How To Get Into Bike Racing At Any Age

- So you've got a bike and you love going fast.

Would you like to know how to get into racing?

Perhaps you keep getting KOMs or QOMs

when you go our riding

or you just drop all your friends,

and your beginning to think, maybe,

you could be quite good at this.

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I did my first bike race aged 22.

Now that's pretty old by the standard

of professional cycling,

where most people start as juniors,

then work their way up through the ranks.

But, it is perfectly possible to start racing at any age.

You might not make it as a pro,

but then, you might,

and you'll never know unless you give it a try.

There are actually quite a few examples of pros

who started out in other sports,

for example, Kristin Armstrong

did triathlon until her late 20's

and she got three gold medals at the Olympics,

which isn't bad.

Your first consideration should be,

what kind of racing do you want to try?

If it's road racing, well,

the very highest level of that

is what you see on television with the World Tour,

Tour de France, and the Olympic Road Race, for example.

That's pretty daunting, but there are also

national level races and local races,

so give those a try first.

There are criteriums, local road races

and local cycle-across events that you can try.

There are also unlicensed Sporteves or Grand Fundos,

which are mass start events which can be local

or far away in exotic locations.

There are one day and multi-day Sporteves,

and they can be really fun as well as very competitive.

If, on the other hand, bunt racing is not your thing,

why not have a go at a time trial,

where you start one by one, against the clock

and, frankly, feels a lot less scary?

If you're new to racing,

why not just have a go at everything

and see what you enjoy most?

And remember that Grand Fundos or Sporteves

are a really fun way to get that kick of competition

and the thrill of racing without needing to get a license.

If you want to try road racing,

then the next step is to buy a license or a day license

and enter a categorized event.

Now, you'll start in the lowest category

but if you do well, you'll get points

that will allow you to progress up the categories,

and eventually get noticed.

Trust me, no one goes from great power output

or a KOM on one climb straight to a pro contract,

it takes time and it take experience.

My best piece of advice would be to join a club.

Mostly because, well, people are lovely,

but also, you'll learn loads from club mates

who have more experience of racing.

You can go training together, you can share lifts to races,

they'll cheer you up when you've had a bad day

and they'll whoop you on the podium when you've won a race.

In fact, the people you meet along the way

are gonna be far more important in the end

than the races you win or lose.

I've done a few races, and I have to say

that the friends I made through cycling

are far more important to me than any medals I ever won.

Something to bare in mind when you take up racing

is that you're gonna have to learn some new skills probably.

You might have an amazing FTP,

you might be able to drop all your friends riding uphill,

but it's not quite the same as winning a bike race.

For a start, you're gonna have to learn to attack

rather than just ride steady.

Secondly, you're gonna have to learn tactics,

which are actually quite complicated in a bike race.

Thirdly, you're gonna have to learn

to ride with and for a team,

teamwork is absolutely essential in road races.

What a lot of cyclist struggle with,

when they take up road racing,

is how to ride in the peloton,

it was definitely something that I found really difficult.

You'll have to learn some bike handling skills,

if you don't have them already,

and you'll have to be prepared to crash

because I'm afraid that most bike races

involve a crash every now and then.

I think it's important to mention, at this point,

some potential hiccups you might encounter

on your path is racing.

Now, I don't want to sound like a killjoy

but it's not always a smooth, upwards path.

For a start, like I said before,

just because you have great power number,

well, that doesn't mean you'll necessarily

win every bike race.

You may have to stick at it for a while

to learn the tactics and the teamwork

before you really star winning.

Then, there's always the law of diminishing returns.

So, while at the start you'll feel

a really great improvement as you learn,

as you get fitter,

that improvement will tail off as you get better and better.

Then, of course, there are the unfortunate possibilities

of crashes and illness,

which will obviously set you back as well.

Hopefully it won't happen to you,

but just be prepared, if it does happen,

to enjoy your cycling and carry on and not be deterred.

Once you get to a certain level,

you'll need to be on a team.

But how do you choose a team?

And, in fact, do you choose the team or do they choose you?

Although, of course, it is really nice to have

a top level bike and kit,

that shouldn't be your main consideration.

The only time I took it into account, when choosing a team,

was if they didn't have a bike that would fit me.

Another factor to consider is that if you go down

the path of road racing and you get quite serious,

you could potentially spend quite a lot of time

away from home, traveling to races and racing.

And not all of those races will be races

that you want to do, there'll be races that you have to do

to help your team or your teammates.

And that's great because teamwork

is such an important part of cycling,

but just remember when you're doing a flat race in Holland,

and you don't really like flat races,

or a mountain race in the Pyrenees when you like flat races,

that it's all part of the job.

If you're tempted by racing, whatever age you are,

then all I can say is definitely, definitely give it a go.

You'll have loads of fun, you'll meet some great people

and who know where you'll end up?

If you have anymore questions about getting into racing,

leave them in the comments down below

and we'll do our best to answer them.

Give us a thumbs up,

and if you'd like to watch a video

on how to race against yourself on Strava,

click down here to see how to get Strava KOMs.