Road Racing - the biggest challenge?
The club is relaunching a Road Race team for 2010. The VCC has past glory in this exciting area of cycle sport, but for a few years we have neither promoted or entered events as a club. Good racing cyclists have left the club to ride with dedicated racing teams so that they can gain experience and enjoy good racing. This is about to change. With a hard core of younger, dedicated riders joining the club there has been real pressure for a club road race team to be reintroduced. A new public interest in cycling is is also helping with a new generation of sportsmen and women looking at cycling as an exciting and competitive area to get into.
With a new kit and web site and a new team we hope to import good riders keen to enjoy the racing scene.
Road race is generally run on the public roads with marshals and escort vehicles or on dedicated closed circuits. All competitors start en-masse and the winner is the first over the finish line.
Races can be very variable, and much more than just brute strength goes into achieving a win or a placing. Team tactics can be crucial and the terrain and make up of the field has to be read by the successful racing cyclist. Strategy can be the winning factor and races can be won from a break, a sprint or the lone rider 'riding of the front'.
Road racing is the most popular spectator sport in some European countries (yes, bigger than football!), particularly national stage races and one day “classics”. In this country the sport is largely governed by British Cycling and most races are held under it rules, but there is also an alternative programme of events for riders over 40 years old run by the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists.
There are races for Juveniles (under 16s), Juniors (approximately 16 to 18 year-olds), “Espoirs” (under 23s), and seniors. There are also women-only events, although women also compete alongside men too. Juveniles are not permitted to race on public roads, so their races are all on closed circuits.
Senior riders are categorised as Elite, 1st category, 2nd category, 3rd category and 4th category, with individual races being open to a particular category or multiple categories. New riders are issued with a 4th category licence. Points are awarded for winning races or finishing in a high position, and if a rider gains sufficient points they advance through the category system.
Races are typically 30 to 40 miles for 4th category riders, up to 100 to 120 miles for national level elite events. These are usually one-day events, but there are also stage races in which the overall winner is the rider with the lowest overall time for the entire race.
Racing is less formal than you might think. All you need is a reasonable racing bike in good condition, some racing kit and a pair of good legs.
Please find attached (1.3mb) a slide show we put together on the "do's & don'ts" of racing. Note that many of these guidelines are equally applicable to group riding on club runs.