Bike racing can be an absolute blast and with the constant influx of new racers joining the sport every year, there’s no shortage of competition and races to participate in. However, that first race can be pretty intimidating, especially if you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
I remember lining up for my first race when I was 10. It happened to be the state cyclocross championships and since I was the only kid racing, they started me at the back of the women’s open field. I was a nervous and scrawny asthmatic kid standing there straddling my mountain bike, which was almost too big for me, and likely wearing a rather dumbfounded look. If it wasn’t for one of the ladies in the women’s race who shot me a few words of encouragement on the start line and every time she lapped me out on the course, I probably would’ve never finished. I think I even stopped a few times to ask my dad for my inhaler.
Needless to say, I remember that day well, the woman cheering me on went on to win the state title and I was pretty sure I had no interest in pursuing a career in cycling. Who would’ve guessed that 10 years later I would be living in France as a full time bike racer? The moral of the story is to never let those first few races intimidate you so much that you throw in the towel too early. We’ve all been there at some point, but with the right training, diet and supplements like the Auragin ginseng we can all train our bodies to accomplish what we want. You don’t want to miss out on a fun, exhilarating, and healthy sport full of great camaraderie. So, what can you do to be prepared for your first race?
Register With your National Sanctioning Body
Bike racing everywhere has a governing body that will issue racing licenses. In the U.S., we have USA Cycling as our national governing body. On top of that, there are some states that also have their own governing body underneath USA Cycling, for example, Colorado has BRAC (Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado). So, in Colorado you will need to buy a USAC racing license and you’ll also likely want to get a BRAC license as well to receive discounts on race entries. However, in most states you’ll likely only need a USA Cycling license. One day licenses are also available at the races for beginner categories only. If you’re not sure you want to commit to an annual license, you can always purchase a one-day license when registering for your race.
Pick Your Race
In road racing, there are quite a few different types of races you can do. If you’re new to the sport, you probably want to shoot for a single day event like a time trial, road race, or criterium. A time trial, also known as a TT, is a race against the clock and can be done individually or as a team. These are great races if you’re not comfortable riding around other folks in a group setting since an individual time trial does not allow for drafting and everyone starts on their own in 30 second to 1 minute intervals. It’s a true test of fitness and pacing.
A road race is typically going to be the longest of the single day races and is considered a mass start race since everyone in a given category starts together. Road races are typically 30 to 60 miles and consist of one, two or three loops. Since drafting is allowed, there are considerably more tactics involved in a road race than a TT.
A criterium is another mass start event, but it involves doing repeated laps over a short course, usually a mile or less, for a pre-determined amount of time or distance. Criteriums also allow drafting and also tend to be pretty fast since they are shorter races.
Some areas also have a fair amount of hill climbs as well which are also mass start races, but they tend to break apart and turn into a TT type effort for most racers. You can likely find a calendar of all the races in your area by looking for your local race organization online and navigate their site to find the race calendar.