- 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.
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.