How To Get into Cycle Racing

Getting into cycle racing is extremely rewarding, testing yourself against other riders is a fun, sociable way of exercising. However, getting started can be confusing and complicated. In the first of a series of articles we try to take away the myths and stress of getting involved in the sport for the first time. Remember if you are unsure about what you as a rider, or a parent need to do, please contact a coach or committee member for help and assistance, that’s what we are here for.

Road Racing

To compete in road racing you need to be an individual member of the governing body (not just the club). British Cycling is the National governing body (road racing, MTB, BMX, Track, Cyclo-cross) and as an individual you need to be a member to race in their races. Riders can either join for the year or per race (which is a very expensive way to do it). The Barnesbury as a Go Ride club can offer discounts to new BC members (please ask when joining). Individual races throughout the year vary in type of race and distance. Depending on the amount of riders entered they may be entry on the line, however this is not recommended and BC rules stipulate a pre entry of three weeks.
Youth races usually follow the below age categories. As you will see each age category has a maximum gear restriction. Racing is on closed road circuits for all youth races and gears will be checked prior to the start, so be warned!!



Road Racing

Track Racing

Roller Racing

Under 8

Youth E

5.1 meters

Under 10

Youth D

5.4 meters

Under 12

Youth C

6.05 meters

6.05 meters

6.94 meters

Under 14

Youth B

6.45 meters

6.45 meters

7.40 meters

Under 16

Youth A

6.93 meters

6.93 meters

7.93 meters

ANY Youth A event can now have senior women riding (Senior Cat 2, 3, 4), and Senior Go Ride Events can include Cat A Youths. There is now also no entry on the line for National Championships.

Each individual rider needs to pre enter on the standard BC entry form below at least 3 weeks prior to the race date, after this date it is at the discretion of each individual race organiser to accept your entry form unless it specifies “Entry-on-the-line” which, usually for additional cost means riders can turn up on the day and enter (only if the maximum number of riders has not been reached). It is best to plan your season and enter races in advance to guarantee entry and allow you to prepare properly.

Individual races have individual prize lists for their winners. Winners maybe based on a mixture of age categories or a single age category or the type of competition (sprints winner, King of the Mountains). Prizes can either be cash, medals or goods, generally no winners list is published and sent out to individuals after the race.

To compete in TLI or BSCA races you also need to be an individual member of these organisations or you will again incur additional costs per race. Both BSCA, TLI and BC have their own Championships.

Time Trials

To compete in Time Trials riders have to be affiliated to the Cycling Time Trial (CTT) the National organising body. Entries to the event organise needs to be sent no less than 10 days before the event. Riders must be aged 12 or over, as races are on the open roads, the more popular events tend to be on busy dual carriageway courses. Sporting course are also available. They tend to be on quieter hillier roads. For a full list of open events please see Chris who has the CTT handbook.

Race organisers will send out a starting list as well as a list after the event detailing winners and a full results sheet of every riders time/position. Cash prizes are the norm in time trials and are usually sent out after the event.

Why not start with our very own Wednesday Night Club 10? Start time is 7.00pm and the HQ is Nelson Road, Cramlington – just turn up and ride!

Mountain Biking Racing

There are many different types of off road riding, the below are some of the main activities you can take part in. Mountain bike events tend to be in the summer months. Please note the series nearest the North East is the Scottish MTB Cross Country series.

Downhill is the ultimate test of nerve and machine control. Riders race individually against the clock pitting themselves against a challenging succession of jumps, bumps, berms (cambered corners) and drop-offs on a course which is predominantly downhill. For Downhill, a full-face helmet and body armour are recommended! Bikes are highly specialised, featuring several inches of suspension front and rear. Tyres are very broad and heavily knobbled. Brakes are very powerful discs. Weight is less of an issue than in Cross-Country and geometry is set up to provide straight line stability.

Four Cross (4X)
Four-Cross pits 4 riders at a time against each other over a short, mainly downhill course: usually a mixture of natural and man made obstacles including stutter bumps, double jumps, table tops, step ups, drop offs, moguls, bermed or off camber corners and gap jumps. First over the line wins and events usually involve a series of qualifying rounds or "motos" and then semis and finals. The start is controlled by a BMX-style mechanical gate. Clothing is robust and heavily protective, like in Downhill. As speed off the line is essential (a lot of races are won and lost by who gets into the first corner in the lead) Bikes tend to be "hardtail" (no rear suspension), which makes them more responsive to pedaling and lighter. Wheelbases are relatively short to aid manoeuvrability. Saddles are something of an afterthought as races are mostly ridden standing up.

Cross-Country, Marathon & Enduro
Endurance, fitness and machine control all combine to make a top Cross-Country rider. Riders start together (massed start) and compete on a marked lap with climbing, descending, single-track and technical sections (tight turns, narrow tracks, rocks, mud or other difficult terrain). Less experienced riders tackle fewer laps. Elite level riders race for up to 2 and a half hours and even longer Marathons can be 50km, 100km or even 150km in length. Clothing is light with an emphasis on cooling qualities and comfort. Bikes are extremely light and often very technically advanced. There has been a move towards full suspension (suspension for both front and back wheels).
Enduro racing comes in many forms - 100km and 12 and 24 hours (often with two and four man team options) are just some of the popular options. Huge fields make a for a great atmosphere and, whilst the more able riders treat them as seriously as any other race, for many they are a chance to enjoy riding in company or have a weekend away with friends.