much faster for the sprint laps with cash in the line. So pacing was 22-25 mph with a few laps upwards of 28-29 mph. Women's laps were generally 2:30 a lap with some variations, so around 20 mph.
It was a lot of fun to watch. The mens races were more interesting as the speeds were higher and there were more people riding. The woman's race was nice to watch, but the speeds were lower, and it broke into several smaller groups. While I didn't see it, there was a crash on course for the men's and a rider hit a curb taking down several riders, and one broke his collar bone. Part of the sport too.
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