Over the last four years, one of the major regrets that I have had is the sport’s inability to retain female riders. I’ve seen some really promising talent appear for half a season, never to be seen again, some have been around for even less than that. Many find the sport hard, or just want to have a go to try it out only to disappear a week later. But if we want women’s cycling to grow, everybody has to stick at it, so with that in mind, I thought I would share my reasons for competing with you, in the hope that if somebody like me can do it, maybe you can too.
A bit of background
It’s been four years since I started competing again. Back then, I was working restricted hours, suffering from chronic fatigue, which meant that I had no energy to train after work and, even after the 45 minute circuit race, I fell asleep on the way home as I was so tired.
Time trialling on V718 in 2012
Following the 2011 season, I swapped medication under the guidance of my consultant neurologist. I have epilepsy, which is controlled, but my new consultant wouldn’t let me come off medication whilst I wanted to ride my bike and do all the things that most people take for granted. After being on sodium valproate for 15 years, I swapped to levetiracetam, which was a relatively new drug.
By March 2012, I had lost over two and half stone and for the first time in longer than I care remember, I could think much more clearly. I was still tired (I had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue in December 2010) but the cognitive behaviour therapy that I had had to undergo as the treatment for the chronic fatigue had helped me to manage things much more effectively.
A slow start
The first few races I did in 2012, I got dropped the first time, had a woman shout at me because she didn’t think I knew what I was doing (I did, I was just shattered), and all I could physically manage to do was ride in 9 events, three of which were men’s road races, with the rest being closed circuit races.
Racing at Salt Ayre in 2012
One of the problems, I came to realise, with losing 20% of my own bodyweight, was the loss in power and strength that came with it. We went to Majorca in September 2012, and we had to change the chainring to a 36 because I wasn’t strong enough to use the 39. The longest ride I could manage was about 60 miles, which was to and from Sa Calobra, not only because I wasn’t particularly fit, but also because of the remnants of the chronic fatigue. Looking back at it now, that holiday helped my recovery as it kick started my winter training block, and reminded me that I could actually ride a bike!
Development, development, development
One of the good things about being involved in cycling in years gone by is that it meant that turning up to races, you knew what you were talking about. However, I soon found that if it hadn’t happened on Facebook and Twitter, it hadn’t happened. At this point, I was only a third category rider, so if I suggested something to anybody else, I always got the response “what do you know?” which got on my nerves no end. So, I paid my entrance fee and qualified as a coach through the Association of British Cycling Coaches, as I couldn’t afford the pathway through British Cycling and there was no funding available for me as I live in a region where there’s a plethora of BC coaches.
By the end of 2012, we were getting a women’s road race league set up for 2013 as well as a development team for women in the North West, both of which are different stories, but it became obvious that the development pathway in women’s cycling was missing, and is something which we have hopefully started to build on now for the rest of the UK.
Coaching with Huw and Carley
National Series and National Championships
In 2013, I took part in a few National Series races, but it became increasingly obvious to me that there were limits to what I was physically capable of achieving. I was working over 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, and with the additional work that I was doing trying to develop women’s cycling in the evenings (mainly articles, meetings and phone calls about the best way to improve the women’s scene with various people) and the odd bit of coaching and mentoring, it meant that I was doing probably around 60 hours a week, including my day job. I still struggled to do any mid week training and racing in the evenings was an absolute no-go, so I was basically stuck with a small amount of time, which meant that I couldn’t do enough quality training to keep up with the better riders.
In 2014, there seemed to be a change in start times too, which saw many of the events with a 9:30 am start time. One of the problems with epilepsy is that seizures occur as a result of triggers. One of my triggers is tiredness and I find it extremely difficult to get up early to go and ride my bike (not even racing) as it takes my brain longer to wake up than most. So it came to pass that I couldn’t afford to do all of the National Series events, for three reasons – I couldn’t afford it financially (I am self-funded and therefore it becomes expensive staying over before each event), I couldn’t afford the time off work (I only have a finite amount of holidays available) and I couldn’t afford it physically (in the event that the worst happened and I had a bad reaction to the early start), which is also a massive mental obstacle for me to get over.
But it isn’t only road race events that this affects – I can’t enter any time trials on Sundays because they all start too early, which also means that (on the whole), I can’t enter National Championship events either, or the RTTC Classic events.
(c) Ellen Isherwood
What training do I do?
My training is pretty limited, as I have to keep an eye on my energy levels. I don’t get home until six o’clock and I generally have admin to do with regards to the Racing Chance Foundation (from sorting the management accounts, to writing/updating the website, to trying to organise races), so mid week it’s generally limited to 40 minutes, three or four evenings a week. At the weekend, if I’m racing, I’ll generally do a two hour ride on the Saturday (if I’m racing on the Sunday) or a three hour ride on Sunday (if I’m racing on a Saturday). If I get to do more than 120 miles or 8 hours in a week, that’s a big week for me. During winter, I tend to aim for 150 miles a week, but again that’s based on the majority of my riding being at the weekend (usually about 7 hours a weekend).
Racing at Tameside 2015
Why do I race?
It has since become apparent that the chronic fatigue that I suffered from between 2006 and 2012 was a side effect of taking sodium valproate. After coming off that drug, I was like a different person, mentally and physically. That being said, that drug was 40 years old and we knew what the majority of the side effects were (which is why I don’t have any children of my own). The new drug only came into existence about 10 to 15 years ago, so it’s relatively new in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know what the long term side effects of this drug are, but I intend to remain as fit as possible in order to keep any horrible side effects at bay (one side effect of taking anti-convulsants is a tendency for depression) and, unfortunately, I don’t know what I’ll be able to do when I get older as I don’t know what the long term effects will be on my kidneys and liver.
But in the meantime, I intend to support, help and persuade as many women as possible to take up competitive cycling as it not only keeps you fit, it gives you the self confidence you need to be assertive in every day life, which is where the Racing Chance Foundation comes in.
Every time I get on a start line, it’s an achievement. I’m not bothered about points – I know that I’m never going to be a world beater because I don’t want to be, I just enjoy taking part. I do know that it keeps me fit – since 2011, my resting heart rate has dropped my around 30 bpm, which I choose to take as my heart showing me that it’s fitter. Unfortunately, I need something to keep me motivated and the racing fills that gap, even if a lot of the racing I do is actually training!
If you want to find out more about how to take the next steps in competitive cycling, visit the Racing Chance Foundation for some handy information and help make a difference to women’s cycling.
I caught up with recently crowned National Time Trial Champion Joanna Rowsell MBE to find out her plans for the next few months and her thoughts on the whirlwind of a year that brought her further success at the Olympic Games in London and her seamless transition to the road.
Jo was about to ride the Great Manchester Cycle ride. Launched in 2012, the first Great Manchester Cycle was a resounding success, with a staggering 7,000 riders taking up the challenge and this years event was even bigger. Lizzie Amitstead, who brought home Britain’s first medal of the Games last summer in the Women’s Road Race, along with former Olympic champion Rebecca Romero were among those to take part in the inaugural Great Manchester Cycle, with Armitstead describing the event as “a fantastic day out”. This year Jo got to experience the buzzing atmosphere, the olympic champion seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself with her signature beaming smile visible at all times under her helmet.
Joanna Rowsell MBE’s website
Follow Jo on Twitter @JoannaRowsell
Great Manchester Cycle’s website – Enter now for 2014!” Great Manchester Cycle’s website – Enter now for 2014!
Spokesmen Ltd, the UK based Media, PR and Television Production company responsible for TV coverage of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, has been commissioned by Eurosport and Cycling Time Trials to produce a 30 minute documentary on the art, science and psychology of time trialling, to be aired on British Eurosport this summer.
Spokesmen, headed up by David Harmon, has joined forces with renowned Channel 4 documentary film maker Dan Edelstyn (How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire, Subverting the City and No Good Deed goes Unpunished) and Executive Producer Michael Hutchinson to go in search of what makes time trialling the bedrock of Britain’s cycling success.
Taking the viewer inside the discipline of the professional rider will be time trial champion Alex Dowsett and we are now inviting other time triallists to be part of this innovative documentary.
We need another two subjects to be followed through the experience of their race of truth. Whether you’re entering your first club 10 or challenging for the yellow jersey of the Tour, time trialling is unique in its mental and physical demands.
We want to know what motivates you, why do you do it and what do you get out of it? What brings you back to the road again and again, what are the great highs and lows?
What’s important is that you love the sport, feel passionate about cycling – come rain, hail or whatever Britain throws at you – and that you are happy to be filmed to advocate time trailling in the UK.
If you would like to be considered as a subject for the film, Spokesmen would like to hear from you.
Send us a YouTube or Vimeo link or file of a self produced video of up to 2 minutes, that will give us a flavour of who you are and what time trialling means to you, not just as a rider but within your life. Submissions are particularly welcome from junior and veteran riders.
You must be available for filming for at least two days during May & early June. Videos need to be submitted by Friday 3 May by email to [email protected] The programme will air during the Tour de France on British Eurosport.
If you’ve seen my recent articles, you will know that I am trying to encourage women with their first steps into racing. Well this article is about an organisation that has been doing that since 1949 – Manchester & District Ladies Cycling Association (“M&DLCA”). And the good news for women starting out in cycling who may not yet be certain which club they want to join but still want to have a bash at time trialling, well you can join the M&DLCA as an individual, which will then enable you to ride time trials as an M&DLCA member – good, eh?
M&DLCA Best All Rounder Competition
The organisation runs a number of events, including a Best All Rounder (“BAR”) competition, which is based on performances at events run at 10 miles, 25 miles and 50 miles with the performances being calculated in m.p.h. and the average taken of the resultant speeds. When choosing your counting events, the 10 mile time trial must be one of the events promoted by the M&DLCA (see below). For counting events at 25 and 50 miles, there is no restriction except that it must be on any “J” course (the Cycling Time Trials Manchester division, which are all courses based in Cheshire). Once you have completed your counting events, you just need to submit a copy of the entry form and result sheet to the BAR Secretary before 1st October of the current season.
This BAR competition is a great way to try out time trialling, as the women’s British BAR uses 25 mile, 50 mile and 100 mile events as counting events, which could be a step too far for people new to time trialling.
The winner of the M&DLCA BAR holds the B.S.A. Best All-Rounder Trophy for one year and receives a medal. Medals are also awarded for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th places and certificates to remaining qualifiers. There is also a team event, with the winning Team holding the B.A.R. Team Shield for one year and each member of the winning Team also receiving a medal.
Yes, this is a genuine phrase for use in time trials. The M&DLCA are keen to encourage riders, and all of their events are “handicapped”. This means that if you have a time for whatever distance you have entered, you will be allocated a handicap time, with the fastest lady being put as “scratch”. For a 10 mile time trial, the scratch time is 17.00 minutes, and the organiser will work out what your handicap time is based on your previous results (for example, I entered one of the M&DLCA 10s in 2011 and my previous best was 28:50 and I was given a handicap of 11:03 minutes, which meant that when I completed the distance in 28:36, my time based on handicap was 17:33, which meant that I was third on handicap).
There is also a Handicap Championship, which is based on your handicap times over the 10, 25 and 50 mile events.
What about age categories?
This is where the M&DLCA is extremely useful – not only is there a championship for schoolgirls (under-16s), there is a BAR championship for Juniors (under-18), which yours truly has won in the past, as well as a Handicap Championship for Juniors and there is a Veterans Championship for ladies aged 40 and over. The Schoolgirl Championship is over 10 miles only, whereas the Junior and Veterans Championships are over 10 miles and 25 miles.
When are the events held?
Hopefully, this is making you think, I could have a crack at that AND win a certificate. With that in mind, you’ll want to know what events are available no doubt. Many thanks to Carol Pardoe for providing this information:
- 27 April – Invitation “10”
- 4th May – “10”
- 1st June – “25”
- 22nd June – Invitation “10” again, and GHS (School age) heat
- 29th June – Open “50”
- 13th July – “25”
These events are only open to women however at the “Invitation 10” events you can invite a man, but you still ride on your own. Your combined times count for the prize. If you don’t know a man to invite, don’t worry as the M&DLCA will pair you up with somebody.
The overall vibe at these events is for everybody to have a go, do their best and then celebrate at the end with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Everybody is friendly and welcoming and if you are thinking of doing a time trial and you are based near Manchester, I would seriously recommend the M&DLCA events for one of your first. Just remember that you have to enter in advance for time trials, there’s no entry on the day, with the closing date generally two weeks before the event.
For more information, please visit http://www.mdlca.org.uk
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 – www.ChrisMaher.co.uk
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.
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.
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 www.cdnw.org 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.
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.
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 – http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/Beginners/EnteringTimeTrials/tabid/635/Default.aspx You will also need to be a member of an affiliated club, which the above link should also take you to.
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!
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?
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 http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/membership
The Category System
All 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 http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/road/article/roadst_Road-Categories_Classifications
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 http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/road/article/roadst_National_Regional_Rankings_Explained
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.
Road 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 http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/Beginners/BeginnersGeneralInfo/tabid/81/Default.aspx
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