Race Anecdotes: Men’s Cat. 4-5 Crit Racing Cycle

Disclaimer: I had a blast trying something new and this is all in jest and for fun. Instead of writing a race recap like I usually do, I chose to write a parody article of the 5 stages of grief. This is based on what I heard from the men within the peloton, after the race, and my interpretation of it. Sometimes we take racing at an amateur level too seriously. I know because I’m guilty of it, so this is a playful blog post (like if it were published in McSweeney’s) to make light of racing.

An examination of the McWhirt Model.

Men’s Cat. 4-5 Crit Racing Model Background

Throughout our amateur cycling careers, we experience many instances of men’s category 4-5 criterium racing. Crit racing can be caused by race directors, BRAC, USAC, and Do-it-yourself-ers. In 2019, Jessica McWhirt described five popular stages of crit racing in Cat. 4-5. They include:

  • Premature Lineup
  • Chop Wheels
  • Caterwaul
  • Fight the Washing Machine
  • Braking Bad

A Women’s Cat 3 racer, McWhirt first introduced her five-stage Men’s Cat. 4-5 Crit Racing Cycle to her husband, Chris. Her Cycle is based on her experience in her first men’s Cat 4-5 race in the City Park Criterium.  In an effort to examine her crit racing skills, McWhirt experienced all five stages of the men’s Cat. 4-5 Crit Racing Cycle.

These fives stages are most commonly experienced by the men’s category 4 and 5 within a criterium race.

Premature Lineup

Premature lineup is the stage that can initially help you endure a men’s cat 4-5 race. You might think that criterium racing makes no sense or is too overwhelming. You may deny the news that you’ve signed up for a criterium race with cat. 4’s, cat. 5’s, and juniors. It’s common in this stage to wonder how you’ll fare in the criterium race – you’re in a state of confusion because criterium racing, as you know it, is prone to carnage.

If you receive news that 70 amateur bike racers have signed up in the same category, you might believe this news is incorrect – a mistake must have occurred on USA Cycling’s website. In reaction to this news, you prematurely line up at the starting line 10-15 minutes before the start time. Interestingly, in prematurely lining up, you convince yourself that this will make a difference in the crit race.

Think of it as your body’s natural defense to men’s cat 4-5 criterium racing, saying, “Hey, if we line up early, we’ll have a better chance of winning.” Once the premature lineup is attained, the start of the racing begins. At this point, the amateur moves you were suppressing begin to surface.

Chop Wheels

Once the reality of the race has set in, when you’re riding in the peloton, there will be wheel chopping. This is a common stage for racers to cut sharply in front of another racer’s wheel. This happens when a racer is trying to fill in a gap or move into a spot too quickly. You find it hard to believe that someone could do something like that to you.

Racers agree that this is a common stage in men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing. Even though you might seem like you are in an endless cycle of wheel chopping, know that it will dissipate. Once you accept that racers will chop your wheels and that you will chop wheels yourself, men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing will not be as intimidating.

When you experience a wheel chop, you may feel disconnected from the peloton – that you have no draft anymore. Your draft was shattered and there’s no one to wheel suck anymore. Think of the peloton as a wave and surf it. Getting wheel-chopped or chopping someone’s wheel grounds you into the reality of men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing.


When racing in a men’s cat. 4-5 crit, do you ever find yourself yelling and almost making screeching noises? “HOLD YOUR FUCKING LIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!” This is caterwauling. In the moment, it may feel like you’re making progress, but this stage is false hope. You may falsely believe by caterwauling, you’ll avoid the mayhem of men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing.

By screaming, you’ll scare others into proper bike handling. You are so desperate to race in an organized fashion, you are willing to yell, scream, and caterwaul at the other racers to get them to hold their “fucking line.” Swearing is a common sidekick to caterwauling. You endure the endless “fuckers,” “shits,” and what-have-yous. “You fuckers need to learn how to RAAAACE.”

Fight the Washing Machine

Fighting the washing machine is a commonly accepted form of racing in a men’s cat. 4-5 crit. This is what happens to your position within the peloton when trying to maintain position towards the front. You are pushed around as if you’re in a washing machine. One minute you’re toward the front. Then toward the middle. Then the back.

In fact, most people associate fighting the washing machine with men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing. Constantly, you’re struggling to fight for position within the bunch. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. You may even have thoughts of fighting with the racers, not just the washing machine.

Braking Bad

The last stage of the men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing is braking badly. Not in the sense of the tv series that ran from 2008 – 2013, but the racer in front of you grabbing a fistful of brakes. In this stage, your emotions may run high. You come to terms with the fact that this is your reality – poor braking habits with racers around you, inciting aggression, swearing, and more bad braking.

It’s a time of adjustment and readjustment as brake pads squeal through turns. There’s the accordion effect that pops off the weaker ones in the back. The mental acuity it takes to focus on all bikes around you as the pack brakes, surges, and swerves.

In this stage, your confidence may lift, you start to lay off the brakes and hold your line, you learn to watch the racers around you, and you might start noticing the squirrely racers from the rest.

Symptoms of Men’s Cat. 4-5 Crit Racing

Your men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing symptoms may present themselves physically, socially, or spiritually. Some of the most common symptoms of men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bonking
  • Blowing up
  • Burning matches
  • Endo
  • Sweating
  • Questioning the purpose of waking up before the sun to race
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Aches and Pains
  • Questioning your training
  • Believing your power meter is wrong

Treatment of Men’s Cat. 4-5 Crit Racing

The prescription of coaching and clinics have been the most common methods of treating men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing. Initially, working with your team will help you function more fully. This might include team tactics, practicing holding a line, and taking a turn at speed to help you get through the next race.

Clinics are a solid approach to treating men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing. One-on-one or group clinics can help you work through men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing. That is, you are having trouble racing safely and effectively in a crit and need some support to hold a proper line. This in no way “cures” you of men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing, rather, it provides you with strategies to cope during the race.  

In addition, your coach can prescribe specific workouts to make you a stronger racer. This treatment often causes upgrade points. Some racers disagree with upgrading to the next category because they believe they have better luck in the cat. 4’s. Other racers believe that upgrading to a cat. 3, they’ll be safer and no longer experience the men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing cycle.

If you or a loved one is having a difficult time in a men’s cat. 4-5 crit racing, seek treatment from a coach or a clinic. Call a friend right away if you experience cat. 7 thoughts.

Need a coach. At me: grinandgrindit@gmail.com

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