126kg to Cat 4 racer! What does Cat 4 mean?

by SamShaw   November 8, 2011  

Sam Shaw - 2208_2011

This is my first blog as I start winter training for the 2012 season.  In 2008 I was 126kg and struggling to ride 3.5 miles home from work, it’s now the end of 2011 and I’m planning my first season of racing, it’s funny how things have changed. 

I was sponsored last year by a magazine and gained access to the world of sportive riding, however I didn’t find it stirred those competitive longings in me though, the mix of riders taking part is usually diverse and it didn’t feel they made me do my best.  I really enjoy the habble at the end of a club run, and have found that my best performances come when being put under pressure by others so having a go at racing seems a natural progression.

Only problem is, I don’t really know anything about it!  I’ve declared I want to be a Cat 4 racer, but I’m not really sure what this is, and if it’s the right place for me to be riding.  More discussion needed with seasoned club members… 

The purpose of this blog is to see what it takes to go from a regular club rider, to a bike racer, albeit of the bog-standard amateur variety.  I’m sure there are people out there like me who love riding their bike, put in effort to train but feel like they should be doing something more with their attempts at riding quicker/harder/longer.  If you’ve not grown up around the sport, it can seem like a hard task investigating who you have to pay for a race license, where you find out what races are on, whether you can compete in said races or even what a race license is.

I want to win races, but I’ve no idea if I’m good enough or what the Scottish cycle racing scene is like, but I want to find out.  First thing on the agenda: winter training; more about that in my next blog, for now you can enjoy having a giggle at my overweight picture!

16 user comments

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Well done Sam, an inspiration to a lot of people i am sure. Unfortunately i cannot give you any guidance (i was going to say advice) but good luck with whatever road you end up racing down...

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

road slapper's picture

posted by road slapper [95 posts]
8th November 2011 - 16:36

1 Like

Nice one, Sam. I was in your position about a year ago - doing well in sportives, never raced before and wondering what it was all about. I've been writing a series of blogs about my experiences which you might find useful in parts:

Best of luck,

dhague's picture

posted by dhague [22 posts]
8th November 2011 - 16:49

1 Like

I'd been riding for a fair while longer than you before entering my first race last year, as long as you know the basics of riding in a group and don't do too much work in your first couple you'll be fine! The pace might be a bit higher, around 18-22mph depending on the length of the race, but you'll enjoy it!

Good luck!


posted by mb429 [76 posts]
8th November 2011 - 17:10


Have you considered doing some tts too? They are easy to get into and are well worth a try. I love em Smile

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
8th November 2011 - 17:24


@Karl - thanks!

@Darren - I've bookmarked your link for a good look later.

@Mark - I ride with Stirling Bike Club so I'm used to group riding, I found that part of the problem with sportives is riding with people who aren't! I'll try not to go off the front on my first outing!

@ilovemytinbred - I rode some TT's last year getting low 25's with a standard road bike. I enjoy them and will probably do my club TT series next year.

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [318 posts]
8th November 2011 - 17:29


Good effort Sam ! You should have some good people at Stirling to put you in the right direction. There are quite a few races round about Central Scotland. Have you checked out the Braveheart site ? Plenty of events on there. I started with a club last year but don't race, though the training nights in the summer can be pretty competitive, (very). I'm not sure if I could race at the moment or ever really but maybe one day, good luck with the racing, I might see you on the roads round Stirling.

posted by dreamlx10 [148 posts]
8th November 2011 - 17:51


Nice going Sam Applause Cool

Howl Like a Bianchi

HLaB's picture

posted by HLaB [60 posts]
8th November 2011 - 23:12


Be warned - once you get a taste for bike racing it's a hard habit to kick!

I started this year at the tender age of 43 and had plenty of ups and downs along the way, which are all charted in glorious detail here (best to start at the beginning for the full effect):


Good luck next season!!

Check out my cycle racing blog: https://cyclingapprentice.wordpress.com/

posted by greeny12 [5 posts]
9th November 2011 - 12:04


"it can seem like a hard task investigating who you have to pay for a race license, where you find out what races are on, whether you can compete in said races or even what a race license is."

Completely agree, eventually figured out that I should get a licence from BC this year. Turned up to a "go race" event at Redbridge cycle centre, for "Novices". I was the only one that turned up. I joked that it counted as a win, but it did annoy me really. I could have waited 2 hours for a later 3/4 cat race, but I'm pretty sure I would have been made to look silly so went home.
I then found a cat 4 series at Dunton, which has been recommended by club riders, went along to the last race there and loved it. Had to work hard but wasn't dropped, even had an albeit very very brief dig off the front. Was 24th from about 40 so was well happy.
Am planning on dropping myself even further into the unknown next year.

posted by pmr [193 posts]
9th November 2011 - 17:30


@dreamlx10 - Give me a wave if you see me!

@HLaB - Cheers, Adrian

@greeny12 - Well done yourself! Very useful info, I've had a quick look but internet/phone is down @ home so I'll have to wait til it's fixed to get a good look.

@pmr - That's exactly the kind of situation I want to avoid!!!

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [318 posts]
10th November 2011 - 10:49


I agree with ilovemytinbred, get involved in TT's! they are the race of truth and doing the same course a few times is fun as you keep wanting to better the last time!..... if you are down in London one weekend, come down to the Addiscombe CC club run! Big Grin

Argy's picture

posted by Argy [147 posts]
10th November 2011 - 18:15


Wow: nice work, Sam! Getting off the couch and on the bike is the hardest part, and look at you -- a picture's worth a thousand calories!

Dave K

Dave Krentz's picture

posted by Dave Krentz [11 posts]
11th November 2011 - 14:38

1 Like

Good luck Sam, as soon as you get a license you're a Cat 4!! If you manage to win a race you get 10 points and then your a Cat 3. Or if you get 10th ten times in a season you also go up to Cat 3, or 5th twice etc. Easy in theory, not so easy in practice as I found out last year by finding a number of different methods to do badly in a road race!! All the best, happy racing!!

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [76 posts]
12th November 2011 - 0:05

1 Like

Good on ya, Sam.

I too got back into cycling to lose weight and am now fitter than I've ever been. For me, I'm only really interested in competing against myself, faster times doing a particular course etc. (Oh, and off the bike watching clothes sizes gradually go down.) But whatever floats your boat...

A great advert for cycling, good luck next season.


PeteH's picture

posted by PeteH [159 posts]
15th November 2011 - 23:08

1 Like

Check out The League International much more "user friendly" than the expensive British Cycling

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [261 posts]
12th December 2011 - 21:20


Yeah mate!! Keep it up. You looks better than 126 kg. I just sharing how to lose weight fast process with buddies!

posted by billypauel [1 posts]
4th May 2012 - 15:55

1 Like