Road racing is you against 60 or more other people riding in a big bunch (just like the Tour). The groups are made up of riders the same level as you so you won’t be riding against the experts! If you want to RR then we would suggest that you try a few chain gang sessions to prepare for riding fast in close proximity to other riders.
There are a number of organisations that run Road Races
British Cycling (BC) – promote races for all age groups/abilities you will need to join and apply for a racing licence, around £65 for the cheaper option, but does include some insurance. They are the main RR organisation and riders are given categories, i.e. a novice will be a 4th Cat. There are many races see the website.
League of Veteran Racing Cyclists (LVRC) – promote races for the over 40’s, again you will need to join £12, includes licence. Races are categorised by age not ability and therefore it is unusual to line up alongside ex pros.
The League International (TLI) – promote races for all age groups/abilities. You will need to join around £30 although you can take day membership £2. Races include all abilities, but there are very few races in this area.
There are various types of road race. The races are run either place to place or on a circuit of roads for a number of laps. The roads are not closed, but there are various marshals controlling the traffic.
Circuit races are run on purpose built tracks (Hillingdon & Eastway), Motor racing circuits (Thruxton) and park roads (Milton Keynes bowl).
Criteriums are run in town centres with fully closed road but with a short lap with tight corners, only for the experienced.
As a novice you have a number of options to start RR
British Cycling promote a number of “Entry level” races which don’t require a licence or membership, although it is usually cheaper if you are a member. These races are held on closed circuits and vary in length up to about an hour. As the field is generally all novices, although 4th cats can enter, the speed and standard of riding is variable. The entry is on the line (EOL), i.e. turn up before the start, and pay your entrance fee and sign-on.
Tim puts down some awesome power and strings the bunch out !
What you do need and how to enter
You will need a road bike (mountain bikes are not accepted), a crash helmet and your kit. It’s best to wear either club kit or plain kit. You will not be allowed to ride if you have Tri-bars attached.
If a race is specified as EOL then you can just turn up and enter. This is probably safe with circuit races but with races on the road you run the risk of not being able to start. To pre-enter you will need to fill in a form, available from the British Cycling website. Should you need any help then ask any of the experienced racers. You should then receive a race program in the post; this can arrive anytime before the race. On this will be your number and details of the circuit and the HQ. On race day make your way to the HQ aiming to arriving about 30-45 minutes before your start time. You need to sign-on, usually a table in the HQ with a form taped to the table. Sign next to your name and hand over your licence and pick up your race number(s). Usually there are 2 numbers, to go each side at the bottom of the shirt, but check that there are not instructions on how to attach your number. Next you should warm up, arriving at the start about 10 minutes before for a briefing. Then it’s off for the race! If you do get dropped by the bunch, you can continue or ride back to the HQ. At the end, hand in your numbers for a cup of tea and cake.