In its simplest terms, road racing sees all the riders start together with the aim of being the first over the line at the end. In the UK the popularity of amateur road racing has increased dramatically since Britain became a force to be reckoned with on the international scene, with Sir Bradly Wiggins and Chris Froome winning the Tour de France and the likes of Nicole Cooke absolutely dominating the women’s scene for many years. We now have a crop of hugely talented and dedicated athletes competing at the highest levels.
A traditional road race sees up to eighty riders start together in a bunch or ‘peloton’, on the public highway, with a lead car at the front and a British Cycling commissaire following behind. If the race is of professional or elite standard the roads will be closed, but most are conducted in an open-road environment – although accredited marshals do have authority to stop traffic when the peloton is due to pass through. Most road races in Britain last several laps of a course which can be up to 20km or longer. A short-course road race with, for instance, a lap of only 5km is known as a Kermesse.
Also falling within the road race title is the Criterium. This is a short-circuit race run over a number of laps, often based on the amount of time racing rather than a set distance (such as one hour plus five laps). Circuit racing is often very fast and very hard, and by its nature is always run on a closed circuit with no traffic. There are a lot of circuits in use in the UK – the closest to BMCC being the Milton Keynes Bowl which hosts a season-long set of races on weeknights as well as some weekends.
Although there can only be one winner in a road race, it is often a team affair with some riders helping to protect those slated to win.
After a quiet few years BMCC burst onto the racing scene in 2015 and now have a core of committed riders taking part in local races and beyond. As part of their training there is a Sunday morning non-stop training ride (otherwise known as a thrash-fest) from Bicester North Station every Sunday morning. If you’re interested in joining the team please contact the Racing Secretary who can put you in touch with the team.