We have put together a beginners guide to road racing and time-trials (also available to download) for members. The event calendar for circuit races can be found on the British Cycling website.
If you have any questions regarding road/circuit racing, please contact Chris Boulton, our road and time trial lead coach.
PPV novice guide to road racing and time trials
As a coaching activity road racing and time trialling are linked although they are very different and often require particular skills e.g. pacing is vitally important in time trials where road/circuit racing requires more tactical skill or ‘racecraft’.
Both activities are fairly easy to access as a novice, requiring little specialist equipment and there are many events throughout the season. It is often possible to race in either discipline a number of days/evenings a week if you wish
All that is needed to start road/circuit racing or time trialling is a road bike, helmet, gloves, ‘cleated’ pedals and shoes, shorts and a jersey (can be plain one or in club colours). More advanced riders will invest in a skin suit for either discipline and an aero helmet for time trialling.
For road/circuit racing you need to have your gears restricted depending upon your age. The coaching team will advise.
For time trials there are no gear restrictions but riders are advised to stick with their age restricted gears – they are restricted for a reason – to protect your young and developing legs and there will be a chance to ride ‘big’ gears when you are older – for now concentrate on pedalling and not pushing with a cadence of around 90 rpm.
As you progress in time trialling then a set of clip on TT bars to help you become more aerodynamic will be useful and help to improve your times.
Types of event
Road/circuit racing is done on closed road traffic free venues for U16’s. In the South of England there are races 2–3 times a week in the season often starting with a winter series at Hillingdon as early as January. Most events are ‘competitive’ but there are ‘non-competitive’ events organised as British Cycling Go Ride racing events that are
specifically designed for those new to the sport.
Local venues include Hillingdon (near Heathrow), Castle Combe (Chippenham), Thruxton (Andover) Eelmoor (Camberley) and Enstone (Oxford)
Entry is usually on-line via the British Cycling website at a cost of between £5–£10 but can often be done on the day for a small entry fee premium. You will need a British
Cycling Racing Licence.
Time trials are normally on the open road, riding taking into consideration other road users and an exercise is going as fast as you can against the clock. They aren’t called the ‘Race of truth’ for nothing! There are basically two forms of time trials, those promoted at club level where you can often just turn up pay £3–£5 and ride or ‘Open’ events where you need to enter in advance – normally 2 weeks and pay up to £10 – but there is prize money.
Club events are normally held in the evenings or at Bank holidays in the late spring and summer and there are many to choose from. It is sensible to start on a course on a quieter road as some are on major dual carriageways and not for the faint hearted. You can ride a 10 mile time trial on the traffic free circuit at Hillingdon on Wednesday evenings in the summer – a good place to start.
The distances involved in time trialling are usually over 10 or 25 miles but time trials over longer distances do take place over 50 or 100 miles or even 12 hours!
At the end of the season – September/October – there are time trials that are called hill climbs – usually over very short courses of a mile or less and some on very steep climbs.
You need to at least 12 to take part in time trials and belong to a club that is affiliated to the national governing body, Cycling Time Trials – PPV is affiliated.
For riding in road/circuit races you need to be proficient riding in and moving through a group in close proximity or sometimes in contact with another rider. For some courses cornering is important. These core skills are taught at PPV.
You also need to understand the tactics of road/circuit racing e.g. when to attack, closing down gaps and when or how to shelter in a group.
Starting and clipping in is often a key skill for road/circuit racing – races start very fast and time wasted getting the shoe in the pedal can lose you the race.
Time trials are mainly solo events but two up and even up to four up events are not uncommon – riding in a team, sharing the ‘work’ at the front.
In time trials you will be held at the start and then ride on your own – pacing or taking shelter from another rider is forbidden unless it’s a team event.
The key components of fitness for both road/circuit and time trialling are covered in training at PPV.
Road/circuit racing often requires a good level of endurance but also the ability to repetitively cope with short bursts of speed. Races for U16’s are between 30–45 minutes.
Time trialling also requires endurance but with the ability to start appropriately and then maintain an even pace for the entirety of the event coping with motorists, undulations in the road and often the wind.
In road racing, the obvious progression is events like the Good Friday racing at Castle Combe or the spring series at Hog Hill (Redbridge, east of London) – both attract large highly competitive fields, more local races forming part of the National Circuit Series at either Hillingdon or Milton Keynes and then the North West Tour – a 3 day stage held in May each year. There is even the Assen Youth Tour in Holland, held over 6 days in July/August – just like a ‘mini’ Tour de France. In both of these multi-day events skills as a road/circuit racer and a time triallist are tested.
There are National Series and National Championships in each discipline and for U16’s a very prestigious 10 mile Time Trial event called the GHS 10. There are local heats where riders actually represent their school or club and the three fastest qualify to the national final.
For more information on events:
Road/Circuit Racing: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/home
Time Trials: http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/events
Other useful sites include: http://www.youthcyclesport.co.uk/
Download our road and time trial beginners guide.
Chris Boulton / 2016
Image © Chris Macleod