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.
Two Series, Too Fun
CRANDIC TT & Night at the Oval
CRANDIC Racing Club is thrilled to present two bike racing series over the summer of 2019, the CRANDIC Time Trial Series at Big Grove Solon and Night at the Oval at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. Two very different races that we love dearly.
At first glance these races couldn't seem more different: the time trial is "the race of truth," just you against the clock, while Night at the Oval is track-inspired pack racing at its finest; the TT in Solon is along Sutliff Road, one of the most beautiful and bike-friendly spots in the Corridor, while NatO is in industrial Cedar Rapids at Hawkeye Downs, a race track typically reserved for cars, go-cart, semi trailers, and the like. Despite their differences, a closer look at these two races reveals both their similarities and the reasons that we love them so.
A great place to start
In their own ways both races are perfect for beginners. Hawkeye Downs is a big, wide track without so much as a corner, so NatO riders have all the space they could want as they practice pack riding and racing techniques. On the other hand, in a TT riders start at set intervals, nearing each other only to pass, so beginners can go all out without worrying about bumping elbows or touching wheels.
Just as important, both series are mid-week, informal events that are welcoming to beginners but hard enough to challenged even seasoned racers.
Simple, but never easy
Every wanna-be racer has ridden a time trial. The minute we feel competitive on a bike we test our strength on a set course by timing ourselves. A time trial, simple as that. What makes it hard is concentrating, pacing, and wanting to go faster next time.
While at Night at the Oval each race is different, they mostly come down to a sprint. But the nuances of drafting other riders, finding the right position, and timing the jump to perfection make every sprint different, and every sprint a challenge.
Hit the road
It may not be the sexiest thing out there these days, but road cycling is the basis of all bike racing. Navigating a cyclocross start is all but impossible without pack riding skills. In the right conditions drafting features even in gravel or mtb racing. Pacing well is essential to any race. And all bike racing disciplines reward fitness won on the road.
Bike racing came from the road. Its most essential skills are still right at home there.
Two series, too fun
CRANDIC is committed to making these races fun for everyone. For the crusty old roadie that's not hard at all: Yell "go" and they're happy, and they'll find plenty of competition at either of these races. For beginners – whether they're new to the road, or to bike racing in general – we say welcome, ride hard and have fun, and let us know if we can help.
We're CRANDIC Racing Club. We love to race.
The CRANDIC Time Trial Series begins Wednesday, May 1. Night at the Oval begins Tuesday, May 14. Find more info on both at CRANDICRacing.com.
How's your sprint? Do you even know? How many chances do you get to try different finishes when win or lose you're done until next weekend? Imagine instead sprinting every few minutes for 5 or 6 laps in a race, then resting a few minutes and going at it again. Welcome to Night at the Oval.
Long a staple of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association in Cedar Rapids, Night at the Oval has been sorely missed the last few years. Fortunately this year Goosetown Racing Club has brought the series back to life. "We need more beginner-friendly race opportunities, and this is a very safe and easy venue to set up," said GRC's Larry Howe.
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."