Everybody’s heard of the Tour de France, Wiggo, Froome, Cav, Cooke, Armitstead and the other gods of road racing, and you can be part of this side of the sport too! Use our comprehensive guide here help you take your pedal revs into the world of road and circuit racing, be it for fun, to push yourself or to get that first National Champs Jersey!
We meet at the Bold Forester pub in Soberton at 18.30, we will do small blue laps for
around 10 minutes to wait for anyone running late, and we’ll then head out for a longer
(10mile) Red lap and finish of with a green loop.
it’s race training, so the pace is high, averaging 19mph +
Road racing bikes are all about speed. Ultra lightweight frames made of steel,
aluminium or carbon fibre. Bikes have narrow 700c (622mm diameter) wheels, with
slick tyres around 23mm wide for low rolling resistance and light weight. Bikes have
drop handlebars and multiple gears with up to 22 different gear ratios to cope with
Road racing takes place on a variety of different courses. The majority of traditional
road racing takes place on the open road, with vehicular marshals marking the nose
and the tail of a race. Circuit racing takes place on closed-road circuits, either
purpose built for cycling or repurposed motor racing circuits. Time trialling also
takes place on the open road on one of a number of pre-determined time trial
courses. British Cycling campaigns to keep racing on the roads whilst investing in a
supporting the development of a network of closed-road, traffic-free facilities.
Road races – These are bunch events that take place on the open road over a
pre-determined lap or laps. Riders sign on at a HQ before the race begins in a
‘neutralised’ form – allowing the peloton to group-up before racing commences.
Races can either be stand-alone events of part of a league or series.
Closed-road circuit races – These take place on traffic-free facilities, either
purpose built for cycling or repurposed motor racing circuits or airfields. Races
begin from a standing start and are shorter than road races, often only lasting for
an hour for senior riders. Closed road circuits often have demanding corners with
lots of braking, accelerating and cornering, demanding power and riding skill. Often
called ‘criterium’ (or crit for short), these races are most often part of a league that
lasts all season, allowing riders to compete for overall victory.
1990 Veterans Road Race, South Boarhunt
Getting Involved – How To Start Road And Circuit Racing!
It’s now very easy to start racing road and circuit races. Most races in the UK are run by British Cycling, and to enter these races you will require a British Cycling Racing License which you can get when you purchase ‘Race’ British Cycling Membership. Have a look at the advantages of Bronze, Silver and Gold membership, for some age categories (excluding Youth) race membership is only available in Silver or Gold options..
When you purchase British Cycling membership which you can do HERE there are three membership options – Race, Ride and Fan – you will need to choose Race membership. Follow the simple instructions after entering your age and you will be given the option to add a race license..
Prices do vary depending on age.
After you have purchased your race license it will be delivered to the FWCC secretary who will deliver it to you or bring it to the club house on a Tuesday evening.
Fareham Wheelers Cycling Club is affiliated to British Cycling, and as such, when club members set up membership and purchase a race license with British Cycling they will have the option to select Fareham Wheelers as their primary cycling club. This will be the team you represent when you race.
There are several different categories of License based on both age and ability.
Master A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I (Ranging from 30 to 70+)
Junior (16 – 18)
Youth A (Under 16)
Youth B (Under 14)
Youth C (Under 12)
Youth D (Under 10)
Youth E (Under 8)
Categories are defined by your age on the 1st of January for that year, ie if you are 15 on the 1st of Jan, but turn 16 on the 2nd of Jan of that year you would be a Youth A – for more detailed information see the British Cycling Road, Circuit And Track Age Categories Page!
For Junior and Senior riders, each age category is split up into ability categories:
Elite (The top category for British Cycling, only achievable for Senior riders)
1st Category (The top category for British Cycling Junior riders)
4th Category (This is where all new riders start, with the exception of Youth riders, as there are no ability segregations for Youths!
You are awarded points in races depending on your finishing position, as your points amass you move up to a higher license category – simples!
Note: Races are split up into categories as well, eg a Junior only race, Women only race, or a 3rd Cat only race – this will be seen on each race’s web page on British Cycling, see below.
So You have FWCC membership, you’ve got your BritishCycling membership and you’ve received your race license from the club”s secretary, now you want to race!
If you are just starting out racing, you will start as a 4th category rider (or Youth rider). As there are many new riders racing these races, it is important that you have prior group riding experience, this is where coaching can help keep you and those around you safe, read below for more information!
How To Find What’s On & Entering Races
British Cycling’s Road Racing Calendar is the place to start your searching, you can use the search parameters on the left hand side of the page to select the type of race (Road Race, Closed Cicuit Race etc..) and the category of race (ie Youth B, Women only, 2nd 3rds and 4ths etc etc) along with the location of the race where you can select races close to your location!
BC Road Racing Calendar
Before we go any further remember this, ‘you must not pre-enter more than one race on one day, doing so means if you only ride one, other people might not be able to ride others, and it can result in your license being taken away!’
Have a look and find a race that you want to enter, let’s take an example, and have a look at the Southdown Velo Goodwood Series #7, you can view the page online here.
The page looks like this:
All the information you should need to enter the race is found from this page.
Use the toggles in Red titled ‘Summary’, ‘About’, ‘Map, and ‘Entry Fees & Races’ to navigatee through the races information, importantly, if you click ‘Entry Fees & Races’ you can see what races are on, what categories they are for (remember you have to enter races for your category!), how much entry is and whther or not you can enter on the day!
How To Enter
For both options below you will NEED to take your bike, helmet, shoes, clothing and LICENSE on the day!!! Along with any other things you might need, like appriate clothing for before / after, food and drink for before, during, after, spare wheels can be helpful etc..
Online – You can enter online, simply go to the Entry Fees & Races tab, find your race and click the red Enter Online button to the right hand side. Note however that online entry will close a week or so before the event, sometimes more (this information should be on the Summary page).. Follow the online instructions, there is a small online entry fee but in general entering online is cheaper than entering on the day. The advantages of entering online are cheaper entry fees, and also if you enter early you avoid being rejected if the event is full up! Often an event fills up online and there are no spaces available on the day, meaning your expensive race wheels have had an outing for nothing – doh!!!
Once you’ve entered you will receive confirmation of your place (or a rejection email if it’s full) shortly after. Simply then turn up tob the race on race day in plenty of time, you will need to sign yourself onto the race at the HQ by filling your name, license number and emergency contact details on the sign on form (a form for all riders usually at the HQ on a table), as you’ve entered online you should be able to find your name already printed on this form. U18 riders will need a parent or guardian to fill out a parental consent form. Then hand your license to the organizer and you will receive a number. Pin your number on the back of your jersey or skinsuit, some races will have a guide on where to put it but it’s usually on the lower back, have a good warm-up and be at the start line at least 5 minutes before the scheduled start and take part in your first race!
On The Day – You can also enter on the day – do this if you are not sure in advance if you will be racing, or are sure that there will be space to enter on the day (generally in circuit races there will be, but road races fill up well in advance!). Arrive to the event early to ensure the event does not fill up with others entering on the day! Locate the HQ and rider sign on. Here you will find rider information and entry forms, fill these out with the relevant information – in some events Parental Consent forms are required for all U18’s, these will be available on the day for parents / guardians to complete. Once you have completed your rider information and entry forms find the sign on sheets, usually on a table by the organizers / commissaires, write your name, emergency contact details and license number along with any other info they ask for, and hand your license, entry forms and parental consent forms (where necessary) to the organizers. They will then give you a number. Pin your number on the back of your jersey or skinsuit, some races will have a guide on where to put it but it’s usually on the lower back, have a good warm-up and be at the start line at least 5 minutes before the scheduled start and take part in your first race!
Racing Safety – Can Coaching Benefit Me?
Cycle racing can be a dangerous game, and each rider can take it upon themselves to make sure they have the necessary techniques and skills to keep themselves and the riders around them safe. The more people who do this, the safer the sport is for everyone. Cycle coaching can help get you to a level where you are confident riding and racing in a compact group in various disciplines of the sport. Some of the skills and techniques involved can include:
– General group riding skills, ie riding in a close group, riding in a group at speed, moving within a group of riders, following wheels correctly..
– Cornering, ie when to brake, what line to take, where to put the pedals, where to look
– Braking, ie which brake to use first and why, when to brake and how to brake effectively for a given situation
– General core riding skills, ie where to hold the bars, correct pedaling technique, how to balance weight correctly
– Useful racing skills such as taking bottles from the side of the road, adding or removing clothes such as jeckets and gilet’s in a bunch, how to eat and drink in a bunch
Coaching has the ability to ensure you are at a technically suitable level for leisure and also competition, and the club coaches along with many other local coaches regularly run sessions to provide this kind of training. You can find more information about coaching, how it can help you and what sessions are coming up and where, on the Club Coaching pages.
British Cycling has also started a series of video’s and articles on racing smartly, safely and strongly, called RaceSmart, you can find more information here:
Hints & Tips!
There are many hints and tips to help you succeed in Road and Circuit races, some of these may help!
– Arrive early! Give yourself plenty of time to get set up and ready.
– Have a preperation plan! Find out when your race is due to start and work backwards from there. You should be at the start line 10 minutes before the start. You should do a decent 20 minute warm-up before that. You need to figure out at what time after arriving you need to sign on, when you need to get changed, when you need to check your kit and get your bike ready. When are you going to pin your number on. Are you going to prepare in a group with other Fareham Wheelers in the same race? But remember to keep it relative to your start time!
– Eat properly! No big meals within 2 hours of a race, but keep fuelled with good quality easily digestible carbs. How much water do you need to take? On an average UK day plan for 500ml of water ever 45 minutes or so. If it’s cooler, a bit less, warmer a bit more. If it’s very hot, think about electrolyte drinks or gels to replace ions lost from excessive sweating. Check your gels for how many you should take every hour as this varies. Don’t forget to eat during your ride or race! Little and often for food and drink! And recovery is key, so aim to eat a good easily digestible meal with quality proteins and carbs within 30 minutes of excercise.
– Know the course! You’ll fly through those bends much faster and be able to save your power for the harder section much more efficiently if you’ve been able to recce the route in advance!
– Don’t waste energy! Ride with your brain, don’t sit on the front and do all the work to bring the race back together letting all the other riders benefit from your hard work and leave you tired and out the back when the going get’s tough again!
– Know the start list! If you look up the start list in advance or check the sign on sheet before the race on the day you can think about who might be the best person to follow, what teams you may have to watch and who your main competitors could be in the sprint!
– Ride With A Clean, Working Bike And In Clean Kit! Riding with a clean bike and clean drivetrain and gears is a must, not only does it look better, but keeping your bike clean and in good working order helps prevent mechanicals and clean lubricated gears save Watts! Clean kit looks good, and we all know when you look good, you feel good, and you ride good!
British Cycling’s RaceSmart initiative has paired up with Global Cycling Network (GCN) to bring you a host of useful video’s on race technique, tactics and ways you can use correct race craft to keep yourself and those around you safe, you can find them through the links below and they’re well worth a watch