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How to get into road racing  

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Where to start

A concept that sounds difficult, it often feels like there are various loops to jump through and a lot of information to find before you can even consider entering a race. However, I can confirm, it’s far easier than you’d expect to get to the start.

No need to start with the most expensive bike or aero skinsuit, a shorts and jersey will suffice, as will your 10-year-old, first rim brake bike – but maybe get it serviced first, for your own sake – it could save you a few watts in effort.

I won’t lie, racing can be incredibly hard depending on what you want from it, how hard you want to push yourself and what kind of racing you’re doing. Therefore, getting involved in racing and exploring your own feelings for it is incredibly important. Don’t take up racing because people say you’re super strong or your partner competes and don’t continue it if it feels like a chore. Racing is a truly wonderful experience that teaches you a lot, it rarely gets easier; you just get stronger and go faster. The level is ever improving, and you’ll improve with it if that’s what you want. However, it isn’t for everyone, you must have a competitive mindset to want to get involved.

Racing comes down to a lot more than brute strength; tactics, luck, and confidence all play a large role in getting results. That said, I personally wouldn’t recommend someone pick up a bike without any training and dive straight into a race – purely because it won’t be very enjoyable if you don’t have a base fitness, in fact, I’d say it would be more like a self-inflicted form of torture. Entering a race unfit could scare you off and you might miss out on a great racing career.

It’s something many people must work at to get great results. It’s a bit like a layer cake, the longer you race and train, the more layers of your cake you build – confidence, handling skills, being able to read a race, knowing when to attack or follow one and how to win a bunch sprint, but those things only really matter if you’re taking part in racing to get results, improve and be competitive. Some people take part because they enjoy the experience and getting to the start line is a win.


How to find your first race

 Finding your first race can be a daunting process, but luckily, it’s quite simple so won’t cause too much stress. The website will differ depending on your country, but for the UK it will be BC.

  • Head to britishcyling.co.uk and click on the ‘events’ category, which will take you to the search page for races, you can choose which discipline you’re looking for.

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.

To enter a race you need a licence, some organisers at lower levels races will allow riders to race on a ‘day-licence’ which you can pick up at the sign-on desk at the race. If you plan to continue racing after your taster races, you’ll need to get a full licence through British Cycling – this also includes insurance which is a great thing to have.


Checks before your first race

  • Have you checked your bike over recently or had it checked – the chain wear, cassette, tyres, and brakes etc. It’s better you have it checked pre-race if it isn’t done regularly for your own safety and those around you.
  • Have you got the correct standard helmet.
  • Pack the correct kit for the weather – sunny = sun cream, cold and wet – make sure you take layers and waterproofs because being cold in a race is the most unenjoyable experience and not one that will bring you back for more excitement. Don’t copy what others are doing, do what’s right for you kit-wise, you’ll be much more comfortable wearing leg warmers because your muscles will be able to function better in the cold if they aren’t cold.
  • I always recommend a pair of gloves or mitts – if you were to have an unfortunate get down, your hands are often the first thing you put out to catch yourself and road rash on your hands is slightly debilitating and unpleasant.

If you enjoy your first race or a handful of races, why not join a club. Clubs are the backbone of cycling; you’ll learn a great deal from riding in a group and being surrounded by like-minded people. Including acquiring a warm sense of belonging that laces your veins with happiness.

Why join a club or race team?

You don’t need to be aiming to turn professional 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!

 Most people want to be part of a supportive and fun community which enables them to learn along the way. Being part of a team or club allows you to race and train with friends, car share to races or group rides starting further afield, get great advice for racing – clubs and teams will often offer race training and advice, something you don’t know you need until you’ve had it.

When to upgrade your equipment

Firstly, being a bike fanatic, I will never tell you not to employ the N+1 theory, but you really don’t need to upgrade to the best equipment immediately.

A swanky new bike is what we’d all love, but you can make additional gains through the equipment on your bike to save some money on purchasing a whole new bike, so think about what you could change first.

  • Bars – see those 42cm bars that came on your bike? Get rid of them, there a very few people who have 42cm shoulders, bars are one of the easiest things to change to gain some aero. Also, narrower bars will enhance the handling of your bike.
  • Deep section carbon rims – another big gain to be had, obviously the more you spend the better wheelset you’ll get, but any deep section carbon rim will be better than a box section aluminium rim.
  • What group-set do you have, mechanical or electronic, are your gear changes sloppy or efficient? Could you upgrade to an electronic group-set, personally I did and now the idea of ever returning to mechanical is a scary thought.

Should you choose to upgrade your frame, think about what you want from it – do you want it to be lighter, more aero, a climbing bike or an all-rounder, only then can you start to really shop around.

Argon 18 Carbon road bike

Now is the perfect time try a bike race of any discipline and see where the enjoyment takes you. If you are going to give it a go, Pedal Cover offer road bike insurance which is designed to cover crash damage, accidental damage and theft. Better still, the insurance can even be bought on a monthly rolling basis at no extra cost! if you need some help, why not give our support team a call on 0800 121 4424? 










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