A Guide to Getting Started with Racing

At some point in your Slipstreamers journey, you may wish to race. Perhaps you took part in an end-of-session race at the club and the bug has bit! Or maybe you want to challenge yourself to see how far you can go. Whatever level you choose, the volunteers and your fellow racers are here to support you, so do ask if you have any race-related questions or aren’t sure. In the interim, we’ve put together the following guide, with a little help from racing parents, which we hope you will find useful.

Who Puts on Races?

The governing body for Road, Track, Mountain Biking, Cyclo-cross and BMX in the UK is British Cycling, often referred to as “BC”. The majority of high profile, national and regional races  for all disciplines are via BC; but there are plenty of other bodies that also put on races outside of the BC umbrella for, particularly for disciplines such as cyclo-cross and mountain biking – a quick Google will bring up web pages for organising bodies that look after these disciplines. Whilst the guidance here mainly references BC, it is applicable to pretty much all race scenarios.

“Go Ride”

“Go Ride” races is British Cycling’s entry level race format, and is always a good place to start if you are a first-timer. Look out for Go Ride information on British Cycling’s website here to find races in your area. This format of racing does not require a race license, in order to attract riders to the sport, and you can win medals and other prizes.

Youth Racing

To enter BC youth races, you will need to join British Cycling and obtain a race license. As a Slipstreamers member, you can obtain your first year’s membership free. See British Cycling’s membership page for more details, or talk to the Slipstreamers Membership Secretary. Your license will tell you which age category you can enter. With a license, you can accumulate points that go towards the National Ranking programme, and can also help you earn special dispensation to ride in different categories as you progress. If you are entering regional or local races outside of BC, you may not need a race licence at all – always check with the organisers.

Race Events Calendar

British Cycling produce a full and varied calendar, that can be used to find and choose races to enter. The calendar is extensive and covers all racing disciplines. You can use filters to narrow your search. For example, Hillingdon Slipstreamers is in the British Cycling Central Region, so below are some useful links with filters set for each discipline:

Other useful sites include:

You usually have a choice on entering on-line or on the day, so check details. Each race has an information page with event type, venues, date, times of races and cost. Please do browse the sites and don’t be afraid to ask questions – it does take some getting used to.

Gearing Restrictions

Please note that all youth riders should have their gears restricted in Road and Track events. Please read our section on gear restrictions for more details. There are no such restrictions for Mountain Bike, Cyclo-cross or Time Trial races.

On Race Day

On Race Day, remember to arrive in good time. We have produced two aide memoirs for races to use: the first is a race/training checklist and the second is our guide to warming up and down. Do visit the Rider Resources section for these and other useful tips for safe cycling.

Before you sign on you may need to have your gears checked. After that, proceed to sign-on/ registration next, where you will hand in your license and receive a race number. Check here where and how numbers should be pinned on as this will differ for various events. For example, track and time-trial races tend to have the numbers to the side and angled; whilst mountain bike XC races have these either on the front of the bike or your mid back.

Whilst racing, please remember the following safety points:

  • Always check your bike and equipment before you race. Anything loose, including worn cleats, could come undone at any time
  • Hold your line. Most accidents occur when riders move in front of another. Especially in sprints.
  • Cross the finish line with both hands on handlebars
  • Have fun!

After race return your number and retrieve your license.

And Finally…

Stay safe, and enjoy your racing! Chatting to other parents and racers can help hugely in preparing yourself or child to race, and most are happy to answer any questions you may have.