Try Bike Racing
Have a go at cycle competitions
Loads of us ride bikes for fun, some of us like to extend that fun and have a go at racing. In the club we support any members that want to have a go at racing, whatever form that racing might take. You might start out with a club time trial, move on to open events, try road racing or even the track. Or you can try mountain biking, cyclo-x, triathlon or duathlon.
We have a long racing history at all levels of the sport.
These are our annual promotions:
|Early March||Spring Chicken and Roy Thame road races||Early season road races held near Charndon||Pre-entry (recommended) or enter on the day|
|Late March||Open Hilly Time Trial - Sid Latchford Memorial||Early season hilly time trial based upon the Gade Valley and surrounding hills||Pre entry only|
|April to August||Bovingdon Bomber Racing||Weekly open criterium (bunched) racing on the Bovingdon circuit every Wednesday||Pre entry recommended|
|April to August||Club time trials||Weekly 10 mile time trial races, held on a Thursday evening.||On the day|
|Mid June||Open 25 mile time trial - the Paul Bennett Memorial 25||Time trial held near Aylesbury||Pre entry only|
|Mid June||Open 10 mile time trial||Time trial held near Tring||Pre entry only|
|October||Open Cyclo X races||Off road races for all ages held in Hemel||Pre-entry (recommended) or enter on the day|
|October||Club Hill Climb||Time trial up Ivinghoe Beacon||Enter on the day|
The road race season runs from the Spring to Autumn. The most famous races are held on the continent and include stage races, like the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta Espania, and one day classics, like the Tour of Flanders. In this country races usually have 60 to 80 starters sorted into fields based on ability. They are held both on closed circuits and on the open road. The objective in a road race is to be the first person over the line.
Beginner’s races are typically about 20-30 miles long. The race pace will vary a lot and choosing the right time to expend energy is what road racing is all about. The fittest cyclists do not necessarily win, but the most savvy fit cyclists usually do.
Most people start racing in the safer surroundings of a closed circuits. Beginners should look for 4th Category only races. These are aimed at their level of fitness. We are lucky to have several circuits in this area:
- Our very own Bovingdon Bomber circuit
- Hillingdon in Springfield Road, Hayes, West London
- Milton Keynes bowl, Watling Street, near the A5
- Hog Hill in Redbridge, North-East London/Essex
- The Velopark in Stratford, East London (at the same place as the Olympic Velodrome)
Hillingdon also organises training sessions on Thursday nights. These sessions are aimed at all ability levels and provide coaching in riding in bunches, riding in a pace line and even how to attack and bridge across to a breakaway. I would recommend that all beginners attend a couple of Thursday training sessions before attempting a Tuesday night race.
Hemel Hempstead Cycling Club promotes two open road races at the start of the season and Bovingdon Bomber races in the week throughout the summer..
More Useful information on road racing can be found here:
Time trialling involves trying to cover a set distance in the lowest possible time. Distances vary depending on the event. Standard races are held over 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles. Beyond this the measure changes to trying to cover the most miles in a set time. Events are then held over 12 and even 24 hours. Events are also held over other distances on sporting courses covering quiet circuits. They can sometimes be quite hilly.
Variations on these time trial formats are sometimes held. These include early season two ups where two riders start together and share the pace making. Late season hill climbs are held if you like climbing. To see what other people in the club have achieved over various distances have a look at the club records.
Club Time Trials
Time trialling is easy for beginners to get into. To ride our club events you just need to turn up with a bike. Guests are welcome to come along and try a couple of times before needing to join.
The club course goes out from close to our HQ at Great Gaddesden Parish hall to the turn at Travellers Rest and back covering 10 miles. It climbs slightly on the way out and is usually quick on the way back. Beginners might look to break 30 mins as an initial target, a 20mph average. The best riders might average 28 mph.
Aerodynamics is very important and experienced riders will use triathlon bars, disc wheels and teardrop helmets the help lower their times. They are looking to ride in a position that maximises power output and aerodynamics.
For beginners the great thing is that none of this matters. Any bike is fine to start on as you will have a personal target to try to beat next week.
With a bit more experience Open events can be attempted. These have to be entered in advance, at least 2 weeks before the event. They are listed in the CTT handbook or are also available via the CTT website, see below for details.
How to enter an Open Time Trial
To help you fill in an entry form to enter an open time trial, download the following pdf guide document from the link below.
Open events are available to enter online, using the CTT's own online entry system. Click on the link below and then on the link found there to enter events online, or click here: https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/find-events
Track cycling involves racing in various disciples around a banked oval track called a velodrome. The bikes used are specialized with a single fixed gear and no brakes. This country currently excels at this branch of the sport with the likes of Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton being Olympic stars.
Events vary from short efforts such as the Sprint or Kilometre time trial, through the middle distances with the Team Sprint, Pursuit and Team Pursuit, up to distance events like the Madison and Points races. Some are time trial efforts ridden alone and some are massed start and need similar tactics to road racing to win.
We have four tracks in this area:
- Welwyn, Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City
- London Velodrome at the Olympic Park
- Reading Velodrome, Berkshire
- Herne Hill in South London
These are all outdoor tracks and events are susceptible to the UK weather. The Olympic Velodrome in London now also available for us to use, and will be extremely useful for winter training sessions (the other indoor tracks are Manchester, Newport, Derby and Calshot - all far away).
Welwyn track is closest to us and has training days on Mondays and league racing on Fridays in the summer for all ages. That is where you may find Hemel racers competing. There are bikes to hire for beginners.
Cyclo cross started out as a winter training activity for road racers. The season runs from late September through to early January and it has grown from it's Belgium heartlands into an international sport in it's own right.
Race meetings tipically have an event for everybody, starting with under 10s and under 12s racing on a short course, followed by youth and novice events, finishing up with a race for seniors lasting about an hour.
The course is supposed to be rideable all the way round on cyclo-cross bikes, like road bikes with better brakes and off-road tyres, although obstacles can sometimes mean a bit of running is needed. Mountain bikes can also be used in league events so there is no need to buy another bike just to have a go.
Although the history is a little bit foggy, most people would agree that mountain biking grew up in California in the 1970s. The first riders were just out for a bit of fun with their mates and this spirit still carries on today.
Mountain bike racing has been evolving in that time. The first races were downhill only. It was not long before people started to modify their bikes and race up- hill as well. This has eventually led to specialist bikes for racing downhill and cross country.
Downhill requires fitness, skill and nerve. It is run a in a time trial format with riders set off at minute intervals. The winner is the person who covers the course in the fastest time. Dual suspension bikes are common as is body armour. 4X is a similar race downhill but on a wider, shorter course with man-made jumps and corners. Four riders start together and race each other down. The races are run on an elimination format which leads through to an ‘A’ final. The winner being the first across the line, time irrelevant.
Cross country is a massed start race. Winner is the first person across the line. Courses include climbs, descents, singletrack and some obstacles but nothing in the league of downhill. Classes split up the field according to age and ability.