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Am a sportife rider...reasonably fit - do 100 mile type distance in decent time, keen to try a race for the experience. Would treat it as a shorter quicker sportife...no desire to get a license and be highly competitive about, just something cycling related to do with others...pretty much what got me into sportifes in the first place.

Am 53 years old and don't really understand the classification, band , category stuff? Basically I want to rock up, have a blast with likeminded and leave at that - no illusions of competitive grandeur?!
Any comments greatly received, cheers

13 comments

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morethansonglyrics [61 posts] 2 years ago
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I thought there were endless illusions of competition in "sportives", let alone actual races.

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s_lim [180 posts] 2 years ago
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Surely you'd need a club race licence for a bare minimum?

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SamShaw [266 posts] 2 years ago
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Get yourself to a local chain gang. It's the only thing that really simulates a race with a lot of accelerations when you're already riding at a high pace. Best thing is to joing a local club and ride with people who already race, you'll get used to riding in a bunch and being close to other riders and defending your space. To be honest, I'd recommend doing all this before you rock up and have a blast. Get familiar with what racing entails and be safe when you eventually start.

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welsh wizard [8 posts] 2 years ago
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another thing I don't know?

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asterix [4 posts] 2 years ago
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you will need a race licence from BC - its not difficult or too expensive

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glynr36 [637 posts] 2 years ago
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If you have BC Membership, but no race license you have a provisional through membership, just won't clock up any points.
Usually only able to use this with Cat4 races.

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welsh wizard [8 posts] 2 years ago
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really helpful thanks,

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sgcoates [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Or join the LVRC and get a license for about £20 - they have stacks of races and are age handicapped (you'd be in the 50-55 age group as I am)

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edster99 [336 posts] 2 years ago
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sgcoates wrote:

Or join the LVRC and get a license for about £20 - they have stacks of races and are age handicapped (you'd be in the 50-55 age group as I am)

Good advice. You'll find some proper chaingang action in the local club will give you an idea of what to expect. Our club has quick / intermediate / slow groups. If you can hang on to the fast group, you'll be able to hang on in a race. You can go for it pretty much as hard as you like in the chaingang... and people do!

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Nat Jas Moe [122 posts] 2 years ago
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Have a look at the cyclingplusmagazine extra as it has a helpful article in that I think would help.

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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As well as LVRC there's TLI Cycling as well, they do a lot of handicapped races and have a good split for age categories which I find makes it a little less intimidating than some (most imho) British Cycling races.

Depending on your area there are regular races around the country that TLI organise, from small "crits" to longer 50mile plus RR's.

Another thing you might want to try is TimeTrials, that's a good step in to a more competitive environment without having the pressure of a race looming over you, cyclingtimetrials.org.uk (CTT) are the main governing body for these and that site should have all the club/area info you need.

They're all PROPER friendly too. Check out tlicycling.org.uk - it's a bit of a mare to navigate but lots of info in the calendar etc.

+1 on local chaingangs too, if you can find a group of similarly skilled people to train with that can benefit you no end.

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Old Cranky [257 posts] 2 years ago
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Many BC organised races allow you to pay £10 for a day licence to race in Cat 4 or Go Ride. You don't accumulate points but it will give you a great taster.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 2 years ago
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All the above is good - get yourself a race licence from BC, not a provisional one though, so if you do manage to get some placings (down to 10th) you'll have the thrill of looking up your results.

However the main thing I would add is that while the advice to ride in a club or chaingang is good for training, it's totally different to actual racing.

On a club ride it's usually "After you. No, after You. No, please I insist... " or there is a discipline of taking a turn, rolling off and doing your fair share.

By all means learn that, so you know to do the opposite in a race.

Yes you need to be able to hold your line but if you leave a wheel between yourself and the rider in front, someone will jump in and you'll be squeezed back before you know it.

And if you're in a bunch and think that everyone is going to share the burden then you'd better hope for a three man break because that's the only way you're getting on the podium.

Unfortunately Cat 4 races are actually quite difficult, which is ironic given that they are supposed to be an easy entry level. Although maybe in your area it could be different. They tend to have big fields of guys who want to race but don't have the strength or fitness to create or maintain breaks, and they are often on circuit courses which are not particularly technical so it is harder to get away.

If you do then you've got 20 guys who will chase you down because their main aim is not to get dropped. They only have 30 seconds of work in them at any time but they'll use it to make sure you don't get away, then they'll sit up and wait for the bunch gallop. That's a bloody lottery and to get anything out of it you have to be in the right position at the right time, so you have to be comfortable or careless, or a bit of both. I refer the honourable gentleman to the advice I gave about positioning. If you aren't in the front 10 as they sprint for the line then stay out of it, avoid crashes and fight another day. Then enjoy listening to the post-race conversation about how they would have won if only they weren't blocked in.

The good news is you only need 12 points to escape into Cat 3. With 10 points for a win and down to 1 point for 9th and 10th you can do that by picking the right races and getting lucky a couple of times.

Once you're a Cat 3 you can be promoted to Cat 2, Cat 1 etc by picking up points, although you need a lot more to go up. The good news is you can never go down again to Cat 4.

I haven't done LVRC races but the guys I know who have are canny old racing bastards so the same advice would apply.

I hope this doesn't put you off - I certainly don't mean to. Just giving you an honest assessment. I really like racing and like you I came to it fairly late in life, in my 40s, after years doing audax and sportives but I'm now 47 and last year I competed in a UCI ranked pro race. It has certainly been an education riding at that level (not that I am at that level, but I mean riding with pros and semi-pros who are).

Try it and have fun, you'll work out pretty soon if you like it.