Below, a few Night at the Oval testimonials from 2018, though all still very true today.
"We are excited to be there this Tuesday and this time I will race too. See ya Tuesday!"
Kat Porter, Twisted Spokes
"Love the Oval - I have been going for years. The different race formats are fun and make you think and get your strategy going.
"My favorites are the 'C Race' and points races. NatO gives folks an opportunity to ‘road race’ at a lowered risk level and practice drafting and lead out skills."
Mario Czarnomski, ICCC
"The Night at the Oval is a fantastic race-like workout that preps you for crits and sprints. Get a good warm up because the intensity is high from the GO!"
The races mainly take place on the 1/2 mile oval, so the terrain is flat and predictable, allowing you to just focus on staying with the pack, and timing your sprint.
"At NatO there are multiple races in a night, which gives you the chance to try out different strategies. If you mess up your first race, just wait 10 minutes and go at it again with a new strategy.
"The best part is the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. While it is competitive, everyone is there to have a good time on their bikes on a Tuesday night."
Victor, Youth Off Road Riders & Goosetown Racing/New Pioneer Food Coop
"It's a great opportunity for kids to get to know their community and to meet new people and share new experiences with them. Especially those that mountain bike often but are trying to get into road racing.
My favorite race is the "Miss and Out," because it's very tense at times and relaxed at other times. I enjoy having to sprint often."
Wayne Fett, Goosetown Racing/New Pioneer Food Coop
"The Oval races help everyone with their race skills no matter how long they've been racing. It also provides an excellent interval or sprint workout."
Rob McKillip, CRANDIC Racing Club
"NatO is the Cliff Notes of bike racing ... just the important bits, none of the long, boring miles. It's a unique chance to try out the strategies you normally only ready about, or see on TV.
"Just try out different strategies, be bold ... if it didn't work, who cares, try something different in the next race, ten minutes later. It's an awesome workout. You will get to hear rates you'll just never see in your basement ... and have way more fun doing it!
"There's an A and B group, so don't have to worry about being slow. Besides, everybody is nice. Also, it's fan friendly -- you can see the entire race, so bring your family. There is no better way to learn to race.
"Come challenge the Snoops in the Granny Gear Race, or Rob in the Big Gear Race ..."
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Inside a Night at the Oval
The Fun Stuff (Races)
Most nights each group starts out with a scratch race. This is a straight forward criterium (a circuit race on a shorter circuit) with no turns. However-many laps around the 1/2 mile oval track and the race is scored entirely on the finish order. Why is it called a scratch race? I dunno. If you know, leave a comment.
"I run the snowball quite a bit," says (handsome) USAC official Larry Howe. "It's a variant of the points race. Sprint laps every other lap, but only first place gets points. How many points increases each sprint: two for the first sprint, four points for the second, six for the third sprint, and ten points for the finish." Riders with points are placed accordingly. Riders without are placed behind them based on their finish.
Basically, it's miss & out -- the last rider each lap is removed and given the respective finish placement. Lap #1's last rider will be last place, lap #2's last rider is second to last, etc. (While cycling would love to take credit for "devil take the hindmost," the proverb predates the bicycle by at least 300 years.)
The spiral of death/spiral of life gets even crazier. One lap each of the 1/2, 1/4, & 1/8 mile ovals in a spiral .... then back out. The course is unique, to say the least
Little gear is one lap in your smallest gear, and the same rules apply. Goofy enough that it's probably good that big gear and little gear don't count. Still, we'll list how everyone finished just for bragging rights.
Scoring the Night at the Oval
Sit out a race and you get the maximum points (so one night when 40 people were suffering in the heat, eight people got 40 points for skipping a race and the very last person who actually raced got 32). "The tie breaker is the rider with the highest place finish in any race. If that is equal, it's the finish in the final race of the evening."
Speaking of scoring, with any luck at all racers will be able to follow along as the night's results unfold on CRANDICRacing.com. Fingers crossed...
Sponsors and . . . Prizes ? ! ? ! ?
In the future hopefully we can offer more prizes, cash, or whatever. For now, though, we can at least do this: in each of whatever group races, the top placed male and female will get a night of free racing whenever they choose at Night at the Oval. Except Juniors, of course, because you all race free anyway.
Registration for Night at the Oval is online only at BikeReg.com.
Come race your bike.
Riding in a group means drafting, riding close to others to save energy. It takes practice, balancing safety, comfort, and speed. But it really isn't difficult: ride smoothly and predictably, anticipate others, guard your front wheel, and relax.
Fortunately Night at the Oval offers a perfect chance to practice pack riding skills. Racers are staged in appropriate skill levels, and as CRANDIC Racing Club's Rob McKillip explains: "The track is huge. There is a ton of space. Get in the pack if you're comfortable. If not, sit at the back, or even attack and try to time trial away. Either way, it's a safe way to have fun and get a killer workout."