CDNW Women’s Road Race League has arrived!

On Sunday 3 March 2013, at an industrial estate just outside Skelmersdale, Lancashire, 37 ladies lined up for the start of the first round of the inaugural Cycling Development North West’s (“CDNW”) women’s road race league.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Start Line at Pimbo

That figure, to many, may not seem astounding but there are two facts that must be remembered in order to consider this fully.  Firstly, when the men’s road race league was set up 10 years ago, the first event had just 10 riders.  Secondly, the number of riders who lined up in the event on Sunday included nearly a third who were experiencing a road race for the first time – for some it was their first event on the open road (having just raced on closed circuits previously) and for others it was their first foray into either competitive cycling or bunch racing, with quite a few riders making the switch from time trials and triathlon to road racing.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Competitive racing was had throughout

I can’t lie.  I was quite emotional when I arrived at the headquarters.  We knew that we had to get at least 15 women to break even, so I have worked hard since October to spread the word through social media.  I think it has worked – I have just populated the results for the league and we have 50 riders registered – a far cry from the 10 that we were told to expect.

But it gets even better – there are many sceptics out there of women’s racing – it can be negative and there have been some comments about bad riding – but the event at Pimbo was testament to the quality of racing that professionals would be proud of – there were heroic attacks, team tactics and a bunch sprint, all of which did not fail to impress the officials and spectators.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Jo Blakeley of Champion Systems/Maxgear Racing on the attack

Every single girl who turned up to Pimbo on Sunday should be proud that they were part of hopefully the start of something very special in women’s cycling.  This is the only road race league for women in the country where all events are road races (no closed circuit races or time trials) and my only wish is that the girls who competed on Sunday keep it up – the CDNW women’s road race league is just that – a league – with all events counting towards the main league title.  Everybody who finishes an event gets counting points towards the league.

It’s an exciting time to get involved with women’s competitive cycling.  Can you afford not to get involved?

The next event is on 17 March 2013 at Pilling, Lancashire.  There is still plenty of room for any second, third or fourth category ladies to enter.  Please visit for more information.

Thanks to Ed Rollason for the photographs.

A Woman’s Guide to Racing (Part 6) – Race Day


A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 6

Race Day

Finally, we have come to the last in our series of racing guides, and you’ve woken up, opened the curtains and race day has dawned.  I could go on for hours about this topic, but I will refrain from boring you all too much.  Instead, I will endeavour to explain some of the jargon that you will come across, with the help of a British Cycling Commissaire.  I will also try to guide you through what to expect at the race headquarters (“HQ”) and I have also enlisted the help of a couple of top female riders to give you their tips on what to do when you get to the event.  So, without further ado…

“Signing On”

When you arrive at the HQ, the first thing you have to do is “sign on” – this is regardless of whether you have entered a road race, time trial or any other event – and (in the case of British Cycling events) it is here that you will have to hand over your racing licence.  You then get to pick up your number (make sure it is the same number that your name is allocated on the signing on sheet).  If you remember, in one of my previous guides I mentioned about safety pins – this is when you will undoubtedly need them, unless you are going to have a flapping number (which is NOT cool)!

© Ed Rollason Photography

Warming Up

In order to perform to your best ability, you should ensure that you warm up properly.  Some people take rollers or a turbo with them to warm up on, others content themselves with a ride around the circuit or a 10 minute spin up the road (don’t go too far though!).  Keep warm and drink fluids (but not too much that you’ll end up needing the toilet half way through the race).  Some people also put embrocation on their legs to warm them up, which can help especially early season, BUT bear in mind that embrocation tends to stay on your hands unless you wash it off PROPERLY (with soap and water).

The Commissaire

Cycling has a lot of jargon and one of the main words that you may come across in your racing careers will be “commissaire”.  A commissaire is the race referee and there is usually a chief commissaire and an assistant commissaire on most road events.  The chief commissaire will be in the second car behind the bunch at a road race, with the assistant commissaire in the vehicle immediately behind the main bunch (some events also have commissaires on motor bikes, called “Moto Commissaires”).  Before the start of the race, the Chief Commissaire will give a rider briefing, which all riders have to attend.

© Ed Rollason Photography

The Start of the Race

In events which are held on a closed circuit, the start will be on the finish line, with everyone setting off once the flag is waved or the Chief Commissaire tells you to go.  However, on road races, it is quite normal for the HQ to be away from the actual circuit, which means that you have to ride out as a bunch from the HQ until an appropriate point on the circuit.  This section of the race (from the HQ to the circuit) is often “neutralised”.  This means that the racing does not start until the race is “de-neutralised”.  Cycling uses a number of flags to communicate things to riders, and the neutralised flag (a red and white checked flag) is held out of the assistant commissaire’s car until the race proper.  Having said that, it can be difficult to determine at what point the race actually starts if you are in the middle of the bunch, but a rule of thumb is that riders will generally ride close to the commissaire’s car (who usually does around 20 mph in the neutralised section) during the neutralised section but will accelerate quickly away once the race starts.

The “Race Convoy”

That sounds very grand, doesn’t it?  But yes, in every road race (as opposed to closed circuit race) there is a race convoy.  This includes a lead car, which usually maintains a distance of around 1 minute to the lead riders, to warn the marshals on the circuit that the race is coming.

Next is the Assistant Commissaire.  This official is the eyes at the front of the race to ensure the riders are racing to the rules of the road as well as the rules of road racing under British Cycling ( if it’s a BC event). This vehicle will slot in behind any break away that reaches over 1 minute gap. They will also move forwards again if this gap is closed so as not to interfere with a chasing group, so be aware that they may pass you again.  A simple ‘toot’ of the horn repeated rhythmically will warn riders that they are coming past. Normally on the right hand side of the riders but may also pass on the left if the riders and road allow.

The third vehicle will be the Chief Commissaire, who is essentially the overall ‘manager’ of the race. This person is in radio contact with all vehicles and is in charge of their movements. They keep the timing of break aways, with the assistant commissaire calling time check points that are landmarks on the route. This is also the person who has the authority to impose penalties for any racing infringement.

The next vehicle will be neutral service, if it is being provided (usually only at bigger events), who will offer a wheel if you puncture – but beware that the neutral service will generally follow the lead riders if the race splits, so if you puncture and you’re at the back of the race, it may be the end of your race.

The final vehicle will be the first aid provision.

There is also the National Escort Group (“NEG”) on some road races, who are the outriders (on motorbikes) that guard side roads and assist in making the roads safe for you to ride and will, if asked, act on the commissaire’s behalf to supply riders with information such as time gaps or even disqualifications.

© Ed Rollason Photography

Top Tips from Top Riders

I have asked a couple of ladies for their top tips for those of you new to racing.

First up is Lydia Boylan, elite category rider for Team CTC, who is the Irish National Track Sprint, 500 metres and scratch race champion:

“My best advice would be to have your race day planned in advance so that you won’t panic before the race has even started.  If you know where the HQ is, know when the race starts and what and when to eat, you’ll feel more prepared.”

Second up is Karla Boddy, winner of three stages of the Ras na mBan (stage race for women, held in Ireland every year):

“I started racing 2 years ago this March, I remember turning up for the race and struggled to write my BC number on the sign on form as my hand was shaking so much in fear of what to expect! It’s that unknown part which is, and still can be, quite daunting. I would say my top tips for racing are:

  •  Always give yourself plenty of time to get ready! If the race is at 1400 then get there for 1300 at the latest. I made the poor mistake of leaving too late for the SE Regional champs last year and almost missed the start! It is not a good way to start your race and leaves you panicked and rushed!
  • Always check your tyres for any little flints etc.  A lot of punctures are caused by flints already embedded in your tyre already so if you can get them out it lessens the risk of a puncture in a race. In a crit this is not so much of an issue (as you can take a lap out), but in a road race you set yourself up for a harder ride in trying to get back on.
  • Be ready to go hard off the line. There will always be someone who goes ballistic off the start (it might even be you!) and it will mean your body needs to be primed and ready for an early intense effort. It is worth having a decent warm up, get out of breath, get warm and be ready to race from the whistle.
  • Think about your own food and nutrition; don’t listen to other riders who say ‘you don’t need a bottle for a crit’ or ‘you don’t need a gel the race is too short’….you do exactly as you want until you find what suits you. If you want 2 gels in an hour’s race, you have two gels! Part of starting to race is learning what suits you; not what suits others. There will be a lot of opinions/banter but if you have more confidence in following your own regime with this then do so; confidence is key. No point being on the start line worrying that you haven’t had a gel because someone else has said you didn’t need one. For reference I always have 1 gel in a 1 hr crit and take 1 small bottle….and people still tell me ‘you don’t need a gel!!!!’
  • When you have your first race you don’t need to try and be a hero and break in your first race. You may actually benefit from sitting in, watching the wheels, watching for who is strongest etc. Even if you feel stronger than the pace suggests, perhaps hold back and get used to the bunch. I know plenty of people where the excitement of racing has overcome them in the early days, they feel strong, attack, die, blow, out the back. To be fair, this is usually men and us ladies are a tad more sensible! But, it can happen to the less experienced. Just keep it in mind! And if something does pull off then great, but realise if it goes wrong it can back fire!
  • Everyone will tell you to keep near the front; it’s safer, there is less surging effect at the front and less chance of getting caught behind someone who leaves gaps you can then not close. However in reality this is not always possible as you yourself may be suffering. If you get dropped then don’t be demoralised. Use it as a time to work with others who may be in your position. And if the bunch lap you, keep out there way, technically you shouldn’t jump back on but I would and just keep at the back out the way!
  • Finally, you never stop learning so don’t ever start  being complacent about how to race, it requires 110% concentration at all times, ultimately your safety is paramount to yourself and everyone else so keep focused in every race you do. I have been racing for 2 years since March, year one I think I only did about 15 races, and last year I did about 40/50 races. And I still have so much to learn.”

In Conclusion

Hopefully you have found my articles of use and hopefully they may have inspired you to have a go at road racing.  If you want to try some road races, Cycling Development North West have a women’s road race league, aimed at second, third and fourth category female riders, whose first event is on 1 March 2014.  They are aimed at women trying to get in to racing for the first time, and the distances range from 30 to 40 miles.  For more information, visit

My thanks also to Ed Rollason, of Ed Rollason Photography ( for the kind donation of photos, Jon Taylor, Lydia Boylan and Karla Boddy.  Also my thanks to Huw Williams and Michelle Evans for their contributions on the coaching side of the guides.

Enjoy your season!

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
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

Women’s Guide to Racing (Part 2): What do I enter?

Women’s Guide to Racing – Part 2

What do I enter?

So, hopefully you’ve read my first part of my guide to racing and, hopefully, it has helped unravel the category and points system that British Cycling currently use.  In addition, I gave a brief synopsis of the different types of race that you can take part in as a rider.  Which leads to the inevitable question, “which races should I enter?”

1) What do you want to achieve?

Well, let’s start at the beginning.  First of all, you need to decide what your goals are going to be, especially if this is your first season. Goals should always be “SMART” – which stands for:

S – Specific – choose a specific goal – e.g. I want to ride a 10 mile time trial in under 30 minutes or I want to gain enough points to obtain my 3rd category licence (the latter will require a number of additional goals in order to achieve this).

M – Measurable – it is difficult to look at progress unless you pick goals that are measurable – e.g. by time or distance for a time trial, or staying with the bunch for the whole race (easier said than done, sometimes).

A – Adjustable – be flexible – if you find that your goal is easier than you thought (for example, you manage to do 28 minutes for your first 10 mile time trial when you wanted to do 30 minutes), adjust your goal to 27:30, maybe, or in the case of a road or circuit race, if there are only 15 people in the race, you might adjust your goal for the race to be in the top ten.

R – Realistic – the goals you set yourself need to be challenging but achievable – there is no point setting yourself a goal that is too difficult to achieve because you will become disillusioned, disappointed and give up but on the other hand, you don’t want goals that are too easy, as you won’t feel a sense of achievement upon reaching your target which again leads to disappointment.  However, how challenging your goals are also depends on how confident you are – there is no reason why your first goals can’t be easier to help you grow your confidence, with your goals becoming more challenging as your confidence develops.

T – Time-based – have a long-term goal in mind but have short-term goals to help you reach it – there’s no point having a goal of riding a 10 mile time trial in 25 minutes in 5 years’ time, or winning a National Series Road Race by 2016, if you have no short-term goals to get you there.  Having a long-term objective is good, it helps you to remember what you want out of the sport, but 5 years is a long time – it’s much better to have goals that you can see coming up in your calendar in one or two month’s time, as it keeps you focused, enthusiastic and keen.


2) I have my goals – what should I look for in a race?

Well, firstly, even if you’ve had a go at racing before, you never know what you’re going to like until you’ve done a few different types of races.  At the beginning, you want to look at races that are maybe near to you, that aren’t too long and aren’t too technically demanding.

This is an important point to make – some of the newer closed circuits are narrow and have tight bends, with a lot of corners, which means that if you aren’t used to racing elbow to elbow with fellow cyclists, they can be a bit intimidating.  In addition, smaller circuits can mean more corners, which can mean you end up sprinting out of every corner – and when they come every 20 metres, it gets tiring very quickly, which means that you can lose concentration if you’re not used to it.  That can then lead to stupid mistakes, which can lead to pointless crashes – I have witnessed that.

Grand Prix des Dames (Blackpool) ©Chris Maher –

Having said that, you should also look at the category of riders that can ride in the race.  For example, a race specifically open to 3rd and 4th category female riders may be slightly less physically demanding than a race open to all category women (including elites), as 3rd category riders do not as a whole tend to be as fast as elites and first category riders.  That’s not to say that third category riders don’t know what they’re talking about – you may learn a lot from them, if you are a fourth category rider, and you should never write anybody off on paper.

The positive thing about circuit races is that they are usually on purpose built circuits, closed to traffic, so you don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic in the race.  Having said that, as I’ve said above, some circuits can be quite narrow, and you may not be too keen at sprinting out of corners for 40 or 50 minutes.  In which case, you might like to try road racing, which are held on circuits on the open roads, which also mean that they are open to oncoming traffic.

But that isn’t something to necessarily be afraid of – when you go out on your bike with your mates, you ride on the open road, right?  The only thing that you need to remember is that your safety is paramount, which means that your concentration is extremely important.

For your first road race, if possible, pick a race that isn’t too long in distance.  There’s a big jump between riding a race around a closed circuit for between 40 and 50 minutes and riding a 45 or 50 mile road race, which could last as long as 3 hours.  The CDNW women’s road race league events have been chosen as they are a good distance between the circuit race events and the Team Series events and National Road Race Series events, with the shortest event being 32 miles and the longest about 40 miles (see later).  Also, if possible, try and pick an event that is open to lower category riders, as the speed will not be as high as an event open to elites and first category riders; however, this is not always possible, but remember that any race is not only a learning curve, it is also training (remember my point about setting goals).

The final point about road races is that there will be marshals on the circuit, usually positioned at junctions and “pinch points” for traffic.  A marshal’s job is to warn traffic of the race that is approaching, not to tell you which way to go – it is your job as a rider to know the course.  The marshal cannot stop traffic either, however some road races have the addition of motorbike marshals, called the National Escort Group (“NEG”), who help with the control of traffic (and do a marvellous job too!)


3) So what events can I enter?

Remember that you can enter any event open to your category – so, if you are a fourth category female rider, you can enter any events with a “W4” category, which unfortunately means that you can’t enter any National Series Road Races, but again I revert you to my point about goals above.  As a third category female rider (“W3”), you can enter any events with a “W3” category, and so on, and so on.

Circuit Races

There are a number of events for 3rd and 4th category ladies only being held at the Cyclopark in Kent, under the “Winter in the Park Series”. These events are 32 miles long and you set off with the female elites, first and second category riders (possibly a few seconds after them) BUT it will be a separate race.  If you’re based down South, that’s definitely one I would check out.  There are events being held at the new Odd Down Circuit in Bath and there have also been a series at Preston Park in Brighton.

Further north, in the Midlands, there are quite a few circuits, including Shrewsbury Sports Village, Stourport and Tudor Grange in Solihull. Over the hill into Derbyshire and there are a number of races that are being held for women at the Darley Moor Circuit near Ashbourne. 

In North Wales, there will be a variety of events at Marsh Tracks, Rhyl, which is a great circuit for developing confidence.

Over in Yorkshire, there are loads of events being held at the new York Sport circuit (yes, you’ve guessed it) in York, with a few also at Richard Dunne, Bradford and possibly some at Dishforth in North Yorkshire.

In the North West, there are races planned for Salt Ayre, Lancaster as well as Palatine, Blackpool and some evening events at Tameside, Ashton-under-Lyne.

All of these events also have races for the men, so your other half/club mates/etc can also race which makes it a fun day out.  As I have mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list, just some races that caught my eye.



Road Races

My choice for road races would be the Cycling Development North West (“CDNW”) Women’s Road Race League.  This is a league of seven events which were piloted in the North West last year, as stepping stone events between circuit races and the longer road races that you get with National Series Road Races (such as the Cheshire Classic) and Team Series events (such as the Bedford 3 Day).  The first event is on 1 March 2014, at 12:00pm at Pimbo Industrial Estate, Skelmersdale, over 32 miles.  This circuit is about 2 miles long, is one way (so no oncoming traffic), has wide sweeping bends and has wide roads.  A perfect circuit for your first road race, in my opinion.  It is also only open to 2nd, 3rd and 4th category women riders, making it top of my list of races for first time road racers.  See for further information and how to enter.  In addition, British Cycling’s Yorkshire Region have also joined the #partyontheroad and have launched the first Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series, targeted at the same level of rider for 2014.  The first event is the Sheffrec CC Spring Road Race on 13 April 2014.

These events are supported by the motorbike NEG marshals, for extra protection.

(c) Martin Holden Photography

If you find that you like road racing, you might like to try a stage race.  Stage races can last anything from two stages (for example a circuit race followed by a road race), to a number of days – for domestic riders, the Irish Ras na mBan is probably one of the longest stage races that women can ride, with six stages over the course of five days.

A good event to try would be the stage race being promoted by David Williams of Holme Valley Wheelers on 6 & 7 June 2013 – it’s run in conjunction with a men’s two day stage race, both of which start on the Friday evening.

Time Trials

These events are slightly different from road races – British Cycling events usually have a closing date of 21 days, although this has reduced for some events where you can enter online – in addition you can enter “on the line” at some British Cycling events, which means that you can just turn up and enter on the day.  However, with time trials, the system is slightly different – there is a good guide on the Cycling Time Trials website –  You will also need to be a member of an affiliated club, which the above link should also take you to.



In Summary

So, hopefully this section of my Women’s Guide to Racing has shown you that you should have an idea in mind before entering anything about what you want to achieve, which shouldn’t be too challenging to start off with.  Many women have been put off by the concept that they think they aren’t good enough, when in actual fact they are fit or fast enough, but they just don’t have the confidence in themselves to take that step into the unknown.  Women’s cycling is growing at the moment – you will find that there are plenty of people to provide encouragement.  There are no “standards” to find out whether you are fast enough – the only way to find that out is to  have a go.  There are plenty of different types of races to have a go at – some people might be better suited to circuit races, whereas others might prefer to go it alone against the clock in a time trial, and other people might prefer longer road races.

I guess that there are a few things to take from this article: set realistic goals, you can enter whatever race you like (category dependent) and you may be better suited to some events than others, but if you don’t try you will never know.  Have the confidence to give it a go and you never know, you might find that it’s really enjoyable!

Next week…

You’ve decided on what events you are going to enter and now need to know what type of training to do.  I’ll have some tips to try as well as a brief synopsis of current thinking, to help you be prepared for your race.

In the meantime, enjoy riding your bikes and stay safe!


Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

A Woman’s Guide to Racing (Part 1): Where do I start?

Women's Milk Race 2015 in Nottingham... 1: Laura Trott - Matrix Fitness 2: Katie Archibald - Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Int'l 3: Katie Curtis - Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Int'l

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 1

Where do I start?

You may or may not be aware that I am helping Cycling Development North West (“CDNW”) to promote a new women’s road race league aimed at second, third and fourth category riders, specifically for helping women to develop their racing skills in a competitive environment and providing a platform for women who are new to the sport and who would like to venture out on to the open road in a road race format.

So, with that in mind, I have decided to do a series of articles aimed at those women who may be looking to compete for the first time, to help them with what to expect, including some tips from coaches about what type of training will help, and the things that nobody will probably tell you, including what you need to do to enter a road race.

So, without further ado, here is my first instalment:

Where do I start?

The first thing any organiser will tell you is that in order to ride in a British Cycling road race, you will need to be a member of British Cycling, with at least the silver package.  You will also need a racing licence.  Some organisers will let you buy a day licence, however some organisers may prefer you to have a full racing licence.  There is a cost implication to this, however if you decide that you are going to enter 5 races, it would probably work out cheaper to buy the full racing licence rather than having to buy one at every race.  In addition, if you do well and finish in the top 10 (for example), you would be able to keep the licence points you will have earned, which then helps you move up the category system (see next paragraph).  For further information on British Cycling membership, go to

The Category System

admin-ajaxAll new members are automatically given fourth category status.  There are five categories: 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st and elite.  Once you have earned 12 licence points as a fourth category rider, you become a third category rider.  Once you are a third category rider, you are eligible to enter the National Series Road Races, and a third category rider needs 40 points before achieving second category status.  If you start the year as a second category rider, you only need 25 licence points to retain your second category licence; if not, you will go back to third category status.  Once you are a third category rider, you will never be downgraded to fourth category again.

In order to progress to first category status, you need to obtain 200 licence points whilst riding as a second category rider.  If you achieve those points and enter the season as a first category rider, you will need to gain 100 licence points to retain your status as a first category rider.

Finally, in order to achieve and retain your elite category status, you will need to gain 300 points in a season.

For further information check out

Points mean… 

The number of licence points you can win depends on what type of race you have entered.  Most circuit races are either Band 4 or Band 5, which means points are given to the top 10 finishers, with winners of Band 4 races earning 15 points and winners of Band 5 races earning 10 points, with 1 point being given to 10th in both instances.

The CDNW women’s road race league events are Band 3, with 30 points for the winner and points going down to 15th place, with 15th earning 1 licence point.  National Series Road Race events are Band 2, with 60 points going to the winner and points down to 20th place, with 20th earning 1 point.

For the breakdown of how points are given, visit

Ladies should note that women don’t appear to receive regional rankings as yet, just national rankings.

Races – the different types

You may have heard other cyclists talk about crits, testing, road races, but what does it all mean?

Well, a “crit” is short for “criterium” and is the same thing as a circuit race.  The course is usually either a purpose built closed circuit or round a town centre, where the roads are closed to traffic.  An example of a crit are the Tour Series events, which are all held around various town centres and are shown on ITV4.  These also include the Johnson Healthtech Grand Prix events for women, which Cycling Shorts’ very own Annie Simpson won last year.  Many riders start out racing on closed circuits because they don’t have to worry about traffic and there are usually lots of different races available nationwide.

Champion Systems Maxgear 2013 Team AnnouncedRoad races are exactly that – races held on the open road.  The road is usually open to traffic, so you will encounter oncoming traffic.  Having said that, you encounter traffic when you go out on your bike, so it isn’t anything to be worried about.  Some road race organisers utilise British Cycling’s National Escort Group (“NEG”),  who are motorbike marshals which help to regulate the oncoming traffic.  Road races are organised by British Cycling, The League International (“TLI”) and the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists (“LVRC”).


“Testing” is another name for time trials.  The majority of time trials are governed by Cycling Time Trials (“CTT”), and you don’t need a licence, however you do need to be a member of an affiliated cycling club.  The CTT time trials are generally over 10, 25, 50, or 100 miles or 12 or 24 hours.  For more information visit

Stage races are usually organised by promoters of British Cycling events and can range from two stages in one day to a number of stages over 3 weeks (such as the Tour de France).  Generally, as a woman racing on a domestic level, the longest stage race you will find is probably the Bedford 3 Day, which is part of the Team Series.  This event covers 5 stages, including an individual time trial, a team time trial and three road stages.

So, hopefully my first instalment has given you some insight into how the British Cycling road scene works.  Tune in for my next instalment in a few days’ time.


Click below to read:
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
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

New for 2013 – CDNW Women’s Road Race League

So, with the number of Premier Calendar races at just 6 events in 2013, you would think that road racing has hit an all-time low.  I am glad to say that in the North West we are actually working hard to show that is not the case, and I am pleased to be involved with the inaugural Cycling Development North West Women’s Road Race League next season. It is not unique in that it is the first women’s road race league to exist, not at all, but it is unique in that it gives women in the lower categories an opportunity to race at a competitive level over a reasonable distance.

“How is that different?” I hear you cry.  Well, for a start, due to the various costs of organising a road race, and the relatively small numbers of women riders that compete, most road races are open to all categories of women, from Elite to fourth, and many are over a distance in excess of 50 miles.  The remaining races that women can compete in are usually circuit races which can last anything from twenty minutes up to an hour, covering a distance of say approximately 20 miles.  So, if you’re a fourth or third category rider looking to make a move into road racing for the first time, you could be totally unprepared for what is waiting for you when you get on the line at the road race.

Yes, there is a big difference between finishing a circuit race over 15 to 20 miles and being able to be competitive in a race over more than 50 miles when you’re not used to it.  Unfortunately, some women have to travel hundreds of miles to get a ride in a road race, only to get shelled out of the back on the first lap because it is totally different racing on the open road than it is riding around a closed circuit.  Worse still are the crashes that can occur because some riders can lose concentration because they are not used to riding in a bunch/riding over such a long distance (compared to your 40 minute circuit race), tiredness and fatigue sets in and you either get shouted at for nearly knocking somebody off or you just get really disheartened because you aren’t as good as you expected to be and you think, “why do I bother?”  All the fun is taken out of the race and you forget why you are there in the first place.

The CDNW Women’s Road Race League is only open to second, third and fourth category riders, with the longest race being over 65km (40 miles).  The courses being used are not hilly or too technical however they are well-suited for practising your race technique, and are races that will provide the stepping stone up to the longer road races, including the National Series Road Races.  There are two main reasons for these races – they assist younger (Junior) riders who are making the move from Youth “A” circuit races on to the road for their first season as a Junior, and they are also to assist women who are new to the sport of competitive cycling (as opposed to sportives, etc).

Unfortunately, women’s cycling will not continue to develop unless there are these “stepping-stones” to help women riders build up their confidence to move on to the next level.  I understand that there were over 15,000 women riders on the Breeze rides this year, many of whom may want to take the next step with their cycling “career” but don’t have the confidence or inclination to mix it up with the elite riders at this time.  The CDNW women’s races aim to be all-encompassing, where encouragement is the theme of the day.

The road race league events will be held as follows:

#1) 3 March 2013 – Pimbo Industrial Estate – 50km

#2) 17 March 2013 – Nateby/Pilling, Lancashire – 65km

#3) 21 April 2013 – Great Budworth, Cheshire – 65km

#4) 7 July 2013 – Pimbo Industrial Estate – 65km

#5) 1 September 2013 -Nateby/Pilling, Lancashire – 50km

In order to ride the events, it will cost £5 to enter the league itself, with each event being £20 in advance.  I have had a number of people telling me that the price is high, however these races are on open roads, with National Escort Group motorbike marshals.  The cost of first aid has risen by 100% for next season, and the men’s events will also be the same amount (as opposed to £17.50 plus online entry processing fee this season).  I would prefer for people to concentrate on the fact that these are five new races, which are aiming to attract people to competitive road racing, as unfortunately, if the grass roots level doesn’t develop, there won’t be a sport in a few years’ time.

We are still looking for a series sponsor who could help with prizes (for example, most improved rider, best 4th category rider, best 3rd category rider, etc), so if you think you could help with promoting the development of grass roots women’s racing, please get in touch.

#getinvolved #womenscycling

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