Road racing is great fun. The principal is simple, you start alongside a group of riders and the winner is the first over the finish line. It's a sport where fitness is key, even at beginner level races are fast and furious but you need to think about tactics as well. The strongest rider doesn't always win but often the smartest rider by their positioning and decision making will regularly take the points. As said beginners races are tough and it can be an achievement just to finish a race with the main group, but as any experienced racer will tell you, getting the win is nice but a top 10 position is a good result.
Kingston Wheelers likes to put a big emphasis on camaraderie and whilst unlike professional cycling where everyone works for one "team leader", in lower level road racing you are essentially racing to collect points for yourself which go to your race licence. Saying that you will often find during a race that another Kingston Wheeler team mate is in a better position than yourself and do your best to help that team mate get a result. This can by be done in a myriad of ways, for example, disrupting and slowing any chases organised by other teams, working to bring back other escape groups or just working on the front to keep the tempo high. Doing this for team mates can be great fun and is as satisfying as earning points for yourself, they will no doubt return the favour when you are the better rider on the day. Our road racer members often know each other well, as they train, ride and often socialise together, so it is common to know a lot of other Kingston Wheeler members at races.
Many members of Kingston Wheelers Cycling Club race. As a large club we have many newcomers trying out racing each year to established members who have raced for many year and have higher category race licences. UCI and with that British Cycling implements a race licence system for road racing. All junior and senior licence holders, male or female are categorised by their ability. Riders of the same ability category continue to compete together in races irrespective of their age , except in the case of age related events like vets or juniors.
Licence points run until 30 November each year when they are reset to zero - any points gained from 1 December (e.g. in Winter Series criteriums) go onto the following year's licence.
- 4th Category - A new junior or senior licence holder.
- 3rd Category - Any junior or senior licence holder who has gained 12 points during any one season whilst holding a 4th category licence. Note: Riders are never downgraded to 4th category once a 3rd category licence has been achieved.
- 2nd Category - Any junior or senior licence holder who has gained 40 points during any one season whilst holding a 3rd category licence. To retain a 2nd category licence for the following season, a rider must obtain at least 25 points in events open to that category of rider.
- 1st Category - Any junior or senior licence holder who has gained 200 points during any one season whilst holding a 2nd category licence. To retain a 1st category licence for the following season, a rider must obtain at least 100 points in events open to that category of rider.
- Elite Category - Any Senior licence holder who has gained 300 points during the previous season whilst holding an Elite or 1st category licence.
Once you have decided you would like to give racing a go, all you need to do is get a race licence and go to a race. This is straight forward and can be done on the British Cycling website, both getting the licence and finding a race to enter. You need a British Cycling Silver membership and the Race Licence. All your results and points are managed through the British Cycling website and you can also view how the club is standing against other clubs in the region, country etc.. All your points count towards your club.
If you are nervous about racing or have any questions it is best to speak to a couple of racers in the club. Everyone is very approachable and was just like you, worried if it was for them. They will be able to offer you a wide range of advice and also what a race will be like and probably what the circuit will be like. There are often training rides that go out in the evening on weekdays and these are usually 40km and take about an hour, this is a typical 4 category race length. Join one of these rides advertised on the forum and you will get a good idea about your current level of fitness. If you struggle and get dropped, don't get dis-hearten it is hard, it happens to everyone, just keep at it for a few weeks and you will be soon up to pace in no time. Everyone will be friendly and helpful but it is good to take the route although you are never far from home. Just remember everyone was a new racer at one point.
The Surrey League
The Surrey League is an organisation set up to co-ordinate racing amongst clubs in Surrey and beyond. Thanks to the effort and dedication of the Surrey League, we have the best programme of racing in the UK on our doorstep. Its races are run under British Cycling rules, it is not a separate organisation. The Kingston Wheelers is a big supporter and many road racers are members of the league. As part of our affiliation with Surrey League, Kingston Wheelers puts on three road races a year to continue the success of road racing in our area. You can enter Surrey League races on-line.
Trophies and Awards
Whether you win races or not, you can get rewarded for your efforts at the end of the season at the club's annual Prize Presentation. There's a lot of silverware on offer for lots of disciplines, you can see the award winners on the awards page.
Annual Club Championships
Every year Kingston Wheelers hosts a club road racing championship, typically in October at the back end of the race season. We usually hired Hillingdon cyclo park that is a popular criterium circuit based in Hayes. We have a number of races typically an hour long, one of which is aimed at new racers only. This race is designed for people who either fancy a go in a safe environment or don't usually have the time but fancy a go. If you have raced previously then you will be placed in the main event. The main race is for all categories of licences E/1/2/3/4 but we handicap the race. This means the cat 4 riders go first, then cat 3 and so forth. The intervals between groups are worked out to give everyone a fair race and this is a popular system in Surrey League road racing. We are looking to add a women's race to the day but this is dependent on number, women are of course able to race with the men if they wish as they can do for all British Cycling races.
So you have become a road racer and enjoying all that this part of cycling can offer. These races are put on by us and clubs just like ours all over the country, without these volunteers to help organise and run the races the sport would not exist. With this in mind Kingston Wheelers expects it's racing community to help out that little bit more than the average member. What this means is that should volunteer and help out at where you can, for example at one of our time trail events or our road races by marshalling, baking a cake or even step up and help organise the event. We do lots of other none racing events and these all need volunteers to help so it doesn't necessarily get in the way of a race day! So look out for the requests and do your bit for the club and sport.