A concept you’d think was difficult, right? – Wrong. It’s way easier than you’d expect, because everyone must start somewhere, and you don’t need to be part of a team or club or have the fanciest equipment and kit to get started and see if you like it.
It’s best to remember, the main reason to race, is if you enjoy it, otherwise why would you do it? Don’t do it because people say you’re strong and you should, don’t do it because your partner does it and certainly don’t do it if it’s a chore. Racing is a wonderful experience that teaches you a lot, but it’s a hard one and it never gets easier – you just go faster.
Our best tip? Go into it with some training under your belt. Yes, you can’t really expect to go in and win your first race, regardless of how much training you’ve done because racing is a lot more complex than having big numbers, it’s about skill, tactics (otherwise known as tic-tacs) and a lot of luck.
However, we do know how intense racing can be and the standard is getting higher every year, so going in with little training and fitness won’t make it very enjoyable for you and could set an untasteful tone for you – so go in half prepared, at least.
How to find your first race
You’ll either need a day licence or a full licence, some races won’t accept day licence’s – always check with the organisers. Full licences are better because you get insurance with them – but understandably, people like to test racing before paying for a full licence.
Finding your first race can be a daunting process but luckily, it’s quite simple so won’t cause too much stress.
- Head to britishcyling.co.uk
- Click the category below the ‘banner’ that says ‘events’
- You can the type in the location you’d like to race
It will then bring up an array of race options in or near the area you have looked in, it’ll show you what the events are, when they are and what category can enter them. It’s good to note, everyone starts as a 4th cat rider.
You can also add in more filters such as ‘women only, men only, 4th cat only’ etc.
Once you’ve found a race you’re going to enter, you can plan for it, have you checked your bike over recently or serviced it? We can help you with that, give us a call to book it in.
Do you have a safe helmet, are your shoes comfortable and safe, have you got the correct kit i.e. if it’s going to be cold – make sure to go out with more layers on, you see lots of people racing in shorts in 8 degrees, take our advice – if your legs are cold, you will find the race harder, so don’t try to copy people because it ‘looks right.’ It’s usually more beneficial to be too hot rather than too cold.
Gloves, always wear gloves or mitts – if you were to have an unfortunate meeting with the ground, your hands tend to go out first and you really don’t want cuts and grazes on your hands, it makes normal life a little bit more unnecessarily uncomfortable.
Once you’ve done your first race have a think about whether you enjoyed it and if you’d like to do more, once you’ve decided you can have a think about joining a club or team.
Why join a club or race team?
You don’t need to be aiming to go pro to join a club or team and you certainly don’t need to have that goal in mind to be a racer, people race for all kinds of reasons!
People usually join for enjoyment, most people enjoy cycling bikes because it allows them to join a very supportive and fun community. Therefore, joining a team or club would allow you to race and train with friends, car share to races, get great advice and support for racing – clubs and teams will often offer race training and advice, something you don’t know you need until you’ve had it.
We have staff who race because its enjoyable, the atmosphere is like a big hug and others who race because they want to see how far they can go – and every single reason for it is acceptable. We know people who race at the ripe age of 50+ because they enjoy it and it’s a little bit of freedom, while providing personal fitness goals.
Keep moving to stay young, aye?
When to upgrade your equipment
Okay, let's chat equipment. As we previously said, you don’t need fancy equipment to start racing and 9/10 most people starting in your 4th cat races will be in the same boat.
I mean, being bike fanatics, we will never tell you not to upgrade to swanky new bikes, but if you do decide you like racing and want to give it a good crack then you might want to look at your equipment – any gains are gains at the end of the day.
Can you upgrade to a faster or lighter frame? Could you upgrade to carbon deep sections wheels? Is your groupset efficient enough – are your gear changes sloppy or are they responsive? Are you in desperate need of narrower bars… it’s unlikely you need those 42cm bars the bike came with.
Disc brakes are on the up, having a better braking response is quite important and will fill you with more confidence in a peloton.
Think about the types of races you’ll focus on, then think about what additional gains there are to be had, and what are the priorities in a bike for you. Check out our wheels and bikes to see if we can help you with any additional upgrades.
We love to hear about people’s progress, drop us a message on social media to let us know how you’re getting on!
Happy adventures CE legends!