Articles

How To Get Into Bike Racing At Any Age

October 18, 2019


– 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. (electronic music) 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *