Road Racing and Crits
Road Racing & Crits
How do i sign up?
All road races and crits in the UK are governed by British Cycling, and you will require a minimum of Silver Membership with them to be eligible to take part in races. On top of Silver Membership, you will need a full race license to allow you to claim points (awarded for top 10 finishes), which in turn will allow you to climb the license categories from Cat 4, and be able to race in bigger events.
A full race license costs around £40 per year. It is possible to race on a day license (£5 per event), but you will not be awarded any points should you finish in the top 10.
Entry and mid level road races take place on open roads and are usually a minimum of 40 miles long, with distances increasing as the category/level of the race improves. Generally these races take place on a loop or circuit. Average speeds for a 40-50 mile race will usually be 24mph plus for the front group.
In a Cat 2/3/4 race there will be a range of abilities on show, from absolute beginners, up and coming youth riders, right through to the occasional ex pro who has dropped down the license categories. Do not be put off by this, and try to think of it as an opportunity to watch these more experienced riders and learn from them. Tactics and race craft are as important as cycling ability.
Take some time to ride, or at least drive, round the course before your race so that you are familiar with the corners and climbs. Your first race will always be very daunting, but knowing the course will help you immensely. During the race, finding and holding a good position mid group is vital so that you don’t get caught out on any climbs, or by any sudden attacks. Yoyo-ing at the back of the group wastes a lot of energy and its very easy to get dropped from that position. Once you are off the back, there is no getting back on!
If you’re not sure if you are ready for a road race, a good test of your fitness is to go along to the faster groups on the local chain gang and see how you do, this will also help your group riding skills enormously. If you can hold your own in these groups you will be ok come race day.
During the season there are a few options in and around West Lothian, the closest being the famous Pedal Power Chaingang out of West Calder on a Tuesday evening. Mid week alternatives are the Falkirk chaingang/APR on Thursday nights or The Bundy which runs from Hamilton on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. More details for all these rides can be found on their respective Facebook groups.
Criterium Racing (Crits)
Criterium events take place on a closed circuit, usually over specific time periods (30-60 minutes depending on category) rather than set distances. Unlike road racing, there are always some Category 4 only races in the calendar which can be a more forgiving introduction for new riders.
The pace in these races is very fast, incorporating a lot of short sharp efforts out of the corners. It is key to conserve energy where you can, so find and hold a good position in the group and avoid spending too much time on the front. Ultimately its a sprinters race, but positioning and tactics are as important as raw power when it comes to the big finish.
Its always worth arriving early and watching some of the races before your own, to see how other riders are tackling the course and the finish.
Given the close proximity of the riders, shoulder to shoulder contact is very common and should be expected. Unfortunately, this also means that crashes do happen from time to time. Keys to avoiding this are to always be aware of the riders around you, and don’t be afraid to communicate/shout. More importantly though, always hold your line to avoid crossing wheels with other riders!