Tip #30: Take your free lap

Jun 13
Filed in: Tips,

Comments (4)

Crashes are an unfortunate inevitability, but they don't have to end your race.

In the commotion following a crash, new riders are often so eager to chase back onto the pack that they forget their free lap. In criteriums, riders are entitled to take this free lap in the event of a crash or "tire puncture or other failure of an essential component." If the course is a kilometer or shorter, riders are entitled to two free laps. (Note that these provisions expires in the final laps of a race.) To claim your free lap, you must proceed to the wheel pit and check in with the official. Unless otherwise prohibited, you may take the quickest route to the wheel pit, including crossing or reversing the course. If there are neutral wheels or if you've left a spare of your own, you can change a wheel. You will then be inserted into the race in the group with whom you were riding when you exited the race. What qualifies as a mishap? The USCF rulebook cites crashes and punctures, but precludes "malfunction due to mis-assembly or insufficient tightening of any component." So, dropped chains, loose seats or rubbing brake pads do not qualify unless you find a particularly generous official in the wheel pit. What happens if you come to a complete stop behind a crash but don't go down yourself? Sorry, you didn't crash. You'd better chase back on. (In such situations, the sly cyclist will gently flop to the ground, thereby "crashing." But you didn't read that here.)



Jun 13

1:36 pm

mokeefe (XXX Racing - AthletiCo)

When you say “reversing the course”, you mean on the sidewalk, right?  :)


Jun 13

9:01 pm


FYI, if your tire and spokes pick up a piece of tape from the start finish line because a USCF official didn’t put it down correctly and all the other racers are looking at you because your bike is making a sound like you have a card in your spokes, don’t look for a free lap from the official.

This actually happened last year at Elk Grove.  All the official said when the racer went to the pit was “sorry about that; now go chase”.  Didn’t happen to me, but to a friend.


Jun 16

12:23 pm

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

racing crashes in “local amateur” races are not necessarily inevitable-they are more often than not the result of a cyclist racing who is: overly aggressive, not skilled, uncomfortable with the speed and close proximity of other racers, has poor bike handling skills, inattentive, and a variety of other factors which mostly are avoidable-this is why Cat 5 cyclists should be segregated in ALL races from other categories and there should be a significantly lower limit to the number of participants in Cat 5 races-there are many cyclists who are strong enough to stay with a fast paced crit or road race, but are inexperienced with the nuances of “pack” racing-when these folks get into races with more experienced riders it is a crash waiting to happen-Cat 5 are by definition inexperienced-let’s let them get the experience safely before placing them in a Cat 4 race (Cat 4/5 Masters for example) comingling them is a recipe for crashing.  We race for the joy and excitement of it, and when inexperienced riders screw up, others all too often pay the price.


Jun 16

1:28 pm

Luke Seemann's avatar

Luke Seemann (XXX Racing-AthletiCo)

Barry has an excellent point. I hope Cat 5’s out there do everything they can do to get more experience before jumping into the 4/5’s races of Superweek. Cobb Park, Proctor and Matteson are all excellent opportunities.

My experience was always that masters 4/5 tend to be smoother than regular 4/5’s. Unfortunately Barry found an exception to that rule on Saturday. Hope you’re on the mend soon, buddy.


You must be logged in to comment.
If you have commented here before, you may already have an account. Go to this page to check. If you're new, take a moment to register.

Auto-login on future visits

Forgot your password?