Scousers’ Guide to Bike Racing

Posted on Posted in Blog

Apologies if the title is a bit misleading. This isn’t a guide to racing like a Scouser – although legend has it, that back in the 80’s there was a local rider who would get into a break in a Road Race and then sit on the back for a free ride to the finish. When ‘asked politely’ to contribute to the pace, he would shrug and retort that he couldn’t do any work as they would stop his dole !!

The title is purely geographical.

So any one thinking of having a go at racing this year but a bit confused by all the different types of racing, federations, age groups etc? Here’s a rough guide.

There are several forms of racing available to club riders – Road racing, Circuit racing (Criteriums), Time Trialling, Track, Cyclocross, Mountain biking etc.

The author in his first ever time trial

In a Time Trial you are riding on your own against the clock usually at minute intervals from the next rider, although there are 2-up TT’s and Team Time Trials where you share the work on the front. The most common starting point for most club riders when they dip their toe into racing is the club 10. These are informal races but are still held under Cycling Time Trials (CTT) regulations. There is no need to enter in advance, just turn up, pay a couple of quid and pin a number on. There are club 10’s held monthly on the Hale circuit  or on the faster Rainford bypass course organised by Phoenix & St Helens on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s through the summer, and occasionally they have a 25 mile TT when the evenings are light enough.

Once you have done a few club 10’s and have caught the bug, you may want to enter an open Time Trial. These are organised by clubs all over the country at varying distances and times from 10, 25, 50 & 100 miles right through to 12 & 24 hours. You need to enter an open Time Trial at least 3-4 weeks before the event as there is no entry on the day, although some events on the faster courses get well over subscribed and the riders with the fastest times for that distance will get preference.

Once you have completed a TT, your time for that distance is your personal best (PB) and the idea is to beat that time and set a new PB. Some clubs also have medals for beating standard times and there are also club records for each distance. (Men & Women). There is also a Merseyside Best All Rounder competition for all local affiliated clubs, ranking riders according to their average speed over a variety of distances.

Courses have code numbers and when looking to enter a local race, look for courses with the prefix D (Liverpool), J (Manchester), or L (Lancashire). Club members don’t have to join CTT individually as the club is affiliated. Most TT’s are £8-£10 entry fee.

You may also want try Road Racing. This is where you race in a bunch and first one over the line wins. There are no set distances for RR’s but some are held on long undulating or hilly courses, others are on small circuits such as Pimbo, Litherland or Oulton Park. Most RR’s start as a bunch but sometimes there are handicaps where bunches have time advantages over different age groups or categories. There are also multiple day Stage races which will usually comprise of a number of races (stages) over a  variety of courses and even a Time Trial.  A RR may be organised under British Cycling (BC), The League International (TLI) or League of Veteran Racing (LVRC – over 40’s)

For BC you will need Membership and a Racing licence. You can rise through the categories from 4th to Elite as you accrue points from race results. Most BC races can be entered online and can cost between £15-£25 to enter. Local races fill up very early so if you find a race on the calendar that you want to do, get it entered as soon as possible.

TLI are a cheaper alternative. You can turn up and ‘enter on the line’ at some events but you are better off becoming a member and entering races in advance. Most races are categorised by age instead of ability or category.

LVRC is the Vets racing league. Categories begin at 40 but there are still riders in their 70’s competing. This is no easy option however as there are many ex Professionals still racing at this level.

So if you feel like you would like to have a go at racing in 2016, get your racing jersey ordered and get training!!

Any questions?? Just ask.

Here are some useful links :

If you would like coaching to help you train and get into racing, get in touch.

The author in a slightly more recent time trial