Text from an article written by Tim Cooper
This is in no way a definitive guide. I only got into road racing 18 months ago myself, so I thought it might help going through the basics.
I’m assuming if you’re reading this you already own the bike and can ride it. I’ve read many differing opinions on what kind of condition you need to be in to start racing at entry level (cat 4). Being able to hold 20mph for an hour on your own was possibly the most realistic, from my own experiences you just have to get out there and see. Your naturally dragged round in the peleton and at first it was only in the last 2 or 3 laps that I struggled, but the more you race the quicker you get…easy.
Everyone coming into road racing over the age of 18, will start in category 4. The categories are elite, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Ranking points are awarded for finishing positions depending on the level of the race.
For example if you finish 1st in a category 4 only race you would receive 10 points.
The number of ranking points required to gain promotion depends on your category, but the first target is to get out of cat 4 and this requires 10 points.
To race in the vast majority of races in the UK, you must join British Racing
. If you intend to obtain a racing licence as well you must join British Cycling at Silver or Gold level.
Gold level membership = £60 Racing licence = £30
If you have not yet got British Cycling membership then have a look at this news article
to find out how to get FREE membership. If these links are out of date then please contact the membership secretary
for more details about how to get discounted BC membership, you can also do a bit of Google based research and quite easily get discounts on the first years membership for British Cycling.
The other important organisation is the Surrey League. They run a large calendar of races throughout the season. Membership for seniors is £20 and Juniors £10. Please note that all registrations for the Surrey League
should be sent via our club rep which is Dave Faulkner.
So you’ve got your race licence and league membership, now you need a race.
British Cycling and the Surrey League both have up to date calendars. Races are split between road and circuit. Road races are usually run on open roads with traffic, with supporting vehicles and signposted routes. Circuits are usually clear of traffic and are a good way of introducing yourself to the art of road racing in safer conditions.
The calendar will tell you where the race is, how long it is, what categories can enter, how much the entry fee is and the closing date for entries. Most races will be ‘EOL’ (enter on line) in which no pre-race entry is required, but some will require a completed entry form.
So it’s race day. Give yourself plenty of time, make sure you’ve got all your kit (including shoes……it does happen). You’ll be riding in nice shiny new kit but if you weren’t you have to use plain kit. You can’t race in pro-team kit. Take a track pump for those last minute panic moments and some spare safety pins if they run out. If your bike doubles up as a time-trial bike, remove the bars.
Go to the singing on desk and take your licence with you, normally these will be held until after the race.
Check which way the numbers should be fixed, this will depend on which side of the road the camera is positioned.
If a road race, make sure you have a rough idea of the route.
Juniors have to get their gears checked (I think???) before the race.
Give yourself enough time for a warm up, usually on a circuit you will get 2 or 3 laps beforehand and then pull up at the start ready to go.
Make sure you start in the right group, if a handicap the groups work backwards from cat 4. On a circuit the cat 4’s start at the back (only if the race is split).
If you have a spare wheel, leave it at the start/finish, if you have time you are allowed a lap out for mechanicals, giving you just about time to change a wheel but not mend a puncture.
Collect your envelope from the race officials
Have a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake
Comment from Josh: Junior are allowed a maximum gearing of 52x14, but shimano do a junior based cassette which comprises of 14 as the lowest gear. This is supposed to stop junior from pushing a too large gear and damaging their bodies while they are still developing. Juniors also race with adults and have exactly the same racing structure except they are not allowed to race in the elite category.