Have you been watching the Tour de France? Do you plan to watch the action in the velodrome in Tokyo? How about the road race or time trial? Do you find that watching these events gives you the desire to have a bash at it yourself? We’ve all got that one mate that won’t shut up about how great racing is and why you, as a recreational cyclist who doesn’t race, should enter one. That one mate is right. Maybe you’ve done a few time trials and enjoyed the feeling of pushing yourself? Maybe you’ve done one time trial and hated that same feeling? Either way, you should definitely enter a bike race and here’s five reasons why.
1. It will improve your bike handling
Bike races are a crash course (sometimes literally, unfortunately) in bike handling. Racing is one way to improve your handling – moving around in the bunch, picking a good line and cornering all improve in the course of one race, let alone a whole season of racing. This will improve all of your rides as you’ll be able to descend faster, be more confident (and safer) amongst traffic and position yourself more efficiently in the weekend club ride meaning you’ll have more energy for the all important café sprint. Improving your handling makes all your riding more enjoyable as you become more comfortable on your bike.
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2. You can still win and not do all the work!
Bike races aren’t actually very hard, or at least they don’t have to be. If you would like to ride around at twenty five miles per hour without trying go and sit in the middle of the bunch at a local crit. You’ll have to give it the beans out of some corners but other than that, if it’s a reasonably flat circuit, you can pretty much do nothing and just float round at a high speed. This is a sure fire way to impress all your mates on Strava and if you click ‘manage my group’ and unpair from everyone else in the race they’ll think you’ve done it all yourself! Often, the winner of a bike race is the person who’s done just that, not tried very hard (until the end).
3. It’s the ultimate training motivation
They’re really hard to win. This sounds like a reason not to enter a bike race but I’ve always seen it as more of a reason to go out and train. If you want motivation to train more then get dropped. Nothing has me out the door for a session faster than the thought of losing! If you’re looking for motivation to ride more then look no further than going and losing your local Tuesday night criterium – despite trying very hard to win in a magnificent solo break.
4. It won’t break the bank (probably)
It’s much cheaper than other social activities. The average pint in Britain costs £3.69 and that rises to £4.44 if you’re in London. Add in a couple of these and the taxi to and from the pub (since we don’t recommend riding while intoxicated) that’ll soon add up to more than the £15, or the cost of your local criterium. So, don’t head to the Dog and Duck, instead get yourself down to your local velo park or motor racing circuit and enter a crit! There’s the added benefit of it being a bit healthier too. If you’ve got your eyes set on international racing, or something like an Ironman, you may find the pub a more cost effective option….!
5. It’s fun (almost always!)
Mostly though, more than anything, racing a bike is really fun. Enter with a couple of mates and riding as a team or turn up as a lone bandit and try to sneak off the front – either way racing bikes is just a fun way to spend your time. Try all sorts of racing too. Road races, criteriums and time trials all offer something very different and those are just your ‘on road’ options. You could also have a go on the track or hit the trails on your mountain bike in your local cross country league.
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If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. Nothing replaces the thrill of rolling round with a bunch at high speed (although apparently winning is fun but I wouldn’t know much about that). Racing bikes improves your skills, motivates you to train and is a fantastic laugh. I would one hundred percent recommend having a go.
Now you’re sold on entering, you might wish to know how this is done? Luckily for us it’s all rather simple. For your first race you will need to buy a day license – I wouldn’t commit to a full racing license until you know that you love it (which you will, of course) so make sure you bring a tenner along with you. Races can be found online, usually on your national governing body’s website which for me is British Cycling. You can arrange the events by the type such as criterium, road race or cyclocross (and many more) and then select how far away from your house you’re willing to go. It’s usually possible to find one within twenty miles or so and riding out to your race is a good warm up! Once you’ve found a race, enter with their online portal.
On the day of the race head down to the venue with forty minutes to spare to allow for signing on, a warm up and a chin wag and then enjoy the racing! Once the race is over, hand your number back, upload your ride to Strava (along with a lengthy race report of course) and sit back and let the kudos roll in!
Our Ultimate Bicycle Insurance will cover you and your bikes for racing anywhere in the world, including damage in transit.