Road Club has an increasingly active
and enthusiastic group of members
who compete in local Regional A and
Regional B races, with several seasoned
3rd Cats, new and upcoming 4th Cat
riders, along with the odd 2nd Cat
rider. With the new Cycle Circuit
being built up at Cyclopark and Fowlemead,
now is a great time to start your
racing career with Thanet Road Club,
or maybe just come along and help
- marshals are always needed!
If, however, none of the above makes
any sense to you, but you'd like to
have a go at road racing, then hopefully
the notes below will go some way to
helping you. If after reading them,
you have any further questions, then
come along to the Club
Run and ask around; there is bound
to be someone who has experience of
road racing, and you can always contact
the Road Racing Secretary for further
How does Road Racing work?
Road racing is run under the rules
of British Cycling, who ensure that
races are well organised and run safely.
Races are one of two types; either
multiple laps of a short course -
these races are called criteriums
or crits - or a road race, which is
multiple laps of a circuit on the
The crits have laps ranging from
1-2 miles in length with the race
running from 30 minutes to an hour
depending on the standard of the riders
and the race. Crits take place on
closed roads, often on military bases
(Ludgershall) or race tracks (Castle
Combe). Each race has a limit of either
60 or 80 riders, and usually these
types of races are entered on the
line, i.e. you just turn up an hour
before the race starts and sign on,
pin on your race number, and then
A Road Race might be between 4 and
8 laps of a much larger lap, such
that the race lasts for 2 hours or
more, again depending on the rider
standard, and will be on roads open
to traffic with motorcycle escorts
to help clear the way for riders.
Road races have to be entered before
the closing date which is usually
weeks before the day of the race.
Entries are limited to 60 or 80 riders,
and organisers may chose who they
would like to ride, so there might
be a limit on the number of riders
from a particular club for example.
What is a racing licence and do
I need one?
To enter a cycle race you need a
licence, which among other things,
provides insurance for yourself. You
can buy a day licence for £10
if you maybe want to try a single
criterium, but you won't get any points
for getting a place in the top ten.
If you want to know why you need to
worry about that, then see below about
categories. If you want to have a
proper go at racing (which you probably
will once you've tried it), then it's
best to get a Full Racing Licence
for the whole year. The full racing
licence runs from the start to the
end of the year and costs £34
for 2013, but if you get one in July
onwards then you'll only pay for half
of the year. You can't just buy the
licence though, you'll also need to
have either Silver (£38) or
Gold (£66) British Cycling membership.
What are these Cats that everyone
To make the races more fun and with
a more level playing field, riders
are categorised according to their
ability. This is a bit like the old
football divisions. A new racer will
start as a Cat 4 and if they manage
to get 10 points within a single season
then they are promoted to 3rd Cat.
Once you're a 3rd Cat you can't be
demoted. To get a 2nd Cat licence
you'll need to get 40 points whilst
holding a 3rd Cat licence, and to
keep it you'll need to get 25 points
in the season. Cat 1 requires yet
more points and the top level of Elite
yet more. If you get to that point
you'll know lots about racing so I
won't write about it here!
What are the Cats used for?
If you look at a race listing, it
will say which level or rider is eligible
to ride in that race. As a beginner
you will start as a 4th Cat, so you
might be able to find a 4th Cat only
race early on in the season, this
will likely be a 30 minute crit. Quite
often the 4th Cats are lumped in with
the 3rds so you'll see 3/4 in the
listing. 3/4 races will extend from
crits into the world of the road race
which is about 45 miles or 2 hours
long. Beyond that level, races are
usually either 2/3/4 or E/1/2/3 which
are much harder.
What events are there?
Finding events to enter is getting
easier now that they appear on the
British Cycling Calendar. This link
will show you all the events in the
South region which is the region that
Bath is in. A good place to start
if you don't mind the cold is the
Ludgershall winter series, as it's
a short circuit with no hills, and
only 30 minutes long for the 4th Cats,
or you could wait for things to warm
up and head off to Castle Combe on
Thursday nights over the summer. I'd
recommend starting with a crit before
stepping up to a road race, but the
choice is yours.
Also have a look on the Road Racing
section of our forums, to see a list
of local races which members are entering.
How fit do I need to be?
You certainly need to be up to a
reasonable standard, and comfortable
at riding in a tightly packed group.
If you've not been on a club run yet,
then I strongly recommend you do this
a few times first before even thinking
about racing. You need to be able
to ride in a safe and predictable
way in the middle of a large pack,
and a race is not the place to learn
this. Unfortunately lots of people
don't follow this advice and dive
straight in, which leads to a few
crashes in the lower category races.
Please come along on a Sunday club
Can I ride any bike?
You'll certainly need a proper racing
bike (no mudguards), a licence and
a helmet. If you want the full rules,
check the British Cycling Rulebook.
Come along on a club ride to learn
more and to ask people who know about
road racing. The Sunday Club run is
longer but slower with a stop for
coffee at the halfway point.
Come for a ride with us, and hopefully
join our Club and start racing, new
members are always welcome.
Have a good ride!