Racing licence confusion - BC sort out your website!!

barrybridges Posts: 420
edited January 2009 in Campaign
I'm looking to start Surrey League racing next year but the British Cycling website is so confusing and useless.

I need a racing licence, but what sort? BC has bronze, silver and gold but from all the literature I've found it suggests I can only race closed-circuit or 'entry-level' (how is that defined?) races on that. Is that correct?

Their website then says that if you are a gold or silver member you can pay for a full racing licence. But I thought being a gold member included the racing licence?

Parts of their website then say that if you've joined a cycling club and have never had a racing licence you get your first year's one free, but I can't find any info on this anywhere when it comes to buying a licence.

So what licence should I get? If I buy a provisional licence (bronze membership) will I be able to race? And do I even need a buy a provisional licence?

I know that cycling in Britain is going through a boom period right now but the British Cycling website is a bit of a shambolic site when you consider it's the national body for one of the fastest rising sports in our country that receives millions in funding each year.

Rant over.

Any idea what sort of licence I need for Surrey League (making the assumption that I'm going to be racing most weekends and - hopefully - not just doing Cat 4/entry-level events all the time)?



  • I think I might have sorted it:

    I need a Silver (minimum) BC membership @ £36.00

    And then I need to buy a racing licence @ £32.00

    So, £68 total (ouch)?

    I'm going to continue grumbling that this is a bloody expensive deterrent to people getting involved in racing. £15 to join my local club, £68 for a racing licence and then £22.30 to join Surrey League = £105.30 to take up road racing next year. I think this is quite expensive really when you consider it's then £10 - £15 to enter each event.

    Anyway, rant over now. Off to bed.
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    why don't you race on a 'day membership' basis for a few events and see if you like it first? Race entries might be a couple of quid higher, but there is no need to be a BCF member or hold a racing licence..

    Presumably it is still possible to do that..? It always used to be..
  • Simon Notley
    Simon Notley Posts: 1,263
    Yep, you've got it right now. It does seem expensive, but I think it's on par with what you might expect to pay for other sports which require trained officials and have a fairly high-maintenance league system. However, I agree with you that the website is a horrible mess, I have been intending writing to BC for some time with some constructive criticism. It is very difficult to navigate, and has some bizarre behaviours. For example, if you search for races in the 'south' region it actually finds all races in regions including the word south. All this could be fixed fairly inexpensively I would have thought and hopefully some useful features such as a google-map of race locations added.
  • Yes, I thought about that, but I'm pretty certain I'll be racing all season (I hope so with the training I've done - not going to do all of that for just one months' racing!) and I got the impression that day licences were actually quite costly - about a tenner each time?

    Just strikes me as a bit of a mess, to be honest. I want to do a race on 22nd Feb but having sent club application form today, I've got to wait for that before applying for BCF licence, then wait for that before applying for Surrey League licence...all of which will probably take a few weeks at least!

    It just seems like quite a lot of money really. I raced as a junior about 10 years ago and in the meantime got into running (marathons and half marathons) and when I compare the levels of organisation and the costs, cycling seems very expensive. £15 to enter a road race each weekend which is staffed by amazing volunteers compares with a similar price for running events, which will have perhaps 10 times as many marshalls, really organised kit drop-off points, timing chips, free t-shirts and stash etc. I know more people take part in running races than your average Cat3 road race, but can't help but look at the money you pay out and wonder where it goes.

    If I want to turn up and run, I don't need a licence, nor do I need to be a member of a club (and I don't get charged more for being a 'private' member than I do for being a club member). When I pay my BCF fee, I then have to pay extra for the licence (which - in other words - is a bit of a con because I'm only interested in the licence and not the bumpf they are cross-selling me).

    In these economically difficult times it's difficult to justify £105 without even starting a race...add onto that perhaps 25 events a year and that's close to £500 without even considering the equipment. Can you find me another sport that charges members that sort of money just to take part?

    Overall, BCF website is a bit rubbish and has really ambigious text that is out-of-date and contradicts itself. Shambolic really.
  • And Simon - I totally agree with you. It shouldn't cost them more than £2,000 to build a really good, engaging and useful website that genuinely helps members. I saw RiderHQ today and thought it was a brilliant idea, but there are virtually no events on it because it's so badly supported. Why can't all these different bodies: Time Trials, BC, SERRL, Surrey League, speak to one another and communicate? Why not have ONE licence for the whole UK that means I can race anywhere, and split the money up pro-rata among the cycling leagues according to attendances (this is, incidentally, the same model that train companies use to split customer ticket money - google ORCATS and you'll see what I mean).

    3 memberships for one road race isn't efficient.
  • Yep, you've got it right now. It does seem expensive, but I think it's on par with what you might expect to pay for other sports which require trained officials and have a fairly high-maintenance league system.

    I can't speak for other sports but as a road runner I pay £15 to join my local club for a year, which includes governing body membership, and then £2.50 per race in the Leicester Road Running Winter League.

    Each race attracts several hundred runners and is well marshalled by club volunteers. Obviously most races are shorter in time than cycle races.
  • pedalrog
    pedalrog Posts: 633
    edited January 2009
    I'm not a fantastic fan of BC but think some of this needs to be put into context. Compared to running, cycling organisations have higher overheads. For a start the insurance risk is much higher for BC, hence higher costs. There are fewer cyclists than runners hence higher costs. You can't have thousands or even hundreds of competitiors in cycle races hence higher costs. You spend £105ish on licence, membership etc but also spend £2000 + on a bike??
    BC isn't profit-making. They still only have a small amount of money to juggle for domestic events.
    ...and there are a lot of people at BC both volunteers and paid staff working to our benefit.
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    If you haven't been a BC member before joining a cycling club affiliated to BC should give you free Bronze membership OR a reduction in your Silver membership to the value of Bronze.

    You get a free provisional racing licence with your membership (Bronze or above). This is where I'm not 100% certain but I think this allows you to race closed circuit races. So it MAY be that all you need is a free Bronze memberhip from joining your local club and you are good to go in any local closed circuit races - but you would have to check this. I know it's on the website somewhere but I can't find it - so yes perhaps the website could be a little clearer.

    BC are very good if you enquire directly about this kind of stuff though.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • Overall, BCF website is a bit rubbish and has really ambigious text that is out-of-date and contradicts itself.

    If you've found a BCF website, it really is out of date, seeing as that organisation hasn't existed for years.
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    ps found this under the orgnisers paperwork ... 8&sID=2052

    I'm not sure how this fits in with a provisional racing licence - presumably they are saying that only lets you race GoRace for free - so it looks like if you want to race a full season of Surrey League C+ events all you need is a silver membership and then take out a free day licence each time - and with your free Bronze membership from joining a club that means you only pay whatever the difference is between bronze and silver.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • huggy
    huggy Posts: 242
    I'm also having a problem - Have BC membership up until the end of the year nearly, but race license ran out in the new year. Can't find out how to buy just a race license so I emailed them. Nope - you have to buy brand new membership to get a new license - I explained I was a junior so how could I afford this, I've only had a membership 4 months and don't/can't spend loads on membership/license now. I'm also finding their 'encouraging young people' to cycle to be quite a lie in some areas.

    Is there are any way to race without BC?
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Junior racing licence £13, Junior Silver membership £24. I don't know if all Juniors are skint - looking at the carbon wheels lots of them were riding in the national cross at the weekend I'd say not - but if you can't affort £37 then you probably can't afford a season's racing anyway.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • huggy
    huggy Posts: 242
    Well I can't see the point of renewing membership needlessly just to buy a license. If I do both, then obviously I can't afford racing now.
  • Tom Butcher
    Tom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    At worst you've lost £16 - I know some people have phoned BC and been allowed to just top up their membership to 12 months - might be worth trying.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • huggy
    huggy Posts: 242
    Yeah I think ringing em will be good. Gonna give it a go