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Where do I start?

white91white91 Posts: 431
edited October 2013 in Amateur race
Hi as a keen cyclist for the past few years, this year has been my best yet, a trip to Paris, a trip to Skegness and a few sportives. In total I have done around 2000 miles since May.

I plan to maintain at least a base level of fitness over the winter, something I have not done in previous years.

The reason for the post is that I would like to have a go at a few races, but I have no idea where to start? Is it as simple as getting a cat4 licence and entering or do I have to be part of a club? Is racing full of 9 stone whippets who clock 500 miles per week, or will I be up against normal people?

Finally if I can get into racing its a perfect excuse to get some deep section wheels!

Hope some people can help?

Posts

  • thegibdogthegibdog Posts: 2,106
    Yes, it is as simple getting a licence and entering a race, and as far as I'm aware you don't have to a member of a club to get a licence. I'd advise joining one though as club training rides and chain gangs are useful for getting used to riding in a group at pace. I wouldn't advise deep section wheels for 4th cat racing as they are usually expensive to replace!

    You'll be pleased to hear that there are very few 9 stone whippets who do 500 miles a week in amateur racing -the 'normal' people you speak of will be doing 25mph though!
  • petemadocpetemadoc Posts: 2,667
    Join a club and go for some group rides through the winter, enter some local TTs they're always a good way to start racing IMO. Enter a crit race but don't worry if you get dropped the first time, speeds are usually about 25mph but there can be big surges in pace that catch people out. Have fun and don't crash.
  • white91white91 Posts: 431
    25mph is a hell of a lot faster than I can currently do! On a flat route I can do roughly 20mph and around 18mph if its hilly, thats solo tho
  • petemadocpetemadoc Posts: 2,667
    25mph sounds high but in a group it much easier, it's the surges in pace that are harder to deal with. Silver BC membership gives you a prov race licence which will do for most crits and road races.

    Start with club chain gangs and TTs. Do some turbo sessions over the winter.
  • dawebbodawebbo Posts: 456
    Join a club, do their group rides. The faster groups will likely have numerous guys who race so you'll be able to gauge whether you'll cope or not based on how you compare with them. Failing that just turn up to a 4 cat only race (with licencee)

    You'll gain very little insight from anonymous people on forums (such as me) telling you how easy/hard they are, or what average speed they do.
  • whoofwhoof Posts: 756
    Before having a go at mass start racing you could try a time-trial (tt) as this may give you a measure of where your fitness is. Throughout the season many clubs run 'club' 10 mile tts. You can turn up on the night (usually mid week)and ride for a couple of pounds, most will let you ride once to see if you like it before you need to join an affiliated club.

    With respect to road racing try a closed circuit race (on an airfield or motor circuit) preferably 4th cat only if you can find it or if not 3/4. For this you should be able to enter on the day but may need to pay extra for a day licence. Do not turn up in your Sky jersey/shorts. For a BC event you can only wear the clothing of the club you are in or 'plain' jersey and shorts, sames true of an open time trial.

    There is no requirement to join a club even if you do take the plunge and get full BC membership (silver or gold) and a racing licence you can join BC as a private member. However, I would recommend that you do join a club for a huge range of benefits. Training partners, learning to ride on a clubrun or chain gang, sharing lifts to races advice.....etc. Also no clubs = no races.
  • sub55sub55 Posts: 1,025
    whoof wrote:
    Before having a go at mass start racing you could try a time-trial (tt) as this may give you a measure of where your fitness is. Throughout the season many clubs run 'club' 10 mile tts. You can turn up on the night (usually mid week)and ride for a couple of pounds, most will let you ride once to see if you like it before you need to join an affiliated club.

    With respect to road racing try a closed circuit race (on an airfield or motor circuit) preferably 4th cat only if you can find it or if not 3/4. For this you should be able to enter on the day but may need to pay extra for a day licence. Do not turn up in your Sky jersey/shorts. For a BC event you can only wear the clothing of the club you are in or 'plain' jersey and shorts, sames true of an open time trial.

    There is no requirement to join a club even if you do take the plunge and get full BC membership (silver or gold) and a racing licence you can join BC as a private member. However, I would recommend that you do join a club for a huge range of benefits. Training partners, learning to ride on a clubrun or chain gang, sharing lifts to races advice.....etc. Also no clubs = no races.

    not strictly true but wont confuse things here
    constantly reavalueating the situation and altering the perceived parameters accordingly
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Pretty sure that 4th cats can wear trade team kit if they want and whilst full Sky kit may attract a few comments you do get people turning up in trade kit so don't worry about that until you reach 3rd cat.

    I wouldn't be scared of entering open road instead of closed circuit as your first race either - not if you've taken the advice to train with racers over winter/spring.

    Closed circuit crits are generally less forgiving of novices as they are more technical and if you end up at the back of the bunch you'll be sprinting full gas out of every corner - something you can only do for so long before getting dropped. Open road events are generally easier to stay in the bunch unless they are very hilly - plus in some areas the first races of the season can attract over 100 riders on closed circuits making for some fairly hairy moments in the bunch.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • whoofwhoof Posts: 756
    The trade team kit for 4ths only is a realtively new rule, checked my commissaire manual. So as others have said can wear team kit in a 4ths only.
    As previous post has said if a circuit is tight and twisty you can get stuck at the back. However I've ridden many on airfields and motor racing circuits that have a series and long flowing bends. Have a look at the BC calender to find out where the nearst off road circuit to you is and take a look at it during the Autumn/Winter. Also I think there are far fewer 4th only road races than 4th circuit races.
  • I was new to racing this summer, after a couple of winters of club runs and summer sportive campaigns.

    First race was a proper Cat 3/4 Crit in York - Bad idea. Off the back almost immediately and lapped shortly afterwards. Not the first to be lapped, but still not ideal! Although I am a bit of a sprinter, the constant surges in pace were too much.

    Second race was a 4th cat only at Dishforth airfield - Much more like it. Average speed was 41kmh for 40 minutes, which is much faster than my usual solo riding pace. (I'd typically manage 33kmh for an hour on a flattish route with a few junctions.) If you can follow wheels safely, you don't need to be Superman to stick with the bunch, though unless you can sprint, or at least inject a bit of pace for a minute or so, you'll not be at the sharp end come the finish.

    Re "following wheels", I can't recommend highly enough riding with a club, preferably one with a few old hands to keep you on the straight and narrow! It's not rocket-science, but you do need regular practice to keep your technique polished so you ride safely and efficiently. Every time I have a few weeks off club runs, I am all over the place for the first few minutes on my return, until I've reremembered what to do. You don't want to experience this feeling in a race!

    If you can ride with a club that is better than you then so much the better. My club mates routinely work me over as if they are the Kray Twins' hencemen, and I rarely avoid getting dropped, but this still left me very competitive in the flat Cat 4 only race at Dishforth.

    Even if you don't race much, riding in slick "chain gang formation" with 10-15 club-mates at the weekend is a very enjoyble feeling.

    Re kit - Although I'm a member of a club, I've just raced in a bog-standard black and red jersey. Most folk are in club kit, though.

    Re equipment - The Cat 4 crowd would appear to generally just turn up on their normal summer bike. Fancy wheels didn't seem to be too prevalent at Cat 3 either, though there were a few. Cat 2 was a different matter, though.
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    white91 wrote:
    25mph is a hell of a lot faster than I can currently do! On a flat route I can do roughly 20mph and around 18mph if its hilly, thats solo tho
    I'm about 21mph for 40 miles flat and 18 for 40 miles hilly. I'm a 42 year old 3rd Cat. You'll have no trouble as long as you stay off the front and have the power to keep up with the bunch when they surge out of corners. Average race speed is 23.5-25mph in my experience.

    Some people progress really quickly, others don't. I coach a chap who went from 4th to 2nd cat in a year, partly by improving fitness and partly by learning how to race tactically.

    Good luck.
  • Silver BC licence.
    Find a race.
    Go race.

    See how you do. It's fun. You'll get better.
  • white91white91 Posts: 431
    Thanks guys really solid advice here. I do often ride in a group of up to about 6 riders, and I am quite happy riding in a line, however I have not really ridden in a peleton before?

    In terms of pace I'm sure I will only get faster, and thankfully I am at least the strongest sprinter in the 20 odd people I ride with so hopefully that will help.

    I don't own any race team replica clothing, probably as its like a red flag to a bull, and I hunt them down in sportives!

    I guess I just need to have a go
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