Road Racing For Beginners
After completing in a number of sportive’s and seeing cycle racing on the television, I’m sure there’s a good many cyclists who have caught the competitive bug are keen to make the switch from sportive or club rider to road racer. So here are a few tips and pointers on what you’ll need to think about before you arrive on the start line.
Joining a Club
Look to join a cycling club in your area, they can be invaluable. The accumulated years of know-how and expertise within any given cycling club can be huge. Learning to ride in group at speed is an essential skill you will need to master and there will be club members with plenty experience at racing who will be able to give you guidance as you head towards that first race.
Fitness, if you have trained for a few century rides or done other rides and enjoy being on the bike, comfortably spending two to three hours riding, you should have a fairly good base to which to start from. You need to make sure you have a good base as everything is built on those foundations and it’s a really important part of training.
If you’re happy with your base level you will now need to do specific racing training such as interval training. A turbo is probably the best way to do these specific training sessions, especially if you have limited available to you. There are plenty of you tube training videos that you can check out. Combine these training sessions with some fast club ride’s and your well on your way.
The next step is to find out where and when you can race and what you will need to be able to race. In general you will need a race licence before you can enter a race. There are various organizations administer road races in to the UK. British Cycling, TLI (The League International) & LVRC (The League of Veteran Racing Cyclists). They will have all the information you will need to be able to enter a road race.
As well as racing on the road which tends to be raced on fairly quite country roads, there are also a lot of town centre races during the summer months. These are run on small closed road circuits about a mile long with these races usually lasting between 40 minutes and an hour. There are also a growing number of closed circuits up and down the country. The closed circuits are great way for beginners and youngsters to get into racing. You will quite often find coaching sessions going on throughout the year at these circuits.
Race day prep should start the day before. Check your bike to make sure everything is working as it should; you don’t want to get to the HQ only to find that your gears aren’t working properly. Pack your kit making sure you have you have your helmet, shoes & racing licence without these you won’t be allowed on the start line. Pack your nutrition making sure you have enough for before, during and after the race. Get to the HQ in plenty of time so you’re not rushing around at the last minute. Once the race has started don’t be afraid to get stuck in and try and stay in the first ¼ of the bunch if you can, I know has a beginners this sounds hard and it is hard. But if you can stay in the wheels you will find eventually it to be easier to stay up near the front.
Entering a new sport can seem overwhelming but everyone has to start somewhere. Just pick a race, get out there and give it a shot. If you are struggling and you do get dropped, don’t be put off. Most rider’s will get dropped at some point remember the more races you do the better you get.
After that first race is over, you can go away and see what gains you need to make to your fitness, nutrition, skills and race tactics and don't forget to check out future Formby Cycles Blogs