Beacon Roads Cycling Club
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Advice on getting involved in other clubs' road races

The basics

Road racing is mass-start cycle racing, which is held on either roads or traffic-free closed circuits such as Darley Moor and Mallory Park. Race distance can be anything from as little as twenty miles to in excess of a hundred and fifty. However, the majority of road races for beginners are approximately fifty to sixty miles in length. Depending on the race, you could be riding with as few as twenty other riders or with over a hundred, which can be a little daunting first time out - so be prepared!

So how do I get into road racing? There are two ways into road racing and this is dependent on age. If you are over forty then you can road race in British Cycling (BC) events or alternatively in League of Veteran Racing Cyclists (LVRC) events. If you are under 40 then your only route in is through BC.

To race in BC events, you first need to become a BC member, which is a fairly benign process. It involves sending off a form with a fee from anything between 60 for 'Gold' membership and 34 for 'Silver' membership. You are then entitled to apply for a race licence, which is an additional 30. So all in all for the mere cost of 64 you can begin to enter races.

How do I enter races?

First, you need to look at the race calendar on the BC website and identify races which you would like to enter. Race season tends to start in March and goes all the way through to September and providing you are willing to travel a little distance you can pretty much find a road race to enter every week of the season.

As a novice to road racing you will automatically be a 4th category racer, which essentially is the bottom rung of the ladder. Thus you will only be able to enter races that allow 4th cats. You will find that some races are only for 4th cats and these are a good place to start. However, the majority tend to be for 3rd and 4th cat riders only. So now you have identified some 4th cat races you need to fill in a BC event entry form which can be found on the BC website and send it off (with a fee of approximately 10) to the event organiser, preferably months in advance. Early events tend to be heavily oversubscribed, so the sooner you get your entry in the better. However, as the season progresses you find you can enter either the proceeding weeks or even on the day. The exception to the rule is closed circuit races, which you can nearly always 'enter on the line'. If you have entered prior to the event, you will receive a start sheet detailing where the race HQ is and various particulars.

What happens on race day?

Always aim to get to the HQ fairly early as this will allow you time to pick up your race numbers, which you have to pin to your jersey for identification purposes. You have to remember two things in particular and that is your club jersey, which is mandatory, and an approved helmet. Anyone wearing pro-team replica clothing or with no helmet will be asked to withdraw so be warned. The rest is as you might anticipate: you start in a bunch and after a lead out by the commissaries in the lead car it's eyeballs out for the duration. In my nave opinion it's all about strength and tactics and you require a little of both to be successful! Depending on what your position is on finishing, and the type of race that you entered, a good placing will earn you valuable points on your racing licence. For example, if you were to have entered the Royal Sutton Road Race (a regional B race for 3rd and 4th cat riders) and you won, then you would have attained fifteen points according to the BC scoring system.

Once you have attained ten points, you become a 3rd category rider. Attaining forty promotes you to 2nd category, and so on till you become an elite rider. As you progress up the ladder, this then opens up more and more potential races to you.


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