A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 7
Following on from my guides to racing that I first wrote back in 2013, I thought it would be useful to develop these a bit further. This guide is on circuit racing and what to expect, as it is this type of race that you will tend to do as a novice first, before venturing out on to the open road in road races.
These races tend (on the whole) to be run under British Cycling regulations. This means that you will have to have a racing licence to participate in the event, but you don’t need to have a licence in advance to race for circuit races (unless it is a National Series event, in which case you won’t be able to ride as a novice). However, you will be required to purchase a day licence for the event, so that you are covered by the requisite insurance. A day licence costs around £10 and will be in addition to your entry fee. You can find out more about the racing licence position here.
What is involved?
A circuit race can also be called a criterium. They are held usually on a circuit of 1 mile or less, with the newer circuits averaging around 1km in length. More often than not, the race distance will be described in terms of minutes rather than laps, with many races being a certain amount of time plus a number of laps. Generally, the commissaires will know how long a lap takes and will tell you in advance that they expect the race to be however many laps but they will put the lap board up with a certain number of laps to go (usually 10, although this depends on the length of the circuit).
Who can enter?
This tends to depend on the organiser. There are many events which are labelled as E/1/2/3/4 and will therefore be band 4 races (this doesn’t mean that Laura Trott or Dani King is going to turn up – they could, but it doesn’t happen very often), however if categories are dropped and the race only caters for lower categories (e.g. 2/3/4 or 3/4) the race will become a band 5, meaning that there are less licence points available for the top 10 finishers. There has also been a tendency in the past to hold women’s races alongside a fourth category men’s race. This can be a bit scary, for many reasons, so if you are looking at doing your first event, check to see whether it is a standalone women’s event or whether the women’s event will be on the track at the same time as the fourth category men’s event, as even though they are listed as separate events on the British Cycling events listing, they may have the same or similar start times, which will mean that you are racing at the same time as the men.
The nature of circuit races mean that they tend to start extremely quickly, and you therefore need to make sure that you warm up properly before the event. Most riders nowadays tend to take their rollers or turbo trainer to the race so that they can do some efforts before the race – the key to the warm up is that you need to get your heart rate up to where it will probably be in the race when you warm up, so you will usually need around 20 to 30 mins warm up, although this depends on the rider. You should be looking to finish your warm up around 10 minutes before you are due to start to give you time to get the final pieces ready, so make sure you have put your number on in advance of warming up. It also helps to warm up in a separate T-shirt to that which you are going to race in, so make sure you take a couple of T-shirts in your race bag with you.
Before you get on the start line
The riders will all line up on the start line, so if possible try and do a couple of laps of the circuit before the race is due to start. During these laps, look at the corners, see whether there are any damp patches or pot holes which you may want to avoid, and ride around any particularly tricky sections a couple of times before the race so that there are no hidden horrors which you might encounter. Check which way the wind is blowing – is it a head wind up the finishing straight or is it a tail wind or a cross wind, as this will give you an idea where riders will be likely to put an attack in (most are less likely to attack in a head wind because it’s too hard on their own).
The race itself
Remember that the more experienced riders will always go off hard and keep the pace high for a couple of laps. Keep calm during the first few laps, even though your head might be trying to tell you other things, as the pace always eases off after the first 5 to 10 minutes. Many riders will try and attack in these early laps as they test each other out, but most of these attacks won’t stay away as they’re more like feints – it’s like a game of poker as the more experienced riders see who’s up for a race and who isn’t.
Corners are either your friend or your enemy
Most riders don’t like cornering and will brake excessively. Most crashes tend to happen coming out of corners in circuit races, so give yourself room but don’t ease off too much. Make sure you change into an easier gear going into the corner as it’s easier to change pace on a lower gear and therefore easier to sprint out of the bend. Don’t make the mistake of staying in the same gear as it will just tire you out. Hold your line around a corner and don’t “divebomb” other riders (cut up the rider behind you). Become a rider who loves corners and you will do well.
You will get dropped
Every rider will get left behind by the first few riders (the term is to “get dropped”) in their first few races. No matter what you think as you prepare for your first race, 99% of riders struggle with the fluctuating pace and it is only a matter of time before the elastic eventually snaps and you get dropped. But don’t worry, it is all part of the learning curve, and the next time you come back you will have a better idea of what happens and what to expect.
Don’t give up
Bike racing can be an extremely demoralising experience but don’t worry, everybody goes through that learning curve. Make sure you set yourself targets (finish the race, finish in the bunch, finish in the top 10) and you will find that it can be an exciting experience!
Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
The Racing Chance Foundation
The growth in women’s cycling over the last few years has been phenomenal however there is still no clear structure in place for women who want to start competing and progress up the ranks. No-one can deny that there is now more television coverage of women’s cycling thanks to events such as the Johnson’s Health Tech Grand Prix Series and now The Women’s Tour, but there is no clear pathway for women who aspire to compete in such events.
Heather Bamforth talks through bike set up with riders.
The Racing Chance Foundation is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation so it has to remain transparent. It has been registered as a charity with the Charity Commission (charity number 1156835) and has four trustees – Heather Bamforth, Alan Gornall, Colin Batchelor and Carley Brierley. The charity’s intention is to provide a performance pathway for female cyclists in the UK who currently fall outside the existing track-based national programmes. As such, the focus for the Foundation (for the time being at least) will be based on the road. Membership of the Racing Chance Foundation costs just £5 per year and gives cyclists exclusive access to races, events, a club shop, and a wealth of cycling knowledge & information.
The Foundation is currently developing sessions for all levels, from novice to elite, to help those riders who wish to develop their competitive cycling careers, with the first sessions planned for January 2015. The aim is to provide assistance to riders by offering sessions that they can attend which will help develop their skills as competitive cyclists. In addition, rather than providing grants to specific riders, one of the Foundation’s ultimate ambitions is to invite riders (at both a development and elite level) to compete in races as the Racing Chance Foundation, both in the UK and abroad, which will be funded by the Foundation.
We will be releasing details shortly regarding criteria for our elite and development squads. What we can say in advance is that there won’t be a minimum number of licence points as a requirement.
The Foundation is affiliated to British Cycling and Cycling Time Trials and club membership is available to anybody (male or female) over the age of 16 (with parent/guardian permission if under the age of 18). We don’t believe in solely trying to attract female membership; indeed the first races that we are organising in 2015 are two men’s events on the tough Bole Hill circuit in the Peak District.
As charity, the Racing Chance Foundation relies on donations to keep it going. They already have kit designed by Bioracer which is available to order, with profits going into the charity and, once established, RCF hope to be able to sell branded items in their online shop. If you feel that you may be able to assist with the Foundation by supplying branded items, please email: [email protected]
The Trustees would like to thank Andrew Middleton of Towns Needham LLP for his invaluable assistance in registering the Foundation with the Charity Commission and Anna Magrath of Cycling Shorts for her assistance with the design and maintenace of the Foundation’s website and media management.
Further information can be found at the Foundation’s website (which is still partly in development): www.racingchancefoundation.com or by following them on Twitter and Facebook.
For press & media enquiries please contact: [email protected]
Kreis is a relatively new brand to the UK market and comes at it with the angle of offering limited run Club orders. Their designs are very modern and striking and give an opportunity to have a coordinated wardrobe for not too much money. The clothing is made for them by Kalas, a Czech company that have enabled Kreis to bring their designs to the public.
The overall emphasis from Kreis is on creating your own statement and having them help you realise it. Most of the designs are size customisable too, offering a great deal of flexibility for every shape and size of cyclist. Emphasis is placed on the ‘pre-order’ stage of purchase where the details of what you need can be tailored to you.
Kreis Echelon-Gipfel Renntrikot Jersey
The design of this jersey and indeed all the kit we had for review certainly turned heads. This jersey was of simple construction with a lycra front and sleeves, and mesh panel rear. This gave a great amount of breathability from the rear portion and the modern aero design most riders now seek. It fitted very snuggly and was comfortable in the classic cyclist tuck, without any flapping. Importantly the three rear pockets were accessible and deep enough to carry usual cyclist needs. Renntrikot has a full length zip which worked easily and gave flexibility when venting is required in warmer temperatures. In long term testing it washed well, it’s light colours remaining clean.
Our Test model was sized ‘4’. This was in modern terms a ‘race fit’ i.e. tight and was in the realm of a small/medium. As with all brands your own size and fit differ from other manufactures sizes.
The Jersey is listed at £85
Kreis Echelon-Gipfel Tragerhose Shorts
Shorts are in modern terms one of the biggest areas of discussion amongst Cyclists of all persuasions. Each contact point with the bicycle has to be perfect or your ride is going to be very short indeed. Kreis offer gender specific inserts to provide the comfort and they actually are pretty comfy. Quite a few rides gave plenty of confidence in the chamois. Fit is the secondary area of comfort for shorts, any ruffles or bagginess will soon become a problem but the Tragerhose are made of a nice weight of lycra that is soft and solid enough to help their panelled structure to fit well. The only negative for us was that the leg ‘gripper’ arrangements were baggy on our test item. This is probably down to the simple fact that the test shorts were size 5, which equates to an XL on the Kreis sizing chart. The grippers have their silicon band cleverly embedded in the fabric itself, meaning that the old fashioned ‘just above knee elastic line’ is totally eradicated. A smaller size would have given a better fit here.
The shorts are listed also at £85
Kreis Echelon Accessories
We also tested the Echelon Armwarmers which are made of a ‘roubaix’ (brushed lycra on reverse). These proved to be lovely and snug in cooler conditions. They have a silicon top gripper to keep them in place and were longer than most modern styles giving less chance of a chilly gap at the top. At £20 these compliment the rest of the Echelon range nicely without breaking the bank and could be worn with other clothes as they are mostly black with just a few details.
A Radlerkappe was also sent for our enjoyment, that’s a cap to you and I, and although with helmets being solely the order of the day the cap was called into service on a couple of low sun evenings to prevent dappling light affecting the eyes. There is a functional mesh panel within its structure that prevents any overheating allowing a good point of ventilation.
The hat comes in three sizes and we tried the Medium which was perfect for a ‘normal’ head. £15 buys you the perfect piece to finish your pro-rider designer look.
The Armwarmers are listed at £20 and Cap at £15
For someone on a modest budget this range could be ideal and with a bit of input even unique to you. A lot of modern riders wish to have their own identity in a crowd and this could help them get there.
CyclingShorts.cc gives the Kreis Range 93% and a star buy rating.
Range available from:
Winner of the elite women’s race at Tickhill GP and new CyclingShorts.cc team member – Tanya Griffiths talks to us about women’s cycling and her Tickhill win.
GIANT SHEFFIELD WOMENS ELITE 1/2/3
1. TANYA GRIFFITHS Starley Primal Pro Cycling
2. GRACE GARNER RST Racing Team
3. HANNAH WALKER Epic Cycles – Scott WRT
4. MELISSA Matrix Fitness Vulpine
5. LOUISE BORTHWICK Matrix Fitness Vulpine
6. NICOLA JUNIPER Team Echelon
7. CHA JOINER PEARL IZUMI Sports Tours International
8. GABRIELLA SHAW PEARL IZUMI Sports Tours International
9. CHARLOTTE BROUGHTON MG Decor
10. KAYLEIGH BROGAN Team Thomsons Cycles
Heather catches up with Harry Tanfield (KTM road-and-trail.com) the winner of the Yesss Electrical Elite Men’s Race at the Tickhill Grand Prix 2014.
After the stunning success of the 2014 Tickhill Grand Prix; Heather catches up with the event organiser ‘Rapid’ Rich Stoodley to find out his thoughts on what he’s achieved with the big race day held in a tiny town called Tickhill.