Getting started with road racing

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Road racing, as daunting as it sounds, is also a very enjoyable way of socializing while also getting real damn fit at the same time. Road racing has been around for centuries. In the modern world, big races attract many non-cycling crazy people to start racing, with likes of the tour de France, Vuelta, and the Giro being today’s biggest events with huge crowds coming from all around the world to get in on the action. But for the beginner road racer, you will mainly be sticking with the club and state-level racing. For now anyway. Most cities around Australia have local club racing every weekend. Brisbane offers a few main criterium races on the weekends. Firstly Murrarie (Muzz), Lakeside, and Nundah are the main ones, with Wednesday worlds being held down the coast (Nerang) during the week in the summertime.

The first thing that needs organizing before you start racing, is to register yourself with a Cycling Australia road racing license. This gives you access to hundreds of different events across Australia, exclusive clubs, and insurance benefits.

There are many different types of road racing. ITT, Criterium, Road race, TTT just to name a few. Some types of races suit particular riders better than others. Most beginners will start off their racing debut with a criterium race, otherwise known as a crit race. Crit races are short in duration but very high in intensity. An A grade crit usually goes for 50/60s mins + 3 laps. These races usually include 2 primes. Essentially a prime is a lap during the race where riders fight it out to the line for a cash prize and podium, known as a prime. After they ride through the finish line for the prime lap, they continue on the race (that’s right, no rest). Crit races are often flat, with the lap being around 1-2km long. A crit race is very intense. Often reaching speeds of 50kph + for the whole duration. But often the speed isn’t what makes it hard, it’s the surging in the group. Sometimes there might be a lull in the pace, it may go down to say 40kph but then someone may attack which quickly drives the pace back up to 55kph, which is a 15kph increase in speed over around 10 seconds. Trust me when your 40 mins into A grade crit and this happens… it hurts. Anyway, you aren’t here to ride A grade. When first starting out with racing you will most likely be put into D grade (the lowest grade) this is usually full of a mixture of abilities as it has new strong riders and complete beginners. D grade races go for anywhere between 25-35 mins usually.

So our advice? Firstly, to kickstart your racing debut, you need to assess your current capability on the bike. Are you ready to race? If yes, go out and invest some money into a Cycling Australia license, which then allows you to race your bike anywhere you want in Australia basically, after you purchase this license, find a local race, maybe one that some friends ride in or that the local bike shop riders race at. Start off in D grade and see how you shape up in that.

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