Everyone rides a bicycle for his or her own reasons. Some for recreation, for fitness, for transport. Racing is just one of the reasons that someone rides. However, racing is something that everyone of any age can participate in (any age!!) and just about everyone who tries it is hooked. If you ride a bicycle, you can race it! If you want to go fast, compete, or explore your own limits and see what is possible, there is only so far you can go solo.
The first step is joining a club, such as NWSCC, and learning to ride in a group. Riding close to other riders is a skill, that needs practice and shouldn't be learnt on the track. You will get to know other riders, you share experiences and stories, and you get to sit down over a coffee at the end of a ride and talk about bicycles (what else?). You'll also get an idea of what racing culture is about. If you've been commuting or riding with friends on the local bike path, it's a very different experience, and it's worth a little time familiarising yourself with it.
Next, you will need a bike. The right bike! If you want to race criteriums (the main races NWSCC runs and competes in) you need a road bike with drop bars. You cannot race on a flat bar or hybrid bike or a mountain bike in these races for safety reasons. If you will need a track bike for velodromes and a mountain bike for MTB racing. Each has specific features that mean a specific bike is required. Fortunately, you can race on a very cheap bike!
You need to have a Cycling Australia Racing Membership for insurance purposes. Fortunately, compared to other popular sports like soccer or netball, it's quite cheap. Here is a rundown of the options.
For your first year of racing, when you sign up AFTER 1st October your racing licence doesn't expire until January 2018! Up to 15 months of racing!!!
If you are not a member of a cycling club, and never have been, click here and select Cycling NSW then North Western Sydney CC from the dropdown boxes.
If you are a NWSCC member aren't sure if you want to commit to the full year, we'd suggest coming along and spectating to see what the fuss is about, or if you'd like to pin a number on and join in, you can get a "day licence" that covers you for 1 or 3 days. Click here . Most get hooked!
If you are an existing member of another club and would like to join NWSCC as a racing member, send us an email and we'll help you through the process. Many of our members have come across and love the friendly team atmosphere.
Your First Race
Ok, you’ve got your Racing Membership sorted and your bike is ready. What do you do now? Have a chat to our friendly Club Captain. He figures out what starting grade is appropriate, based on your fitness and overall experience on the bike. The Handicapper also has some useful guidelines if you've been riding with the club.
Races are graded to keep riders with similar ability and experience to keep the races fair, and interesting. With your grade in mind, you are ready for your first race. There is no shortage of races available to you in Sydney (we love Cabici.net. NWSCC races with the Marconi Cycling Club on most Tuesday nights at the Eastern Creek Dragway, and is the perfect introduction to racing. The course is wide and flat, and there is usually a large contingent of NWSCC riders there to show you the ropes.
Entering a race couldn’t be easier. Show up at the Sign-On Desk before the start, ideally with at least 20 minutes to roll around the course and warm up! Show your Race Membership licence (or the printout of your confirmation email if you only just got it), pay for the entry fee (typically about $15) and write your name on the Start List for your grade. You’ll be given a number to pin on the back of your jersey so everyone around you can identify you during the race, and most importantly - so they know who to give the prize money too!
Once you've warmed up, wait at the start and be ready to go! The Commissaire will tell you how many laps or minutes long the race is at the start, and they will ring a bell with one lap to go. Pay attention to the instructions, as they will mention any safety issues and any special rules. At first, roll with the bunch, work on your cornering and pace for a few laps. It's very different going around a corner with 3 bikes either side of you at 40kmh than alone in a warmup lap. As you get more comfortable, spend some time at the front, and pay attention to any feedback you get. You might try riding off the front to "break away" from the bunch, or you might try to wait until the bell is rung to see if you can win the sprint finish. Having a chat with any club mates before the race, or with the Captain, will have you an idea of what is an ideal tactic for you. Joining a club is a bigger part of the story than you'd realise.
Ride fast, hopefully you get to the finish line before the rest of them. Yes, it is that easy!
Want to Learn More?
- Come to the Saturday Open Social Ride
- Ask questions
- Speak to the Club Captain or Handicapper
- Visit the Cycling Australia/Cycling NSW Websites