Road racing

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  • could someone point me in the right direction - want to start road racing. don't know where to start... do i need a license, what bike can i race, what category should i race in... ? i live in sussex btw.

  • Road racing in the UK is, on the whole, organised by British Cycling and they have a good introductory page on their website;­e/BC/roa/road_about.asp

    You'll need a license and, as I'm assuming you've never raced before, then you'll start as a 4th category rider. I'd recommend you start with one of the Go Race races that BC organise for 4th cats as that'll give you a feel for it.

    If you're not a member of a club then I'd recommend you join one as you'll get advise, encouragement and some people to share the experience with.

    A word of warning - the barrier to entry in UK road racing is high. You have to be very fit to finish a race due to the small number of people racing so I'm afraid it'll be a bit soul destroying to begin with. But if you go in with a positive mindset and try and treat each race as a learning experience then you'll progress quickly.

  • thanks for your help. think i'll join a club and take it from there. just wish i'd done this towards the start of the year!!

  • Now is actually a good time to start as, for reasons I've never understood, road race fields seem to decline towards the end of the summer. I think it's because a lot of people start racing very early in the season and then run out of motivation by July.

    I don't know whereabouts you are in Sussex but the Surrey League is a great way of getting into racing;

    If you can get into SE London on a Tuesday evening then there is a weekly night of racing at Crystal Palace. The circuit is quite technical and tough but you'll get a feel for it very quickly. It's actually a good place to start as even if you get dropped you'll normally find there is a group of people of similar ability that you can race around with.

  • i'm in brighton, so SE london is pretty easy for me - can be there in 40 mins. what time do the races start, and do i have to register? i'll have to be a club rider to take part, i guess?

  • Races start at 7 pm. You don't need to be a club member but you do need to have a license - I think it's about £50 for a year and it's £10 to race.

  • and i get the license from British cycling right? i feel embarassed to ask such rookie question, but you have to start somewhere!

  • You can either get it from them directly or via a club, should you join one. No need to be embarrassed, as you say we all have to start somewhere. (When I started the Internet was non-existent, which makes me feel old).

  • one of my mates has just joined brighton mitre andy, can get some of the details of him if you don't go for rollapaloza.
    I'd like to join a club if i ever get a 'proper' road bike.

  • Yes, road racing and club riding are nearly synonomous. Makes what is a pretty tough form of cycle racing a tad more enjoyable! Both Dulwich Paragon and Addiscombe CC are well-known and supported South London bike clubs.

    But as andyp says above, the racing itself is tough as the pace is high. If you can't get round Richmond Park in sub-19 mins I would do a bit more training, or start racing at Herne Hill track first - is a lot more beginner-friendly.

  • rollapaluza main site:

  • i'm racing the surrey league and hillingdon, a fair bit at the moment. fasteddy is around as well.

  • thanks for the replies, i'll hopefully make it along to a hillingdon or crystal palace race once i get my bike up and running again in a few weeks. it's a heap compared to most, but should get me round.

  • at hillingdon, you can almost race the whole race in one gear, so downtube shifters wouldn't be too bad. you see one or two steel frames.

  • Hey Andy, have a look at Betteshanger as well, its near Deal. Again, would probably be easy enough for you to get along. I dont have a license as im not sure when I can go, it costs more without one, but still welcome to race. Cheers - J

  • sorry to thread hijack a little, sure andy won't mind...

    I'm know where near ready but how quick do you have to be race standard, dulwich mentioned a richmond park lap time of 19, i'm out of london so unfortunately that reference point is a little lost on me.

    Really i spose i'm looking for a you need to be able to average x km/pm for x km before even thinking about it

  • IIRC Richmond is about a seven mile circuit. 19 minutes will have you at a little over 22 mph rolling average.

    Races will be longer though so if you haven't yet hit 30+ continuous miles flat out then you might want to consider training on some time trial circuits. 10's, 15's and 25s are fairly common throughout the summer months and no license is required.

  • cat 4 race at chertsey MOD on sat averaged 25mph for just over an hour, c3 26mph for 97mins :O
    c4's at hillingdon are averaging 24mph for just over an hour.

    not necessarily have to be fit, can get away if you are a smart rider and ride well in a pack ;)

  • cheers dogsballs that's exactly the sort of thing i was looking for, now all i need now is a road bike!

  • Average speeds are a bit of a misnomer in my opinion. I was obsessed with this when I started racing but you'll never achieve the average speed a race does on your own in training. One good way of judging fitness is to ride 10 mile time trials - if you're getting below 26 minutes then you're probably fit enough to race.

    But there is more to it than fitness, being able to hold your position in a bunch is much more important because if you find yourself at the back you run the risk of getting dropped and it is very, very hard to get back on.

  • If you are new to road racing the most fundamental issue is your bike handling in a group. If you haven't mastered this subtle art you will a) hurt yourself b) (and much worse) hurt lots of others.
    The best thing to do is to start by riding with friendsin a group in a non competitive environment. You can progress by finding a local club, explain that you are new to the game and ask them to help you to learn. Once you have done the social group riding bit move on to either a) training at the track as a novice or b) an intro session with a RR organisation (Surrey League do organise these at various times)
    You can gain the speed you need to be competitive by loads of different methods. I'd recommend a mix of TT, red car training and hill sprints. Have fun, FE.

  • what's red car training?

  • Go out riding, every time a red car goes past you sprint for 30 secs. a) there are lots of red cars out there. b) sometimes red cars follow other red cars!
    The point is to train you for the random speed change of road racing. If there aren't enough red cars in your 'hood then try red and blue car training! ;-)

  • haha FE I'd never heard of that one before. I like. :)

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Road racing

Posted by Avatar for andy @andy