Safety and enjoyment

Handicapping has two aims. Safety for you, and those around you. Enjoyment for you, and those around you. If you are in the right grade, racing is an exhilarating and truly wonderful experience, a way to test yourself against like minded riders in a safe environment. If you are in the wrong grade, you are a danger to those around you and you won't enjoy the experience of racing. If you've accidentally joined the wrong club ride for your ability, you know what it is like to be out of your depth, and a race is no different.


  • Everyone is assigned a grade to start with, and there are three levels within that grade. E3 the lowest, E2, E1, D3, D2, D1 etc. up to A1.
  • There are 5 points between each grade. i.e. 15 points between C2 and B2.
  • Each top 4 result at any club race in Sydney is assigned a number of points. 1st is 5, 2nd 3, 3rd is 2, 4th is 1. So if you win, you move up a number eg. D3 to D2. 3 wins, and you're up a letter eg. D3 to C3. Several podiums can result in moving up a grade as well.
  • The letter for your grade is the one you race in. C1 and C3 race in C grade.
  • Outstanding victories may result in arbitrary early promotion at the Handicapper's discretion. We do not encourage anyone to move up faster than they need to.
  • These points accumulate on a quarterly basis, and refresh every 6 months. Your April win and August podiums can promote you. This allows riders in the middle of the pack to stay in their grade - it's OK to get a few successes in a year without forced promotion.
  • If you race C grade at Marconi or Waratahs, you race C grade at club races everywhere! There are no exceptions without express written consent from the Committee. We can't all be strong at every circuit, and it is worthwhile riding a flat course for experience even if you're a climber.
  • We record everyone's results at all venues, and I want to encourage you to be embrace the challenge of new courses and clubs, without dropping grades.
  • I will let people know if they are close to moving grades, but you will probably have half your friends and fellow racers suggesting you to move up after a couple wins anyway. Off to B. Consider this a kind recognition of your talents.


If you DNF (did not finish), due to accident or lack of fitness, you lose a point. 3 DNFs in a quarter justifies a demotion to the lower letter. Handicapping is not meant to be a cruel process, and if you have committed to racing 3 times, having a go and you just can't cope with the pace, then you can go back down. Your new grade will the top of the lesser grade. If you drop from B3 back to C, you will be C1, with no points

State Open races

Generally, select a grade lower than your current club grade, because the top grade often has professionals and exprofessional riders at the start line. Also, you don't actually choose your grade. Their Race Handicapper chooses it for you.

I update your club handicaps regularly as per CNSW guidelines, but the grade might be 3 months old. This is acceptable under CNSW rules! It's an imperfect process, if you aren't happy please email me and I can see what can be done. I would strongly suggest you don't choose your club grade for opens (or Division 1 if you are A grade for example).


It is OK to undergrade yourself - for certain reasons. Return from injury or half a year off the bike. Riding under your grade allows you to finish the race at race pace to rebuild fitness. You might do it to accompany a friend or a junior rider who might benefit from some support on the road. Maybe you've had an accident and feel a bit anxious in the corners.

Sandbagging is OK as long as you do not have an effect on the outcome of the race. Do not chase every break. Do not create a break. Do not sprint for the finish - but maybe sprinting for the mid race prim sprint is OK, just talk to the organiser. Do not lead out your friend or your junior for the sprint win either. Expect to be fined and disqualified if you do any of these things. Acceptable sandbagging is there to help put someone onto the track to find their legs, not ruin the race for everyone else. I expect you to be getting some DNFs in your correct grade before we can justify putting you down. Remember that sandbagging hurts the reputation of the club and your friends at the races, and it is the number one cause of discontent in racing.

Voluntary Promotion

I note your grade in the records at the start of the quarter. If you are normally in D grade, and finishing C grade regularly, you will destroy D graders when you drop down and that's not fun for them, even if the points system would allow you to drop back. There is nothing wrong with trying a higher grade once or twice to test yourself but after 3 races in a quarter, you will have to stay up, or get 3 DNFs before you can come back down.

First time racing?

  • If you are riding well in Novice, you will start in E grade,
  • The 26 and 28 intermediate groups will start in D.
  • If you are finishing the 30 and 32 Intermediate rides, you are going to start in C.
  • If you can complete the 34 Intermediate Fast ride, you should start in B.

This is a provisional starting grade. Please consult the Club Captain and the Club Handicapper if you finish in the top 3 in your first race.

There are opportunities for riders 30 years old and above to race F grade at Waratahs, these guys are in their 60s and 70s and 80s. Everyone can have a go if they choose.


Jim has been riding with the Intermediate 28 group most weekends. He starts racing in D grade. His NWSCC club grade is D3. He wins two races over the next 8 weeks (10 points) and moves up to D1. He has a flat and doesn't finish a second race due to the heat, so moves back to D2 (less two points). He wins the next race and moves back up to D1 with 13 points. He is feeling confident, and moves up to C grade. He is not required to, based on NWSCC rules. He finishes with the bunch four times in C grade, but fails to place. He is now C3, and cannot move back down to D. He loses some fitness over Christmas and DNF's 3 times. He moves back to D1, and has 5 points before being promoted again (a win, or 2 seconds).

Handicapping is an imperfect process at its best. Safety and enjoyment to encourage you, your club mates and the sport of cycling. That's all this is about.


The NWSCC Committee